Seeking Our Own Political Voices, Not Those of Our Parents

When we were younger, our parents made all of our decisions for us. Whether it was which shoes we wore or what time we went to bed, how we lived our daily lives was up to them. We were dependent on them, trusting that the decisions they made for us were in our best interest.

As we got older, this dependency began to fade. We started to do things on our own and develop our own opinions about what shoes we wanted to wear, what time we should go to bed, and eventually, which political ideologies we would uphold.  Sometimes, these newly formed opinions wouldn’t line up with our parents’ views, and that’s okay. Disagreeing with your parents isn’t the end of the world, and it definitely shouldn’t turn you against each other.

In recent years, the internet and social media have become information hotspots. Controversy is always trending, so it’s no surprise that younger generations have become increasingly involved in politics over the years. While this increased involvement can be a good thing, it can also cause our parents to wonder if our research is taking us in the right direction.

Social media especially can be a polarizing source of information, so it’s natural for them to worry about whether our views will be negatively affected by this polarization. But the problem starts when this concern for our well-being clouds out any possibility of productive conversation. We need space to learn from our mistakes and expand our views, but we can’t do that if our exposure to social media causes immediate concern and disagreement when discussing politics.

Our parents want the best for us, and our political involvement is no exception. But we have to be prepared to accept the fact that we may disagree with them on some issues after doing our own research. Our engagement online and our exposure to the polarization of social media does not stop us from finding other sources and still ending up with differing views.

Doing your own research beyond just headlines and Instagram infographics is so important, and finding sources other than the ones your parents use in their arguments is essential. Developing confidence in your own political views cannot truly happen until you’ve been exposed to more than just these sources. But if you come out on the other side in disagreement with your parents, don’t let it turn into an issue that prevents any future political conversations from happening.

Avoiding discussing politics with your parents in order to prevent tension eliminates any chance of productive conversation. Understanding and challenging opposing views allows us to expand our ideas and gain the confidence to discuss politics beyond the comfort of our own living room, but if we don’t even have these discussions in the first place, there’s nowhere for us to take our views.

The comfort we gain from agreeing with our parents stems from the idea that disagreeing with them will always cause painful conversations and heated arguments. In reality, we can take a step back and understand that having the confidence to challenge your parents’ beliefs without fearing that all of your conversations will turn into a screaming match is what will lead to real progress.

Allowing this fear to prevent us from standing by our views is a step backwards, as it stops us from having open-minded conversations. If we’re worried about the outcome before we even start talking, defensiveness and deflection will prevail. Unhealthy conversations like these only confirm our fears, and they lead to an endless cycle of fear, avoidance and close-mindedness.

It doesn’t really matter whether you agree with your parents or not; you shouldn’t be afraid to do your own research and develop your own opinions. Disagreeing with your parents isn’t the end of the world, and having those tough conversations is a necessary part of becoming confident in your views. Don’t let fear discourage you from branching out and forming your own opinions.