Children and Politics: What do our kids learn from nasty elections?

My seven year old daughter Anna loves anything to do with presidents. One night I walked into her room and she was reading a kids book about President James K. Polk. It takes genuine interest to read about President Polk. Our nightly ritual is to watch NBC Nightly News together which is a great conversation starter about world events and social issues. She won’t let me mute the commercials so lately we’ve been taking in a lot of campaign commercials. She has gotten to the place where she doesn’t like to watch those and will thankfully let me mute them.

As nasty as campaign ads have become this election cycle, I wonder what Anna is learning as she watches the 2012 presidential campaign unfold. What do nasty elections teach our kids?

From Vice President Biden implying that Republican policies put people back in chains to Romney calling the Obama campaign full of division, hate and anger, this election season is nasty.

Even Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church, canceled the upcoming Obama-Romney forum at his church because of how nasty the campaign has become. In his statement, Warren said:

We created the civil forums to promote civility and personal respect between people with major differences. The forums are meant to be a place where people of goodwill can seriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable or resorting to personal attack and name-calling. But that is not the climate of today’s campaign. I’ve never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don’t expect that tone to change before the election.

It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day.

Romney (a Mormon) and Obama (a Christian) both say they follow after the principles in the Bible yet their ads and words toward each other sure don’t model Christian principles of honesty and respect.

Is it possible for us to rise above this nasty campaign? Should we expect those who are running for office to be so childish in their approach to each other? Or are they just a representation of how Americans in the media and in daily life talk about politics? Watching cable news exhibits the same nastiness and lack of respect.

What do our kids learn from watching our leaders bicker at each other on television?

This election season, I will continue to mute campaign commercials and model thoughtful political dialogue with my daughter. I will attempt to teach her that political conversations can be rational and based on facts. We can respect those we disagree with politically and not get so emotional and angry. It’s not like a civil war will start if Obama gets elected.

And I will hope for the day when our political climate can be more adult like and civil. Maybe it will never come but I can still hope.


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on August 23, 2012, in Family Strategies, Personal and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hey Brother, love your dad blog! I’m raising a Colorado boy in Korea. He’s the only kid here with a cowboy shirt and John Deer ball cap!

    I brought as much Colorado as I could, I’ll be visiting your blog for more!

    Thanks for posting!

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