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Parents are 'party-training' kids

  • Story Highlights
  • Parents can dress youngsters in political party garb
  • "Weepublican" and "Demoquat" available on shirts, onesies
  • Advertising on kids makes therapist cringe
  • Children's books also available with political themes
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By Ron Dicker
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(LifeWire) -- David Kaplan-Perkins of Chicago wears a "My Mama's for Obama" shirt. He's 7. Nate Moore's T-shirt has a red, white and blue baby elephant with "Weepublican" emblazoned on the front. His fourth-grade classmates in Liberty Township, Ohio, "think it's cool," he says.


David Kaplan-Perkins of Chicago has proudly worn his "My Mama's for Obama" T-shirt since age 4.

"Party-training," it seems, can't start early enough. Baby onesies, bibs and T-shirts with the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant are proliferating as the presidential race accelerates.

Moms and dads who buy the merchandise say it's harmless fun that reinforces the family's core beliefs.

Nate's dad, Jeff Moore, uses the "Weepublican" shirts as an introduction to politics. "When we see the big elephant, what does it stand for?" he says he asks his kids.

Moore, a telecommunications entrepreneur, doesn't usually dress Nate and 8-year-old daughter Emily in shirts touting particular candidates.

"Our approach is not to make them a billboard," he says -- but he made an exception when his brother-in-law, a Cincinnati City Council member, ran for re-election in November (he won).

Jackie Kaplan, who runs a consulting firm for social justice and community-based nonprofits, says her son David may not choose his activist duds, but he's aware of what they say. He has been marching in Washington, D.C., protests and canvassing neighborhoods for causes since he was 3. Kaplan, a lesbian, also dresses him in shirts supporting gay rights, one of which reads "Let My Parents Marry."

"Sure, we cringe when we see a child wear an anti-choice shirt," Kaplan says. "And I am sure conservatives may do the same when they see David wearing our family's politics on his chest. But we all want our children to share our values, and these shirts are one of the ways we get to express that."

A New York therapist isn't so sure.

"It seems cute and benign," says Joan Ingber, a therapist who specializes in children's issues at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in Manhattan. "However, the more I think about it, the more it fails to pass my cringe test. It seems that 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?"

The products' creators, noting that parents often swath their children in corporate logos, say they are filling a need and contributing to the political process.

"We take what we do very seriously because the issues we cover are serious issues," says Jennifer Weiss, cofounder of, a maker of infant and toddler wear that leans liberal.

That doesn't mean the clothing designers lack a sense of humor. The artwork available online ranges from cuddly to outrageous to vicious, but mostly it aspires to be humorous -- depending on which side you're on.

Nuggets for little ones include dueling digs that read, "I Only Cry When Democrats Hold Me" and "I Only Cry When Republicans Hold Me." There are the basics, too, such as a stick figure holding up a sign that says "Mommy and Me for Hillary!" and a shout-out to the GOP: "Bush is my homeboy."

"We have tried to introduce other types of kid designs, but our Weepublican T-shirt sorta gained a cult status among the new Republican mothers," says Stacy Gowan of

Small publishers have been getting into the act, too. Jeremy Zilber, a longtime college professor disillusioned by his students' lack of political awareness, wrote "Why Mommy is a Democrat," with squirrel characters. The book was so successful that Zilber now promotes it full time at, and he recently finished a sequel with talking bears, "Why Daddy is a Democrat."

The GOP has its own popular bedtime reading: "Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!" by Katharine DeBrecht.

Therapist Ingber might recommend both books.

"I see too many kids who mimic their parents' feelings and opinions," she says. "I, for one, would like to see children grow up to be critical thinkers. Can that happen if they're told how to think, feel?" E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

LifeWire provides original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Ron Dicker, a Brooklyn-based writer, is the father of two young children and has covered parenting issues for the New York Daily News.

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