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Jobs, bayonets, 'apology tour': How to talk politics with your kids

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(Read caption) Jobs, bayonets, and the "apology tour" may divide adults over the presidential elections, but it's a teachable moment for our kids. Here, Sari Lewien poses with an image of President Obama at the CarolinaFest, a street festival for Convention delegates and their families, ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last month.

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It’s hard to protect our children from the barrage of political ads. In some homes the interest of the parent is so great that the ads and the political talk shows fill the air. On the other hand, this situation can be an important teachable moment for our children. While we might like our children to share our values, it is wise to also help them understand why we hold these values and that even people who disagree with us are not necessarily evil.

Depending upon the age of the child we can start with the idea that people have different ideas about how to create a good community or solve problems. Even little ones can understand that people choose others to make decisions about what is good for our community. They can understand that by our vote we try to choose people we think will make good decisions. It’s important, in child terms, to communicate why we are choosing a certain candidate. 

Children already tend to see things in black and white, so a little effort at moderation may help them be aware of some of the shades of meaning in the political arena. We can help them see that people sometimes get angry and agitated, so much so that they don’t think about reasons, but that reasons for our choices are really important.

Since one of our children may choose another path or marry into a family with different political inclinations, it is good that they know how to respect the viewpoints of others and, when appropriate, to express their own viewpoints in a thoughtful and reasoned way.


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