Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Did Your Election Behavior Teach Your Children?

Today is a new day.  It is not yesterday, and it is not tomorrow.  This election had friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, religions, bloggers, the entire country divided.  There were mean-spirited arguments from both sides just as there were calm disagreements from both sides.  There was mud-slinging and there was praise.  And there were the children of this country that witnessed it all.

Children are impressionable, they do as they see and they say what they hear.  If you don't believe this, just ask any parent; things get repeated.  School-aged children repeat at school what they have heard at home.  Toddlers repeat what they have heard whenever it is most embarrassing for a parent.  Think about the things that you have said during this election.  Were they said in front of your children?  If so, were they things that your children should repeat or were they things that you hope that your children do not repeat?  Did you take this election as a chance to help your children grow as compassionate human beings or did you take this election as a chance to teach your children intolerance for other people's opinion?

I do not know the answers that you can give to those questions, but I know the answers that I can give.  I have three children, ages 9, 7, and 2.  My two-year-old will repeat anything, but does not understand most of what she repeats.  However, she can replicate moods.  She understands anger, frustration, and happiness.  I try everyday to teach her when it appropriate to feel each one of those emotions.  When to act on them and when to not act on them.  Sometimes adults need to be taught the same lessons. 

My 9 and 7 year olds are old enough to understand what we say and repeat it verbatim.  The things that they say at school, to their friends, to adults, and to the public in general are a direct reflection on us, their parents.  They will repeat what they have heard at home.  They will also carry the same attitude that they observe at home.  My children knew who we were voting for in this election, and they knew who their friends parents were voting for in this election.  They learned that not everyone had the same opinion, even their friends.  Instead of inciting intolerance in my children, I chose to teach them that people have differing opinions and that it is okay.  We are not all the same, we will not always have the same idea or opinion, but people should not be disrespected or taunted because they do not share your opinion.  I hope that I taught them that compassion and tolerance for other people should always be practiced.  Most of all I hope that I taught this to them not only by saying but by doing.

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