As parents, one of our greatest responsibilities is to raise our children with the tools to understand the world around them. And let’s be honest, the world is a scary place. Introducing your children to politics is hard! This year alone, I have had extensive conversations with my kids about gun violence, the horrors of war, and even reproductive rights. And let me tell you, not one of those topics was mentioned in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Our kids see our social media feeds, they hear our adult conversations…they know what is going on. And as their parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that they also understand and can respectfully engage with the world around them. And while some may give me the side eye for talking to kids about such big topics, truth is, everything, including big political conversations, can be done in age-appropriate ways.
Why Should I Care About Politics?
I get it, we are tired, overwhelmed, and downright disgusted with the constant turmoil around us. Engagement with current events has plummeted to all-time lows. It’s hard to muster the desire to engage in the conversation, let alone bring our kids into the mix.
But y’all, our kids’ schools aren’t safe. Our babies are going hungry. The stakes are high. It is our responsibility to get involved, if not for us, then for them. By doing so, we lead by example and teach our kids that they too can create change. And while that “I Voted” sticker is important, it’s how we engage the other 364 days of the year that delivers lasting reform.
“Only through growth, reform, and change…is true security to be found.”
– Anne Lindbergh
Engaging in Politics through Problem Solving
The whole point of political engagement is to affect change…to drive reform…to feel more secure in your daily life. So first, you must identify your why. Ask yourself and your kids: What is the problem you want to solve?
Problem-solving skills are critical to effective political engagement. Problem solving enables you to understand and communicate a problem, and collectively work together to resolve conflicts and find effective solutions. The same skills we encourage our kids to have in the classroom are the most important ones to bring to bear when impacting politics.
All Opinions Matter in Politics
The only way to win is to lose.
This is the art of compromise.
For when we all lose, we also all win.
Everyone’s opinion matters, even if you don’t like it. Complex problems deserve open mindedness and a willingness to challenge your own point of view. Both children and adults alike can benefit from the skills mentioned in this IG Reel on conflict resolution.
True reform should never be about who is the loudest in the room—or getting people to be on your side at the peril of others. Creating impactful change is about showing up with an open mind to solve a complex problem. Finding compromise is the solution where we all win—and where true reform can take hold.
Understanding and respectfully engaging in the world around them—that is our goal.
Follow me @Sandbox.Politics where I regularly post activities and tools that make politics more accessible to kids. This fall, I will be writing several more articles on introducing your children to politics, including impacting the legislative process, understanding democracy, and engaging in global politics.