For many families, politics ends up being the subject of discussion at family gatherings, school classrooms, church get-togethers, and family mealtimes. While our kids are very young, we need to equip them with foundational disciplines to think and talk about political issues. These – often difficult – discussions can provide the perfect opportunity to teach our children Cultural and Interpersonal Competence (Assets #33 &34).
From an early age, kids are taking in the world around them and developing their belief systems. Many of our beliefs, for good or bad, are framed as political issues. Parents get to set the culture of their home, including when it comes to political conversations. Whether you’re a news junkie or a news avoider, these five disciplines are helpful for belief development and political discussions in your home.
Teach your children:
- To be Caring (Asset #26) and humble. Care for others is necessary for kids to learn to genuinely see and appreciate the other person. It is an essential ingredient for making political conversations go well. Caring people are loving people, and loving people are relational and influential.
Genuine care helps us see political conversations as invitations to learn about other people—what they think, and why they believe what they believe. Caring people ask questions and seek to know the other person out of care and concern.
As a parent, you can model listening as a way of seeing the other person’s point of view, thoughts, and beliefs. It’s not about sharing the same beliefs as the other person but showing respect.
- To see. Your children need to learn discernment when it comes to consuming news, media, and what others are saying. They must learn to sift through facts, opinions, and popular thought as they develop the foundations of their beliefs.
Teach them early on what it means to have beliefs, and that these drives how we think and act. Discuss the beliefs and Positive Values (Assets #26-31) of your home and why you see those as important.
- To reflect. At an age appropriate level, discuss political issues, why they are important, and how they stack up to the values in your home. Have open and respectful conversations about the actual issues and why people may feel strongly about certain ones. You can learn a lot about a person when you talk about their political point of view.
- To respond. Political issues can quickly divide a home, a friendship, a community, a nation. Reacting does not help but responding can.
Relationships are about listening and trying to understand one another – Culture Competencies (Asset #34) are imperative and these discussions provide the perfect opportunity to help our children understand other’s differences. The truth is you can rarely convince another person to believe what you believe. Still kids need to learn how to articulate what they believe, and why. Teach your kids that Caring drives responses toward relationship and can help prevent emotions from taking them for a ride. Good questions such as, “Help me understand why you believe that?” can break down barriers.
- To stand. What does your family stand for? What are your firm Values (Assets #26-31) and beliefs, and why? Teach your children to know what they believe and why their beliefs are worth standing up for.
There will always be disagreements over political issues and beliefs. But if children learn to have these discussions with care for others, discernment, and a good understanding of their core beliefs, our most important values can be upheld while relationships flourish.
RezilientKidz is a 501c3 educational organization created to champion the needs of children and equip parents to build thriving, healthy families. For information on our parenting curriculum, Raising Highly Capable Kids, contact us at 855-REZ-KIDZ or 8675 Explorer Drive, Col Springs, CO 80920.
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