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The Importance of Discussing Politics with Kids

Talking to Kids about Politics Raleigh Moms Blog

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.

 

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3 Responses to The Importance of Discussing Politics with Kids

  1. Michelle Dawson February 3, 2017 at 10:22 am #

    I think it would be not only close to impossible to maintain no-politics in the home these days given that it infiltrates all of our social media posts from friends. It would also be dangerous to our kids’ development to ignore it. I applaud you versing them on both sides of the issue. This is all about decison making and nothing is ideal. Even taking accepting employment with a particular company is like this — the pros and cons and then decide. We must teach them to do a SWOT analysis and then make a decision knowing the faults regardless of the issue. Not just conform to friends’ opinions. Being a conservative, it is somewhat easier for our household as they are getting opinions from the other side in school, from family and friends so it’s up to us to present another point of view as well as strengths and weaknesses of both. It’s educational for me, too. When the Executive Order came out the other day, I told my sophomore that this is big and he should know what it is and I sent him an article. “It’s too long.” After school he told me it came up in one of his classes and he wasn’t versed so he kept his mouth shut (rule #1) but then did, indeed, read it. Success. Now he knows and should he choose to partake in a discussiion, he could. For now anyway… as it’s a never-ending process. Similarly, my 8th grader came home with an assignment on the Dakota Pipeline in English/SS and documentation to use. The assignment said, and I’m paraphrasing, “State whether you support or oppose the pipeline. Your arguments opposing the pipeline should cite examples from the documention.” I’m not kidding. And I read through the documention which was only opposing. I asked her if there was material in support of and she said her teacher said there wasn’t time. At least she addressed it… We laugh about these things, and I never write notes to the teachers. If we want our children to see both sides of a political issue (and it seems there are fewer topics not politicized these days), my husband and I have to spend time educating. Which is fine as that’s what I like to do with Family Bedtime (www.familybedtimeonline) although I stay away from politics. Oh, my daughter came home last weekend telling us that President Clinton’s family was responsible for the Eerie Canal. That didn’t sound right. We all looked it up. It wasn’t. Different Clinton family and President Clinton took his step-father’s name anyway. Marie did tell her teacher this because it wasn’t about politics, it was just wrong. She’s getting lessons in fact-checking and in pointing things out in an accommodating manner….. PS: I like her teachers. And I liked your article.

    • Allisen F.
      Allisen F. February 14, 2017 at 11:09 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Michelle. I can only imagine the amount of political material high schoolers are being exposed to. We all need to help our kids fact-check! How overwhelming and so important now more than ever.

  2. Schambs PM February 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    Great article Allisen. I think there’s definitely been a resurgence now. People are a lot more outspoken due to technology and social media. It’s important we educate our children and have honest conversations on the subject.

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