Much has been said about this year’s presidential election, way too much at times. We do discuss politics a little in my house but not extensively because my husband and I don’t agree so it never goes well. We just avoid it, but my kids are the real instigators of the discussion.
During the primaries I was more than happy to try and facilitate these discussions. It seemed like a good teaching moment. I couldn’t imagine a better chance to learn about the electoral process than to get to see how it is actually playing out.
Then things took a turn, a nasty turn. My 7-year-old was getting into heated debates about the election at school. I know that most of the kids were just picking up pieces of what their parents talked about at home, including my own. Many of the issues in this election have been quite polarizing and are also very easy to take out of context. My 10-year old is old enough to remember the last presidential election and she tells me that she doesn’t remember people being so mad last time.
Originally I started just trying to explain the issues that were being discussed by both parties and even tried to explain the viewpoints and reasoning behind them. I didn’t want to tell them which was right or wrong because frankly it doesn’t matter to them. They aren’t going to vote and I also don’t want them to feel the need to argue in school.
As time went on, I can’t even discuss the issues because I no longer really know what they are. My kids still hear bits and pieces. The commercials are awful. They point out huge, perceived character flaws in both major party candidates. They have my children asking some hard questions about whether or not either candidate should be allowed to be president and they are still discussing it with their friends at school.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to protect them from this. Moreover, I don’t understand why I am put in the position to have to try to figure out how!
I know one candidate runs an ad featuring all the hateful things the other has said. The problem with that is now my kids have to hear it all the time. My 2-year-old mimicked Trump mocking someone with disabilities. She didn’t even know what she was doing, other than repeating something she heard over and over on the radio.
It would be amazing to me if politicians could actually run and only discuss their plans and qualifications instead of bashing their opponents. We try to teach kids not to be mean or talk about other people. We try to teach them to use good sportsmanship. Why can’t it apply to adults too? Aren’t we just trying to raise them into respectable adults? All I know is if anyone ever decided to run based on their own merit, they would get my vote. If character counts, then it always counts.
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