Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. If I Were a Time Traveler, I’d Teach My Children Differently

 

We just didn’t talk about politics at our house. Mr. CowGirl and I don’t agree politically, most of the time, so we just don’t discuss things, out loud. Actually, he wasn’t much involved in political things 46 years ago when we married. He was active-duty Navy. His draft number was “2” so he decided to pick for himself which branch to join. He was always going to enlist in something because that’s what his family did–all three of his older brothers, his father, and even his stepmother (she was in the National Guard for several years). He was a biker, in the Navy, basically. The motorcycle was a huge focus of his life, and he was a really great daddy.

He served, but he didn’t voice opinions about government leadership. The one time I knew he had an opinion was when the SecDef made a big change in the enlisted rates that effectively eliminated his active duty position, preventing him from ever achieving a higher rank unless he changed his MOS. He thought about it for many months, and ultimately decided to let his enlistment end, rather than change rates, and he went to work for a military contractor, doing essentially the same work he’d done as a sailor. One factor was that he’d have been gone to sea most of his remaining seven years, and we had five children ages 2-10. This job led him into an amazing career for the next 25 years, and ultimately, he got hired as an employee of the feds and was able to use his military time to add up to an official retirement, a few years ago.

But, during all this time, I was a political animal. I read everything; I listened to radio talk shows; I attended candidate forums wherever we lived. Once when he was in Saudi Arabia camping in the sand with the Marines he worked with, (during Gulf War I; yeah…he ended up traveling quite a bit…). I actually was so upset at the stupid geezers who were picketing with signs outside the base that said, “No blood for oil!” and other nonsense, that I, too, made a sign, and I stood across the street from them. I got lots of thumbs-up and honking from passers-by with it: MY HUSBAND IS OVERSEAS PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO PROTEST! I told him about it in a letter and he wrote back telling me how the Marines were very enthused by my actions.

Maybe my failure to openly discuss my political opinions is the reason why all five of our adult children are apparently liberals. This pains me terrifically. Their political affiliations, according to what they post on social media, are all quite associated with the blue side of American politics. I know they heard who I listened to on the radio when they were little. I picked them up from school every day with those opinions being spoken from the car speakers.

But, as they grew older, away from elementary school, they took themselves back and forth, so they weren’t listening anymore. I took them to church–it was hardly a liberal place. Many of our fellow congregants were active-duty military (we always lived near a base) or had served in the military at some point. My children believed in God and Jesus Christ, and served God in their daily lives. Three of them served as Christian missionaries, and one of our daughters used her nursing degree to join the Peace Corps and was assigned to a Muslim country because, “You dress very modestly already, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol.”

Only one of our children was openly rebellious as a teen and gave us quite a lot of grief. But we kept loving him and helped him stay a part of our family. Then, in his early 20s, he finally was able to get someone else to convince him that maybe he needed to treat his depression and his whole life has been much better since.

They are all living totally productive lives. They are raising our grandchildren responsibly–children who were born to married parents. They all have jobs and support themselves. There are several college degrees; one is a Navy vet; no one has ever been arrested. They are kind and considerate to their parents, and they maintain relationships with one another–online mostly — because they live from coast to coast and are spread out in between. Only two of them are still involved in our religion, however.

But…maybe I should have talked more openly about political things with them? Maybe I should have pointed out more directly how much we actually need to stand up for conservative ideals? I lived them! Mostly they did too, so I have been astounded that, now that they are married and grown-up, with some raising kids, they are all voting for the Democrats. I feel like I’ve failed.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Cow Girl: I feel like I’ve failed.

    It sounds like a 99% success to me. They sound like decent people. They have just defaulted to the non-thinking political habit. When politics come for them, they will start to change.

    • #1
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    I agree. I wish I would have known that communists/socialists would pair up hyper-partisan media and academia to gas-light Americans. “1984” would have been a daily life lesson. I now realize the skeptical-gene is a rare mutation is not heritable.

    • #2
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:07 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Al French of Damascus Moderator

    I’m in a similar boat.

    • #3
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:12 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Cow Girl: I feel like I’ve failed.

    It sounds like a 99% success to me. They sound like decent people. They have just defaulted to the non-thinking political habit. When politics come for them, they will start to change.

    Cow Girl: They are all living totally productive lives. They are raising our grandchildren responsibly–children who were born to married parents. They all have jobs and support themselves. There are several college degrees; one is a Navy vet; no one has ever been arrested. They are kind and considerate to their parents, and they maintain relationships with one another–on-line mostly — because they live from coast to coast and spread out in between. Only two of them are still involved in our religion, however.

    Agree with @arahant. You haven’t failed. There are, to quote DJT, “good people” on both sides. Sounds like some of them are your children. Your job, as a parent, isn’t to raise children who agree with your every political position. It’s to raise decent human beings who love and take care of their families and children. You can’t win ’em all, at least not to start with. My stepdaughter is one step, and (thankfully) a few neurons, away from Trump Derangement Syndrome. She’s passed those senses along to my granddaughter, who’s 12. But both of them are smart enough and rational enough that when push comes to shove, I think they’ll be on the correct side of things. I suspect your kids will be, too.

    • #4
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Cow Girl: I feel like I’ve failed.

    It sounds like a 99% success to me. They sound like decent people. They have just defaulted to the non-thinking political habit. When politics come for them, they will start to change.

    This is the biggest problem in America right now. The factory standard default is liberal.

    Liberalism is assumed by most institutions.

    • #5
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. Seawriter Contributor

    Don’t worry. When they get mugged by reality they will become conservative.

    • #6
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:59 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    You have not failed, since all your children are productive members of society, and your grandkids are raised by married parents. Be glad you have healthy, happy, kids and their offspring.

    I made the choice very early not to have kids, and I have not regretted that decision for one minute. It pains me to see what has happened to today’s kids, raised in relative affluence, and determined to burn it all down.

    • #7
    • September 25, 2020, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. kedavis Member

    This might be the best argument for why the Democrat party should still be at least sane. That way, even if people are wrong, they don’t end up doing a lot of damage.

    • #8
    • September 25, 2020, at 12:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. iWe Reagan
    iWeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When our lovely daughter-in-law, @ishottheserif and @kidcoder got serious about each other, her intellectual and liberal parents were bothered that their daughter wanted to get married, and get married young. They were not thrilled abut the fact that though she was raised in a tribally-Jewish atheist home, she chose to become an orthodox Jew and building a Torah home of her own.

    But the most distressing thing to them of all was that she became a conservative. Of all of these things, it was conservatism that was the biggest betrayal.

    So these things can work both ways!

    • #9
    • September 25, 2020, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  10. Seawriter Contributor

    iWe (View Comment):

    When our lovely daughter-in-law, @ishottheserif and @kidcoder got serious about each other, her intellectual and liberal parents were bothered that their daughter wanted to get married, and get married young. They were not thrilled abut the fact that though she was raised in a tribally-Jewish atheist home, she chose to become an orthodox Jew and building a Torah home of her own.

    But the most distressing thing to them of all was that she became a conservative. Of all of these things, it was conservatism that was the biggest betrayal.

    So these things can work both ways!

    That all says the woman has solid sense.

    • #10
    • September 25, 2020, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. FitzpatrickJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose. 

    I grew up in a liberal household and was a liberal for a while. But I had these nagging thoughts, even as a teen who might reasonably be described as “loony left” (for the 80’s), that maybe I was actually conservative. I tried to bury them as quickly as possible, but today, I wonder if that was just heredity tossing a few pebbles up from the depths of my mind. 

     

    • #11
    • September 25, 2020, at 9:37 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. The Reticulator Member

    J. D. Fitzpatrick (View Comment):

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose.

    I would like to see some of those studies. Not that I would necessarily read them from beginning to end, but I’m curious about the methodology. 

    • #12
    • September 27, 2020, at 6:55 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Arahant Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    J. D. Fitzpatrick (View Comment):

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose.

    I would like to see some of those studies. Not that I would necessarily read them from beginning to end, but I’m curious about the methodology.

    You can find some links in the notes here.

    • #13
    • September 27, 2020, at 6:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl

    J. D. Fitzpatrick (View Comment):

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose.

    I grew up in a liberal household and was a liberal for a while. But I had these nagging thoughts, even as a teen who might reasonably be described as “loony left” (for the 80’s), that maybe I was actually conservative. I tried to bury them as quickly as possible, but today, I wonder if that was just heredity tossing a few pebbles up from the depths of my mind.

     

    Only thing about this idea is that my spouse and children are the only lefties I know in the extended family…

    • #14
    • September 27, 2020, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. JoelB Member

    J. D. Fitzpatrick (View Comment):

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose.

    I grew up in a liberal household and was a liberal for a while. But I had these nagging thoughts, even as a teen who might reasonably be described as “loony left” (for the 80’s), that maybe I was actually conservative. I tried to bury them as quickly as possible, but today, I wonder if that was just heredity tossing a few pebbles up from the depths of my mind.

     

    Take out the words “liberal” and “loony left” and substitute the word “straight”. Then take out the word “conservative” and substitute “gay” or “transgender” and you have a testimony very like some of the LGBT persuasion. Just an observation. I am not arguing in favor of this position.

    • #15
    • September 27, 2020, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. kedavis Member

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    J. D. Fitzpatrick (View Comment):

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose.

    I grew up in a liberal household and was a liberal for a while. But I had these nagging thoughts, even as a teen who might reasonably be described as “loony left” (for the 80’s), that maybe I was actually conservative. I tried to bury them as quickly as possible, but today, I wonder if that was just heredity tossing a few pebbles up from the depths of my mind.

     

    Only thing about this idea is that my spouse and children are the only lefties I know in the extended family…

    [probably rude response kept to myself]

    • #16
    • September 27, 2020, at 2:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Zach H. Coolidge

    As others have said, there is no failure in what you describe. On the contrary. Count your childrearing a success, regardless of voting patterns.

    Politics often cuts through families. My own parents are center-left-ish (my dear old dad, in his own way) and full-on Bernie progressive (my lovely mother, who’s frankly a bit bananas on political questions). My rule for myself is: Don’t let politics ensour affection; at the same time, don’t be hesitant to state your point of view when it’s called for (or, alternatively, hold back, here and there, when it isn’t).

    • #17
    • September 27, 2020, at 4:03 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. Southern Pessimist Inactive

    Cow Girl, take solace in the words of the Prophet as expressed by Kahlil Gilbran: Your children are not your children, They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not their thoughts for they have their own thoughts.

    It is really that simple and also that difficult.

    • #18
    • September 27, 2020, at 4:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. FitzpatrickJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    J. D. Fitzpatrick (View Comment):

    There are studies suggesting that some aspect of political belief is genetic. So don’t assume you have total control over the ideology they choose.

    I grew up in a liberal household and was a liberal for a while. But I had these nagging thoughts, even as a teen who might reasonably be described as “loony left” (for the 80’s), that maybe I was actually conservative. I tried to bury them as quickly as possible, but today, I wonder if that was just heredity tossing a few pebbles up from the depths of my mind.

     

    Only thing about this idea is that my spouse and children are the only lefties I know in the extended family…

    Life is complex. Correlation is not causation. Genes are not destiny. 

    I’m just suggesting that you probably had less control over the outcome than you seem to think.

    Anyway, life is bigger than politics. Perhaps your wisdom has influenced people outside your family to look favorably on conservatism. Maybe people who know you are impressed by the fact that your children’s politics are independent of yours. 

    Our influence extends farther than we know.

     

    • #19
    • September 27, 2020, at 10:12 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    On the contrary, you have been successful. Also, the changes in policies in our church have changed drastically in the last decade. I have tried to help bring some of my friends back, but I mostly just love them. It also appears that your emphasis on home and family has been successful. You have done an awesome job! Think of the things that you have done right.

    Your stories help me so much! Your wisdom, shared, has helped me become a better parent. You haven’t failed in our faith either. 

    • #20
    • September 29, 2020, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 1 like