Along with millions of others throughout the world, I attended rallies this weekend in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Like a handful of other protesters, I brought my child along with me to the marches. My 3-year-old daughter carried a sign reading "Wee 99%" and gladly explained to other protesters that "We're here to pwotest corporate greed."
I was surprised when a news anchor, interviewing me for local TV, asked why I would bring a child to the protest. He pointed out (rather unprofessionally, and with obvious bias) that she was too young to know what was going on.
"Isn't she a little young for politics?" he asked.
My answer was, quite simply, no. I pointed out to him that, by the logic he presented, she's also too young to go to church, to volunteer, or to help me send cards to sick friends. After all, she doesn't understand what's "going on" in these situations. The best that I can do as a mother is to teach her morality in every area of her life.
"If it's bad to teach young kids morals," I said, "I'm doing this parenting thing totally wrong."
I honestly can't even begin to understand why anyone thinks that children are too young to learn about politics. To me, political leanings form one facet of a person's overall moral framework. I've never even considered the idea that I shouldn't talk to a young child about politics. To me, isn't it part of parenting? I think it is not only acceptable, but honorable, to teach young children about politics.
As a parent, I have no problem at all with teaching my daughter about topics that may be relevant to her moral development. I think that I have an obligation to teach her about marriage equality, separation of church and state, and the importance of caring for our nation's poor.
...And it's not brainwashing.
Many politically-minded parents have been accused of brainwashing our children, but I find that stereotype ridiculous. I am raising my daughter to be a freethinker, and I am entirely accepting of the possibility that my daughter's beliefs will deviate from my own. By speaking up for my own beliefs, I'm not teaching my daughter not to think for herself -- any more than talking around her will teach her to never speak her own words. As a parent, I am a model to my daughter, but not an infallible leader. My child may be too young to understand politics, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to be too young to hear about it.