Politics and Parenting

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Apr 17, 2013

So we have elected a new leader for one of the three main political parties in Canada.  Just days ago, a young, well-educated, bilingual, married, doting father of two, with a more-than-solid political pedigree being the son of a former Prime Minister whose name is still heard today when the concepts of leadership, charisma, political alliances and personal liaisons are discussed.

Here’s wishing you the best, Justin Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and their two children

Photo courtesy: Liberal.ca

Genetics notwithstanding, he has inherited a party that has been sputtering for years now, looking up at the throne it once occupied for so long, with extra helpings of confusion and wonder.  The idea of a new body part — fresh-faced, confident, brimming with energy, only minimally jaded (or so it appears), a father of two young children, an engaged wife and a varied background of experience — should equal some sort of hope.  Should.

For too long now and not unlike many professional sports leagues — let’s take the NHL as an example —- the recyling of well-used, almost listless coaches or ‘political leaders’ has more of less spread the same tired ideas and allegiances to an increasingly disengaged, apathetic electorate.  In short, old dogs, old tricks, got the t-shirt. Thanks for coming out.

I do commed anyone who wilfully runs for political office. It is a thankless job, that steals time away from so many other aspects of life – family and fun — being two that come to mind.

Which brings me to a suggestion I have for political leaders in 2013, and those aspiring to take up the mantle in the not-too-distant future.

Think of politics like parenting.  Even if you don’t have children, hopefully you have had parents.

Most parents learn at some point or another that a negative approach to child-rearing will not work.  Scolding too often, less-than-positive reinforcement, a dictatorship mentality, strained communications.  Some parents only learn this harsh lesson too late — after their child has left or just before he/she wants to have limited contact with their family.  Yet, these tactics are most political leaders of today, by and large, employ — rooted in negativity.

A collaborative approach to parenting, politics or anyting for that matter feeds hope, inspires new ideas, promotes an environment in which sharing and exchanging the best ideas are welcome and encouraged.  What a concept.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Yes, an overused adage, but boy does it ever apply.  I think it also takes a village to raise a leader and certainly one employed in government office. Why not work together, pool all the best of the ‘brilliant’ ideas each party brings to the table and work together towards the singular goal — which they all swear up and down is the same — XXX in the best interest of whatever country you live in — in this case Canadians.  If all these platforms are so darn revolutionary — handpick the best and move the country’s agenda forward, rather than sideways and usually backwards.

Finally, in politics, as in parenting, shut up for one second.  Listen, rather speak ad nauseam. Sometimes its a brief sentence or one of two words that a child utters that speaks volumes.  Many times these golden nuggets are drowned out by the overpowering voice of the parent.  Goodness knows there are enough people out there who love the sound of their own voices.  If they would zip it for a minute, they might learn more.

And finally, finally, oh new and emerging political leaders, run your government like you would run a household.  If you spend your money mindlessly and frivolously within your own home, budget only when you feel like it — trouble would be quick and lasting.  Pretty obvious stuff. Why should it be different in government?

Mr. Trudeau, here’s hoping that you can think outside the box, lead with vision and by cooperation to ultimately support growth, learning and positive steps forward — as hopefully you do with your children.

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