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Do you talk to your kids about politics?

(33 Posts)
mamadadawahwah Sat 29-Jan-05 18:37:12

My kids are too young to understand "political" but i have started already to enlighten them about how the world is "ordered". Rich people/poor people, powerful people aka rich people/powerless people aka poor people, you get my drift.

They are really interested in what it means to be rich or poor. NO concept of money, God bless them.

roisin Sat 29-Jan-05 18:44:15

Yes, we do talk to our kids about politics and current affairs. Unfortunately we have also taught them to think for themselves, and not blindly follow their parents' ideals, or anyone else's ...
... they are both keen monarchists

hatstand Sat 29-Jan-05 19:10:57

I think it's an important thing to do. We sponsor a child in Mozambigue, which is a good way of showing them a bit about the way the world works. Every now and then I ask them if they have a nice house, nice clothes, a mummy and daddy that loves them, and (assuming they answer yes!) I tell them that some children don't have that. It's not exactly politics - yet - but I don't balk from reminding them every now and then just how lucky they are. I've also explained to dd (after she made some derogatory comment about someone we see every now and then at school whose gender is not immediately obvious)that people come in all shapes and sizes and that's just the way things are, and that one of the most important things in life is to be kind and to remember that everyone is a person with feelings (or something like that - can't remember exactly how I put it) - she was actually quite upset so I think it sunk in

tallulah Sun 30-Jan-05 12:38:54

I disagree. I have never discussed politics with my kids as my parents didn't with me. As they are getting older they are starting to notice what is going on around them but I find I'm shying away from discussing my opinions on issues for fear of indocrinating them before they have had a chance to make their own decisions.

One thing we do discuss is that we have brought them up vegetarian. My 15 year old has reached the age of demanding to know why and arguing the point of it- OK he started the discussion so we have it, but I don't bring it up.

Hatstand, it may not be the issue that upset your DD but you having a go at her.. When I was very young (7 or 8) we were watching the news & a policeman had been killed. Without thinking I said "it's better if policeman are killed..". Now I didn't actually mean that, of course. I wasn't old enough to articulate exactly what I did mean. My parents exploded! Told me what a dreadful thing that was to say etc etc & really made a big deal of it. this was compounded a few years later at ballet class. We found out our teacher was also an examiner (as often happens). I said to a couple of the girls in the changing room that if she was an examiner shouldn't we all be doing much better & getting Honours (not that she would cheat, but more like she would teach us better IYSWIM). Her DD (also a teacher) happened to overhear & came into the room & really laid into me about what a stupid thing to say etc. The girls who had been agreeing with me at that point agreed with the teacher that I was talking crap & no-one stood up for me. I was 9 years old & that memory is as clear as if it happened yesterday.

Those 2 separate incidents have affected me my whole life. I have strong opinions on stuff but in RL I never let on, for fear of being shouted down. I sit in meetings and don't say a word, and I never voice an opinion on anything for fear of looking stupid. If I do try, and someone argues with me, I back down because I'm frightened to come across as stupid. It is a huge handicap, and one that so easily could have been avoided. Please be aware of the effect something like that can have on your children.

PuffTheMagicDragon Sun 30-Jan-05 12:41:53

Not yet. Ds1 (3) recognises Tony Blair on TV and says, "look Mummy, there's Toby Bear, the policemen with guns look after him" (we passed 10 Downing St on the way down to see Big Ben a couple of months ago).

Beetroot Sun 30-Jan-05 12:44:26

Message withdrawn

Gobbledigook Sun 30-Jan-05 13:03:16

No - mine are a bit young really - eldest just coming up to 4. Although we have done Operation Christmas Child boxes and given to the church present collection at Xmas and I've tried to explain a bit about why.

As a child growing up I don't remember having conversations about politics (we just got on with being kids really although we were obviously brought up to be kind, respect others, realise how lucky we were etc) but as we got into our older teenage years and started to think about things ourselves we definitely did.

As young adults, and even now, we like family 'debates' (we are known for them and partners sometimes quite embarrassed if present!!), some about politics but also other thought provoking things like 'where does space end/does it?', 'what is art?', 'could you kill someone who abused/murdered your child?' - it all gets quite heated but it's a good thing I think!

Gwenick Sun 30-Jan-05 13:39:26

I talk to my DS1 (4yrs old) about thing he's seen on the news - we ALWAYS have the news on at 6pm on BBC, and he often watches Newsround too. I think it's important for children to 'know' about whats going on rather than that just assume they'll ask when they're older. I grew up very ignorant of lots of stuff going on in the world because although my parents ALWAYS listened to the news, they never talked to me about what I'd heard/seen and I was left to make my own assumptions (also helped caused a great phobia of Escalators which i've only recently got over - I'd seen/read about the Kings Cross fire - which started on an Escalator and I was about 8 at the time and so couldn't read/understand the whole thing on my own)

Gobbledigook Sun 30-Jan-05 14:37:11

I don't really have the news on with the kids about (age almost 4, 2 and 5 months) - every night there are images of war and I don't want to have to explain it to a 3 to 4 year old. I know others probably think differently and like children to be 'informed' and 'aware' from very early on but all I want mine to worry about at this age is being kids and having fun.

I think it was the late 70's, early 80's when I was about 8 that I must have heard something about nuclear war and I lost sleep worrying about the world just ending. I suppose you could argue that if I'd been better informed about it I wouldn't have worried so much but I was only 8. When my Mum told me about periods at age about 10 or 11 I was bloody terrified!!!

Gwenick Sun 30-Jan-05 15:20:04

But Gobbledigook - do you children ever go to the shop with you?? If so then they'll see the pictures on the newspapers, they may even hear you talking 'privately' about it with you DH, DP or friend - while you 'think' they're out of earshot.

I think we live in such a media based age that unless you never go out you can't shelter children from the 'realities' of the world completely.

Shimmy21 Sun 30-Jan-05 15:50:30

I think it's very important that we educate our children to be 'citizens' of this country - a bit corny I know, but I think it's important that they understand the simplest basics of politics e.g. we choose our government and if we don't like it we are lucky enough to be able to change it by voting. Having said that I fight a running battle with dh who is pretty intent on brain-washing our dss into a V anti-GeorgeW Bush stance. When they see him on TCV they now say 'That man's very stupid and bad, isn't he mummy?' Although secretly I have to agree I'm furious with dh for not letting them reach that conclusion or another for themselves. Dh and I really argue about that one!

roisin Sun 30-Jan-05 15:52:42

My boys are 5 and 7, and have a lot of world knowledge, but I would be extremely unhappy for either of them to see the 6 o'clock news. They watch Newsround, and we are happy to discuss things with them.

IMO Gwenick you can shelter children from "the big bad world" to an extent, and allow them their childhood, innocence, and freedom from worry.

noddyholder Sun 30-Jan-05 15:57:09

my ds aged 10 has always had an interest in news and politics so we have encouraged him and answered questions as they crop up newsround on bbc1 has some good simple news and politics

OldieMum Sun 30-Jan-05 16:00:30

DD is only two, so we will not have to face this issue for a long time, but I feel very torn. I want her to feel safe and to enjoy her childhood in peace, but I also worry that too long an insulation from the realities of life may mean that she has a nasty shock when they begin to intrude. I agree with people who point out that it's difficult to insulate children from the outside world, anyway. I would prefer her to learn about politics first from me than from headlines in the 'Sun' that she might see in a shop.

Caligula Sun 30-Jan-05 16:12:39

Hmm, mine are too young as yet (although DS is five) but I tend to go along with the view that if they don't find out about politics from you, they'll find out about them from someone or somewhere else. For me, politics isn't really a separate part of life, it's part of it, and it stems from the values you have. While I wouldn't want to go shoving my views down my kids' throats, I guess I will try to honestly answer any questions they have and tell them what I believe and what other people believe which is different to me, but why we may have the same values even though we believe in different methods.

Gwenick Sun 30-Jan-05 16:57:23

"IMO Gwenick you can shelter children from "the big bad world" to an extent, and allow them their childhood, innocence, and freedom from worry."

We didn't have a TV when I was growing up - and only saw the news about the Kings Cross Fire in the newspaper.............fat lot of good it did me for my parents to try and 'shelter' me from the world as I was able to understand a little of what I heard on the radio and some of the news - but not enough for me to develop a phobia of escalators!

When I was growing up there was far less 'media' stuff about politics around - you could easily 'escape' most of it if you wanted to. But you can't do that now! - MP's (and even PM'S) are seen visiting nurseries and schools........thus throwing 'politics' and the world at them even if we don't want them to see it. Even if you have the radio on, they can hear the news, walk into town/tesco/local shop and they'll see the pictures on the papers, listen to you (when you think they're not in ear shot) and they'll probably hear you talking about it, etc etc.

I don't really see what 'service' we pay our children if we TRY and hide the 'real world' from them until they hit their teens! I'd MUCH rather my children grow up with a knowledge of things happening in the world than to suddenly have it all thrown at them in their teens - there's enough happens to kids when they hit their teens without them sudddenly discovered the world isn't quite like what mum and dad brought you up to think it is.

Just my opinion of course.

hatsoff Sun 30-Jan-05 18:05:55

erm tallulah... I did not "have a go at her". I "explained" something to her (read my post again) I most certainly did nothing that could be described as having a go thank you very much

suedonim Sun 30-Jan-05 18:24:24

My mum and grandad, (he lived with us) were always talking politics when we were young so I suppose I grew up with it. Mum did try and protect us from horrors; I remember she hid the papers during the Moors Murder trial and when I eventually managed to see what she was hiding away I was terrified by what I read. I had no idea people could do such dreadful things.

I agree that there's much more in the media now. When my boys were small there wasn't even any daytime TV so it was easy to keep stuff away from them. But my dd's were confronted with real life when we moved to Indonesia. There is no way you can shield them from the all-too-encompassing poverty there. I don't think it's done them any harm, tbh; they certainly won't be suffering like the many poor souls we saw, day in, day out.

hatsoff Sun 30-Jan-05 19:22:56

tallulah - just read your thread again - my example was nothing like yours! I wouldn't dream of "exploding" at my children over something like this, nor telling them that what they said was "stupid". As I said, I explained that people come in all shapes and sizes. These incidents obviously did have a big affect on you but they just aren't the same - and would very much go against my whole philosophy of trying to help my children understand the world around them and to empathize with people. I was also in the awkward situation of having to counter the influence of someone else who thought it was ok to laugh at someone because they looked different - so I was deliberately as gentle as possible - knowing that it would be confusing for her to get two different messages, but at the end of the day it was too important to let lie.

mamadadawahwah Mon 31-Jan-05 00:12:55

Politics covers a wide range of topics. Everything is political. I think if my kids have a handle on how things work at a young age, they are more apt to be able to make wise choices when they get older. Everthing is political, its about authority, power, consensus, debate, revolt etc. Playschool is political, big kids bully little kids cause they can, etc.

When it comes time for my kids to start learning about history in school, i want them to be able to discern what is true and what isnt. I remember the garbage i was taught in school and wish i could go back and say, hey Miss, I think you got that wrong.

Mummyloves Mon 31-Jan-05 00:29:52

I let DS watch the news with me and we discuss what he sees. Yes, he sees the "war" bits, but we discuss, and I like to say unbiasdley, what is happening in a very easy to understand way, ie, whoever is in the right or wrong, people DO resort to these measuresand people suffer, The victims, The Agressors, Innocents etc. So far he is very matter of fact about it. I agree, that life IS politics, even the nursery school you send your child to, and the children you WANT your child to play with. Why do you differentiate? I try to instill in my DS that all people are worthy of respect regardless of the potential narrower picture. I don't feel as though I'm "subjecting him" to pictures of horrors or violence. If a warning comes up I take notice of that. He shows a genuine interst and I use that to his advantage. I certainly won't "preach" labour or conservative philosphies at him. That's for him to decide. Whilst I might have a preferred political party I am not blind to the positive sides philosphy wise of the other. As long as he knows what's right in the world, ie respect, altruism, defence of rights etc, then he an make his own choices. We as adults know the realities of the political world. He'll come to realise that later.

hatsoff Mon 31-Jan-05 00:34:05

good post Mummy loves. I believe in teaching values - respect and empathy - and I think that comes under the broad rubric of "politics", but I certainly wouldn't preach a party line

Mummyloves Mon 31-Jan-05 00:39:52

I DON'T, I DON'T preach a party line!!! Honestly I said that!!! Besides, he already knows I'm a Monster raving Looney....!!!!!!!!

hatsoff Mon 31-Jan-05 00:41:47

I know you don't - didn't I say it right? sorry

Tortington Mon 31-Jan-05 00:57:37

my 15 yr old overheard me n his dad tory bashing and asked "whats a tory"
"crap" we replied in unison.

perhaps not the education we should have given him

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