Photo courtesy of mamkschools: Students discuss the current political climate in Mr. Bosch’s class.
We aren’t born into a political party. A child isn’t assigned Republican or Democrat at birth like in some dystopian America. People have opinions, and these opinions are subject to change and evolve as someone grows older and matures. Someone who identifies as a hard core Republican one day could find themselves aligning with Democrats on the next. Values don’t just spring fully formed into someone’s mind, though. Where do one’s values come from? On one side, there is the nature argument: from birth humans are predisposed towards a certain mindset, and the outside world will not affect how they feel. The other argument is nurture, the concept that minds are shaped by experience in the real world. When it comes to political allegiance, it’s clear that nurture is the prime factor in shaping one’s ideals. The number one force in nurturing children is their parents.
Take the recent poll of students in Mamaroneck High School. Out of the 400 students who partook, more than 75% said they identified with the same party that their parents did. This isn’t just a coincidence— children are raised from a young age to follow their parents. Homes where FOX News is put on are more likely to produce Republicans than the house that puts on MSNBC. Dinner time conversations are much harder when family members have differing political views, putting pressure on children to mold their views to coincide with their parents. Family gatherings can devolve into shouting matches over politics when differing ideas are in the same room.
It may seem that there’s a direct correlation to one side of the political spectrum by parents, but this is really an inevitable result of sharing one’s life with somebody else. From bumper stickers announcing support for a party to an inadvertent eye roll at a certain candidate, children take in everything they see around them and may seek to imitate such behaviors they see in their parents. This is an unavoidable side effect of our political landscape. It is especially unavoidable during this time of year, where the election is on everyone’s mind. An impressionable child will be quick to soak up every offhand comment and action their family members make.
Once a child leaves home, and they’re free of the influences of their family and community, it’s possible that their opinions will change, but the large impact of their family values is hard to lose.
By Henry Brody