When I read the CNN headline "Parents Are 'Party-Training' Kids," I assumed that it must be talking about college-style keggers. Were mothers bottle-feeding their kids beer? I clicked on the link, intrigued.
It turns out that the article has less to do with Saturday night and more with Super Tuesday -- the parties in question are political, and the "training" has to do with giving kids politically themed T-shirts. Right. Apparently politically minded parents can now dress their children in "My Mama's for Obama" T-shirts or "Weepublican" baby jumpers. (That's not mentioning, of course, "Mommy and Me for Hillary!" or "Bush Is My Homeboy" kids wear.)
The parents interviewed mostly think the clothing is cute and playful. But some also think of it as a way to teach kids about family values -- or, at least, about their family's values. "We all want our children to share our values," one mother is quoted as saying. "And these shirts are one of the ways we get to express that."
Some therapists don't think it's so cute. Joan Ingber, a therapist specializing in children's issues, is quoted as saying that while at first the shirts seem benign, "the more I think about it, the more it fails to pass my cringe test. It seems we're bombarded enough by constant advertising, so why should children become the canvas for any ad? ... Do we really want to see kids in this role?"
And then there's the question of brainwashing. I mean, clearly every kid is influenced by his or her parents' beliefs. But as someone who refuses to be affiliated with either party, it seems a little weird to me that there are "Demoquat" and "Raised Republican" tees for kids too young to read -- not to mention children's books out there with titles like "Why Mommy Is a Democrat" (starring a family of squirrels) or the less subtle "Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!" Does "party training" work when the kid hasn't even been potty-trained? (For a funny example, check out this YouTube video of a precocious Obama fan.)
But then again, there are more important things to worry about than kids in political T-shirts. After all, if childhood outfits help kids develop an interest in politics later in life, who can complain? And if they look cute in the process? All the better.