Friday, November 02, 2007

Raised Right

There is an old-fashioned southern phrase that I'm fond of, the idea that a child has been "raised right." Being raised right means lots of things ---- a child who is polite has been raised right; a child who does the right thing even when there is no grown up around to make it happen has been raised right. A child who is raised right knows the right thing to say and do.

Most of my decisions as a parent are driven by this goal: ensuring that JT is raised right. In pursuit of that, I have recently made the decision to carefully expose JT to the news.

Yes, that's right, my 7 year old is a news consumer. He listens to NPR with me. Frankly, there are some topics that I'm not quite ready to explain and so I'll turn off those stories. But we listen to the news each day. In my Government classes, I teach all about political socialization. I know that if I want my child to share my values, I must expose him to those values and explain why I believe the things that I believe. Politically active parents, people who encouraged me to express an opinion and join in political discussions, raised me. I'm seeking to recreate that experience for my child.

So he listens and we talk. I've had reason to explain the war in Iraq and why I think it's a bad idea; that George W. Bush isn't evil but he is wrong; that sometimes people hurt their own children; that in some places children are hungry. In short, my son is learning about the world.

Last Tuesday, I reaped my first reward for these lessons. We were listening to the news; to a story about states requiring that registered voters bring a driver's license to the polls. The story was about who is most adversely affected by these Republican-sponsored laws ---- poor, elderly, and minority voters.

When the story ended, before I could say a thing, my son said to me, "That's not fair, Mama. Some people don't have a driver's license and they won't be able to vote. What if they don't know how to drive or are too old to drive? What if they don't have money for a car? That's not fair."

He's right, of course. And he doesn't know the half of it: that voter ID laws such as these are designed to suppress voter turnout. That the voters who are suppressed are often Democrats and that Republicans raise the specter of vote fraud to justify these laws even though no credible study in the nation believes we have a problem with fraud. My 7 year old didn't need to know those facts. He understood enough to see unfairness and call it as he saw it.

I daresay he's being raised right.


J.Bro said...

Raised right...or raised left? I support them both, depending on the meaning.

I dream of a house with a Bose stereo system and a 4 year-old Bean growing up to the soothing voices of Morning Edition.

Sharkb said...

He's indeed being raised well! And right but left.

sonny said...

Asking for an ID is not discrimination based on anything other than verifiable citizenship. This is appropriate discrimination. A drivers license is not required just an ID. I am left of center but sometimes we choose silly battles.

Poor people and minorities (I am Mexican American) need proper ID to make the most of opportunities in the US. We should work hard to help them be as successful as possible and if that means helping every legal citizen to get an ID we should do it.

My son (he's only 5) and I helped our 87 year old neighbor get a new ID last week.(Hers had expired.) We drove her to the DMV. She needed it for other transactions much less vital than voting. Why would we expect less for voting?

Sometimes compassion requires action. Sometimes making excuses for people only prolongs their neediness. I'm teaching my son so be the change not just vote for it.

Thanks for engaging your son in political thought.

I found this blog by googling "raised right"