I normally don't talk about politics in polite company and I respect you as polite company!
However, this election season in America I have read several articles that were entitled "How to Talk to Your Kids about the Election." and I was severely disappointed. I was excited to read those articles. I wanted to share some advice for our Mindfulness parents on what they could tell their children about the stories that are swirling around on the candidates running for office this year and how to handle the many questions I am sure children must have.
But these articles did not deliver. Instead they were written by parents who understandably talked of how frustrated they were and how hard it was to explain the antics that have gone on during the past year. The consensus was they were basically at a point of throwing their hands up at the thought.
So, today, I am writing about the election and how you can talk to your kids about politics.
*This advice can go for any world event, local or otherwise.
The Four Ls: How to Talk to Your Children About the Election
Children are smart. Children hear a lot more than we think they do. Even when their eyeballs are glued to a screen, if they hear something of interest, they will listen. It is time we listen to the children.
Pay attention when they talk to their friends, families, you. What do they say about the world? What do they say about being president? What are their feelings? What words do they use? Be open. Be empathetic. Listen.
In the past week I have heard children talk. The words they use are straight from the news, yet they have begun to claim it as their own. Teaching critical thinking skills comes from allowing our children to question everything, learn for themselves what they feel is true, and then forming their own beliefs from it.
Asking leading questions to spark personal opinion from the child's view can create a better understanding of what is happening with these human beings who are asking for our vote.
"Do you feel this way? Why?"
"If someone said that about you, how would it feel?"
Asking children about their feelings can help them process what it is they do hear and help them understand. For kids it is like watching their parents fight. It is dis-concerning. It is worrisome to watch adults get in arguments. Children like and need to know that they are being taken care of by adults who do know better. We might not always know better, but we can help them process it by listening to their answers and being open to their feelings.
The 24 hour news cycle has created a system in which the same sound bites get played over and over and people ramble on and cause fights just to fill up the hours. Children, especially young children, are very susceptible to the feelings, anger, words, and arguments going on the news. They are also very open and emphatic to your words and feelings and the feelings of their family members.
They can know the facts, but knowing what is age appropriate is important. A preschooler can know who is running for President, but to be fed fear or anger, worry or angst simply causes undo stress. That is the adult's job and the adult's world. A teenager might have more opinions, but might also be rebellious just because. Knowing what social and emotional development age your child is in allows you to know what is appropriate or not.
That being said, even asking family members not to discuss or get in heated debates around young children over politics is appropriate. Kids take in much more feelings about issues than the issues themselves. Being aware of what they are seeing, knowing, and exposed to in whatever way you can allows them to be kids. They are kids, after all. Children aren't allowed to vote at 6 years old for a reason. (Can you imagine the candy and toy lobbyists that would create? :)
Lead by example. This election has brought up massive amounts of fear on both, all, and any sides across the world. My personal take on the process has helped give a few parents narrative for their families, so I will share it here.
This time of our lives is about bringing things to light. That which has been hidden in the dark for eons is now coming forward. With technology and the internet, we are now in the information age. The information age means that ALL things are brought to light. We are being given a choice to accept or reject those things being brought up.
Ask yourself. What are you accepting? What are you rejecting? What feelings is it bringing up in you? What is it you are really afraid of? Doing our own personal work to address the personal issues we may have about the changes in our world helps us to be better models and leaders for the children.
What words do you use when talking about the world today? This election? This world? Even yourself? You do have the power to change the narrative and give your children the chance to do the same.
4. Let Go
Take a breath. A big one!!! The reason our competitions for leadership are so intense is because being human is an intense job! We as human beings are so diverse and unique. To get one or two to agree on something takes a lot of doing. The world stage is simply a reflection of our inner stage, our local stages, our smaller communities, and the feelings within ourselves.
Right now it seems to be a time of great intensity. Letting go of that to enjoy just a bit lets the air out of the balloon before it pops! Breathe. Go watch a sunset. Play on the playground. Kick off your shoes and go run on the beach, walk on the lawn, draw on the sidewalk, ride your bikes! Let your teenager stay up late to watch movies together. Enjoy the time with family.
Live your life.
Living is a difficult journey. Taking time to enjoy the journey, go play, relax, and unwind is an important part of the journey! It makes it worth living. No guilt, and no politics allowed!
Oh! And one more:
Love is the foundation of family. It is the foundation of life. Knowing no matter the politics of others, the disagreements we have with others, that at the bottom of it all there is still and will always be love? That's a lesson to live by.
May love find its way to you today as we go through the next three weeks and the years to come. Let it be the foundation of your home and you can handle anything, even an American election.
With all my love ~ Jeannine
Founder and contributor: MindfulnessMothers.com
Mindful Musings Blog
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