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Jenna von Oy’s Blog: United We Stand in Politics and Parenthood

10/17/2012 at 11:00 AM ET

Jenna von Oy's Blog: United We Stand in Politics and Parenthood
Feeling patriotic with Gray – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now almost 5 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy hopes to teach her daughter that every voice can make a difference.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her new blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

I grew up in a family where politics were never discussed. We didn’t sit at the dinner table and debate health care reform over meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or scour the Sunday papers for the latest update on the Gulf War. That isn’t to say my parents didn’t mark their ballots come election time, take an interest in the world around them, or feel a sense of pride for their country. They did all of those things and still do.

They’ve just never been passionate about politics in a way that makes their blood boil; they’ve always kept those opinions to themselves. I don’t recall us tuning into CNN for the State of the Union address or waiting with bated breath as presidential election results rolled in, so we could celebrate and/or mourn. In fact, until a few years ago, I probably couldn’t have told you whether my parents considered themselves Democrats or Republicans.

Mind you, I’m not suggesting this was unwise on their part. They chose to keep politics out of their household and our childhood, and I don’t fault them for it. I hope you won’t either. In fact, I suppose it allowed us to forge our own paths, with no preconceived notions.

I tell you all of this to set the stage. My true introduction to politics wasn’t until I was well into my teenage years, and it was namely by way of self-discovery. I began asking questions and feeling the weight of my civic duty. I learned that I have a voice and it can be heard loudly, via my vote.

I cannot wait to introduce my daughter to this crucial concept. I can’t wait to tell her that one vote can make a huge difference and that standing behind her convictions is of the utmost importance. Politics will not be kept behind closed doors in our house. Truthfully, I don’t mind if her vote doesn’t swing the same direction as mine, so long as she believes whole-heartedly in her choices!

As much of America has, I’ve spent some time over the last few months watching the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and debates. In the days and weeks following those events, I became acutely aware of the prodigious number of arguments plaguing Facebook and Twitter. I rarely post anything regarding politics, and now I know why!

I also think I might better understand my parents’ reluctance to share their stance with friends and family. There was a hail of unprompted catty diatribes, as well as an onslaught of denunciation, from both sides of the political spectrum. I cringed as I witnessed friends tear friends apart with words. Bullying isn’t just a country wide epidemic in our schools; it has been cast into the Internet with reckless abandon.

Let’s be frank, politics has a way of stirring the pot like no other subject matter, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. But social media has become a political warzone, and I’m not a fan! I worry that we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture, which I’d like to believe is: we are all working toward a better future for our children, regardless of which candidate we may choose to cast our vote for.

I understand we might not always agree on the same structure for that progress, but do we really need to berate one another about it? Isn’t it possible to retain our points of view without slandering one another in the process? I’m calling for an anti-bullying rally; a vocal cease-fire, if you will!

I am exhaustively discouraged by the ongoing blame game; I am disillusioned by the acrimonious manner in which some people defend the party to which they belong. I may spark some controversy here, but I believe that freedom of speech comes with inherent responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to tactfully allow others their freedom of speech in return.

Please don’t misunderstand me — I’m certainly not suggesting anyone be denied the right to speak their mind if they oppose something or someone — that’s the whole point of the liberty to begin with! Lord knows I don’t like to hold back on my own views either. ABSOLUTELY voice your opinions. DEFINITELY disagree if you happen to disagree.

That said, I propose exercising freedom of speech without a barrage of insults. I’m nominating a dialogue that doesn’t revolve around attacking and browbeating one another; I wonder if we can’t strive for communication rooted in honor and reverence, despite our differing beliefs. That’s what I hope to teach my daughter — in spades. Talk about working toward a more perfect union!

In discussing this issue, I’m reminded of September 11th, 2001. After waking up to heartbreaking news images of the twin towers falling, I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I lived alone at the time, and I was stunned, numb, and delirious with worry. I’d spent my childhood traveling back and forth to New York. I had — and still have — a ton of friends and family there.

Unable to reach anyone by phone, I felt desperate for human contact and needed to get out of the confines of my house. I longed to do something normal, in spite of the pain in my heart. The only thing I could think of, trivial though it may have been, was to head over to my local Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

Part of me wonders how I could contemplate a high-maintenance latte in the midst of such devastation. In truth, I probably didn’t even taste the coffee … I was craving community more than caffeine.

On my way in, I saw a woman walking back to her car with her two children. There were obvious differences between us; we were clearly from different cultural backgrounds, weren’t even close to the same age, and led drastically different family lives (considering my single status at the time). But we connected on a deeper level, as she looked at me solemnly and asked the simplest question, “How are you today?” “I’ve been better,” I answered honestly. “It’s a tough day. You?” “Me too,” she replied.

We stood there in the parking lot for a minute and stared at one another, then wished each other the best. And we meant it. In all of the 17 years I spent living in Los Angeles, there are very few moments that resonate with me as poignantly as that one did.

Everywhere I went that afternoon, people were extending heartfelt common courtesies and kindnesses. The world reached out to one another across lines that were previously immovable. That day, we set aside our diversities, and banded together. It was a phenomenal display of love, support, and patriotism.

I only wish we could accomplish that same sentiment without being prompted by mass destruction. The cliché is true … Together we conquer, divided we fall.

You’re likely questioning what all of this has to do with motherhood … Well, the political scene isn’t the only forum for nastiness. Parenting certainly isn’t exempt. Lately, the media seems to be ripe with criticism for mothers and fathers alike. We’ve become a society that’s adept at putting labels on everything — those who breastfeed, those who don’t, attachment parents, helicopter parents … the list goes on and on.

I am sure I’m guilty of adding my own acerbic commentary from time to time as well; it’s hard to avoid getting caught up in it all! We tear each other down, forgetting that it takes a village. Sure, there are some methods of childrearing I agree with more than others, but I appreciate that we all have our own ideas and methods. In the end, we are all works in progress, and we are all members of the same club … parenthood.

You may notice that I’ve refrained from mentioning my political affiliations in this blog post. While I’m INCREDIBLY proud to stand behind my political party and its candidate, I don’t want that affiliation to be the message here. I didn’t want you to feel like I was turning this into a pulpit for my own legislative agenda, and I hope the spirit with which this post was written will shine through.

I suspect that, by the mere mention of the word “politics,” I’ve ripped open a giant can of worms. But I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, and offering up a challenge here — please hear me out.

Let’s prove social media wrong on this one account. Let’s demonstrate that an entire comment section on PEOPLE.com can be devoted to kindness and respect toward one another. Let’s band together, as mothers (or non-mothers for that matter!), and take a stand against bullying in this Internet arena.

I won’t pretend we can change the world but, as I plan to teach my daughter, let’s show that each voice can make a difference. Let’s prove that the village can support one another, even in the face of a discussion about politics and parenting! Here’s hoping we can all play nice …

Jenna von Oy's Blog: United We Stand in Politics and Parenthood
Message from the pups – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Until next time,

– Jenna von Oy

P.S. Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday November 6th, 2012! Make your opinion heard in the best platform possible!

P.P.S. As always, please follow me on Twitter, and check out my other blog at The Cradle Chronicles, where I dispense more of my weekly motherhood anecdotes!

More from Jenna’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

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Showing 61 comments

Rina on

Fabulous post Jenna! So articulate and it flowed really well.

I admire your values and how you broached them in your blog without pressing your own beliefs onto others. Well done :)

Adrienne on

SO loving that she called everyone out. Mad respect.

Maggie on

This exactly! Beautifully written! Thank you for this, Jenna.

I am constantly stunned and saddened by how low and cruel comments are on political and mother related articles. That passionate energy used to post how you feel about a certain topic would be so much more useful if put into a “real life” forum. Volunteer, help the community, reach out if you feel so strongly about something.

Bella Blu on

I just LOVE reading your blog! So thoughtful, insightful and just awesome! Thank you as always for sharing.

MA momma on

I am guilty of posting about my political affiliations on Facebook and recently I was “slammed” by a former classmate because my view differed from hers. I was left almost speechless. I felt bullied. I took it as a challenge, quite frankly. When I could have easily fumed quietly and not responded, I wrote back. I defended my beliefs. I had the last word, which was surprising.

Now, I am wary of posting political comments on my Facebook page, but when I do, I try and keep the dialog open and honest and use my words carefully.

Jenna, THANK YOU for blogging about this issue. You have done so in a way that is honest, sincere, hopeful and realistic. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say those puppies are adorable! VOTE 11/6/12 people!

Abbie on

Another beautifuly written blog Jenna and so true!

Vmunz on

I haven’t posted anything about the election but felt compelled to share your blog on facebook. Well said!

cat on

Jenna, you are clearly a fantastic, funny and eloquent writer. I´m not a mother, do not live in the US yet I always love to read your posts. And I wholeheartedly agree on the importance of voting!

Leslie on

Go ahead and vote, but its about the same as picking coke or Pepsi at this point.

Marky on

The sad thing I see in today’s politics is, there is very, very little thoughtful political discourse in which there is an exchange of ideas and an open mind on either side. I receive endless emails from both sides, angry and hateful, frequently lacking facts, and I have learned to hit the delete button or to send an email back with factual information, whether that person is in agreement with me or not.

I rarely ever tell anyone who I vote for, but I do think discussion, without venom and fury, is important in our society! This post by Jenna is amazing and so well written!!!

ellepop on

Ms. Von Oy–Please never, ever, ever stop writing! You have mature, insightful ideas, and you express them beautifully.

mhood on

I have a Basset, too! They’re the best.

I agree on the social networking thing. It has created an avenue for people of all ages to become the equivalent of what a high-school female bathroom looks and sounds like. Freedom of choice has to work on both sides; I agree 100%.

Jen on

What a great post (although they all are)! I agree so much about politics, but even more so about parenting and the online community! As a new mom myself (my little girl is 6 months old), I am surprised and appalled at the bullying that goes along with all posts! We are all in this thing called parenthood together and I just wish people would be more supportive to each other. Way to go Jenna on pointing this out!

Julianna on

And my admiration for Jenna keeps growing. I’m not American and I’m weeks away from joining this first-time-parenthood club, but having just gone through municipal election on my country, it shocked and annoyed me just how far people would go on facebook in order to sway voters towards their candidates. Eventually, it got so nasty my urge was to delete my account and return only after the election had passed. People have to learn that how they behave during campaigning reflects, and usually badly, on who they’re campaigning for.

That being said, I have nothing but kudos to Jenna for this awesome blog post.

Zee on

Jenna I really like you, but BEING UNITED IN POLITICS like the caption says, NO NO NO, we are very divided in this country.

Zee on

I think it is easy for some one who did not grow up in a household with politics. Since day one, it was and will be the blame game. It did not just start. That is foolish to think that the blame game can stop, people forget how berated Bush was and still is, no life Jenna is not fair, you should teach your little doll that also.

Tee on

Indeed Jenna is a fabulous writer, always enjoy reading her blog (some professional writers whom do it for a living, hint to those who work for People mag online, should be as good as Jenna).

anniegrey on

You always get my tear ducts going.

N on

Such a great post! Love love love!

Maile on

Kudos to you, Jenna, for a fabulously well-written blog post! I teach 8th grade Social Studies and we’ve been studying the forming of the American government (back when colonists fled England to pursue their own freedoms) and we’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the upcoming elections and why it is important to vote.

Your blog post is inspiring to us all. Living in Hawai’i, I often forget just how important my vote can be, mostly because the elections are decided by the time Hawai’i votes get to the mainland. However, I still vote! As someone recently told me…you don’t get to bitch and complain if you aren’t going to vote! Let your voice be heard and let freedom ring!

NW Mama on

Thank you for your post. You write with such passion and it really shows through on your blog. Keep on writing, it is your calling. I love the fact you can take a topic such as politics and share your feelings and beliefs on the matter and not cause a frenzie of comments that are mean and degrading.

Love the doggie vote photo, so cute.

Thanks Jenna

Laurie on

Great blog! You are an excellent writer! I agree we need to stop all the bashing and bullying! Keep up this great blog! I am not a mother, but your words have touched me so much! Whoever our President is, can we all be more respectful? Thanks again for a great blog!

Alicat on

Well said!!

Sarah on

This is by far the greatest celebrity blogger People Magazine has ever had. I love reading Jenna’s blogs! Keep em coming!!!!

Tina on

Wow, Jenna…You are a very gifted writer. Well said, as always.

Shawna on

Beautiful, thoughtful post, Jenna! I hope people read this and are reminded to use their words – both spoken and written – in a kinder, more constructive manner, even if they disagree with someone else’s stance. xo

Jessica on

Wow…this was so wonderful and uplifting to read. I’m not a mom but loved this as it applied to all. Thank you for being positive!!! Your daughter is so lucky to have you as an example! Rock the Vote!!!

Jess on

Amazing article with a wonderful message. Go vote and make your voice heard.

VallegirlCole on

Well said..thank you. I have been so offended by the nastiness and while I appreciate everyone’s passion I’m repulsed by the bullying.

RachaelMall on

Zee,

You seem to have missed the point of Jenna’s post. Instead of blaming, trying working together for a solution. That way the blaming can just stop. That’s not foolish.

“no life Jenna is not fair, you should teach your little doll that also.”

This was very rude and uncalled for. Take issue with Jenna but leave her baby out of it!

Mary on

Growing up, my parents were Republician and there was no discussion about it. When I first registered to vote, to make her mad, I registered as a Dem. She found out and told me as long as you live in my house you will re-register as a Republican, she filled out a new voter card for me and signed my name to it. She said no Dem will live under my roof. Love your blog Jenna.

Mommy of 2 on

Very beautifully stated… I wish more in the spotlight would be as eloquent as you, and as respectful of others’ views… Thank you for setting such a lovely example.

SST on

I have been avoiding “social media” as of late, it’s nothing but one “friend” slamming another. I keep my own political beliefs to myself and I don’t think social media is the time or place for it. Thank you Jenna for your truthful, poignant words, you hit the nail on the head!

Trish on

Great post. I was up in Boston on 9/11 (we were supposed to fly home that night) and when we drove home the next day… numb… I took the long way to avoid seeing NYC. I just wasn’t ready. As a result we stopped for gas and I had a conversation with another person while we were filling up. No big details but, yes, much more polite.

We did band together on that day (and those that followed) in support. It’s in us. It’s us at our best. When I travel around the world and you hear an accent similar enough to yours I find we always stop to talk with our long lost ‘friend’ “Hi!!! We’re from Oklahoma!” “We’re from Pennsylvania!” (lol… neighbors! ;))

Anyhow… I agree. We are stronger together. I also agree… vote. It’s important.

arnaux on

Jenna parrots the trite remarks of the socialist. This is just another airhead who thinks that mankind is ready for brotherhood and freedom to co-exist.

Not happening my dear! Jenna should read up on the Russian Revolution before beginning her delusional pratter.

The world is a very dangerous place and she should deal with that and protect her children from the predators.

Why not talk about the thousands of young girls that go missing and are killed every year. Perhaps they too thought that everybody could get along.

Wake up and stop with the inanities.

Deirdre on

I will actually go out on a limb here and say WHO I am voting for…I am a Romney voter.

I do respect the office of the Presidency, however, and on a personal note, I am so glad we have broken a barrier and elected an African-American President. (And Michelle Obama is beautiful, with great style!)

But I feel that Romney is the safest, best choice for a country that could soon be in decline.

Love to all, and great post, Jenna.

Patricia on

I absolutely agree 100% with what you had to say here! First blog post ever that I will share with others.

Kristen on

I always enjoy your blog posts, Jenna! And I appreciated the fact that you didn’t turn this into a plug for your presidential preference.

I wish we could all quit judging and realize we’re all in this together. If only the political folks had this belief instead of attacking each other. Same for the general public. It’s tiring to see parents attacking other parents for not doing things their way.

Your daughter is a lucky girl to have you as a role model!

Rachel on

Jenna- Thank you so much for your post. This call to the American public to just be kind seems so basic yet so necessary. Most of us are far more similar than we are different. If everyone could approach each other with the eyes of kindness and compassion, even in our differences we could find commonality.

Your blog should be posted to the front page of every news outlet from now until election day…and really just until…

Kristina on

Jenna you are absolutely right. I’m in for the anti-bullying campaign on politics and parenthood and for the campaign to respect each other. Great post, incredibly relevant right now.

Connie on

Well said! People forget we all have opinions but we also forget that not everyone is going to agree with our opinions, choices, ect. What is so wonderful is that we live in America where we get to express opinions where the only threat to us are those who disagree; no threat of prison, execution, loss of job, ect.

fanofboardwalkempire on

Loved your comments Jenna- very well written and expressed. Every point you made was excellent- Lets band together!

melyssa on

so well said – amen!

Sheila on

I read all the comments hoping your dream had come true, that everyone was being kind and respectful in your combox at least. No such luck. It’s so sad.

I have recently “come out” to my parents as disagreeing with them on politics. I haven’t talked much with my dad ever since. As long as he thought he convince me, he kept going on and on about it, but once I openly said, “No, I won’t be voting your way,” he’s refused to talk about it.

I LOVE political discussions. Love ‘em. I think that they are very good for us as a nation, to thoughtfully discuss the real issues. A lot of the time, I find I agree more with average people of every party than I do with the leaders of any of them. Most people really do mean well and care about others, it’s just a matter of what methods we think will work the best. Whereas our leaders seem to care more about staying in power than anything else!

But when we have these conversations, it could go well or very badly. You can get down to root issues and clarify what your views are — or you can get into a nasty cat fight that leaves both people looking pretty low. I hereby commit to not being a jerk!

meghan on

Right, arnaux. JENNA is the delusional one… there always has to be one jerk trying to stir up conflict were there should be unity.

David on

Admire your thoughts, views, everything as always. Gray Audrey is beautiful like her Mommy and Daddy. You’re still the star that shines from within. (-:

w on

That was wonderfully well written. I couldn’t have said it better myself, probably not even close to as well. VERY cute baby too!

Erika on

You are an incredible writer, and have eloquently written the exact thoughts which I was unable to adequately articulate. Please continue to write these blogs, they are lovely, insightful, real, and are the sole reason I keep coming back to this site.

CoreyD on

Jenna, I NEVER take time to respond to blogs on People.com until now. Your blogs are an inspiration and joy to read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. I look forward to the next one!

Lisa on

This was a very well written piece. Very articulate and I agree with the other poster, flowed beautifully. I am glad you reminded readers of your day on Sept 11 as it too is a day for me I will never forget. It was a day where Americans we really just AMERICANS, we were all one with acommon goal to rebuild and protect this great country. I pray we can come togetjer again WITHOUt a tragedy and get this country back on track because is is woefully not headed in the right direction.

anothercouponkernel on

I was expecting the usual political talking points blah blah blah from some Hollywooder. Boy was I wrong! What an utterly refreshing, well written article. I too am sick and tired of the finger pointing, blaming, and insulting ‘the other guy’ mentality that seems so prevalent today. It wasn’t always like this, why do we let ourselves be sucked into that game now? We’re divided now more than ever (at least it seems that way to me). If we (and this includes congress) put aside our differences and use what we do agree on as a starting point, things can only get better. Thanks for this article, Jenna!

JM on

this is a complex issue because i think political debate and a political conscience are incredibly important. and if we shy away from such discussions because we are scared of having our feelings hurt or scared of disagreeing with each other then we risk avoiding very important discussions that need to be had. and they need to be had in many different arenas, not just by politicians themselves on tv, but i would actually encourage people to talk to their friends and family about politics. not in a way that is lecturing each other, just in the sense that if we don’t listen to each other and hear each other’s opinions, even if they differ strongly from our own, then we will find it harder to learn and to grow, and indeed, to unite.

on a personal note i am guilty of feeling very strongly about people who vote for certain parties. i am not american, i live in britain. but if i heard that one of my friends had voted for the conservative party, i am sorry, i would judge them. obviously i would still want to hear their views. in fact i would be very interested in hearing their reasons for it. but it would be difficult for me to accept. it is, of course, absolutely their choice and should not be taken away from them. that does not mean i have to like it. being allowed to disagree with someone, even strongly and emphatically, is to me one of the most important aspects of a democracy and should be fiercely defended. so if i said that i judge someone for voting conservative and it made me see them i a different light, i should have the right to say so.

political discussion is good and important. but like with everything, it still means that there are respectful ways to go about it.

linda on

Every election my children see me write two sometime three large charts, in two columns I write pros and cons of each candidates. And I choose a candidate based on what is important to me, us at that time. It helps them see physically what is important not just a vote down a party line…..

Politics these days or I suppose like in the past have torn families and friends apart. I try very hard to respect those whom have a different candidate than I do. What frustrates me the most is some don’t respect me. I would never think of degrading someone or call someone names because they don’t believe in the same party that I do.

Having four children I want them to respect others. Respect others on religion, and politics. I want them to understand that their own opinion is just that, their own and not always necessarily right.

I also tell my children that their vote counts even if the candidate they voted for doesn’t win. I will admit that’s a hard one.

Jennifer on

Deirdre- Way to completely derail the message of the blog. Just had to plant your Romney sign here, didn’t you?

Arnaux- You just honestly make me laugh. Better make sure you make the right vote or else the whole world is going to END and children will be shipped off to prison camps or sacrificed to pedophiles. *eyeroll*

Believing in your fellow man is not a horrifying notion, those who fail to think it’s possible are the people you should be afraid of.

Reagan's Mom on

Very well said!

gg on

I agree. Kudos!

Tracy Martinez on

I think you’re awesome Jenna. Your post brought me to tears on your day of 9/11. You have such a way with words that you draw in your readers. As a Mother I agree with you 100% . Ps.. Your baby girl is soo cute!

DeeDee on

Dang girl! That thang was loooooong. But it was good!

Rhonda Calcatera on

While I always enjoy your blog Jenna, this one was my absolute favorite! Everything you said was true and I have no doubt Gray will be as beautiful of a person on the inside as you are :-) Can’t wait to read your next blog!

kraizeekatt on

Jenna, thank you for this beautifully written post. You are a very gifted writer, and your posts are some of my favorite to read. Your beautiful daughter is one lucky little lady to have a mother like you, and may you continue instill the same wonderful, open-minded values that you have, in her. My very best to you and your family.

kraizeekatt on

I forgot to also add that I LOVE the adorable pictures of your dogs reminding us to vote! So perfect!!!

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