Talking Politics With Kids

 talking-politics-with-kids

The other day, sitting at the ball field with a bunch of 11 and 12 year old girls, I overheard a conversation the kids were having about the ‘state of the union,’ so to speak.  It was almost laughable to hear them discussing politics, using words that they didn’t really know the meaning of – some bashing the president, others praising him – in what was quite simply a regurgitation of the political briefings that they hear at home.  

A study performed on the entire sophomore class at Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols school  in Cambridge, Massachusetts concluded that teenagers in particular are extremely swayed politically by the political preferences and feelings of their parents.  

Talking politics with kids is not an easy thing to do.  Oftentimes, as adults, we have a clearer understanding and more experience with the politics of the world.  Kids on the other hand, grow up believing that everything in life is fair, and if it’s not fair – it should be.  End. Of. Story. 

So when they overhear parents complaining about x, y, z, or the government – they pick up on the supposed lack of fairness.  They also tend to internalize what they hear and often adopt the feelings of their parents as well.

When we listened to the great 2012 debates on television my husband was often yelling at the TV, scratching his head, shaking his head, and – a time or two – huffed out of the room in frustration.  The kids may not have understood the intricacies of foreign relations policy, or the fuzzy details of Obamacare – but they DID understand their dad's frustration.  And so, of course, as loyal children they followed along and quickly declared opinions that mimicked their dad's.  

It can be difficult to dumb down politics to children. But in order for kids to make choices in their life, it is necessary.  And as all adults know – ‘politics’ play out in many areas of life, so the quicker kids begin to understand how things work, the better off they will be.  Certainly, this often means leaving behind the belief that life is fair, which is just one bittersweet ending to childhood.  

As I listened to these young kids talk about welfare and taxes (none of which affected them personally), and one smart little girl talking about health insurance (like she had a clue what was involved) they each had their minds already made up about the President of the United States.  And clearly, I was able to see which kids were born of Democrats and which were born of Republicans.

{ MORE:  George Washington for President?  }

ADVERTISEMENT

When I talk politics with my kids – especially about the issues that I feel strongly about – I try to give them age-appropriate examples and allow them to make decisions about how they feel.  Essentially, where we stand on party lines has a lot to do with our ingrained belief systems, in addition to how we were raised.  But empowering kids to make up their own minds and do some research of their own helps them become informed citizens, which is something that we definitely NEED in the future. 

But empowering kids to make up their own minds and do some research of their own helps them become informed citizens, which is something that we definitely NEED in the future.

 Instead of giving my kids answers, I certainly try to encourage them to do some research on their own.   I think the biggest part of talking politics with our kids, whether it is small town politics or federal politics, is that it helps shift the thinking from ME to WE.  United WE Stand.  

One of my favorite bi-partisan political site for kids is http://kids.usa.gov/.  Another website that has some great ideas for engaging children in the world of politics is http://bensguide.gpo.gov/

Years ago, two topics of discussion were OFF limits in polite society: religion and politics.  Today, people are talking – and these people include kids.  If a 5 year old gives you an opinion about a President, or a public official – then we might as well give them ALL the information they need to start develop the ability to make their own decisions.  After all, one day – it will be these children deciding our futures as the next generation of hopefully informed voters. 

What do you think?

Talking Politics With Kids

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

Tell us what you think!

1 comment

  1. Phammom says:

    This will be more my husbands department. I’m not a politic person, I wouldn’t avoid it with them but have them talk to my husband more about this topic.

Advertisement
[x]
×

EverydayFamily.com Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date


By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend