Raising Children,  Real Talk Parenting

What I'm telling my kids about the election

i-votedTo be honest, the upcoming election has only recently become a topic of family conversation. For the last year I’ve been watching with increasing degrees of shock, disbelief and sometimes horror as events have unfolded. While Aaron and I have followed the process from the beginning, we haven’t exactly brought it up around the dinner table with the kids. If I’m being completely truthful, part of me was sticking my head under my pillow and hoping it was all a bad dream. Maybe if I closed my eyes tight enough and long enough, when I opened them again our political landscape would be transformed. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, only without the flying monkeys.

However, in the last couple of weeks, my oldest has started asking questions.

Layla: “Mom, who are you voting for?”

Me: “I’m still deciding, why do you ask?”

Layla: “Well, some kids at school have said that [this candidate] will take all of our money. They said that [this candidate] is going to build a giant wall across Texas and we won’t be able to cross it. Someone else said it doesn’t matter who you vote for because the college guys get to choose anyway.”

Me: “Oy.”

So, as much as I’ve tried to avoid, dodge and live in denial the past year or so, I finally had to talk about the election with my children. Here are some things I tried to stress:

1.       No matter how much you agree or disagree with someone, always treat them with dignity and respect. It’s possible to be on different sides of a debate and still speak to each other without rudeness, interruptions or insults.

2.       Don’t believe everything you hear about a person. Stories get stretched and twisted, and the truth gets lost in translation. If you can’t verify something is true, don’t repeat it to others as if it was fact.

3.       Sometimes you have to make a choice even when you don’t like any of the options. Pray for wisdom, make the best choice you can, and leave the rest to God.

4.       Yes, your vote matters. Your vote is a right that you have as a citizen of this country. It’s a privilege that people have fought for and died for. It’s a personal thing that expresses what you think and who you support. Even if the system we have seems confusing and unfair sometimes, your vote (or lack of vote) is a choice that only you can make.

5.       Don’t let politics come between your friendships. It’s kind of like football. If a Longhorn can be friends with an Aggie and an Auburn Tiger can be friends with the Alabama Crimson Tide in October, than a Republican and a Democrat can stay friends in November.

6.       No matter what happens on November 8, the final authority in this world is not the President of the United States. Someone smarter than me said, “We’re voting on a president, not a savior. That role has already been filled.”

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