How many of our readers have come across such delightful children books as:
Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!, it’s follow up Help! Mom! Hollywood is in My Hamper or it’s other follow Help! Mom! The Ninth Circuit Nabbed the Nativity!
Perhaps you are on the other-side, and would prefer such titles as:
Perhaps you prefer to use more subtle books in your child’s indoctrination such as Teach a Donkey to Fish, where a young elephant named Goppy teaches his donkey friend Libby the joys of working for herself. As one Amazon reviewer asked: What ever happened to the little engine that could?
Something about all the titles listed above just rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps it is the crude way they over simplify the issues, or caricature people who disagree with them. Perhaps it is because they all target children who are too young for nuanced political discussion, and are still very impressionable. Then again maybe it is the fact, that partisan politics is such a drag, that young children should not be forced to sit through it. There must to be countless other books, that offer positive lessons and are not built upon partisan hackery.
Seriously, what child would want to here a book talking about how great president Obama is, or what evil monsters Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy are? These strike me as far more entertaining to the parents than the children. Honestly, talking to young children, should be opportunity to get ones mind off of mud-slinging political drudgery.
All this leads to the much more useful question of how to talk about politics with one’s children. I personally am a huge fan of a free market of ideas. I think parents should let their kids know, what they think and why, when children show interest in political questions, but I also think kids should have room to develop their own thoughts and become their own people. I don’t have kids of my own, but if I did, it would be much more important to me to show them how to think than teach them what to think.
I also, would prefer that views, I disagree with still be presented fairly, and as strongly as possible. I am not about to call people who support the welfare state lazy envious bums, who to steal other peoples money, or people who oppose it as heartless, greed-driven reactionaries. Though people fitting these stereotypes exists, they are a minority. As such, I would do my best to explain my position, while at the same time explain where gray area and ambiguity leads to controversy. I see too many parents wanting to turn their kids into good Democrats or Republicans that they fall into the trap of indoctrination. I for one, have little use for either of our major parties, and think party loyalists are often the least interesting or well informed people out there. As such, I’d want to show my kids a wide range of schools of thought and thinkers that would not be easily classified in the conservative vs. liberal spectrum.
I have the same attitude, towards religion too. I’m an atheist, and I would hope any kids I have share my skepticism, but whatever attitude they take, it is more important to me that are able explain why they hold their position, than hold any specific position. I tend to find, making a subject taboo, often mystifies it and makes it more interesting anyway.
That said, I did stumble onto a few politically oriented children’s books that I could possibly get behind: Two Kings (which concerns GLBT issues) and the rather self explanatory It‘s Just a Plant: A Children’s Story of Marijuana. Conservatives might label these liberal books, but some of the biggest advocates of gay rights and legalizing marijuana, I know are ardent free-marketers.
With this in mind, I’ll ask our readers with more parenting experience: When and what have you taught your kids about politics? How important is it that they share your beliefs, and would you use any books described in blog post? In the mean time, the only liberals, or conservatives anywhere near my bed will be the ones I invited over.