Election day is upon us! No doubt your family has been inundated with political messaging for months. (Just ask this 4-year-old!) Whether it’s happening at school or at home, discussing politics with our kids can be an Oprah-worthy teachable moment. But in our very divided red-blue political climate, it can also be a bit tricky. At this point, most adult voters are weary of the candidates’ incessant mudslinging. Conveying positive feelings about the current political landscape and even the direction of the country can be a challenge. But as much as we all might just want the election to be over, this day offers a real opportunity for parents to help educate and shape the next generation of voters. Here’s how:
Talk About Togetherness While the American people may be divided by their political beliefs, much of the political process focuses on bipartisanship and working together. Discussing the civil right of every citizen to vote for what they believe in, even if they disagree, teaches kids important values. Explain Your Views — Reasonably Share some reasons why you support a particular candidate or issue with your kids using plain language. Try to avoid labeling members of the opposing party or their views with the same well-chosen adjectives you might employ with fellow adults. Ask your kids what they know about the candidates and ballot measures. The answers might surprise you. Focus on the Facts It’s important that kids know the difference between the messaging in political advertisements and hard facts. Lead by example by letting your kids know how you sort through all the information and who your trusted media sources are when making voting decisions. Watch It Unfold — For Better or Worse If possible, let your kids watch you vote, or mail your ballot together. Allow the kids to stay up a little late on Tuesday to watch election results. Discuss the final outcome and breathe a sigh of relief that (barring a re-count) it’s over!