Tomorrow is Election Day and I’m taking my children with me to Vote... are you?
Election Day only comes around every four years and it is one the best opportunities to teach our children about the importance of playing an active role in our democracy. As parents, we are our children's first and most important role models so the values we teach them as youngsters are the values that will guide them the rest of their lives. Just like we teach our children to pick up after themselves and be kind to others, it is also our job to teach them about the rights and responsibilities that come with being a citizen in our democracy.
When I was a little girl, I remember my mom and dad would talk to my brother and me all throughout the election season about the candidates who were running for President and what policies they were each proposing if they won. My husband and I have been having many of these discussions around our house lately with my 7 year old twins and my 9 year old twins. I’m sometimes astounded at how meaningful their questions are, as well as their opinions. This is such a wonderful opportunity to teach our children how to understand the reasons people run for political office, and also how they can compare the candidates when they themselves are voting adults. My parents also stressed the importance of casting your vote - that this was one of our most basic responsibilities as citizens.
I loved Election Day because my mom always took us with her to vote and we stood in line with her and could go in to the voting booth with her. I remember the sound of that curtain closing and once I remember her lifting me up off the ground so that I could put my hand on top of hers to help pull the levers, casting our vote for my mom’s choice of the candidates.
Now days, it's my turn to take my children to the polls with me. It’s my opportunity to pass this important American value on to the next generation. And while the voting machines may look different, the experience is still very much the same, and it’s something that will stick with them for a lifetime.
I also wanted to share with you some terrific ideas I saw in the paper the other day, on how to teach our children about how our government works, how to be politically involved and about their rights as American citizens:
- Stage a Mock Debate: Have your kids debate each other on important home issues like chores and homework. They’ll have to understand where the other person is coming from and why they feel that way – it’s an important lesson to learn not only for voting but for life as well.
- Use real life examples in your home to teach about national policies of a government: You can use your home security alarm to teach a lesson about homeland defense and a world globe to talk about international politics.
- Visit your state capital or if possible Washington DC: There’s nothing better to make history and government come alive than arranging a trip for children to see a seat of government; whether it’s your town hall, a state capitol or our nation’s capital. When deciding where to vacation next, consider picking a city that will allow your children to tour important places and sites in American history. They’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the space of politics and the magnitude of managing a nation.
- Take them to a Rally or Protest: Needless to say, be sure it’s a safe event and has to do with an issue you feel very strongly about. Never let your political stance get in the way of your children's safety.
No matter where you stand on the issues or who you plan to vote for, the voting process is an important part of American democracy and it depends on all of us getting out there and making our voices heard. This is the lesson my parents taught me, and this is what I want to teach my children - that as Americans, we have a right and an obligation to have a say in our country's future. So let’s all do our part to pass on this important lesson to the next generation and if you can, take your child to vote.
I'll be sharing pictures from the polls tomorrow! I would love to hear any of your experiences with your children at the poles, so if you take them -share your story here!!