Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Kiddies Party

When our daughter was born, 37 years ago, we had already decided that we wouldn’t have her christened. Religion, we agreed, boiled down to a matter of faith. And as neither of us were strong on religion, it just didn’t seem right to secure for her, membership of a club that she had no inkling of. Yes, it was a question of faith, and she would, from her experiences of the world and those she’d share it with, either make the leap, or not.

The same applies to politics. I hold my views (left of centre) but I never consciously pushed those views Heather’s way. Sure, she would grow up witnessing my reactions to certain events and injustices, but in the end her own opinions would be formed from her learning and understanding of life.

The picture isn’t very different today. I always answer questions from the grandchildren honestly and with fair-mindedness. I don’t go on a rant about how the government is ruining the country. Nor do I subtly attempt to indoctrinate them in one line of thinking or another. If they raise a subject that presents a moral dilemma, I usually ask them what they think might be the right thing to do. The answers are almost always logical, and devoid of all artifice. We really should put the kids in charge. What could possibly go wrong?

Mary addresses conference with a knowing smile.

Yesterday I read about the “Teddy Bear Mandate”, and afterwards my heart sank a little. The initiative, from the British left-wing political organisation, Momentum, is designed to engage children in a certain type of politics. Personally, I think it’s questionable, at least. Children will be encouraged to make protest banners with the aim of helping them to become activists and attend protest marches. It’s the “Teddy Bear Mandate” because kids will be asked to think about what their teddies stand for:

‘Bring your favourite toy to the party where we will imagine the party it might join and lead, and what it stands for.

What is your toy’s mandate, what are the positives that would make your toy a great leader of a totally new party?

What does your teddy stand for, what are its values and how would it make positive changes?

And, finally, what powers do they possess?’

Delegates are mesmerised by the 'new politics'. 

I’m all for kids being empowered, engaged, included, involved, etc. But I want them to figure politics out for themselves. I want them to have the chance to grow up listening to many and various views, to learn about tolerance and social justice, to realise how it feels to have empathy and compassion. I’m not sure that much good can come from a back-of-a-cigarette-packet-idea, the success of which lies in the use of a child’s Teddy Bear as a catalyst. But then, I'm not a politician.


  1. We didn't have our children christened for the same reasons. As for politics, I think you're right that it's something they have to decide themselves.

  2. It seems we raised our children the same! And, if you were a politician (over here) just by what I know of you, your morals and your spirit, I'd vote for you! Now for what bothers me about this idea for young growing minds is this- protests in general and especially marches! It reminds me of Trump's ill-logical ideas. I'm all for children learning about everything in our world, but why not by showing effectiveness in government, integrity, honesty, compassion and what working for what is good and right for the nation in a whole. I detest smear campaigns period. Looking back over the years, I'm proud of who my children are, and how they're bringing up their own children. (With lots of grandparents in their lives as well, and it works doesn't it?!

  3. We din't baptize/christen our boy either, for reasons much like yours. Both, while pre-teens and influenced by peer pressure, chose to go to the Episcopal Church and be baptized. After maybe a half a year, they chose to stop attending. As for politics, I think they both just absorbed our views (liberal and left.)

  4. We raised our two the same way Martin. As for the Teddy Bear Mandate, for once words fail me!

  5. I sense that we're all on the same page. Our children and grandchildren have the freedom to choose. However, I don't envy them. The choices facing them will require a good deal of weighing up.


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