‘Julia Gillard is stupid.’
With those four words my heart sank.
I’m not saying I entirely disagree with the sentiment, but it saddens me that they come out of the mouth of my son. He’s seven.
Too young to fully comprehend what he was saying. Old enough to repeat, verbatim, everything he hears.
It should come as no surprise that in the house of a country born-and-bred farmer and businessman, the political convo here is somewhat right of centre.
And I must confess that at times, during some of the Government’s more dopey episodes – I’m thinking pink bats, school halls, carbon tax and live cattle export crisis – the political analysis in Chez Bean hasn’t always been tame.
But we’re not living in a cult. I don’t want my kids to agree with, and repeat, what their parents think, just because we share a house.
I want them to be free-thinking, intelligent, thoughtful men who know how to be independent thinkers.
I certainly don’t want my seven-year-old to regurgitate some shallow, nasty, political sentiments that he’s overheard somewhere.
Politics coming out of the mouth of anyone sub-15 is a little bit icky.
But the events in Sydney on the weekend make our little incident pale into insignificance.
The photo of this mother taking a picture with her i-phone of her young children holding a sign saying: ‘Behead all those who insult the prophet’ was shocking in the extreme. Ever wondered how hatred is passed from one generation to the next? Here you have it.
David Penberthy at The Punch wrote this great piece outlining why this, and what happened in Sydney, was wrong on so many levels.
The little boy didn’t look any older than my son, who actually asked me what a beheading was the other night when we were watching Horrible Histories on ABC2. I gave a very watered-down description and quickly changed the subject. Kids should be let to be kids. We shouldn’t bombard them with concepts that are clearly beyond them. Protect and preserve their innocence as long as possible … it’s a parent’s job, isn’t it?
I even have issues with parents who dress their babies in stupid outfits plastered with slogans and supposedly-witty phrases. Like this one.
But back to my resident PM hater … how was I to respond?
There’s been so much horrible debate lately, championed by Julia’s haters – and there are many – attacking Julia the person, rather than her policies.
She’s been likened to a cow, her bottom size has been analysed on national television, as has her fashion sense, her hair, her voice and on it goes.
Commentary about Gina Rinehart has been just as vicious. Sure her breathy voice sounds a bit odd and, like many of us, she’s carrying a bit of extra weight but should she be publicly humiliated for this?
I don’t want my kids to think that kind of criticism is okay – of anybody.
Don’t like what someone is saying? Well that’s fine. Either walk away or advise them in a civil, intelligent manner why you think they’re talking nonsense.
Don’t like how someone looks? Think it, don’t say it. Personal attacks are horrible, hateful and can cause people long-lasting pain and anguish.
I want my kids to enjoy the innocence of youth and be excited when they meet a politician – no matter what political team they come from.
I want them to respect the office of the Prime Minister – it’s an important, tough job that isn’t handed over to just anyone.
Without doubt my husband and I are largely to blame or our son’s political interest. We watch and read a lot of news. Some might say I’m a little bit addicted. It is my job after all to be interested and aware of what’s going on in the world around me.
We’re also one of those archaic houses that has only one television. Occasionally I win possession of the remote and instead of watching Top Gear re-runs and ABC Kids adnauseam, we watch the news, current affairs and documentaries (and possibly a little bit of Being Lara Bingle … just for research of course!).
Report me to the authorities if you must, but often I let our boys watch the news with us.
I think it’s healthy to have an interest and awareness of the world outside our closed little circle.
But taking cheap, ill-informed shots at people, just because you don’t like what they say … that’s not cool.
From now on mummy and daddy must remain alert and remember to ‘think it, don’t say it’.