Sunday, October 22, 2006

First Election

My 18 year old daughter, Jessica, got her first ballot in the mail today. It is fun to watch as she becomes civically involved, discusses the candidates and issues and comes to her decision on the questions of the day.

As a parent, of course, I have spent the last 18 years indoctrinating her in the values that I deem important. Any parent who says otherwise is either lying, or is not a very good parent. I use the word "indoctrinating" intentionally, even though I know a lot of folks would read it and think: "Parents shouldn't indoctrinate their kids, they should bring them up with good values and let them make up their own minds on the issues of the day."

Guess what? They are saying the same thing I am, just not as honestly. I'd ask these people: "Do you make an effort to teach your children about the values you deem important?"

That is indoctrination. Teaching your children the doctines by which you live, hoping they will also live by them. If that is not the job of a parent, I am not sure what is.

Does that mean my daughter is an ideological clone of me? Nope. I understand that I am only one of the many influences on her views of political and cultural isses of the day. She is taking her responsibility to cast informed votes seriously (another value of mine I've successfully indoctrinated her in!) and so she is finding he own path and coming to her own conclusions on the candidates and issues on this ballot.

But I can tell you, as a father, when she saw her ballot envelope on the dining room table today, recognized what it was, looked at me and smiled, I knew what she was thinking, and I was thinking the same exact thing. We shared this brief, unspoken moment. We both knew what it meant: she'd arrived at another signpost on the road to adulthood.

She has a vote. It's hers. She values what I think, but she will vote her mind. She can disagree with me, cast her vote, and not even tell me. And she knows that is A-OK with me. It is what growing up is all about.


kigogal said...

I remember voting for the first time. Of course, (showing my age) I went to the elementary school cafeteria in my town and stood in the red white and blue cardboard stall. I really miss all that. I've asked my significant other if we can put up a cardboard booth at home to vote in, but he's not crazy about that idea.


The closest I can get now to "going" to vote is that I drop off my ballot at the local library rather than mailing it.

Diesel said...

As a high school history/government teacher, I really appreciate this post. I wish all parents had this influence on their children (and USED it).