What Do We Tell Our Kids About the Election?

election

Usually, I love election year. I love to watch democracy at work, and I enjoy sharing a civics lesson or two with my kids.

This year, my girls are 13 and 15. It’s a perfect time to have great conversations about how democracy works. We should be discussing candidates based on their stand on the issues. We should be having conversations about character and leadership.

Instead, we’re discussing what qualifies as sexual assault. We’re talking about email security. We’re having dinnertime talks about “locker room talk” and infidelity.

And, like so many parents, we are struggling to help our kids understand that these are the two people we have to choose from for president. I find myself wondering how I explain to my girls that the person who will be the next president will be missing all of the moral ingredients that I’ve been trying to culture and grow in them.

I sit and ponder how exactly I tell these two girls whom I have raised to be strong women of character that one of the candidates for president just demeaned all women and pretty much said he could do whatever he wants with women because he has “power.”

I have talked to plenty of parents who are struggling with the same issues. Instead of civics lessons, we’re having basic moral lessons during this election. We have R-rated debates. We have name-calling and egoism. It’s frustrating as an American, but it’s more frustrating as a parent.

So, here’s what I’m telling my girls about the election. Here’s hoping it might help you, too.

  1. Everyone sins. Both of these candidates aren’t perfect. They have both done some despicable things. God loves them anyway. We should be praying for them to recognize their need for God in their lives.
  2. Power corrupts. Machiavelli said it best when he said “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The pursuit of power can make you do things and say things that are abhorrent. When people become blinded by power, they can’t see the mess they are making in their wakes.
  3. Character still matters. Even though these presidential candidates are lacking in character, it does still matter. Character is the only thing that will help you hold a steady course. When you are lacking in character, when you have no rock to base your life on, you will end up saying and doing terrible things.
  4. God is still in control. No matter who wins the presidency, God is still on His throne and is still in control. Our collective free will may leave us with a poor choice for president, but God can use anything for His purpose.
  5. We have survived bad presidents before. This country has survived corrupt, character-less presidents before. The beauty of our system is that the president does not have absolute power.
  6. Our country needs prayer. Our presidential candidates only reflect the heart of our country. These two were voted to be the nominees, which means that our country had no interest in  nominating people of character. We need to be praying for our country daily.
  7. Objectifying women is wrong no matter who you are. This is not a conversation I thought I would need to have when it comes to the presidential election, but our sons and daughters need to hear this over and over again in light of the events of the past week.
  8. I don’t know who I’m voting for. I’ve been honest with my kids about the fact that I can’t vote for either candidate. My conscience won’t let me. So, I may not vote for president. I may vote third party. I may write in my dad. I may draw a big smiley face on my ballot. I don’t know.

These are not the conversations I thought I would be having surrounding the democratic process of electing a president. But they are the conversations that we need to have with our kids.

 

Navigating the Political Melee

Courtesy nirots

My younger daughter ran for student council representative for her class last week. She ended her speech with the words, “I’m C______ Fairchild, and I approved this message.” Clearly, someone has seen and heard too many political advertisements. Doesn’t it seem like we’ve all seen and heard too many of those? And it’s only September.

As the general election nears, it’s easy to get caught up in the political rhetoric being slung around. But be careful. Your kids are watching you.

No matter what you think about the current, former or future occupants of the White House, demeaning the office of the president is dangerous. Getting caught up in the polarization and political mud-slinging hurts not just our country but our kids. Raising kids who are unable to have a rational discourse about the direction of our country may well be one of the most harmful things we’ve done for our country.

It seems as if we’ve forgotten that God’s admonitions about words apply to political discourse as well. We think it’s OK to demean the members of the other party. We think it’s OK to say disrespectful things about the president. We think it’s acceptable to sling words of hate when it comes to politics.

But it’s not. And when we do it, we teach our kids that we don’t respect the office of president, and neither should they. That’s not what God wants. No matter how much we disagree with someone else’s views, God doesn’t ever condone disrespect and hate.

Romans 13:1 says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” And that’s followed by Romans 13:7, which says “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

We don’t have to like everything our government does. We don’t even have to like the people who are part of our government, but we do have to acknowledge their authority and offer them the respect due the office in which they sit. Just because we’re talking about politics, it doesn’t exempt us from the words of Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Most of the political conversation that I hear these days won’t stand up to the standards of Romans 13 and Ephesians 4:29. And that tells our kids two things: 1. that it’s OK to have no respect for the office of president and 2. that God’s commands don’t apply to politics. Neither of those are true, and neither are things I want my kids to learn.

So, my plea to you this political season is think before you speak. Keep in mind that even if you don’t like the candidate, the office deserves your respect. Remember the standards of Ephesians 4:29 apply to political discussions as well. If we can do that, we just might tone down some of the hateful rhetoric and teach our kids how to have a reasonable debate about the issues facing our country.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.