If you’re raising a kid, are you raising them to be a voter or a non-voter?
Rogan’s List posted an article not long ago about whether or not one should bring the kids along to vote on Election Day, and it got me thinking.
As I’ve been looking at why we have such low turnout at elections in this country, and then writing about ways we can combat that, I recalled reading that studies have shown that consistent voters have friends and family who talk about politics. They seek out information about politics because it is a regular topic of discussion.
Granted, talking to your children or any kids you may have living with you is a more long-term strategy than registering new voters, but it is vital nonetheless.
Here are a few articles and pointers to guide you as you talk to your kids about voting:
✦ KidsHealth conducted a survey that found an overwhelming number of kids who thought that elections affect their lives. The article focuses on how to talk about issues and their opinions.
As parents, we can’t expect our kids not to be influenced by this media blitz. In fact, most teens who took our poll ranked talked-about issues — like gas and food prices, education, health care, war, and the environment — as “very important” to them.
✦ This article from the Girl Scouts talks specifically about talking about the process of voting, and why voting is important. (It is equally relevant for boys.) Tip: Make it personal!
“Some parents think voting is way over kids’ heads—that politics has nothing to do with their world and something they will be bored by,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Voting is about using your voice to stand up for what you believe in.”
✦ This guide for talking about elections and candidates from Michigan State University Extension includes multiple activities you could do with the kids. It also links to additional resources.
Have a fun debate with children about issues that are important to them. You may debate television time, bedtime, what to have for lunch or what chores should be given to them.
✦ Our history is full of stories of how various communities had to fight to get the right to vote. And, we have headlines today that demonstrate that there are many who still want to restrict the vote. The author of Granddaddy’s Gift walks us through talking about voter suppression with kids.
Granddaddy’s Gift takes place in the South during the 1960’s. It is the story of a man who is respected in his town and has a very good life. He owns his own farm, grows food for the family, and takes good care of his family. But even though Granddaddy has a good life he realizes that there is something else to strive for, like having the rights that all citizens are entitled to, such as the right to vote.
Children care about a great many issues, and that can be a conduit to talking to them about voting and its importance. Let them learn about being a voter from you.
This post was originally published in July 2018.
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