Willem Hart

Stop Politically ‘Waking’ Preschool Children

Normally I wouldn’t write a Times of Israel blog post about something unrelated to Judaism, Israel or some other Jewish theme or topic, but since TOI was the platform on which some of these moronic reflections were written, I think it’s appropriate.

It’s abusive to inflict psychological harm on a child by exposing them to your own anxieties about President-elect Donald Trump. It breaks my heart to read about how parents think they’re doing something ‘educated’ or ‘responsible by “breaking the news” to their kids about how a “bully” just got elected to the White House.

I’ve read article after article, dumbfounded, about how and why a parent (or a teacher) would tell a child that Hitler has basically risen again.

Whether or not these fears about Trump’s character or prospective legislation are valid is not the purpose of this article. Until it begins to impact day-to-day life, there is absolutely no reason why a young child should be crying (read: suffering) about politics.

“But my child is smart. My child is particularly attuned to the world and what’s going on. My child DESERVES to know the truth.”

No. Just no.

Your child doesn’t deserve this. Your children, all children of that age deserve nothing but unconditional love and protection from the uncontrollable fluctuations in the federal political climate, not exposure to it. This pointless and profoundly narcissistic “obligation” to make sure your kid is “woke” to politics is an absolute farce.

More importantly, your child deserves better than a parent who feels it’s his or her responsibility to inflict her or his own anxieties about the election on their child.

The anxiety that you feel because America elected a “bully” is yours You’re not being a good parent by “just informing” your kids about the truth. You’re harming them by sharing your own anguish, easing your own anxiety by forcing them on children.

This is absolutely not to say that a child shouldn’t be brought up to understand his or her place in the social world, and the proper way to act in it. On the Jewish side there’s chesed, tzedaka and tikkun olam. On the secular side there’s there’s the importance of learning about how to be a good citizen, about voting, respectful discussion and how the system actually works, along with an understanding about the privilege of living in a democracy. You can never know too much about how government, elections and judiciaries operate, and there’s no set age for when teaching that is appropriate. But that’s totally not the same as mentally torturing a child because your candidate didn’t win. That’s abusive.

I’m sure this message will be woefully lost on the very people for whom it’s intended. The insularity and self-righteousness of the American left-wing hyper-partisan far exceeds my comprehension or my empathy. Maybe if I had some multi-millionaire celebrity entertainer join me on a stage you’d listen to me.

Children are not political tools. They aren’t props for partisan rallies. A child that recoils at the thought of a book without pictures in it shouldn’t be exposed to the vicissitudes of the ugliness of electoral politics. That’s your job. Grow up and do it, and let your kids be kids while they can.

About the Author
Willem Hart is a social science and Jewish studies student at York University in Toronto. He is an active member in the pro-Israel scene, and a lifelong disabilities service worker and advocate.