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(Warning – pure meta.)

I’m a teacher.  I have a special affinity for children, young people, and their vision and influence.  I am also an ardent supporter of Barack Obama.  I live in Illinois and have watched him for years.

Reading the diaries this morning, I was struck by a particular thought that I haven’t seen discussed:  If your own personal children were to join a campaign on the road, which one would you have it be, and why?

I can’t help but imagine Michelle and Barack being very deliberate about what their children would be exposed to on the campaign trail.  I think that much of what they personally do is done as a model not only for the country, but for their own children.

I haven’t followed how the Edwards are handling things with their kids.  Maybe someone can give some perspective there.

I don’t want to get into a screed about the campaign surrogates.  I am mostly interested in the candidates and their respective spouses.  I do think that the Clintons are using what they know best – a winning at all costs.  Some have no trouble with that and support their candidacy.  But what about the effects on children?  Do they even have to worry about it – their child is an adult now.

Too melodramatic?  Maybe.  But I do think young people are watching closely – more so than any time in their lives.  All they’ve really known is Bush.

I have two daughters, an eleven-year-old and a seventeen-year-old.  My high school senior, who attends a quite conservative public high school in a west suburb of Chicago, says that Obama is a given at her school.  Almost to the point where they don’t even have anything to discuss.  I find this fascinating.  I live in a staunchly red suburb, and the young people are Obama all the way.

My eleven-year-old loves Obama, but I think it’s mostly because mom loves Obama.

So what do you think the effects on the children are of all of this?  Having both a woman and a black person as the leading candidates for president – how huge it that?  What does it foretell in terms of what they will expect and tolerate in their political future?  What are the candidates teaching them - mostly implicitly - about how this should be done?

Maybe kids don’t even pay attention.  I don’t know.  Just thought it’d be an interesting discussion for parents (or anyone else) to have around here.

Originally posted to sick of it all on Sat Jan 26, 2008 at 07:52 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You know, I had to explain Clinton's affair (4+ / 0-)

    with Monica to my kids when they were in elementary school because of the incessant nonsense that the Republicans pulled over and over.  It was impossible to avoid these conversations if an honest answer for "Why is the President in trouble" was called for.  At the time I was furious that politics had become so ridiculous.  My kids were in junior high and protested the Iraq war.  They've grown up arguing along with me with Bush whenever he appears on TV.  My son is now in college and my daughter is now a junior in high school.  They are watching very closely with their friends.  I want something different for them.  There is no hope for them in restoring the same set of problems, the same people, the same kind of politics to the White House.  There is no change for them.  My kids have seen nothing but cynicism and horror in our political system.  They deserve to be proud of their country.  Thank you for thinking of them.

  •  We still have a newspaper clipping w/ a picture (3+ / 0-)

    of my son (now a teenager) in a child backpack going out campaigning against Michael Huffington. Another son is a big Obama fan. I try to be honest with my children, and let them know how difficult life 'in the real world' can be. I also want them to inherit a political system that is better than the one we have today. The 'rub' as they say is knowing when to make that leap of faith to abandon what punishing experience has taught me regarding what is possible for that better future we all crave. Some day my children will leave the house, and whenthey do I hope they will have the intelligence, wisdom, and compassion to make good choices (w/ regards to politics and everything else).

    There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS. Mahatma Gandhi

    by Sacramento Dem on Sat Jan 26, 2008 at 08:08:36 AM PST

  •  I think it definitely helps us... (4+ / 0-)

    ...particularly when those children look at the two parties.  In our party, either a white woman or a black man - neither of whom would have been allowed to vote a hundred years ago - will get our nomination.  In the other party, it's just more old white men.

    These messages sink in with children, I think, perhaps in ways they don't sink in with adults.

    •  Yep. I totally agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueintheface

      While we are a conflicted household about Disney, we recently visited Disney World and didn't go into the Hall of Presidents.  My daughter said she doesn't want to sit through a show about a bunch of old white men. :)  How wonderful for the kids that there may be a glaring exception to that someday!

  •  My children and I marched in the St Pete MLK (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karma for All, sick of it all

    Day parade for Obama. I took them to see Obama speak in April in Ybor City, Tampa.

    My only regret is that with the ages that my children are, almost 7,6 and 2, I can't take them door to door like I used to when the girls were babies in their strollers.

    But they see me phone banking, they see me going to meetings and trying to work on local issues, and I talk to them about what is going on in the world.

    I've tried to explain what Democrats stand for, what is going on around us nationally and internationally. I am not trying to brainwash my kids to be Democrats, but it's my hope that they embrace what the party stands for and what we've worked so hard to do for the country.

    I love this diary. I think that training the next generation of engaged citizens is so important. And if we are going to do that, our kids need to see us walking the walk, and they need to be a part of the process as well.

    •  How wonderful! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karma for All, blueintheface, marykk

      I loved taking my kids to see Obama.  I actually have a pic of them with him when he walked the sidewalks of our town during his Senate race!  (It is treasured by all of us.  My older daughter used it on her Facebook page!)

      When I shook his hand and thanked him for coming to super-conservative Wheaton, IL - he asked me what he needs to know.  (I talked about education and health care as my priorities.)  Our first time hearing him speak was at our community college that night.

      One of my favorite things about going to Obama rallies is that my kids get to see the kind of America I want to live in - a true mix of old and young, all races, reaching out and working together with a positive message!

      Keep fighting the good fight! :)

  •  I've brought my kids (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sick of it all, Newzie

    to local 4th of July parades to march with the State Rep., on 3 hour roadtrips to see a national candidate (Kerry), into the voting booth and along when I served as a poll watcher.  Citizenship education is too important to trust to the schools.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sat Jan 26, 2008 at 09:08:51 AM PST

  •  Slightly OT (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, sick of it all

    The boys in my son's third grade class draw in the cafeteria while they wait for the teachers to escort them to their classrooms each morning. One morning, after a Democratic debate, the drawings were of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, fighting. She had pistols and he had bombs (they 'drew' from his last name) but bad comics aside, the kids have picked up on the escalating enmity of the campaigns, which I find interesting. Barack won in the drawings. (This is a blue, blue state... no drawings of Republicans.)

    It's also interesting, and perhaps hopeful, that a number of the kids in the class are engaged in the election process, even though they're a decade from voting. They're trying to understand the issues, and what they hear the adults talking about. When I was a kid, my classmates and I talked about politics, even in grade school. I can only hope this means these children will be politically engaged as adults, or maybe they'll be political cartoonists, if only with a little more subtlety.

    Why is it so hot, and what am I doing in this hand basket?

    by Kirsten on Sat Jan 26, 2008 at 09:13:46 AM PST

  •  Kids have pretty refined (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, sick of it all

    bullsh*t meters.  They can assess not only words but nuances of demeanor that many adults ignore.  We parse words while they are observing actions that seem superfluous and innocuous to us.  Also, Obama appears even younger that he is.  I remember when John Kennedy was running and how so many of us 10 year-olds were mesmerized by someone who appeared young and healthy.  We had only know an old-looking and sometimes sick Ike.

    "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Sat Jan 26, 2008 at 09:34:51 AM PST

  •  10 year old (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink

    My son is and has been extraordinarily politically aware. In 2004 he organized a mock election (definitely the first time the second grade had one) and proudly called me at my out-of-state pollwatching gig to tell me that he had Kerry winning 40-25. That was the best news I heard that day.
    We live in Illinois, so Obama is very popular. We've met him a few times and he is direct and approachable with kids. My son has printed up Obama posters & passed them out. He figured out a way to 'personalize' them, so someone can have a poster that says "Bear Fans for Obama" or whatever their interest is. He called headquarters and offered to make calls to the more contested states, but since he sounds very much his age, I think they'd rather have him continue with the posters. I am very proud of his work.
    I am still torn between Obama and Edwards, and he's ok with that for now. Illinois hasn't heated up yet. I'm sure that we'll have some great conversations if Edwards decides to challenge the favorite son her.

    One odd thing happened, though. My son was born in 1997, so the whole Lewinsky thing  was well past by the time he was old enough to pay attention. I certainly never brought it up.  Two weeks ago he came home from school and described in rather graphic but matter of fact detail an act that Monica had performed on Clinton, only he had Monica's gender wrong! I had a lot of explaining to do, and God only knows how the explanation got translated back at school the next day! The kids in his class might be too young to remember the '90's, but their older siblings aren't, but they are fuzzy on the details and the rumors fly.

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