WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — This year’s election cycle has been unusual for many. The stress has caused division across the country, but that can be hard for children to understand. How should you approach election talk with your kids?
Sarah Mason and Jason Parsley started talking about politics with their children when they were babies. Sawyer, 8, and Aleksa, 6, are very inquisitive about current events and issues. Naturally, election talk became typical dinner conversation for the family.
“Especially in today’s divisive times, I think it’s important that we’re able to all have a conversation and speak intelligently about issues, and we’re trying to get our kids to be able to do that,” Parsley says.
The family has covered the inner workings of the electoral college, racial injustice and the crisis, and the southern border. Mason and Parsley have explained these issues, but they leave their kids room to make their own conclusions.
“We want to make them aware of things going on in the world, but we don’t want to traumatize them. We want them to have that sense of security but also understand that not everyone has that,” Mason says.
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Hannah Cox says having healthy discussions with your children about the election are encouraged. According to Cox, children are most likely having these conversations with friends, at school, or overhear what adults are saying.
“It would be important, especially for children to learn, that other people have different viewpoints. And from those different viewpoints, learning that listening to those people with empathy so you’re trying to have an understanding of where the other person is coming from,” Cox says.
For younger children, she suggests using children’s books. For teenagers, she suggests YouTube videos as a resource. She says children are watching how their parents react and what they say.
“They can learn from us as their parents from what our values are and learn about what we feel like is important but also allowing them to have some independence and express their viewpoints as well,” Cox says.
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