With the Democratic National Convention just completed and the Republican faithful set to gather and renominate President Trump this coming week, America has officially entered its political high holy season. 

Both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden – along with their political operatives – are laser-focused on reaching every eligible voter.  But many of those same voters have impressionable kids in their home, and this year’s campaign promises to leave a lasting impression on them. 

How might parents navigate this tumultuous and highly charged political season, and not just get through it, but leave their children stronger, politically wiser and more grateful for their country?

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How you talk with children about politics and the presidential election will largely depend on their age and stage, of course.  Riley, our oldest at 15, says his earliest memory is of the 2008 election. All he really remembers of that was a contest featuring the “reds versus the blues.” 

But I think regardless of how young or old our kids are, there are several principles that will help guide and direct the process. 

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Talk boldly and openly about our nation’s history. I think moms and dads would be well-served to remember and embrace President Ronald Reagan’s warning and counsel, offered in his moving farewell address from the Oval Office on Jan. 11, 1989. 

“If we forget what we did [historically], we won’t know who are are,” the nation’s 40th president told the nation, specifically singling out parents to raise these issues around the dinner table.  

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“I am warning of an eradication of that – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit,” he added. 

Sadly, the “cancel culture” crowd wants to do the exact opposite. They want to run down the founding fathers, not lift them up. It’s true that George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the whole cast of our first citizens weren’t perfect people, but by their wisdom, courage and sacrifice they laid the foundation for the greatest force for good of any nation in history.

In our home, we have the famous painting of Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow at Valley Forge. I like to talk about that scene, and remind our boys that when all hope seemed lost in the cold winters of the American Revolution, our country’s leaders sought and received divine assistance. 

Establish a good, positive attitude about the election and its importance. Cynicism seems to be the emotion of the age. For many, it’s cool to mock and malign candidates and even dismiss the whole process as crooked or a waste of time, but resist the urge. It’s too important. 

We tell our children we care about politics because we care about people. Every policy impacts someone, somewhere.   

The political satirist Mark Russell, who I’ve admittedly enjoyed for years, has made a living poking fun at everybody. He once said, “Our best days are ahead of us if neither of the candidates win.”   

I guess that’s funny – but it’s an impossibility. Every four years, one of two people will win. Make your choice.

We tell our children we care about politics because we care about people. Every policy impacts someone, somewhere.  

Remind your children that hundreds of thousands of men and women died in order to protect our republic and preserve our right to vote. 

As much as possible, make it about issues, not personalities. We regularly remind our boys that we dislike a particular candidate’s policies – we don’t “know” them well enough to make it personal.  

Talk about issues in an age-appropriate fashion. Pull up a voter guide and explain to them what you believe in simple language – and why. Don’t assume anything. Remember, they’re just kids. 

I like the story of Reagan and Tip O’Neill – fierce political opponents – still socializing after the political work was over.  

If there are disagreements with older kids, resist the urge to argue – ask probing questions instead. In my parenting and my teaching in classrooms – I’ve taught grade school through college classes – I’ve discovered that kids are much more likely to thoughtfully engage if you’re genuinely interested in discovering why they believe what they do. Make it an inquiry, not an inquisition.  

Down through the years, parents and grandparents have rightly worried about what type of country their kids will inherit. The thought has crossed my mind many times, especially during this summer of discontent.

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Truth be told, the type of country our children will acquire will be determined not just by how we vote in November, but by how our kids and grandkids vote in the coming years. 

To quote Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, we will have “A republic – if you can keep it.”

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Source: FoxNews

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