My ever increasing obsession with the presidential election and profound dislike of Mitt Romney led me to make a parenting decision this week which — after much thought and consideration — I’ve concluded to have been a poor one. I attempted to explain the difference between the candidates to my 3-year-old and in doing so told him that Romney was not nice and didn’t like to share.
“Romney thinks that the children who have lots of toys should not have to share them with poor kids who don’t have any toys. Obama believes that we should all share. Who do you think should be the president?” I asked Luki. He thought about it for a second and then answered, “Obama. Romney’s mean.” And my mama chest puffed up with pride. Now, every time he hears the name “Romney,” he immediately associates it with the worst possible offender in a 3-year-old’s mind — the kid at playgroup who hogs all the toys for himself.
But, as I’ve thought about it further, I think my actions reeked of indoctrination. If Luki is too young to understand the complex issues at play during this election, it’s not fair for me to dumb them down for him in a somewhat biased way so that he’ll pick the candidate I support. After all, I hurl things at the TV whenever Fox News does the same thing to its viewers.
I’ve been thinking about my own upbringing and how my parents never really encouraged me to vote for one candidate or another. Instead, they instilled values in me which I, as an adult, decided lined up better with the Democratic Party. Values like compassion for the poor, equality for all people, and the absurdity of violence. And so, once again, I’ve come to a recurring realization in my life — my folks were damn good parents. That’s the right way to do it.
I won’t deny that I would prefer it if my son grew up to be on the same side of the political spectrum as myself. Like every mother, I have hopes, dreams and projections for my kid. I want him to excel in academics. I want to see him win sport trophies. I want him to be popular and have lots of friends. I want him to be mind-blowingly creative. But I think it’s best if I keep those aspirations to myself.
Instead, I’m going to focus on teaching him the same values my parents taught me and in making sure he knows that I will always love and support him no matter what. Even if he doesn’t make the team or get into college. Even if he grows up to be a loner whose idea of great film is the latest Adam Sandler movie. And yes, even if he turns out to be... a Republican.