Political Parenting

Want to engage young adults in this election without losing your mind? Practice these five tips:

Be teachable. A conversation isn’t about one person sharing knowledge and information with another. That’s better known as a lecture. Listen to your kids, allowing them and others to inform your opinions.

Be honorable. It’s okay to take issue with a candidate’s positions, but disparaging his or her character is a definite turnoff to teens and twenty-somethings. To everyone, in fact.

Be flexible. Your candidate isn’t Jesus. Our sons and daughters appreciate hearing how we disagree with the person we support. Give them the grace to do the same, and don't take differing opinions personally. Endorsing another candidate doesn't mean he or she is repudiating you as parent.

Be controversial. Surprise and provoke your offspring once in a while by saying something radical, starting with “I totally disagree with _____” or “I 100% agree that ____.”

Be passionate. Caring deeply about an election is contagious. Young people who watch us thinking deeply and talking freely about our opinions will be more likely to do the same. And they’ll be more likely to vote now and in the future if they see us faithfully trekking to the ballot box during primaries and elections.

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Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) is the author of two novels about a candidate’s daughter, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover and First Daughter: White House Rules (Dutton). Her main character, Sameera Righton, described by Publishers Weekly as “an intelligent, witty and prepossessed heroine, is keeping track of the hype around the REAL First Kid wannabes at www.sparrowblog.com. To learn more about the novels, visit firstdaughterbooks.com.

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