Why wouldn’t you? I read an article yesterday on kveller.com about a mom who was stunned and happy that her five year old wanted to come and vote with her. She wrote four or five paragraphs on it, how she’s not sure that she’s ready to talk to him about issues, and she and her husband are always careful to not talk about politics in front of him. I was baffled… I’ve been hauling my kids into the voting booth since they were born. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken other people’s kids into the voting booth with me. Because why wouldn’t you? 

I’ve always discussed politics with my kids. Age appropriate, and I’m not a hugely confrontational person anyway – so I tend to present at least a nominally balanced viewpoint, but I make it clear which way I vote, why I vote that way, and what the opposing arguments are. I also really encourage them to make up their own minds – to have opinions. They might not be able to vote, but they are certainly capable of deciding where they stand on certain issues. 

So we’re all voting together this afternoon. I asked if the kids wanted to this morning, and Sam enthusiastically yelled “YES.” Jessie said yes as well, although qualified it as saying that she didn’t really have much choice in the matter, because we had to take her with us. I told her that technically, we could vote while she was at school and not take her, but that yeah, even if she didn’t want to go, we’d make her. Because you vote. In our family – we vote. I don’t care how she votes, I just care that she does. 

Is it indoctrination? Maybe. But I think we all indoctrinate our children to one extent or another. And I’m careful about how I do it. Especially as it relates to religion and politics. I don’t get to make their decisions, I don’t get to decide how or when they worship or vote when they are adults, but I do get to teach them that it matters. That spirituality and political viewpoints are important, and worthy of thoughtful consideration. In the end, that’s why I make them go to religious school, and that’s why I drag them into voting booths. I think it’s my job as their parent to show them these things, to expose them to a spiritual path that will encourage them to think and learn and make up their own mind, and to know that every November, their little butts belong in a voting booth – because they matter. In the end, it’s not about indoctrination, it’s about empowerment. 

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