Young kids should be spared political rhetoric until they can maneuver successfully in their immediate world. They will have no legal voice in politics until they are eighteen years of age, so to allow indoctrination of either liberal or conservative political views before they are ten or twelve not only interferes with the joys and innocence of childhood, but takes advantage of a developing mind. Children have enough going on just learning to be social beings - when just a smirk from another child can ruin their day.
This thought hit me when a four-year-old asked me if I liked the president. I stumbled a bit, not knowing what to say and quickly changed the subject to how beautiful the fall leaves were. I was not going to talk politics to a four-year old even though my first thought was to say I like the president, simply because I didn’t want to associate ‘bad’ with the presidency. What can a small child know or understand about the President of the United States? There will be four Presidential elections before a four-year-old can vote and that candidate could currently be in college. Things will change quite a bit!
Of course, there are times when teaching your child the values in which you believe come very close to political viewpoints. I think it is fair and responsible for you to pass on your values with an explanation when age appropriate, an age which is determined by the parents. If you do not, your children will hear the values of others alone. Kids are very vulnerable to indoctrination as we all are. But kids have much less experience to counter either responsible or irresponsible indoctrination. As suggested by a psychotherapist below, indoctrination is instructing with a partisan point of view. As kids grow older, they are more capable of analyzing and contemplating.
Things change a bit as children reach their teens. The following is from www.today.com/parents.
“I certainly think it’s OK to share one's political views. I think that’s completely OK, but I think it’s also important to allow your children to have their own ideas about things,” says Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist, the author of Your Best Age Is Now, and mother of two teenagers.
“Why would it be a goal to turn them into anything other than people who are socially conscious? To turn them … into a Republican or Democrat is a bit of, I don’t want to say it but, brain washing. It’s a form of indoctrinating, and I think it’s much better to say: ‘These are my ideas and this is why I believe in them. What are your thoughts? What are you hearing?’”
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, political views will be found and heard everywhere. But when they are very young, shouldn’t you protect them from the rhetoric as much as possible. It will cause tension in them even if they don’t understand what’s being said because of the tension and terseness in the voices they hear. And when they are older and ask questions, how many of us are brave enough or fair enough to let them hear alternative views or explain the reasoning for each argument?
Let kids be kids!