Growing up, I had absolutely no idea the political affiliation of my parents. They apparently had two major rules: no discussing work (to avoid boredom perhaps) and no discussing politics. They never even told each other who they were voting for in any elections. What in the world did they talk about? Actually, I can’t recall them talking to each other, except about us kids?! But they are still married today, so this is apparently something that worked for them.
As a young adult, I found I really had no idea what the difference was between a Republican and a Democrat since these things were not discussed at home. I may have been naive, but I now appreciate my parents’ desire to not argue about politics was one that allowed me to grow to be my own person with my own views.
This past year has made it very difficult to model the same no-politics-talk behavior for my own children. They were bombarded by political ads all summer long. Negativity toward others slowly crept into their systems. I have heard them repeat things they heard on television. For this reason, I cannot avoid talking politics with my children, but I do not want to tell them how to think.
So, with this in mind, I have tried my best to seek out articles written from the viewpoints of both the left and the right. I have read the social media feeds and sifted through the horrible arguing in an attempt to understand where both “sides” are coming from. I want to understand my friends, family, and neighbors for myself first.
Then I talked with my kids. I told them what is happening in our country. I explained why there are people protesting, why people think there shouldn’t be protesting, why there might be some kids at school and church that will be scared of what may become of their families, why some people might think a ban is a good idea, why some people think it isn’t a good idea, and I have given them analogies to which they can understand and relate. Then I ask to hear their opinions on the topics and of course discuss any questions they have.
I think talking openly and honestly with your kids is so important. My favorite time to talk to my son is when I’ve got him trapped in the car on the way to practice. And quite frankly, with all that is going on, I have found that talking through all sides of the issues and listening to the viewpoints of the kids is helpful for me, too. They never cease to amaze me with how much they can process about what’s going on around them and how insightful they can be.