My tween daughter, Maddy, recently asked me who I was going to vote for for president. I, being the type that absolutely hates discussing political, tried changing the subject. But she pressed on until I told her I needed to sit down and look at where each candidate stands on the issues before deciding. She didn’t like that answer at all!
“MOM! You have to like one person more than the other. Just tell me!”
I have to like one person over the other. I realized, she was equating the presidential campaign to the 5th grade student government race. Although students gave speeches and made promises, the vote in her class room boiled down to who had the most amount of friends and least amount of enemies. Perhaps that is all it can be in 5th grade but as adults voting on the leader of our nation, our vote can’t be cast because we think one candidate is better looking or gives better speeches than the other.
What better time to start explaining this to kids than during the tween years? This is the time when kids start to form their opinions. It could be as simple as prefering basketball over soccer or as complex as developing empathy for the poor. Parents are responsible for helping tweens develop healthy ideas of the world around them. These opinions and beliefs will one day guide their voting decisions. So why not start the conversation now.
After explaining to Maddy what I meant by my answer, we started to discuss some of the issues. There were times when our opinions weren’t the same, she didn’t understand or couldn’t grasp the importance of something that didn’t affect her and that was okay. The fact that we were talking and she was interested was all that mattered. We also discussed the importance of voting especially since some of the countries we can trace our origins back to don’t have a fair voting process.
Here are a few ideas that I’ll be using and you can use on your tween as the presidential race heats up:
- Answer their questions. While they’re not as inquisitive as their former 3 year old selves, tweens want to know what is going on. Let them ask you questions about the upcoming election or how the political process works.
- Watch the debates. The first debate is slated for October 3rd. Allow your tween to watch some of it with you. Make it a family moment and talk about it afterwards.
- Don’t judge. Adults don’t always agree on issues and it may be no different with your tween. Allowing for differences is healthy.
- Go to the polls. Take your tween with you when you go. Explain to them what goes on and why its important to vote.
- Let them vote! Scholastic has been hosting a kids election since 1940. They claim that kids have picked the correct president with only two exceptions. Their elections page also has great coverage and lots of information. Click the badge below to view their elections page and allow your tween to vote.
Helping our tweens become involved citizens is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
Saludos y Abrazos,