Parenting Through the Election

Syndicated on

A version of this post was syndicated by BlogHer on October 9, 2012.

Engaging your children in the electoral process can be filled with teachable moments.

yankee doodle

yankee doodle

This week I let my son stay up and watch some of the Republican National Convention speeches with me. To balance things out, we’ll watch some of the Democratic National Convention speeches next week.

We tried watching on the networks and PBS, but my son quickly tired of the commentators.

“Who is that and why do they keep talking?” he said. Good question.

Are we not able to discern the themes and validity of the speeches for ourselves?

We clicked over to C-SPAN where the coverage ran uninterrupted except for a ticker line of tweets across the bottom of the screen. A much better fit for us. We got to see all of the speeches and videos of the convention, not just the parts the media decided we should see. And without the commentary.

Media literacy is practiced in our house. 

We don’t sit there and take whatever the media gives us; we talk back to the TV, radio, and internet. We control the feed. We turn it off if these “guests” overstep their bounds.

Admittedly, my house leans conservative though I remain independent of party affiliation. I lost count of how many times during the course of the speeches by Chris Christie, Condoleezza Rice, Clint Eastwood, and Mitt Romney my child heard me speak to the screen.


“Bless your heart.”

“God bless you.”

“That’s right.”

Next week, he’ll hear me speak, too.

I anticipate a lot of questioning and disagreeing. But I’ll take care to be measured in my responses. To explain to my son as best I can why some citizens see things differently than his parents do and to reiterate our beliefs. To stress to him how imperative it is we respect all our countrymen and the office of the President, even if we disagree.

Children think in all-or-nothing terms sometimes.

I corrected my son quickly when last night he said, “I hate Obama.”

“No,” I said. “We don’t hate Obama; we just disagree with him. And we respect him as a person and as the President.”

“But I hope Mitt Romney wins, Mom,” he said.

At the end of this process, someone will win, and someone will lose. And there will be more lessons to be taught. How to win and lose gracefully. How to stick with your values and beliefs regardless of the outcome.

The presidential election offers a chance for us to explain to our children what we believe and why. We get to show them the ropes of how we choose our elected officials. We have the chance to demonstrate to them wisdom and discernment. We’re responsible for developing their citizenship.

It’s up to us to plant the seeds of engagement that will influence the future of our country and culture long after we’re gone.

And so, my children, listen to me,
for all who follow my ways are joyful.
Listen to my instruction and be wise.
Don’t ignore it. Proverbs 32-33 NLT

Teach Your Children by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Do you engage your children in the election? How?


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9 Responses to Parenting Through the Election

  1. I am so, so, SO glad you wrote this post! Last semester, when I took American Government in college, and now, when my husband inherited my old PolSci professor, we were shocked how many kids in the class had no idea who the Governor of California, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner… were.
    On a slightly different note: why is C-SPAN only available on cable? If there is one channel that should be available in every single household in America, it’s C-SPAN. Unedited, uncommented, unadulterated news straight from the source. Maybe then less people would “drink the Kool-Aid” of those channels with a heavy spin (whether conservative or liberal), and remain in that childish sentiment of “I hate X, because we disagree.”

    • Aimee @

      I totally agree. C-SPAN should be available to everyone. My hunch is the vision for PBS at one time was to offer “objective” content, but they have a slew of commentators on their coverage of election news now, too. During one of the George W. elections, I think it was 2000, we didn’t have cable so we watched PBS. They cut Kay Coles James as the conservative commentator because Michael Beschloss complained she was biased. Has he listened to himself talk? I was very disappointed in the decision and began to watch the PBS coverage with more skepticism.

      Anyway, we take our privileges for granted and doubly so when we don’t teach our children how our republic government works.

  2. Aimee- This a wonderful post. I love it and I love how you are raising your son!

    Four years ago I was asked to serve on the Agricultural Advisory committee for Sen. Mike Johanns (US Senator for Nebraska), and since then I have become more “politically involved”. A few weeks ago I had the honor of participating in two small “town hall” meetings in Nebraska–one with Senator Johanns (R) and one with Senator Nelson (D). These small meetings were set up so that approximately 15-20 people that were involved in agriculture in Nebraska could interact personally with the Senators (these occurred in two different meetings about a week apart). They were question and answer sessions and both had active audience involvement. I took my 7th grade daughter with me to both meetings, and asked her to compare and contrast both the atmosphere at the meetings and the content of the discussion. It was incredibly interesting to hear her feed back; and was a tremendous learning experience for her. In addition to both of these gentlemen being our current US Senators, both of them also served as Governors for our State prior to going to Washington DC. My daughter was able to pick up many interesting things to think about from the interactions.

    We all have the ability to engage, learn and contribute and it is so important to teach our children to critically think and to participate. “Country’s are run by those that show up”—Building relationships and interacting with one another allows for learning to occur and sets the stage for great problem solving abilities!

    We also “lead by example” to our children through our involvement and that will allow our country to thrive in the many years to come!

    Thank you so much for sharing,

    • Aimee @

      Anne, thank you for sharing and God bless you for your willingness to get involved and serve. What a fantastic learning experience for your daughters to watch you model this. And I love how you apprenticed your 7th grader. I hope to follow your example, especially in how you teach your children critical thinking and empower them with discernment.

  3. Aimee this is so uplifting and encouraging. We had our 15 year old stay up late with us to watch for the last three nights. I wish I would have become more involved in politics at a younger age but I wasn’t interested then. My parents engaged me by showing me by their example. Now I am trying to do the same. KUDOS to you for doing the same! Your son has a shining example. Now when are you running? :)

  4. I second Chef Nusy’s opinion about C-Span. Next time, I’m watching on that channel! Great idea Aimee.

    I haven’t really involved my kiddos in the election. But I really appreciate this post. As I said on FB, my eldest son (7) likes our current President because his name is fun to say. But soon…soon we will begin to talk about these things. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    • Aimee @

      Thanks for commenting, Tiffany. It’s funny how these things seem to work themselves into our daily lives. Necessity is the mother of invention.

      We set out to watch some of the speeches just like we watched the Olympics. For exposure and education. My son became very aggravated with the commentators droning on…he knew we were missing something on the convention stage. I had to do something before meltdown occurred! Up until that point, it never occurred to me to watch C-SPAN, but I was desperate. Now there’s no turning back. It was so refreshing to watch without the banter.

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