Blogging about Beats, tween fiction, parenting tweens, rebels, rule breakers, historical 1950s fiction and an 11-year-old who wants to meet Jack Kerouac.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Talkin Politics... with Kids?
We’re not supposed to talk about politics and
religion—but somehow, we do. My son started noticing that his parents were
voting when he was about four. He asked me who we were voting for and I tried
to explain that we needed someone to look out for us and make laws that would
help us. I also told him we always needed someone to look out for “little guy.”
I wasn’t thinking too hard when I was saying all of
this—most of our serious discussions were spent en route somewhere in the
car—but somehow thoughts formed in childhood through listening to my own
parents were tumbling out.
Sometime later, he asked about Republicans and
Democrats and again, I mentioned the little guy. At the same time, I was trying
not to label one side or the other (but how can you not?) All this led me to
wonder how we can give our kids a political education while staying objective.
I guess the short answer is, we can’t.
We can expose them to a lot of different points of
view, though, through people, articles and websites we trust. In an age when
the country seems to be hopelessly polarized, I think finding things we have in
common with the so-called “other” side are crucial. And I truly mean that.
When writing The
Beat on Ruby’s Street, I had to immerse the characters and my readers in a
particular time and place. Ruby makes several choices based on the actions of
people like Mahatma
Gandhi and is influenced by the political opinions of her friend Sky and
the Beat Generation poets. Yet, I’d say politics have very little to do with
Ruby’s story, they add a thread of defiance that I was trying to capture and
If I were really good at this stuff, I’d say
getting your kids to act out scenarios that taught them about government would
be a good start. What I mainly want to say here is that we’re all going to find
ourselves in the middle of a discussion about politics (and religion) at some
point, and we need to figure out what we want to see, even if we don’t see it.
If you have any thoughts here, I’m listening—and
would love to know. If you want to read more, I’m including some links I found: