As parents, it can be tempting to tell our children what to think, especially in realms like politics. It seems like our remote controllers are set on high beams when adults discuss political issues with growing minds.
We so want them to think what we think, that we tell them what to think rather than encourage them to think.
But we need to do more than talk about politics. We need to listen.
It will be good for both of us, parent and child.
The Child Benefits
As we let children practice their reasoning skills by thinking out loud about issues beyond their personal experience and knowledge even if their emotions are full-throttle, they will:
- Practice expressing themselves in a safe environment.
- Begin to recognize their own priorities and interests.
- Understand there are many issues of import in the adult world (hopefully translating to gentleness with the mama when her mind is swimming with many thoughts).
- Begin to develop ears to hear, gleaning bits of information about life-influencing subjects, such as the environment, budgets and taxes.
The Parent Benefits
Parents also reap benefits when we take time to listen. We will:
- Strengthen our listening skills.
- Glean from their innocence.
- Draw on their idealism.
- Be challenged to think (at least consider thoughts) outside our political mantra box.
- Brush up on fallacy detection.
- Hear their personal heartbeats.
Hear the Child’s Heartbeat
That last one is close to my own heart. Some children won’t breathe a word about the environment, but will be up in arms, so to speak, about the right to bear arms or national security.
You really get to know your child when you listen to what is important to them on a national basis.
Lobbying for Cookies
When the children are young their thoughts may be about lobbying for chocolate cookies.
That’s a great time to bring up the power of the lobby, what it does, what it can be used for, what good it does, and what harm it can cause.
- Teach and listen.
- Ask questions while listening.
- Share after listening.
- Repeat often.
Model good listening skills, and they will do the same for you.
Practicing Our Influence
Little bits by little bites, we can listen our way toward influencing, but it takes practice – theirs and ours.
My children are both in college and we’re still practicing.
The sweet bit? We’re practicing together.
The sleepy bit? Sometimes we practice at 1 am.
Free printable worksheets are available on my website to help you and your children think about and talk about the upcoming presidential election.