My children are not even 2 years old yet, so they don’t get that today is Election Day. However, I was speaking with a college friend recently who has middle and high school aged kids, and she was telling me how important she feels it is to teach her children civic responsibility and involve them in the democratic process of voting from an early age.
I couldn’t agree more. Our country may be far from perfect. We may have complaints about America and our political system. But on the whole, we are incredibly blessed to be living in a country where we get to vote to choose our leaders without risking harassment or even worse, death. We need to let our children know that they are critical to the ongoing success of America’s democracy, and one easy way to do this is by showing them how seriously we take our right to vote.
For this reason, my friend has signed up permanently for absentee ballots. This way, she gets her voting card mailed to her home. Then she takes the time to carefully go through each of her votes for elected officials as well as state referendums — with her children right by her side. Rather than lecturing, she asks how they would vote and why. She engages her kids in conversation about the pros and cons of the issues and the various candidates, being sure they understand that our choices are rarely black and white; there are almost always trade-offs.
I’m so glad she and I had this conversation because it inspired me to take on voting with my children as they grow older. And you don’t even have to wait for the presidential election — there are local elections every two years, so plenty of opportunity to turn your vote into a teaching moment.