Sepia Mutiny‘s abhi did a post a while back on children being taken to political protests:
I feel that taking a child to certain types of protests is like giving a child a gun without teaching them proper gun safety. I believe it is more important to properly educate a child in all aspects of an issue and encourage them to investigate it on their own, rather than take them along to mindlessly protest something. I think it is VERY important to teach a child about the realities and injustices in the world and when to stand up for a principle, but I often see images in the media that hint at the fact that the children holding signs are mostly a form of propaganda.
I’ve been thinking about that for a while.
If a child decides on an issue they want to pursue, I think they have every right to participate in a (safe, non-violent) protest. Children do have minds of their own. Heck, Katie Allison Granju had to deal with her son declaring for Bob Dole at age 5. Valinda Bolton (subliminal message: vote for her if you’re in TX HD 47) tore up her parents’ Goldwater sign when she was five.
But like abhi, I have mixed feelings about parents taking their kids to protests without explaining both sides of the issue as objectively as they can and then asking if the child wants to participate. Even if you think the child is being hurt by the government’s action/inaction on the issue and thus should be there to show the government the real face of the people affected, who can say the child would agree with your proposed solution? One of the most conservative people I know was raised by liberals. He fundamentally disagrees with them on how to solve society’s problems, or even what the problems are. I was raised by an extremely conservative father, with a similar dynamic.
At the same time, I want to pass along my values to my children, as do most parents. Fair play, tolerance, kindness, generosity, and participation are among these. Taking a child to a protest or rally supporting rights for GLBT families would be a way of teaching them about those values.
My guess is that I will do my best to choose the language “I believe” when discussing issues, rather than give into the temptation of using my parental authority – even when down to the bottom of my soul, I know I am right. If the cause is just, it should stand on its own merits.
This story by Jeanne D’Arc about her daughter’s political evolution is also worth reading…