5 Oct
2016
Posted in: parenting
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Keeping Children Out of Politics

American flag flying at dusk

I’m not overtly political in nature. I have my opinions, but I don’t enjoy debating politics. The last few weeks I’ve had conversations with my elementary-age children regarding issues they’re hearing at school from children that have me questioning what, exactly, adults are thinking.

It started with comments about Benghazi and deleted emails. Then there were walls and taco trucks. My daughter has been told by a fellow 1st grader that she’s “what’s wrong with the country” because of who she’d cast a vote for in November. She’s 7 years old. She’s everything good and wonderful about this country and a decade away from having any say in any election.

Parents, I’m concerned. We’re careful at our house to talk about the process of an election and not the politics and mud-slinging around it. My children haven’t a clue who I plan to vote for as our next president. They’re aware of who is running for president and how we go about as citizens electing people to run our government. I know the things my 7- and 9-year-old children are saying after school as we discuss their school day are not being fed to them at our house. This leaves other houses with other parents as the information-givers.

The most ridiculous political thing I’ve ever uttered in front of our children was threatening to move to Canada one year ago if our country found itself in the situation we’re now in. I knew as soon as I said it that I shouldn’t have joked about it. That statement bites me in the butt repeatedly. Now we are where we are, and I have children wondering if we’re headed north in 2017. We’re not, but they were paying attention. Don’t think for a second those little ears aren’t listening to what we say or what news station is continually playing in their background.

I’ve taken an unscientific poll of my friends, and this epidemic of political nonsense with children isn’t just my school or happening solely in my state. Elementary-age children should be worrying about whether or not there will be an open swing at recess or what after-school snack to choose. Debating at lunch whether or not a presidential candidate should face jail time isn’t appropriate.

The things I’ve heard from my children amount to hate-speak. We have to agree as parents that actively raising our children in an environment with hateful words isn’t how we heal our country. Hate-speak will solve nothing. Hearing a 9 year old call a classmate an idiot because of a presidential election neither can vote in alarms me. Let’s teach our young children what it means to be an American, what rights we’re given that make our country different from others, teach them how our voting system works, explain the branches of government and what each title means. Discuss qualities and experience that might be good for each position. Let’s put in place the groundwork for our elementary-age children for them to become educated adult voters later in life. Let’s stop with the doomsday talk and hate-speak. Let’s not draw more lines in the sand for our children before they even have time to become adults and decide for themselves. They have this one childhood. Let’s protect those years.

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