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How to Talk Politics With Children Without Demonizing the Opposition

There are 9 days til the election (and my birthday, b. t. dubs) and I’m seeing all kinds of political signs in front of houses, car magnets, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. There are facebook posts from all sides – and accusations from all sides.

I noticed a teenager on facebook slamming our president a few weeks ago. I’d like to think she’s old enough to really look at both sides, at ALL issues, and make an opinion for herself, but the reality is that she’s probably heard her parents make the same slams, so she’s adopted the same viewpoint over the years.

I realize that I’m not completely innocent in the politics game. I groan when I see Romney signs in front of houses in our neighborhood, and a certain car at our elementary school which has no less than 5 Romney magnets and stickets plus several stickers slamming the president, like this gem:

 

which I find HORRIBLY offensive. I can only assume that her three children are being influenced by her politics as mine are by my own.

However, it’s a dangerous game. Simply slamming one side or the other without discussing issues in a real way isn’t healthy. Children – and uninformed voters by the way – should be given the facts on both sides. If children are young, too young to really understand politics, then I think it’s our duty as parents of those young children to let them know that “the other guy” isn’t:

an idiot

a communist

a loser

a jerk

a liar

a bad person

My son has a tendency to want to group all Republicans in the “bad” camp. My husband and I try very hard to let them know that “Republican” or “Democrat” doesn’t mean good or bad. We try to teach them that very lovely people can vote a different way from us. (Sometimes this is hard, because I believe the very thing that the Republican party is voting against is human rights and women’s rights, but I digress.) I can only hope that those other folks with signs on their front lawn and bumper stickers on their car can do the same. Let their kids know who they are voting for and WHY, without simply saying the other guy is an ass.

The next nine days will be heated, indeed. Election Day is my birthday. It’s going to be a stressful 9 days for sure. Let’s not make the political climate at home even more toxic by teaching our kids to be hateful toward one side or another. When they grow up, they should be adults who are well-informed and smart voters, not simply voting one way or another because “that’s what my parents did.” We’re a better nation than that. At least, I’d like to think we are.

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