Tag Archives: society shifts

Parenting and Political Affiliation… is there a connection?

So one day I was Stumbling and I came across this:

Diagram by Mkandlez via Flickr Creative Commons License

Now, I love a good political diagram. LOVE. What with all the info and summary of huge ideas and over simplification and stuff. You know, boiling down all the complication of the world into a picture. Awesome. (I kid. I actually think this diagram was very very well done and very interesting.)

But as I was looking at this one, something interesting caught my eye. It talks about parenting. And puts parenting characteristics on a diagram about political beliefs.

It makes the assertion that Society/Culture which leans to the right or tends to be conservative is linked with parenting which is “strict” and where the relationship with the child is based on “respect and fear”. This (again according to the diagram) leads to “self-reliance, morality, discipline” and “builds character” resulting in a “self-reliant” adult.

On the other side, the left or liberal is associated with parenting where the parent is “nurturing” and the the relationship is built on “respect and trust”. This leads to “openness, empathy, reflection” and “creates potential” resulting in a “fulfilled adult”.

Now, before we totally pull this to shreds, I think the intention is to draw parallels with certain societal values and how they relate to parenting values. Let’s be real. This is a diagram meant to illustrate large, over arching concepts… not one that is meant to be applied to every individual as an assertion of what is. We all know that parents, families and their values come in a wide array of different packages. I have always asserted on this blog that every family/child/situation is different and people should parent according to those circumstances.

But isn’t it interesting to see politics and parenting theory linked in this way? Especially after all the hubub of the “Tiger Mother” stuff, which would probably fall under the “strict” and “respect and fear” paradigm. I mean, as much as I see some serious over simplification with this diagram, I also see the connection it is drawing. It makes sense to me that the values that impact how we parent would also impact our political beliefs. Except that what our values are, as individuals, don’t often fit into perfect categories. But I think it is still a concept worth exploring.

If the society values “survival of the fittest” it would make sense to raise children based on that concept.. trying to raise children to be as self reliant and tough as possible. (The argument of course of the other side is that children raised in a very strict environment with their freedom to choose limited may not be self-reliant because they haven’t had the practice making their own decisions and facing challenges. ) On the other hand, if the society values “one for all and all for one”, then raising children to be open and empathetic becomes much more important.

There has been a lot of talk about shifts in parenting style from that more traditional, strict, “reward and punishment” type parenting to a much more nurturing and “protection and communication” style. Perhaps that has more to do with shifts in society’s values more then one style being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ relative to what you value in society and when what you value in society changes, so does what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

What is even more interesting is that I feel that some of the even newer parenting approaches- slow parenting, free range parenting, RIE approach (all of which have both similarities to each other but also very big difference, so please don’t think I am lumping them all together) don’t seem to fit with either of these categories. They seem to value different things. They are less concerned with ‘protecting’ our children and more concerned with providing children with the space and opportunity to lead their own experience in life. (Not that those approaches don’t have a healthy respect for safety). They are also less inclined to a strict approach that would interfere with child’s opportunity to make their own choices. So do these approaches signal a totally different political approach as well. A less bi-partisan, more nuanced approach? Overall, I think society is moving the direction of a less bi-partisan approach in general. There is a lot more nuance in politics then their used to be.

I don’t know.. I am just thinking as a write. I don’t really have a thesis or answer or conclusion here.. other then huh. I haven’t really every connected parenting and politics in my brain before. A wonder, actually, as I am deeply passionate about both!

But now I wonder what you think… so tell me!

Additional Information about the above diagram:

Left vs Right: A view of the political Spectrum

A concept-map exploring the Left vs Right political spectrum. A collaboration between David McCandless and information artist Stefanie Posavec, taken from my book The Visual Miscellaneum (out Nov 10th).


From my book The Visual Miscellaeum (HarperCollins, Nov 2009)

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