Talking Politics with Your Kids

You might not think they’re interested.  You might not think their old enough.  But, your kids are listening. They’re listening to you, to their friends, to the TV, to their teachers, to the strangers talking at the next table, so many voices and so many loud ideas. This election has a lot of us responding with emotion, and sometimes in less that grownup ways.  More than ever people are passionate about their political views and actively expressing them.  And the little sponges around us are taking it all it.

They are taking in a lot of extreme views and prejudicial thinking. It’s as though we have self-segregated along the lines of political parties.  This is dangerous.  Defining ideas in black and white terms stunts our ability to see that most of the world is really made of gray.  And worse, it models this concrete intolerant way of thinking to our children.

The developing structure of your child’s mind is forming its foundation, and you guide this creation.  So you need to know how they are making of what they hear.  To find out ask open-ended questions.  What did you think about…?  What are your friends saying…?  How did you feel when…?  This opens the door.  It gives you the chance to explain the underlying reasons why you think and feel the way you do.  What are the values behind your position?  How does this fit with your morals, your ethics, and your beliefs?  If we want our children to be able to successfully think things through for themselves we need to give them the tools to do so.

Our kids are listening and watching. Let’s make sure that we are explaining and setting the example we want them to follow.