Our current political climate in the United States is unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’d imagine that many Gen X-ers and Millennials share in that sentiment. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found myself questioning why I ever thought bringing a child into this cesspool of hatred and bigotry was a good idea. That’s the conundrum those of us who conceived our children in President Obama’s era of hope and change have been faced with as we sit slack-jawed watching our current President engage in name-calling worthy of a jealous kindergartner.
For a while, I participated in a parenting group on Facebook that seemed idyllic. Parents supported on another through their most challenging moments. We shared in each other’s joys and offered safe harbor on the bad days. It was a lovely space; a welcome reprieve from the harsh glares of strangers in the supermarket who think your overtired and overstimulated toddler’s chaos is a direct reflection on your lack of parenting skills.
The bubble burst for me when it was decided that politics had no place in a diverse group of parents. We could discuss practically anything except politics. Supposedly, political discourse doesn’t belong in parenting-related discussions. I could not disagree more.
Think about it for a moment. Is there actually anything more relevant to our children than the branches of government at work deciding their future? Our children are too young to vote. They’re too young to fully comprehend how these elected representatives are laying the foundation that will define many of the opportunities they’ll have in adulthood.
This goes far beyond the debate on abortion, vaccines, or LGBTQ equality. Laws made today will impact our children’s inheritance. They will affect the air they breathe and the water they drink. Legislators will decide whether many of our children can afford to go to college and whether the jobs they’ll work later in life will provide a living wage. They’ll even dictate whether our children can afford to seek medical care when they’re ill.
Do not tell me to pretend politics and parenting don’t go hand-in-hand. Don’t tell me that my political posts don’t belong on my Facebook page. Don’t tell me that political discussion doesn’t belong at the family dinner table. Don’t even tell me that I shouldn’t ask employers about the political leanings of the organization before I decide to spend the majority of my waking hours helping to line their pockets.
Parenting is political. Life is political. To separate ourselves from politics is to turn a blind eye on our futures as well as our children’s.