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.
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.”
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?