The Corner

The one and only.

Recruiting Children



Of course you are right that indoctrinating very young children to say political things that they don’t understand is repulsive. The first time I encountered that in a really graphic way, was in 2000, when an 7 year old, who was visiting my house, expressed curiousity at our pro-Bush stickers. Her mother had told her that “Bush was really, really bad for women and girls.” I probed a bit, to see just what the mom had said, and to confirm that we were, in fact, talking about abortion. I was relieved that the mother hadn’t actually explained the issue to the child, which would have been worse. But it was disturbing enough.

That said, my own belief is that, sooner or later, and probably sooner, you have to talk to your children about politics, and the core values of your political philosophy, just as you would about religion (without confusing the two, of course).  This is especially true for bright, curious kids who will want to understand the conversations around them. Four might be too young. But 8 is getting old, given what children are exposed to in the culture, on tv, and, as you note, on the very streets of your lovely blue neighborhood. (Sex, on the other hand, can wait much longer than fashionable educators prescribe.)

Furthermore, depending on where you live, the better the schools you send your daughter to, the more likely she will be to encounter aggressively liberal teachers, textbooks, and fellow students. Kids want to be part of the group — unless you have given them a good sense of why they are right to oppose certain views and concepts.

Ultimately, one’s hope as a parent is to have children who can think for themselves and defend their views intelligently. Giving your child a coherent way of looking at the political world is a help, not a hindrance in this process. As she matures, she will be able to accept or reject what you have taught. If you refrain from conveying strong views, she will adopt what the ambient culture is pushing.  Being overly punctilious about this — an understandable, honorable impulse, because we don’t want our kids having to fight our fights – is, nonetheless, a mistake.

And you know, it can be a lot of fun, as mental exercises go, to come up with ways of explaining the evils of taxation, the difference between capitalism and socialism, and the reasons that big government is a problem — even when our team is in office — to a thoughtful child. Beats the hell out of talking about Hannah Montana. 

FYI — As I recall, the original Disney animated movie of Robin Hood is a very hardcore examination of the evils of taxation, how it is used by tyrants, and how it impovershes the people and destroys freedom. It’s a great start.


Sign up for free NR e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review