The 2016 Presidential Election was one of the most heated in recent history and, without a doubt, the most publicized election anyone has seen in this lifetime. For parents raising their children in America, there is no way to hide the political craze from them. Furthermore, younger generations who are paying attention to the political playground are developing their own beliefs and opinions about what’s right and what’s wrong.
How Do I Prepare Myself as a Parent to Talk to My Teen About Politics?
While political issues are not always pretty, it is hard to steer your child completely away from it. The truth is, it is never too early to start raising a responsible American citizen. Some researchers even believe that you can start as early as kindergarten when it comes to discussing political issues with your children. As your children’s intellect grows, typically so does their interest in political topics.
Many parents try to steer away from voicing their own political opinions when their pre-teens or teens have a question and seek the facts. Teach your son or daughter how to find information on their own from reliable sources and not just look for information that agrees with their opinion or the rumor they might have heard about on social media. They should realize they can’t believe everything they read.
Most importantly, make them feel engaged in the political process instead of trying to turn them away from it. Be sure to teach your children the importance of respecting one another’s personal views. Everyone is entitled to one’s own opinion. When talking about your own political views, be sure to explain to your children why you feel the way you do, the reason you choose this political stance versus another.
How Are Politics, the Internet and My Teen Related?
You might be surprised to find out how politically aware your young teenager is. Today’s preteens and teens are scouring the internet and social media sites at unbelievable rates. More than just searching for information, they are interacting and posting constantly.
When political candidates are taking to Twitter and Facebook to post their own opinions, they become accessible. Today’s politicians are looking for ways to voice their messages and views loud and clear, and as widely as possible. Talk to your politically interested teens about “mudslinging” and “hate-mongering” among politicians. Let them know that it is simply a way for each party to draw attention away from core issues by stirring up the public’s emotions.
Television news sites and talk shows will often refer to online comments or movements which are making waves through the social media world. Today’s younger generations, while they may not be able to vote yet, sure have the ability to speak out about their own opinions regarding politics. And today, unlike in the recent past, the general public can directly communicate with those in a position to take action and make real change.
What if My Child Develops a Different View Than I Have?
It is natural for your developing teens to have their own opinions. Quite often, teens and adolescents are trying to discover what they are passionate about and what their own views on the world are. These days, they flock to social media outlets for expressing their budding opinions.
Even if their parents don’t agree, there will always be someone on the internet who shares a similar opinion to your teen. Allow your young political advocate the leeway to come up with conclusions that are different than your own. An important part of growing and maturing is developing critical thinking for one’s self. Use these opportunities to engage in a meaningful discussion with your teen.
At some point down the road, your teenagers may change their way of thinking but, until then, they need the freedom to develop their own conclusions. No matter what, as a parent, it is your job to set a good example for your children.
Our children are listening and watching us interact with other adults. They pick up on clues as to what adulting is really all about. When they see you participating positively with regard to local and national politics, they will undoubtedly adopt those behaviors as well. The teens of today become the adults of tomorrow and it is our job to cultivate self-confidence in these future leaders.