A five-year-old's introduction to pluralism

I wouldn’t say my four-year-old son was following the presidential race closely last year, but he was paying enough attention to understand that his parents were voting for John Edwards. Having been in the car a few times when I delivered yard signs, he also understood that an Edwards sign in front of someone’s house meant that person was also voting for Edwards.

In March of this year, my son (by then five years old) asked me whether we were still voting for John Edwards. I explained that not enough people had voted for Edwards, so he couldn’t be the president. We would vote for someone else, probably Barack Obama. He found that a little confusing, but over time it clicked with him that we were supporting Obama for president.

This evening we had a baby-sitter over for a couple of hours. While she was here, I was getting the kids a snack, and my older son asked her who she was voting for. She said, “McCain.”

He followed up with, “But who are you voting for for president?” She said, “McCain.”

Pause. He turns to me: “Mommy, are we voting for Obama?”

“Yes, we’re voting for Obama, but [baby-sitter] is voting for McCain.”

“Oh.” And he went back to eating pretzels.

  • A serious problem

    Sounds like you need a new baby sitter! :) – It is funny to see how kids absorb political stuff.

    • kids need to learn

      that not everyone in the world thinks the same way. She’s good with the kids.

      I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on sheltering sometime. It’s an interesting dilemma for parents as we try to teach our children our values without shielding them from the diversity of the wider world.

  • I hope you realize

    I really was just kidding.  I agree 100% with you.  Kids should be exposed to all kinds of people and different thoughts.

    The sheltering topic is an interesting one, and it applies to many things.  Be it germs, physical activities, TV, religion, general independence, and surely politics as well.  One of the interesting examples for me was a rather overweight friend of mine, who said she went nuts in college eating nothing but junk food after having been sheltered by a health-nut mom while growing up.  Even when we feel we are absolutely right and doing the right thing for our kids, our sheltering can seriously backfire.

    • yes, I caught the smiley face

      in your previous comment!

      I read a good piece on sheltering at a “mommy blog” written by a staunch religious conservative homeschooler. That’s what got me thinking I should work up a piece on the topic. It is a tough balancing act for parents.

      • Speaking of homeschooling

        Are you planning to homeschool your kids?  I know you have small kids, and based on your commentary I would not be surprised if you went that route.

        The little I know about homeschooling, it seems interesting you have one contingency of homeschoolers on the far right and another one of the pretty far left.  I wonder if many of those people interact across the ideological divide.

        • no, we're public school people

          but I have progressive friends who homeschool for various reasons. For some it’s related to their children’s temperament, while others want to avoid commercialism, conformity or time-wasting in the public schools.

          Homeschooling would be a last resort for me if we lived in an area without any decent schools.

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