Voting with Kids

I Voted!Later today, I will be headed to the polls…with four kids in tow. Some may think I’m crazy. The line to vote may be long. There are never any other children there. Yet, every single election, I head down the street with my children. Sometimes, like tomorrow, my husband joins us and we go as a family. Other times, when our schedules aren’t as easily aligned, I head with just my kids. And yet, I take them.

I’m setting a precedence with my kids. Voting matters. Certainly, they still have quite some time before they can vote themselves, but the outcomes of the decisions being made affect everyone, including them.

Politics are not something for adults at our house. We talk about politics. We watched the debates together. We asked our children what they thought about the issues, the politicians, and the political campaigns.  Rights are for everyone, and if someone isn’t afforded rights, it’s our duty to do something about it. Just as our own rights were fought for by others, we owe it to ourselves and to others to stand up for everyone. Am I often disgruntled with government and politicians? Yes. That doesn’t mean I should become apathetic. It means I should work toward doing something about it.

My kids go with me to vote because it’s important to me that they know how important it is to have your voice heard. My children’s voices are heard at home, but that isn’t the case for every child or even most children. It often isn’t the case for many minorities, even those who have legal rights. I’m not throwing away my right to vote. I want them to know about my mother, their grandmother, and how she refused to tell anyone for whom she voted. She remembered a time when women were allowed to vote…for the person they were told to vote for by their husbands.

I want my children to understand that having a voice is a human right that should be afforded everyone. I want them to use that voice and to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I want them to use their voices to make a better world. So later today, I’ll head to the polls with my children. I will use my voice and show them that they can also use theirs.

I Want to be an American

God Bless AmericaThis election season has been fraught with meaningful conversations with our children. Last week, a conversation between my children about political parties ensued. I wasn’t party to this particular discussion, but I was privy to listening to it. Discussion about what they thought of the different political parties turned into a conversation about which political party they might want to join when they were grown. My eight year old replied, “When I grow up, I want to be an American.”

Apparently the adults in our family are not the only ones who are tired of the bickering and name calling that has ensued in this presidential election. Many citizens seem to have forgotten a fundamental ideal, one  pointed out by the innocence and wisdom of a child. We are ALL Americans, and we should all be working together to help one another. Let’s work together, as a community, as a country, and as a world to make this this a better place for everyone, ensure the rights of everyone, just as my own rights have been fought for by others before me, and to remember that we are in this together.

Serious Issues Deserve Serious Voters

ARTICLE 1The United States is a group of widely diverse individuals. As such, one would expect to find different thoughts and beliefs among a nation as large and varied as ours. When election time comes around, I expect to hear those varying thoughts from individuals. We each have different ideas about who we think the country should be run, different thoughts on whom we think is most qualified to lead or is most in tune with our beliefs, and go about that in different ways. The very freedom to say how we think the country should be run is one of the fantastic things about our country.

However, this year, more so than any  other time I can remember, people are going beyond talking about their political beliefs and how they think the country should be run. We’ve gone past respectful and thoughtful discussion and debate and have entered a dangerous area rife with violence and hate. From racism to sexism and crude jabs to name calling, putrid vile is pouring out of the mouths and keyboards of millions of Americans.

Name calling and jokes don’t belong in the serious realm of our lives. Those are things we find in the school yards, from people young enough that they are still learning how to deal with their fear and anger. When children resort to bullying, most parents step in to help them learn better ways of expressing themselves. Yet over the past few months, I’ve seen many of these same people not only spread the hatred, but escalate in it. In just over a couple of weeks, we have a very important election coming up. This election in particular holds some very serious issues for both individuals and our country as a whole. These serious issues deserve serious voters. So, please, I beg of you, please put the name calling aside. Step away from the fear and hate. Remember that we are a nation united, and let’s act like the adults we claim to be in order to work together for the good of everyone.