As the current election season rolls on and we now have a clearer picture of who will be occupying the White House next January, I can’t help but shake my head. Among family, friends and colleagues, it seems every opinion I hear is steeped in two primary feelings: 1) We are voting against a candidate we despise rather than for one we support. 2) These are our only options?
<Ah, geez, a political rant? I thought this was a parenting blog!>
Wait for it, o ye of little patience.
It’s no secret our political system is flawed and antiquated. Somewhere along the line, someone decided it would be a good idea to split the candidates into two distinct parties based on their stances on a few controversial issues. Now, if you’re not seated squarely on either the left or the right, your voice is largely lost somewhere in the middle.
And we have made that OK by continuing to simply vote down party lines.
But is that the message we want to send our kids? That there’s no middle ground? That we have to cast our lot with one of two factions, even if our own beliefs may fall somewhere in the middle? That’s certainly not the lesson I want to teach my boys. I want to make it very clear I’m not a Republican or a Democrat—though I am voting very adamantly against one candidate in November—so I’m not pushing any political agenda here. I just believe Americans should be able to choose their next president based on who they feel will do the most good, not which one will do the least damage. And that reform starts with our kids.
My guess is we will not see real change during this generation. So it will be up to our children to affect that change. The choices we give them, the standards and values we instill in them now, will lead them to voice their opinions—and stand strong to defend those opinions—even if they have to buck the system to do it.
When Bubby asks us a question, even something as innocuous as why he has to clean up his room when he just did it yesterday, Wife and I take the time to give him a real explanation rather than just leaning back on the old Because we’re your parents and we said so. We know he may not understand everything we tell him now. But one day he will, and so will Boo. Our hope is that by explaining instead of giving commands they will be encouraged to think for themselves and start asking those questions—mentally or verbally—as they continue to grow and venture out into the world.
In a world where any schlub with a keyboard—present company included—can start a blog about any old topic he wants, it’s easier than ever to get your voice out there. So it is my job now to make sure my boys have the proper tools in their intellectual inventory to stand up for what they believe in when they start their own blogs in fifteen years. Maybe we will even see a third-party candidate in the Oval Office in 2036.