“Who are you voting for?”
This was the question my six-year-old asked her friend over the summer.
“I’m going to vote for Hillary,” my daughter’s friend said in a 6-year old adorable toothless-lispy way.
“Me too!” said my daughter who then added, “I want the first woman to be president. And Trump is so mean. He doesn’t even like women!”
Hmmm… “Did I do that?” I thought, in a very Steve Urkle way.
Yes, my kids and I talk about politics. There is a huge election going on and it’s naïve to think they don’t hear things on the radio, see it on TV and get caught up in adult conversations over the candidates. This election is everywhere. It’s impossible to escape, so we should be allowed to bring them into the conversation, in a safe, educational way.
I’ve tried to keep it balanced. My husband was raised in a Republican house and is now an Independent. And while I have always been a Democrat, we feel it’s important to talk to our kids about the subjects and let them decide where they lean.
In a 2016 Care.com Politics and Parenting survey, 46% of parents said they discuss politics with their children. And 88% of parents who don’t discuss politics with their children don’t do so because they’re too young to understand.
What’s most important to parents? Education, homeland security and healthcare are their three most important issues, while immigration, environmental issues and (shockingly!) gun control are their three least important issues. (See the full report from the 2016 Parents and Politics survey)
But with how ugly political back and forth can be… and this election is particularly ugly, I talk to my kids so they know they have a voice – and that everyday people can use their opinions and thoughts to change the country. I talk to my kids so that they can get out of their “Bubble Guppies bubble” and know that there’s a world outside of their own day-to-day and there are people at the helm making very important decisions that will ultimately affect them. I talk to them very calmly and thoughtfully. Not sharing too much, but hoping it’s just enough to get them to care.
I really want them to care. I want to raise people who feel the need to vote, who feel their voice matters. I want them to read about the world, voice intelligent opinions and think about how people big and small can make changes.
At very superficial levels, I’ve discussed taxes and government health care. I’ve given both sides of the argument on gun control and immigration. And then, without saying which candidate wanted what –or what mom or dad thought was best – I just asked them what they thought and how they might fix things.
Admittedly, they haven’t come up with anything noteworthy yet.
But they’re trying. And for now, I’ll just take pride in the fact that both my 8-year old son and 6-year old daughter want to see the first female president. They want to see history made. And considering they think they’re voting. They want to feel like they made it happen.
So yes, I guess I did do that. And in that case, well done, Mama.
How have you discussed the election with your children?