What Can We Teach Our Kids About Politics?

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I still remember when politics took a turn for me. My daughter wasn’t quite two yet when President Obama was sworn into office. Politics changed in that election because I knew it would not only affect my life from now on, but my kids’ futures.

Fast forward eight years, my daughter’s extra credit is to watch the presidential debate. The political landscape has changed and become much more hostile. I have two kids at home who are great at watching and listening to those around them. Last spring we had family friends over for dinner, and the four kids shared what they were hearing at school. “My friends said they’re moving to Canada if Trump wins. Will we move to Canada too?” They then proceeded to share all the fun “names” they’ve heard for the candidates.

Our kids are like little sponges and they are watching and listening. I often forget this as I rant about politics these days. I’m passionate, opinionated, and I feel strongly about what’s happening in our country right now. But I have to remind myself daily to keep myself in check because my kids are going to emulate what I say and do. So what is it that I hope to pass on to my kids, no matter what I think of whose running for president?

teach kids about politics

Think critically

God has given us a brain and the ability to research, ask hard questions, and make up our own minds based on what we think is the best option. We can’t rely on others to think for us.

ALL people are valuable and have significant worth

We may not agree with someone or like them but they still have value as a human. We do not have to condone dishonesty, racism, bigotry, hatred, sexual misconduct, etc. In fact, we should stand up against those things, but try to remember that all humans have worth and to remain empathetic.

Our words matter

Words are a reflection of what’s going on inside our hearts and minds, and they sway our actions. We can use our words to build others up or tear them down. I hope my children choose words that give life.

Live out your values

We live in a diverse world with different values, and that’s okay. My husband and I talk about our values on a regular basis because they guide our family, our choices, and our future. It’s okay to stand up for what you value, even if you sometimes feel alone.

It’s possible to have a healthy conversation

If you are in relationship with others, you will have conflict. There will be times we disagree both with those we love and those we don’t know at all. Let’s have conversations (in person is always best) without belittling, name calling, shaming, or belligerence. I should treat other’s the way I want to be treated.

Be a good listener

I often tell my kids we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Understanding comes with listening. Each person has a story, a reason for their beliefs, fears, and hopes. We may just learn something, find empathy, and even have a perspective shift if we just take the time to listen.

The best does not always win

It’s no newsflash to us as adults that the world is unfair and what we think is the best doesn’t always win. This can be a great teaching moment now if our candidate does not win but also throughout life. We have to learn to deal with our disappointments when life isn’t fair.

Whether it’s in U.S. politics or on the playground at school, let’s pass on to our children the hope that good can be found in each situation, and to be the kind of person that you wish others would be. Extend kindness when a harsh word is easier, love the unlovable, offer a listening ear, seek to understand, and remember that everyone has value no matter their political background, race, or religion. Or whether you agree with them or not. Let’s make the world a better place for the future of our little ones, starting in our own homes.

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Jody grew up in a small town in Central Oregon, graduated from Oregon State University, traveled to Africa for three months and, upon returning, moved to Montana to be near her then fiancé. They lived in Bozeman, Montana for nine years working on the Montana State campus in full-time ministry. They now have lived in SE Portland for nearly eight years and work part-time with the same faith-based non-profit. She is also now a business owner and helps others find health and happiness through Plexus. She has been married for 16 years and they have two beautiful kids. Their 11 year-old daughter is a miracle biological child after years of infertility, and their son 7 is a miracle child through the gift of adoption. Jody loves living in beautiful Portland where flowers are always in bloom and there is always an adventure around the corner to be had. She loves Jesus, coffee, a good book, deep conversation with people she loves, being intentional to love those around her, hosting events in their backyard, sausage, beer, traveling, and being a wife and mom. The beach is her happy place. She also blogs occasionally at jodymccomas.com about motherhood and ministry.