Elections aren’t for the faint of heart…the easily angered…or for the sensitive stomach for that matter.
Regardless of who you voted for this year, we all got our fill of heroes and villains–of straight talker’s and diplomatic walker’s.
We heard from people with all the answers and from some that obviously didn’t have a clue.
You may have even heard a message that gave you hope!…I had a hard time typing that with a straight face.
I know I got something very specific from this election season; an acute sense of indigestion.
The kind of indigestion that you feel coming from a mile away. For me it was the kind that follows a meal ripe with garlic and onions and a heavy red sauce.
Unfortunately it wasn’t Italian that left me feeling bloated and gassy.
But there was a positive that came out of all the spin and promises–my kids got a chance to sift through the weeds.
Okay, Who Filibustered?
This past weekend my wife and I attended a Tim Hawkins show with some friends. Besides tighter abs, Tim’s act gave me a new wish for the human race.
I wish that brain farts actually made noise.
Rightly designed, they’d be triggered every time something foul fell from someone’s mouth. Can you imagine how advantageous it would be?
Instead of having to teach my daughter’s about fact-checking and the reason for negative advertising, we’d hear a nice long…Bwoo###mp!
Immediately we’d know that someone just dropped a bomb and we could dismiss everything they just said.
Plus, everyone would get to enjoy the snickering and nervous laughter that always follows the sound of a fart…except now it would be on television!
Alas, our brains don’t come equipped with a sputtering orifice. I guess we’re left with the hard work of teaching our kids to spot the proverbial “brain fart” on their own.
Loading Your Smell Detector
What’s the short and dirty answer to teaching your kids to debunk political nonsense? It’s you.
Even though we have a host of tools out there, there can be no replacement for a parent who’s done their homework. This is especially the case for local races that might not garner the investigation of a major fact-check website.
So, assuming that you care enough to educate yourself on the issues, here are a couple of things to keep in mind for the next round of political blathering.
- Do a little history lesson. If you were as short-sighted as I was in school, you probably found history painfully boring. To quote Lloyd Christmas, “Man, I was way off!” History is vitally important, especially in understanding our political process. You don’t have to lecture or require a term paper, but a little background might go a long way in explaining things.
- Research the candidates with your kids. Obviously age will be a factor here, but if they are able, sit down with your kids and get acquainted with each candidate. Where do they come from? What shaped them politically? What was their vocation prior to politics? A couple of sites like Politifact.com, FactCheck.org and OnTheIssues.org will give you some added insight as to where candidates stand and how they’ve voted in the past. They are a kind of “Brain Fart Detector” for the Internet Age.
- Explain your political positions. Hopefully you have reasons for the way you vote. Explain those reasons and then let your kids ask you questions. If anything, this will cause you to shore up your own political footing.
- Be sure you know who’s pulling the strings. We were berated with negative ads this year that were funded by a bunch of faceless groups. Explaining the agenda behind those supporting a candidate, actually served me well. My oldest is still relatively young, but when she got a taste of why those ads portrayed people in such a hideous light, her little light bulb got just a bit brighter.
- Be prepared to explain the need for civility. I’m not sure civility ever really existed in politics (at least not in my lifetime) but our kids need a deep understanding of it. With all the volatility of today, you will have a laundry list of opportunities to show your kids how not to act. Point it out to them…and make sure you’re not one of those adding to the problem.
- Break down the issues for them. I don’t know very many adults that actually do this well…but it is vitally important. I realize that not all the issues are easily understood (whether local or national) but you need to give it a shot. Educate yourself, and then do your best. A good understanding of most of them is better than a little understanding of very few.
- Take your kids to the polls. Some schools do a pretty good job at creating mock voting opportunities for kids…but not all. This year my wife and I got to take two of our kids with us. You will be amazed at the questions that you get when they get to see you act on your civic duty–live and in person.
A Penny for your Thoughts?
Have you come up with a good method of coaching your kids through the election cycle?
Maybe you have a horror story of what not to do?
Throw your hat in to the ring in the comments section below!