Arguing about politics(34 Posts)
My lovely ds is driving me a bit bonkers. Which is his job at 17. However ... I’m wondering to what extent it’s my job to challenge some of his wilder hyperbole?
He’s intensely political. He had a gf who was a Marxist (& so were her parents) & he idolized all of them. She went away to uni but they are back in touch and his rhetoric has ramped up again.
For the most part I don’t rise to it. He wants to talk at me all the time about political issues, including issues where he knows I’ll disagree w him. Suffice it to say I’m more old school left wing and don’t see things as black and white as he does and don’t swallow the party line on anything really. My degree is in political science and I worked in a political environment for a few years and ... well, I’m older so my views are maybe more nuanced.
He’s very well-informed, which is great. But he comes out w utter bolllocks, like this morning he told me that the Republicans in the US had created a slice of people too poor for Obamacare and not poor enough for Medicaid on purpose to “literally” murder poor people.
I pointed out that rich people require poor people so he went off and had a think about that.
Thing is - I hate arguing politics, I don’t think it works for the most part, and I don’t want to fall out with him. He has good intentions, he’s just got that 17 year old lack of nuance. But some of the stuff he comes out w is ridiculous.
Is questioning him on his more loony statements a good middle road between ignoring him and engaging in useless arguments with him? My exh never outgrew that inflammatory black and white view of things so I worry a bit for ds as I don’t think railing against the big stuff (capitalism!) while not doing any good on a local level is a route to happiness. Nor do I think coming across as a windbag who knows best is going to attract good people.
Be grateful there's only one of him.
Is he generally obsessive?
There were raging political & religious arguments in household I grew up in. I hated that. (The arguers were obsessives) On positive side, I was very ready when DS went alt-right & DD went radical left.
We have civilised conversation rules & nobody is obliged to be part of a political conversation they don't like. DS & I can agree to disagree & talk about something else. but DD is strident, wants the last word & has to be ignored & has yet to learn to ignore...
It's, quite hard work isn't it. I'm am hoping that DD, nearly 20, will grow out of it, but thinking about it, she is a bit better than she was when she was 18. I just used the 'not going to agree, so arguing and expecting me to wasn't going to work' line. Tbt, her going away to uni has diluted it a lot
I wouldn’t say he’s obsessive, no. He’s passionate about a ton of things, this is just one of them. And I love how he gets excited about things, I just don’t like hyperbole in place of useful action nor in place of reasoned thought. Rather than ranting about the 1% volunteer for a party that has a shot at getting elected then work on issues that effect people right now. Promote good laws through protest and engagement.
Part of it is that I can’t bear endless complaining without any action to back it up. I finally had to tell a man I fancied that if he wasn’t going to volunteer (as I do) for the party of his choice, nor for any group that does and good anywhere, he hd to stfu. And he did!
But I also don’t like to hear my sweet ds getting all angry about things he can’t change overnight. It doesn’t make him happy.
I also object to people spouting nonsense - yesterday he told me that “all of the third world and Middle East could literally move to the UK and there’d be enough for everyone if wealth was distributed fairly.” Er, well, yes, and bugger the environmental catastrophe of that! Why say it when if it happened it would be a bloody nightmare.
I don’t get upset when he says these things. It’s mostly a raised eyebrow sort of thing, or say “hold on, what about the countryside and transport and importing food” (ignoring the cultural aspect as that’s an argument that sails right past him).
But yes, it’s exhausring and I’m hoping age and uni will sort him a bit. Honestly, with the gf I think he’d be much more moderate. He’s always been quite a practical person, very sweet, and very much the kid who wants to do the right thing. So I’m hoping he’ll circle back to an engaged more moderate viewpoint.
How Trotsky’s parents must have suffered!
Woops, should have read “without the gf he’d be much more moderate”. Obviously he makes his own choices but I think he’s both trying to impress her and is excited by the hyperbolic world she and her family live in.
I was relieved when my similar moved out to go to uni to study politics!
exhausting isn’t it...
I feel guilty about it (massively), but can imagine feeling a tad relieved 😌
It’s nice he wants to interrupt me watching telly, trying to enjoy a sneaky bit of chocolate in my room,
Etc with his opinions about all and sundry, but it’s not a well-rounded sort of life.
He thinks I’m extremely regressive That’s sort of amusing, but sort of not.
I suppose it’s better than being bored by life and not caring. But in my middle age I’d like a bit of quiet.
Can I ask what you mean by 'its not a well rounded life'?
I mean when he’s in that frame of mind he has zero other interests. He just goes on and on about the failings of the West to the exclusion of all else. I’d consider it more well-rounded if he got some fresh air, occasionally talked about food, film, love, etc.
I think to an extent it’s a function of feeling stressed. He’s been feeling better the last couple of weeks and is now talking to me about biology and physics and linguistics and is going out with friends a bit more.
Just the obsession w one topic, whatever the topic, doesn’t seem well-rounded. When it’s a topic that stresses him, even more so. He’s not going to fix the problems of capitalism in his bedroom so I think it’s healthier to take those concerns and do something with them - volunteer etc.
And there’s this: this morning he was on his phone and sort of sniggered. I said “what?” And he said “the British economy is tanking because of Brexit.” (As with most young people he’s very anti-Brexit because of not being able to move to Paris without a visa, and because he thinks it’s somehow discriminatory against non-whites to maybe slow immigration from Europe. Basically).
I said “I often have a laugh at low income people losing their jobs when the economy crashes.” Glaring at him.
He says “Come on, you don’t find it funny when coal miners in Virginia who voted for Trump lose their health insurance?” “No, I don’t” I say, followed by muttering that the left I believe in has been taken over by theorist who have no idea how average people live.
He honestly is a very nice person. Typical of his age he’s passionate about his interests, one of which is left-wing politics. And we’re in agreement on some points, but on others he comes across to me as very privileged. I am looking forward to that aspect of his age passing!
It’s annoying but unsurprising given the indoctrination children get at schools
True enough. We’re in Canada (British parent and all grandparents British - not wanting to narrow that down as maybe identifying), but it’s the same here. Here though the focus is primarily on how teachers are the vanguard of the working class and practically on the breadline (they are solidly middle class here, much better pay and conditions than in the UK). Right from a young age, from infants years, they’re getting the poor wee things all worried about the environment. Because a 7 year old obsessing about plastic will save the planet. It gave my kids sleepless nights.
I voted Labor when I lived in England and vote the equivalent here. But I’m not much of a one for towing the party line and I suppose I’m more old Labour.
Yesterday I had a nice chat with his older sister (my dd) over coffee and she said that at his age she had a lot of daft opinions but has grown out of them and feels he will too. So that cheered me up.
You say he's not obsessive but then he won't let go of his bone.
Count yourself lucky you don't have a 15 year old William Hague like I do . Ranting on about defence cuts, etc. He would have been a staunch Thatcherite, I'm sure
It’s annoying but unsurprising given the indoctrination children get at schools
Complete rubbish. There is no room on the current curriculum for more than the most cursory of glances at anything political.
I think it's a good thing that your DS is engaged with politics as so many teenagers that I encounter seem thoroughly clueless. I don't have to live with him though so I appreciate how wearing it must be. All you can do is hope to show him how to share an opinion in a reasonable way. Also take a deep breath and remember that it won't be too long until he either moves out or will become more occupied with other things as he gets older. 17 year olds have a lot of time to ponder.
My own DM I have been on completely opposing political spectrums since I was about the same age as your son. We've had many a barney about it but age and maturity did help me learn to agree to disagree.
Just buy him Hayeck's The institution of Liberty and refuse to speak to him on the matter until he has read it cover to cover. Sending to iea events is also a good idea. Don't worry, it's most likely a phase that will pass as he gets older.
YES! Buy his Hayek's 'the road to serfdom' and Robert Nozick's 'Anarchy state and utopia' then - when you next visit the UK - have him go to a few events at the IEA.
Oops, sorry, missed you were in Canada and don't know what the curriculum is like there. I have worked with a few Canadian teachers though and wouldn't have labelled any of them as Marxists!
School is political. I finished secondary c. 10 years ago. At the start there was a poster saying something about half the world owning half the worlds wealth. These posters kept getting more and more as I grew up. As the years went by it became more and more and by the time I left uni it was all the 1% stuff.
I used to think daft stuff at 18, I still think daft stuff at 26, but its very different stuff - some completely opposite to what I thought before. I feel I am shifting again as well - interesting times.
I’ve had a quick look at Hayek and I don’t think either of us would be too keen. If Thatcher liked him & he influenced Friedman, I think he’d give both of us conniptions.
It’s both his black and white way of viewing things and that it stresses him that I don’t like.
But (deep breath) he will grow out of it
The teachers unions here (& I’m very pro-union until you get me onto the topic of teachers’ unions) are very left-wing, convinced teachers are low paid (they’re not in my province, not at all), regularly get into barnies with the government (only occasionally on issues where they have public support). They live in their own little world. I have friends who’re English and have taught in England & I think pay and conditions are very different here.
Both my kids, 17 and 19 are studying politics. But they dont bang on about it all the time. 17 year old can be quite opinionated . But he is in the school debating team and has learned to listen and deconstruct a counter argument, which is useful.
At this age they are still developing their social skills. They can also be very full of talk but no action. Hopefully your DS will grow out of this...or he could grow up to be a dogmatic, self opinionated bore. Sorry to say this. Hope it's the former.
Based on me, and his sister, I think he’ll get better. I remember arguing with my dad about politics at the same age and being convinced I was the font of all knowledge :D
He’s still in high school and isn’t getting great instruction and doesn’t have a lot of people who are as into it as he is. I think uni will temper him a bit - and age will wear him down!
I don't know, I'm also in Canada (BC) and while the teachers unions are a bit bonkers I've never got the impression that my kids teachers were political at all, and generally I think people are incredibly apathetic about both provincial and federal politics.
My children are both politically interested and passionate in their beliefs. I was an argumentative bugger at their ages so I'm fairly tolerant, teenagers tend toward black and white thinking, it's a function of knowledge without experience I think. My ds is more of an academic thinker, keen on debate and winning arguments. A bit annoying at times but quite fun really. dd is much more emotionally connected to her passions so tends to get upset about injustices. The only big fireworks here are when ds and dd argue with each other, or if any of us start on gender/identity politics where I'm a big old terf in their eyes. So we have agreed to disagree there.
You are probably right about that lizzie. ds has just started university and is getting a lot more stimulation now (and being worked far harder too). We also only see him at the weekend so less time for arguing!
I think I’d find it easier if there was another parent for him to bounce off. Generally speaking I enjoy his enthusiasm, just sometimes I want to read a page w/o interruption or watch Corrie till the ad break without hearing about Putin!
Certainly on the environment his education (also in B.C.) has been very politicized. Some of his teachers at his current school are very political. Some very left wing but some not. He gets annoyed that his history teacher accepted American hegemony for example. Politics comes up a lot in social studies, history, law, even English. Right now they’re reading Woolf and his teacher adores Woolf and he’s surprised they don’t talk about Woolf from a class viewpoint (I agree w him there, I’m not a Woolf fan).
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.