|Firist modern political debate, Kennedy and Nixon|
Experts tell us there are four patterns of child rearing that shape behavior. These behaviors then become the cornerstone of an adult's future life, including how successful he or she may be and how an individual will think and behave in relationship to other people.
Children who are given strict rules learn to expect them. They value discipline and knowing good limits and often end up wanting to raise their children in the same way they were brought up. Strict definitions of rules that are said to be important lead people to define their world in terms of rules and laws and ways to behave that are said to be part of tradition.
The Republican Party emphasizes the Constitution, the rules, the need to have defined order and the importance of tradition in life. Those who have led their lives by these same rules as children find it comfortable to be within a political party where the rules of behavior are defined and where they can feel safe that those around them can be trusted to follow the same rules.
Those who lived by rules that were understood, yet changed when new things happened in families, and where information was explained as opposed to the message, "just listen and obey" are likely to want the same flexibility in adult life. This means rules might be important but can be broken if there is a new event that requires a different set. Democrats pride themselves on understanding change and being able to work within it as time and events bring new and important information where people must make adjustments. The child who has been taught to do that will choose a political party where those same behaviors are found.
Authority, who has it and how it is used is another way people learn to define themselves in childhood. The father in charge of a family who has unqualified authority and who exercises it with a strong hand will have a child who seeks a parent figure who has the same type of characteristics for leadership. The child who has a strong father in authority will want a political leader with the same characteristics,often Republican as well for that reason.
The person who has parents who share authority and where decisions are made through collaboration come to seek that same collaboration in how they conduct their lives. So the "big tent" of Democrats where negotiation takes time because of differences isn't as uncomfortable for those people where parents sometimes negotiated, or even verbally battled, over differences.
A nurturing parent who disciplines with a voice not the back of a hand often ends up with a child who wants to talk, negotiate and reach understanding, according to the experts. Politics that emphasize e a caring, nurturing pattern, reflected by social concerns for the poor, elderly, disabled and the underdog in general appeal to those individuals who were raised themselves in a caring, nurturing home where parents talked about sharing and caring for others. Social liberalism defines the Democratic Party, according to social scientists and students of history, particularly in the 20th century. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of those politicians who represents that social liberalism, as his programs to help the underprivileged and his New Deal ideas were oriented towards helping others in a nurturing way, and a way that said society has a responsible to care for its members who have less prilege than others. And FDR himself was raised in that nurturing style that is said to create the social liberal. His mother was particularly nurturing in her raising of FDR, according to biographers,as she doted over him much of his life, including when he was President.
In the modern family parents often exchange roles, with the father and mother assuming different responsibilities at different times, according to the American Psychological Association. Still there are differences in child-rearing according to the region of the country where the family resides that will also impact political views. For example, in the South the father often still retains the role as head of the family. Rules are important, as reflected by the South's legislation that controls personal behavior. And spanking as a form of discipline is still favored, including the physical discipline by teachers to enforce the rules, as observed in an article about child rearing and child education in Texas. Still in most American families there has been some shift in how decisions are made within the modern family and a mixed style of how children are encouraged or disciplined, where one might receive a spanking one day or conversation about a behavior the next.. These patterns lead to behaviors where flexibility and independence are required and where this same type of independence and flexibility becomes the hallmark of the behavior and needs of the child as he or she grows up. These are the people who often become the political Independents.
Political pundits agree that voter apathy is an ongoing concern. Much of that apathy may come from a fourth pattern of child raising. That pattern involves parents who are not that involved in the child's rearing, who don't set rules and who are not responsive to a child's needs. Children who are raised with this style have a higher rate of social problems than others and are therefore apt to have those same patterns incorporated into social and political behaviors. They won't or can't vote, or they may be changeable depending upon emotions at the time.
Those who want to shape politics might examine the behavioral principles involved in how attitudes are shaped from child rearing practices, as these may make a difference in how people vote. And the problem of voter apathy can also be examined from the standpoint of child-rearing practices as well, so that at the core behaviors can be shaped to encourage voter participation by encouraging parental participation with children in their developmental years. Because how a child is raised, like a tree that is bent, will determine how he or she will grow and become the adult who helps to shape a nation.