As a mother raising two children in this political environment, there is propaganda everywhere attempting to form our opinions and sway our view towards one idea or another. As situations with local students arise, now is a prime chance for us to sit and talk with our children about politics. It may seem like a very boring and adult conversation, but given the right spin, you could raise a politically-savvy and enlightened child.
Firstly and most importantly, remain neutral.
It’s so easy to judge a book by the cover, but politics are never that simple. So before you form an opinion by watching or reading anything, you need to prepare yourself that this is only one point of view. It would be easy to watch just one news channel or read from one website because we tend to like the ideas presented by them. Yet, there is always an opposing view. Someone in politics is always there to give a rebuttal. So take a deep breath and let them exercise their amendment rights as well.
Introduce this idea of cross-examination at a young age. An informed American is not just one that hears about politics and takes a stance, it is one who examines everything and draws a reasonable conclusion from ALL of the points of view. Both a negative and positive aspect from both a conservative and liberal site. Neutral sites are always welcome as well, but they are very hard to find.
Remain factual while analyzing.
We are passionate Americans and always want to emotionally apply our feelings into our actions. Political chaos thrives off of this energy because people tend to become offensive when they believe their stance is questioned. By remaining factual and neutral, you are removing all emotions until evidence is presented to cause your opinion to form. Innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental way of thinking about this. We do not need to cast an opinion until we have gathered enough evidence to conclude that we feel a certain way.
If you have not researched something, there are not enough grounds for you to form an opinion. It is okay to admit ignorance in something and to look into it. We need to teach our children that you do not need to take a stance on everything, but yet to listen to why others feel so enthralled by a cause and why it’s an issue to them instead. No one knows everything and part of being an intellectual is taking the time to reflect.
Respect others’ opposing views.
While forming your point-of-view, some people are never going to agree with you. There is a reason they feel so vibrant about an issue. Your job is to deduct on if the feelings they have were formed as an emotional response or a rational response. To understand their “whys” and use it as a platform to enhance your point-of-view. This will cause you to feel secure in your stance or to broaden your theory to see there are some negatives to your stance. If you choose to talk politics, it is not one side versus another. It is “with liberty and justice for all” that we do not value our opinions for this country over others. We all have a heart in wanting the best, and it’s important that our children know of this common denominator in the political spectrum.
Lastly, voicing your opinion in a well-informed/respectful way. Know who you are addressing.
“Read the room” as some may say. Becoming informed on who you are speaking to allows you to script a casual, intellectual conversation that may allow you to connect that bridge across the aisle. It doesn’t matter if they don’t see eye-to-eye with you, what matters is everyone is heard in their quest to better America.
I feel very elementary in having to reference so many songs, “but this land is your land, this land is my land…” This is our America and I hate to see the digress of its political intelligence from broadcasting such hate. No matter what the situation, there is a conversation that could be had and a respectful way to conduct it. We need to teach our children that there is more to change than just disrespect of one another.
Here’s to raising our youth in a politically-savvy way without sacrificing the heart that unitedly beats for one America. Take the time to talk politics with your child today because it will change our tomorrow.