One For The Parents of Teens (or older)

I’m not looking for advice or anything like that, I’m just curious.

Today, Vaderling, out of my left field, asked if I support Biden or Trump and why. He will be an official teenager soon, so not totally an off-the-wall question in my mind, just unexpected for the setting of the moment.

For you parental dopers with chilluns 10-12 or older, what was it like for you? Was that the age range when your kiddos took an interest in your political leanings? What sort of questions and lead-ins did they use in those sorts of conversations with you?

Mine are 13 and 16, we’ve discussed politics and political issues since they were small children. The discussion was obviously targeted at their level of understanding but at this point I can have a discussion with them at the level of most adults. They probably have a better understanding of most issues than the average person on the street.

Being Woke Liberals, we are lucky to have not raised an Alex P. Keaton.

5 between age 17 - 21 when The Shitgibbon defiled the Oval Office. They never cared about our leanings, and all but one thought Trump was a joke. The outlier came to us at age 15 and in his defense he had been abused since before he was born. To him, Trump was a Real Man, what with all his bluster and ‘fuck you I do what I want’ attitude. Mostly, the kids are further to the left than we are, to the extent they have any political opinions at all.

My in-laws are somewhat liberal, I am conservative leaning. My oldest daughter became a Republican when, at 14 years old, and working as a grocery store cashier had a lady get in her face screaming and threatened to call the cops because the lady owed $5.00 and some odd cents on her $110.00 grocery bill. The lady said her food is free because she is on government assistance AND SHE IS NOT GOING TO PAY FOR FOOD!!. Ended up being something out of the deli case that wasn’t covered. She came home and questioned why the stuff she was buying (steaks, RTH meals, junk food etc…) and yet as a family with 2 working parents we could not afford stuff like that. I explained the basic premise of both political parties and abuse of government entitlements is a real sore subject with me and that is why I generally vote (not straight ticket) Republican.

For her senior thesis she was to pick a controversial subject and write a paper. She wrote about the ongoing abuses of government entitlements she not only seen at work but also at school like students bragging about how they don’t need to pay for this or that because their family is on government assistance but are wearing designer clothes and Air Jordan’s that cost hundreds of dollars. The teacher (who apparently is very liberal) decided that was too controversial and made her pick a different subject.

I don’t think my daughter would ever have had to ask, she knew. We always chatted about various issues that sometimes touched on politics, and she heard me discussing them with friends too. And, well, we went on anti-war marches, I was involved with CND, we went to many events where the Red Flag was sung… Although nothing we ever went to was actually connected to a specific political party, just causes that tend to attract more left-wingers, I don’t think there could ever have been any doubt in her mind as to which way I’d vote.

We have talked about politics and religion since she was quite little, at her instigation. With religion I’ve basically been “some people believe this, some people believe that, I don’t believe in anything; you are free to make your own choices.” She went to a CofE (Church of England) primary school and we are thoroughly cultural Christians, so I’m pretty sure she knew I was telling the truth when I said she could make her own choices.

Politics has always been more about individual issues, for us, rather than party politics. I am pretty definite on my opinions on some things, and less definite on others. She now wavers between supporting Labour and supporting the Green Party, and has actually asked my advice about which one to choose, due to things like tactical voting more than policies.

I’m not actually 100% certain whether she voted Green or Labour at the last election because she got confused by the forms. In that election, in our borough, there were a really huge number of forms with confusing options, and she’s autistic and is used to me explaining what things on forms mean, but obvs I wasn’t allowed to do that when she was actually voting.

I went through it first but all that helped with was “don’t choose these ones” (Tories and a couple of other right-wingers - she didn’t want to choose them) so she’s not entirely sure what she actually voted. If she had asked me, instead, to help her choose anything but Labour or anyone left wing, I would have helped her with that too, letting her know that it was against my principles to vote for those parties - she’d know I was lying if I said otherwise - but I’d still help her vote for her choice.

The news and politics were an important part of their lives since they were born, but I didn’t push my kids to be either liberals or conservatives. They developed their own views early on (ages 6 and 9 respectively) and were able to explain why they held them.

The one thing I insisted on was the same my parents had with me: to thoroughly and objectively examine both sides of candidates and issues. I also emphasized compassion. Thus they understood, for example, that while there are people who take advantage of government entitlement programs, those people are not representative of those on ADC, SNAP, etc… Similarly, they don’t see Donald Trump as representative of all Republicans, and they understand why people vote for him, even though they both recognize and can explain why he was a dangerous president.

My son will turn 24 in a few months. He always knew the political leanings of his parents just as he always knew our feelings about loving animals, the relative importance (or lack thereof) of dressing well, valuing kindness versus intellectual accomplishments, respecting women, and … I dunno, that’s just a random list of values he lived and breathed from infancy onward. I can’t imagine him having to ask about what politician we’d support, any more than he’d need to ask if he was an only child. Some things are just in the air as you grow up.

As it turned out, my kid is a bit more conservative than his parents on the subject of wokeness/inclusiveness. He tires of explicitly hearing how the fact that he is a heterosexual white male from a well-off family means he is privileged and needs to let other voices, who have insight into oppression that he does not, lead.

I am sympathetic; he was bullied while growing up both for his passionate support of LGBTQ rights and his nerdiness. So in his youthful mind, he too was “oppressed” and it is hard for him to accept that he had tons of advantages as a wealthy white heterosexual boy even if he did get picked on for his lack of athletic ability or his support of gay rights.

I wish he was more tolerant and understanding in his rhetorical life, but I guess what really counts is what he does in reality. On that score he seems okay; in his academic, professional, and love life, he shows immense respect for people from different backgrounds. His bosses, collaborators, and social/romantic connections are diverse, to say the least. I hope that’s a good sign.

very interesting replies, alla yalls, thanks