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Parents don't shape their kids' political views like we thought
Conventional wisdom holds that family is the most important factor in shaping political beliefs. But a new study found that more than half of teenagers either reject their parents' political beliefs or misperceive them entirely. - photo by Daniel Bendtsen
Where do we get our politics?

According to many political science textbooks, the biggest influence is the family we grew up in.

When Gallup did a survey on this subject in 2005, it found that 71 percent of teens claimed their political and sociology was about the same as their parents; 20 percent said they were more liberal; 7 percent more conservative.

But a new study is challenging this. According to Christopher Ojeda, one of the study's authors, the previous conventional wisdom "depends on the assumption that children know and choose to adopt their parents values. His study, published in the December edition of the American Sociological Review, had a border approach by measuring that political relationship in adolescence, young adulthood and adulthood.

Ojeda, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, looked at polling of both parents and children. He found that more than half of children either reject the party identification of their parents or misidentify it. When parents talk about politics in the home, it made it more likely that children could identify their parents' politics, but no more likely that they would adopt the ideologies themselves.

Ojeda said the biggest breakthrough is challenging what impact parents have on their children's political beliefs, even if they hold the same ideology.

"It treats children who accurately perceive and adopt their parents party affiliations the same as children who misperceive and reject their parents party identifications. In both cases, the children have the same party affiliation as their parents," he said. "However, in order for true transmission to occur, children must actually know their parents political values and then choose to adopt them.

Previous work indicated that the more parents pushed their political beliefs on their children, the more likely those children were to reject them, according to The Atlantic.

"Children who come from homes where politics is a frequent topic of discussion are more likely to talk about politics once they leave home, exposing them to new viewpoints which they then adopt with surprising frequency," The Atlantic reported.

If you want your kids to vote as you do, your best bet is good parenting. Ojeda found that the more social support a parent provided, the greater the likelihood that their children would adopt their political beliefs.

Extremely rigid views of right/wrong, trust/distrust, love/hate can be embraced by children who want to stay connected to parents, and can be cast off by children who, for their own independence, are willing to place the parental relationship at risk, child psychologist Carl Pickhardt told The Atlantic.
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