Yesterday my 7th grader told me her assignment was to watch President Obama’s speech and write 2 paragraphs. I was so jazzed! “I wrote 15 paragraphs about Bill Clinton’s speech yesterday!” I squee-ed.
You might like my enthusiasm and I might like my enthusiasm. But to my kids? It’s a turn off.
We watched the convention together and talked about it and she got her paragraphs written. I LOVE this kind of thing; participating in and thinking about civil discourse. But my daughter was nervous. And she should be.
4 years ago, she was pushed and kicked by kids at school when she said her parents were voting for Barack Obama.
What year is it? And what country do I live in?
She’s hesitant because she thinks, and she might be right, that she’ll be the only one in her class who liked President Obama’s speech. I think it’s great for children to be informed and have discussions about politics, especially during an election year.
But kids are absolutists and they don’t naturally empathize with points of view different from their own. If you’re going to indoctrinate your kids about the candidate you like, which we all do directly or indirectly, you better take some time to teach them how to be civil. Kids don’t know how to talk about this stuff constructively and if Facebook status updates are any indications, most people never learn. I can’t even say that I’ve learned how to do it without sometimes getting my feelings hurt. But I would argue that teaching kids how to exchange ideas about politics is equally as important–maybe even more important than informing them about issues.
Good manners dictate that politics is a topic best avoided in polite conversation. Maybe that’s true. But I learn a lot and change my mind about things when I have good conversations with thoughtful people. So, what should the ground rules be? What do kids need to know before they enter into a conversation about who their parents plan to vote for?
If Yo Gabba Gabba would just deal with this issue the way they dealt with biting, my job as a mom would be a LOT easier!