METERMy wife and I have done everything possible to keep our children from knowing about our personal politics. I remember in school I heard children say things about Tories and Labor that even then stood out as repeating opinions from home. My parents were always ambiguous about their political views and I don’t think they were firmly rooted on either side. I don’t recall having a single conversation with my late father about politics.
All of this came back to me when our second son showed us a TikTok he had made. It was him with a Trump filter on, making him look like my wife and Donald’s beloved son, and he said, “Hi, I’m Donald Trump, and I’m going to win this election because I’m a huge racist.” Or something like that. Leesa and I were baffled by two things: one that he had formulated views on Trump, and two that he had decided to move on to character comedy rather than stand-up. I asked him why he thought Trump was a racist, and he said that everyone knows it, before our senior spoke up and said, “He denies climate change and believes that disinfectant cures Covid; he’s an idiot.”
How you interpret that depends entirely on which side of the political fence you lie on. You could easily argue that this shows exactly how poisonous Trump is; even the kids think he’s a cocoon. Then people would share the article and say things like, “Are we really expected to believe that your children actually said that?” and “This Libtard makes up the things his children have said.” However, I could just as easily write an article on the bias of the free press and the prevalence of social media, which means that even my formerly apolitical children have been influenced.
It’s hard to know how to feel about it. Our children now have political opinions as a result of the social media they have been using. That feels like some kind of invasion, but at the same time, developing opinions on the issues of the day is an integral part of growing up. What also helped alleviate the impact was that their views align quite closely with ours. I don’t know how I would have felt if my son had shown me a TikTok with him in Trump’s outfit saying, “I’m Donald Trump and I haven’t shown enough support for white supremacists anyway!” I don’t think Leesa would have cared.
We decided to engage with them about it and tell them that while these are convenient sound bites to release, a little research is needed to see if there is anything to back up those claims. It’s unhealthy to jump into assumptions and slogans, and you’d better do your research to aim for a more nuanced shot. I was going to continue, but both boys had already left the room and were on their PlayStation. Then my wife had to listen to me have a little breakdown on how boring kids find me.
The truth is that now we are quite relaxed about the whole thing. I realize that even if we don’t talk politics openly at home, we clearly signal our views and values all the time, from the decisions we make in our everyday lives and through conversations that are not overtly political. We trust that our children will come to a healthy set of balanced viewpoints, which ideally will align exactly with ours. But if they come to me and talk about supporting Chelsea, everyone will have to go.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.