Raising Free Thinkers

Last night we sat at the dinner table and talked about politics. It was a different kind of discussion because Jane is now in the 8th grade and her homework this was to watch the president accept the Democratic nomination. She said she couldn’t watch with us talking because she had to be impartial (apparently when we scream at the TV it’s distracting).

Mr. G asked the kids if they were Democrats or Republicans and they looked confused. Jane quickly said she was a Democrat and Alexander looked at me and asked me what I am. I explained that I’m a registered Republican but that the party has shifted of late and I don’t really identify with them anymore. I told them how awful it was to not be able to vote for McCain because when he chose Palin as a running mate he picked one of the few people on the Earth that made it dangerous to be a woman in America.

Then my husband took a turn that I hadn’t expected (and when he surprises me in parenting it is always a delight). He told the kids that they aren’t allowed to ask us how to vote. He told them that they aren’t allowed to choose a party and vote with it and that they are obligated to follow their own moral compass and vote for what’s right. He said they aren’t allowed to say they’ll vote for anyone or anything without explaining why and then went on to ask the kids why they’d vote for Obama and the answers were interesting because both kids would but for very different reasons. They’re allowed to tell us how we should vote but we will never do the same for them.

As is often the case with Mr. G I just sit at the table and watch him with his kids and I’m struck dumb. They are the luckiest two kids in the world to have a father who would rather listen to them than lecture.

I was sitting and listening to my kids talk about the Dream Act, Lily Ledbetter and four million private sector jobs and falling in love with my husband all over again. He wants to raise free thinkers.

Oh, except they’re only allowed to like the Yankees, Giants and Rangers. No free thinking there… sports aren’t a democracy, they’re a mandate.


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  1. When my little sister decided to raise her family back east I knew I would have to work extra hard to deprogram the Yankee worship.

    Mr. G. sounds like a great guy, but his baseball allegiance is questionable. ;)

  2. This is simply one word: awesome. :)

  3. Sarah Auerswald

    I love this post! Something very similar is happening at our house these days, not just because of the campaign season, but because we have an 8th grader, too. It’s amazing to discuss issues and hear his opinions. We just don’t have the sports component to go along with it…

  4. Katie

    Awesome post. I wish more parents encouraged their kids to think for themselves. Except my daughter is forbidden from ever rooting for the red sox ;-)

  5. Adriennevh

    I was ready to offer to become a sister wife until the very last paragraph. Sorry, can’t hang with a Giants and Yankees fan.

    The rule in our house has always been “I don’t care who or what you vote for, but you must vote.”

    • Adrienne, you’ve had it in for me since the minute we met. What will I do with you?

      • Adriennevh

        no no no you have it wrong, I have adored you since the minute we met. It was before we met that we had issues. Or maybe it was Jr. that I fell in love with.

        • It’s the Yankee thing. You’ve got it in for me because I married a Yankee!

          • Adriennevh

            That is unforgivable

  6. We watch your electoral process from across the border and it generates discussion with our own 13 year old; about your system, your politicians, and in turn ours. For the past 2 years our son has taken a keen interest in elections, politicians and what they have to say. We encourage him to read and listen with an open and questioning mind.
    But I’m with your husband on sports…there are only certain approved hockey teams.

  7. As long as you’re not Stanfurd/U$C fans, we can continue to be good friends. I think I like Mr. G even more now, and you knew I liked the kids. You’re raising some smart kiddos there.

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