This election has been tense, and filled with all kinds of emotion. As parents, we work hard every day to teach our children to be kind and thoughtful. We ask them not to speak disrespectfully. We talk to them about being fair and hearing the other person’s side of the story. But, as parents, are we struggling to do the same in a political climate that is making us all feel a little self-righteous?
No matter whom you support, and I really DON’T care (that’s YOUR business), there has been a fair amount of mud-slinging. Things have been said that are rude and crude…from both sides. Names have been called, fingers have been pointed, and people have gotten downright red-faced in anger at people from the “other side”. Politics does that to people. This year it seems to have snuck under our doors and into our homes. It has invaded our relationships and changed the way we speak to each other. But, we have forgotten something. We have forgotten that our children ARE watching.
We are pretty open with our kids and regularly talk about the things that happen in the world. Because so much of our lives was spent being a military family, we always knew they would be exposed to more information than your average kid, so we wanted to tell them the truth whenever it was possible. That has served us well, as the boys are growing up to be independent thinkers who are aware of their world. This election, though, has made that job a bit tougher. How do you share without inserting your own opinion? How do you try to tell the truth when you actually no longer have any idea what is true?
I was recently on a popular online forum and watched the moderator not only make fun of, but literally belittle, people who had different beliefs than her. It is her right to say whatever she wants, of course, but what kind of message does that send? Are you telling the world you don’t welcome anyone who thinks differently than you? To me, that is short-sighted…and ridiculous. As Americans, we all have the right to express our opinion, and that right is one that was hard-fought for. So, share your beliefs, but don’t belittle those who think differently than you. It is possible you are both WRONG and what is RIGHT is actually somewhere in the middle.
I have watched so many adults, both online and in person, literally LOSE IT with people they love. We are so busy wanting to be “right” that we seem to no longer have the ability to listen. But…those kids ARE watching. Take a second and listen to what others have to say. You do not have to agree to be kind. There is nothing wrong with listening to the other side, disagreeing in a way that is not aggressive, and walking away. We try to teach our kids this skill…but then we fail in it ourselves. Show them HOW to get along with someone with different beliefs than their own. It will serve them well all throughout their lives. Don’t forget: They ARE watching.