While this may not be the case, it seems as though politicians are less civil than they were in the past, making it hard to discuss politics with your kids. The Kids Health site surveyed more than 2,000 children and teens throughout the country about presidential elections. In the survey, the site asked participants whether they thought that presidential elections would affect them. According to the site, 75 percent of kids and 79 percent of teens said, “yes.” So, should you talk to your kids about politics? Ultimately, it’s up to you, but they are likely interested in the topic and may have concerns.
Has Social Media Had an Influence?
Today’s kids and teens are likely to hear about world and local events through social media. In modern times, people are more connected. They have access to events almost as they happen. People also have access to more information in general. By talking to your kids about politics, you can have a greater influence on what they learn and understand about today’s important issues.
When Should You Talk to Them?
Kids will tell you when they’re ready to talk about politics by asking you questions. Presidential election years may pique their interest because the country is focusing more on politics at that time. Instead of diving into the complexities of politics, consider starting out by telling them how important it is to vote. Take them to the polls with you and ask them who they would vote for if they were old enough to participate. Also, ask them what they would do if they were the leader of the country. When they become curious about politics, make sure that they know how the government operates. The country’s system of checks and balances can be a comforting thing, so make sure that they know about it and how it works.
Keep Political Discussions with Kids Positive
During the middle of an election season, people are likely to have and share strong feelings about the country’s issues as well as about the candidates. These feelings can cause disagreements between family members, friends and casual acquaintances. This is the perfect time to show your kids how to share a different opinion with conviction, respect and strength. Explain why you won’t be voting for a candidate whether it’s his or her position or party affiliation. Also, tell your kids why you like certain candidates. Give your children the opportunity to do the same. Try to focus on your candidate’s positive attributes. When you talk about what you’re for instead of what you’re against, you’ll be teaching your kids to do the same.
Guide Them Toward Their Own Ideas
One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to raise kids to become adults who are able to think for themselves. As a parent, you want your kids to make good choices and contribute in positive ways to their communities. If you tend to focus your efforts on convincing your kids to see things how you see them, then you may inadvertently discourage them from learning these vital life skills.
As you discuss local and national issues, help them see every side. This will show them how complex political issues can be. Explain how good people who want good things for the country can disagree on fundamental beliefs and still be good people. Work together to find information that’s objective about the issues and the candidates. Then, help your kids consider all sides to figure out where their beliefs land. During this process, you may discover that your child thinks differently than you, which is okay. Be accepting of what they believe and who they are. This will inspire them to do the same with other people. Show your kids how to make decisions that are based on their values. When you focus on the values that motivate your political standings, you’ll be teaching your kids how to think from a values-based viewpoint.
Voting Makes a Difference
When you make the decision to talk to your kids about politics, you are helping them become engaged and encouraging them to vote. At a time when people seem more apathetic than ever, showing your kids how to be committed citizens is a favor to our country and the world.