We are living in a very politically charged world. With the upcoming presidential election, recent events in major cities and strong opinions on all sides, it is important that we raise our children and teens in an atmosphere that will prepare them to become leaders in society.
How to raise Politically Aware Teens
The number one way to help our teens become aware of what is happening in the world is to talk with them and in front of them. I’m not suggesting that we shower them with negativity, but instead we should be talking about current events. Our kids are listening to us. We need to be talking about the things that are happening in the world so they understand how important it is to be informed.
The best way to truly have a conversation is to ask questions. We can’t assume that our kids will always agree with us. But by asking the right questions, we can encourage them to think and help form the opinions that will shape their life.
I remember when I was in elementary school that one of our daily assignments was to listen to the news at night and come back to school ready to talk about one thing we observed. I will be the first person to admit that I sometimes don’t like watching the news. In fact, I sometimes find it is better for my emotional health to not pay close attention to the bad things that are happening on a daily basis. But it is our responsibility to stay informed and know what is happening. Often the best way to do that is to listen or watch the news channels.
We have several podcast that we enjoy listening to. When we are on road trips, we often turn on these podcasts and listen as a family.
Our family took the time to walk around the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania this past week. Though our kids were not even born when the events of 9/11 occurred, we felt that it was important to go to the site together and remember. Each of us experienced a wide range of emotions and choked back the tears as we learned about bravery and thought about how 30 minutes turned strangers into heroes.
Visiting these historic sites helps gives us all perspective on history and learn about the people and events that have shaped our political landscape.
We have always been passionate about visiting historical sites, presidential monuments, libraries and memorials. On our recent road trip, we visited Chester Arthur’s grave in Albany, NY, James Garfields monument in Cleveland, Ohio as well as the birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. We also toured the John F Kennedy Presidential Library, the Pierce Manse, home of President Franklin Pierce in Concord, New Hampshire and visited the home place of several other presidents.
Of course we will all agree that politics is serious business. Just ask anyone who has ever run for office and they will tell you that the opportunity to serve the voters is a high honor and responsibility. However, the subject of politics can also be a very fun topic.
On our recent visit to Boston, we met up with a life-size bronze statue of a donkey in front of Old City Hall. Resting right in front of the donkey are a set of bronze footprints, known as the The Opposition Footprints. The story of the donkey and what it symbolizes caught us funny.
When we laugh, we are more apt to remember the event. Our kids will never forget the experience of planting their feet in front of the donkey and acting out the scenario. They will also always remember the two animals that represent the major political parties.
One of our rights and responsibilities as US citizens is the act of voting. Our kids know that voting is important because they see us voting every time the booths are open. We took them with us to the Kentucky caucas in the Spring and made sure to let them wear the sticker when they were small. If you have not registered to vote, you still have time! Get Details and Register Here
Do you think it is important to raise politically aware teens? What are you doing in your home to make sure your kids understand and relate to politics?
Excerpts of this article appeared in the print edition of the Advocate Messenger, Danville, KY