With Election Day happening next week in the United States, I hope that my readers in the States are making plans to vote, have made plans to vote, or have already voted. While there is no presidential election on the ballot this year, unlike last year, many of us have races at the local and state level—races involving representatives who, if elected, will in many ways have a greater impact on our day-to-day lives than who is elected as President of the United States every four years.
However, with Election Day coming up, I think we should talk about more than just the importance of voting. We should talk about the importance of parents having not just themselves, but also their kids, involved in the political process.
But why? Hasn’t it been said that the two topics to avoid at the dinner table are religion and politics?
While I understand why people want to avoid talking about politics at the dinner table (politics can be so stressful, frustrating, and at times infuriating), it is important to talk about politics at dinner (and other times), including and especially around your children, so that they can get exposure to:
- Who their representatives are, at all levels of government
- What some of the major issues are, at least from the perspectives of the parents or guardians
- Who is running for office, and therefore who they may find themselves being represented by, in the future
- What the process of voting and deciding on which candidates to vote for may look like
In addition to talking, there are other things that parents can do to expose their kids to the political process, such as:
- Listening on television to news stories about candidates in various races (with the caveat that some news sources offer more balanced coverage of the races than other sources)
- Watching a televised debate for a political office with kids
- Taking children with you to the polls
- Taking children to see legislative activity going on, whether it be at the local, state, or federal level
Some kids may end up largely agreeing with their parents’ political stances while others may end up largely disagreeing. And some may end up somewhere in between. That is to be expected, but what should not be expected is to not talk about politics with a kid one is raising, so that they end up being ill-informed on politics and the people running for various political offices when they are all grown up.
After all, the goal is for the children to grow up as kind, caring, and well-informed citizens of the areas, country, and world they reside in. Not doing all we can to ensure this would be an injustice to the kids and to the world.