The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Coming Clean About That Dukakis Tattoo


The New York Times recently had a series about how much you should tell your children — and when — about “life before kids.” Perhaps a “starter marriage,” a punk phase, or a drug charge?

While these topics could make for some potentially difficult conversations, it might be fun to come clean about your political past. Of course, voting for Mondale is not (quite) as bad as getting arrested, though you might be surprised at how much fun it is to tell your children about how your political views have changed over the years. This week, for example, a college minister visited our home, talking about the challenges of college, liberal professors, and how students can keep their faith intact.

“I was a feminist when I was at my small Christian college,” I told him.  “But when I got to New York University, I saw the face of true feminism.”

My twelve-year-old daughter’s eyes lit up.  Her mother — a conservative writer, a Republican stalwart, a tea-party speaker — was a liberal?

Did you used to drive a VW Bug with a Ralph Nader bumper sticker? Did you like Dukakis in spite of Willie Horton?  Did you find Reagan too suspiciously optimistic until the Iranian hostage crisis?

Then, it might be the right time to open up. Not only will they probably find it amusing, it will be a fun way to teach your kids about life, decision making, and how to change positions when you realize you’re wrong.

Just be prepared. The next time you advise them to clean their room, they might respond, “Why would I listen to you? You voted for Ross Perot!”


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