It’s fascinating to observe — how my child’s character and set of views develop irrespective of my influence (or, more generally, our influence as a family). It’s not good or bad. It’s just the reality. In some ways, it’s a humbling experience: suddenly you have someone you’re very close to, who you love, who has a view of the world that’s very different from yours. It’s a little weird that it’s not your parent, not your partner, but it’s your teenage son. Granted, he’s all grown up — off to college shortly.
And it’s not the environment either that shaped his views. Or maybe it is but in a perverse way. We’ve mostly lived in California. His education has been in California; his buddies are all from California. We never lived in a Republic state, save for some stretches in Texas and Florida (but they had no influence on my son).
As I said, my views are different so the influence is not from me either. I definitely identify as “liberal” and “progressive”, though I’ve always resisted labeling and judging people according to these simplistic characteristics. My mindset is to have an opinion on specific topics. It’s ok, for example, to be on the left, yet have relatively conservative views on a particular topic and vice versa. For example, I think freedom of speech should have no limits. I’m concerned by America’s ever-evolving “cancel” culture and Big Tech’s censorship. I don’t care if the people who are being canceled are on the totally opposite end of the spectrum relative to my views. A child of the Soviet Union and later an observer of Putin’s Russia, I’m also a child of the West, thanks to my education and various life experiences. I appreciate dearly living in the free society that America is. I rebel against any attempt by authorities to control my basic freedoms.
The point of this story, however, is not to go through my life journey and how it’s shaped my views. I’m saying I had no influence on my teenage son. If anything, he should’ve been “on the left.”
Yet he is not and it’s an understatement.
It started with isolated episodes in the last couple of years. For example, he’d text me, all agitated and angry, while at school, the news about Biden’s student loan forgiveness.
Now it’s not isolated. Every day he refers to “woke” Democrats and rages about their “woke” actions. We talk, we argue, we debate. Every single day.