Voting: get into the swing of it with open discussion
MY PARENTS and formal education taught me lots of things. A good understanding of politics wasn't one of them.
With the current federal election campaign in full swing with news, signs, ads and an onslaught of messages in the media, it has me thinking about my lack of knowledge in this area.
I know the basics but don't really grasp the finer details.
It's not because I'm disinterested in politics or take no notice of political media. In fact I have a very high sense of civic responsibility believing I'm privileged to be given the chance to have my say and am thankful for compulsory voting.
I am just not committed to a political party and am open to changing my vote from one government election to the next. That's right I am a swinger.
Each election I make a choice based on an evaluation of the individual candidates running in my electorate and what they have to offer. I don't take much notice of the badge or party colour they wear. I leave that for my sporting affiliations - maroon all the way.
But what influence have I had on my children and what knowledge or lack of have I passed on to them?
As a parent, I think it's important to talk to them about political matters even when they are not of voting age.
I don't mean indoctrinating my offspring with a designated political viewpoint but discussing the main issues, the electoral process, why voting is important and that every person's opinion counts.
I accept parents with strong political beliefs would feel it is their duty to see their children adopt those beliefs as well but hearing someone say they vote the way they do because that's how their parents vote bugs me - nearly as much as the paper wasting pre-election junk mail and how-to-vote cards handed out on election day.
Research suggests the family has the greatest amount of influence in the political socialisation process.
Therefore the communication with our children on politics should be open and issue-oriented rather than dogmatic.
We should give them the chance to learn about politics and develop their own opinion when it comes to voting.
My eldest is a good example. She has been helping one political party on their campaign trail, forming her own political identity - she knows more about politics than I did when I was her age.
The bottom line is I have had little effect on her political attitudes and behaviours. She's not going to be a swinger like her mum.