I have always been a little amazed at how politically-aware my kids are. I was recently watching some old home videos and there was one of my three kids and I—when they were all in elementary and middle school—discussing some pretty sophisticated political happenings of the day. I guess I hadn’t realized we’d been at it so long!
It is only a matter of months before my eldest daughter will be of legal age to vote. Fortunately, she’s been raised in a “voting” household where I’ve been very open about discussing local, regional and world events. We’ve even read the voter’s pamphlet a time or two as a family (I always read it since I’m not nearly as “up” on all the topics and measures as I’d like to be). Of course, in the early days, I was able to spout my own opinions much more, but now that my children are all nearly grown, they are developing some strong political ideas and opinions of their own.
The trick for me has been how to let my kids’ political ideas and interest in current events evolve without tainting them with my own skepticism and my generation’s cynicism regarding all things political. While I want to pass on some of my own experience and first-hand account of living history, I also don’t want to limit their enthusiasm or add to their feeling that the world is too screwed up to fix. That can be a challenge!
Sometimes our discussions turn into debates, but I think that can be a good thing too. I certainly feel more in touch with differing opinions than I would if I was living in a vacuum without the fresh ideas of young people to ruminate on. I think discussion politics as a family is one way to raise politically-conscious and aware kids—even if they don’t always agree with me!