Teenagers likely to follow the political footsteps of their parents

By Brooke Bauman

With the upcoming Presidential Election right around the corner, families across the nation have been tuned into the latest fiascoes between the Republican and Democratic parties. Politics have long been seen as adults only territory, but the countless Twitter memes roasting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders indicate differently. The question of how much influence a parent should have on their child’s political beliefs has never been so relevant.

Teenagers' political opinions are often greatly influenced by their parents' ideologies.
Teenagers’ political opinions are often greatly influenced by their parents’ ideologies.

When asked if their political views were more conservative, less conservative, or roughly the same as their parents, 71 percent of the American teenagers who took part in a survey from Gallup said that they had the same ideology as their parents. At first glance, this makes sense. Parents are likely to have a great influence on their children’s political views because “monkey see as monkey do.” In some cases, however, the logic is not so simple. If parents force potent beliefs upon their progeny then the kids are actually more likely to rebel against these beliefs in adulthood, according a recent study published in the British Journal of Political Science. Elias Dinas, one of the leaders of the study, discovered that children who grew up discussing politics frequently with their parents were more likely to discuss politics with others beyond their homes. These well-versed children were thus more likely to be introduced to new political ideologies and change opinions.

According to a poll from Gallup Youth Survey in 2004, 56 percent of teens identify themselves as political moderates. This recent movement is quite an interesting trend and speaks volumes about the youth of today. Many people of the younger generations are upset by the flawed political system and wish to disassociate themselves with the evils of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Danielle Losos, a junior at East Chapel Hill, believes the reasoning behind this trend can be traced back to the children’s parents.

“I imagine that many children in split households may adopt moderate beliefs so as not to favor one parent over another,” speculates Losos. “Or, maybe it’s because children have not yet had exposure to the heavily divided political scene or haven’t had to personally deal with hot-topic issues like abortion or gay-rights.”

In order to ensure that one’s political views are passed down to the next generation, Christopher Ojeda, a researcher at Stanford University, suggests that parents should provide their children with plenty of “social support” and should not attempt to force a certain political philosophy upon their progeny. Losos has adopted the views of her parents whom she greatly respects.

I believe that my political ideology aligns almost exactly with my parents,” chided Losos. “Since a young age, I remember politics being a major conversation piece in my household. Slowly I began adopting these beliefs as my own since I have a very high opinion of my highly educated parent’s beliefs.”

The apple may not fall so far from the tree this November in the highly-anticipated Presidential Election of 2016. However, it is ultimately up to today’s youth to decide for themselves what they value politically and morally.

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