Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Intellectual surrender

Posted April 13, 2014

"Mom, what's the difference between Republicans and Democrats?" my younger daughter asked me the other day out of the blue.

Wow, I thought. If ever there was a teachable moment of diplomatic importance, this was it.

I did the best I could in 10-year-old language to explain the differences without judgment. But then I added what I thought was the most important take-away from our conversation.

"Frankly, sweetie, when you grow up and are old enough to vote, your beliefs may not exactly fit one party or the other. So, you just have to make the best choices possible. But the important thing is to think for yourself. You get to decide what you believe. You don't have to believe something just because Daddy or I do."

"Really?" she replied, apparently stunned at my offer of political independence.

"Really. When you're an adult you get to decide what you believe. Sure, we might help guide you, but I will never tell you what you should think."

As a parent, there are, of course, truisms we teach our children that are not up for negotiation: Be kind, don't lie, work hard, don't cheat. But I think when it comes to things like politics and religion, we ultimately have to leave it up to them.

Clearly, many, if not most, children will choose the religious tradition they were raised in, and may even choose to follow their parents' political ideals, but they are not our mirror images. They must, at some point, be free to think for themselves.

I heard a great quote the other day on the radio from an author who said "sometimes belief is a form of intellectual surrender," meaning I stop questioning and thinking for myself and simply follow another's lead.

I always want my children to think for themselves, and I will always respect their beliefs even if they differ from my own. Because, in the end, this is part of the wonder of parenting. I can't wait to see who they will become ...

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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  • MindBomb Apr 14, 2014

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the comment section for this story shouldn't be a place for spouting political rhetoric, when that is not the focus of Amanda's story. As far as your comments, Raleigh Rocks, Amanda's answer was neither weak, nor sad. Obviously there are scenarios, like crossing the street, which are different than letting one form their own opinions about politics & religion etc. My parents did just that, and I am very thankful. I believe I am a better person for it because it taught me to listen to people, their opinions & how/they formed them. I am able to listen, take away from it what I can, and then educate and find the answers for myself. I feel I can respect someone's opinion, even if I don't agree with it. There is nothing wrong with telling someone how & why you feel that way, but it is a problem when you can't think for yourself & automatically agree with what they say.

  • jpm006 Apr 14, 2014

    There is no difference between the 2, neither have the best interests of the US citizen, they both only say what ever it will take to get them elected. They will promise the world while secretly pursuing their own agenda. Their love of country is masking their love for greed and power. Both parties are what is wrong with this great country and both need to go.

  • Conrad Sligh Apr 14, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    A failed economy & a criminal in our WH, excuse me, but the economy is a helluva lot better than 6 yrs ago, also what laws has pres. Obama broken, other than he was not your choice in 00 nor 04 ?

  • thinkb4speak Apr 14, 2014

    Your response is good, but I would add one thing....Don't listen to any one source for your facts. As a member of the news media, you have to know that a two second sound bite is not an accurate representation and depending on how an article is written, it can swing the reader/listener in any one direction. There are NO UNBIASED sources out there so she must do her research and become INFORMED so she can make a well thought out decision.

  • Conrad Sligh Apr 14, 2014
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    Excuse me, A Person, but believe or not, all politicians lies, and not just the Democrats, but also the Republicans too.

  • SaveEnergyMan Apr 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I think both sides share the blame for our current state of affairs.

    Good job Amanda. People don't think because they are lazy. They want someone else to do it. This saves time and lets them blame someone else when things go wrong - aka the victim mentality.

    An informed electorate is the enemy of every politician - Republican or Democrat.

  • Greg Boop Apr 14, 2014
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    Good summary from Amanda Lamb - aligned with exactly what I tell my children.

  • nanab Apr 14, 2014

    I did the same thing as Amanda Lamb with my daughter in regards to politics and religion. Do I think some people are easily influenced? yes, but that comes from not believing in anything in the first place or selfishness. I do not always agree with my daughter, but I feel as long as she has formed her own opinion and isn't just going blindly behind someone else, then I did my job as a parent.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Apr 14, 2014

    Weak response. Amanda says..I always want my children to think for themselves,...did you tell them to look both ways to cross the street or did you tell them to think for themselves? Parents role is to teach their kids what they believe is right.... WITH JUDGMENT. The statement....I did the best I could in 10-year-old language to explain the differences without sad. They will form their own opinions after as they age. Try this page to show the difference.....

    I did, but then followed up with conversations explaining and expanding why I believe one side or the other.

  • Deanna Davis Apr 14, 2014
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    I've always cherished those moments of intellectual conversation with my daughters. You are great!!