Pushing your political views on to your kids
I ADMIT it. I am a swinger. Before you raise an eye- brow to the appropriateness of that statement in a family life column, I am referring to the fact that I am not committed to a particular political party, and am open to changing my vote from one government election to the next.
It’s not because I’m undecided in my vote or disinterested in politics or take no notice of political media.
In fact I have a very high sense of civic responsibility, believing I’m privileged to be given the chance to have my say and am thankful for compulsory voting.
It’s just I’m not stuck on either side of party politics.
Each election I make a rational choice based on an evaluation of the individual candidates running in my electorate and what they have to offer as my representative in parliament.
I don’t take much notice of the badge or party colour they wear. I leave that for my sporting affiliations – maroon all the way.
With the current federal election campaign in full swing, with signs, ads and an onslaught of messages in the media, it has me thinking what influence it has on my children.
As a parent, I think it’s important to talk about political matters even though they are not of voting age yet.
I don’t mean indoctrinating my offspring with a designated political viewpoint but discussing the main issues, the electoral process, why voting is important and that every person’s opinion counts.
I accept that parents with strong political beliefs would feel it is their duty to see their children adopt similar beliefs.
But hearing someone say they vote the way they do because that’s how their parents vote bugs me.
Research suggests that school, peers, and the media each play a role in shaping political identities, but it appears family has the greatest amount of influence in the political socialisation process.
Therefore the communication with our children on politics should be open and issue-oriented rather than dogmatic.
Children should not simply be carbon copies of their parents but should be allowed to think for themselves, have their own say and form their own political identity.
It’s likely that many will continue the voting tradition of at least one older family member but we should at least give them the chance to learn about politics and develop their own opinion.
The bottom line for my own kids is that if I have an effect on their political attitudes and behaviours, they are going to be swingers just like my parents.