J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

A Weekend Lesson in Kids and Politics…

Last weekend I decided to help a few members of the community by supporting an upcoming ballot measure regarding the local community parks.

Thinking that it may be a good lesson for my kids to learn about issues facing their community, I bribed brought them along with me.  Reluctantly, they came along and went door to door dropping off flyers and talking about the local parks.

Going door to door is not what young kids want to do. It can be time consuming, seemingly endless, and overall pretty boring.  This exercise in getting my kids to care about local politics was met with a lot of resistance.

Overall, they lasted for about 20 minutes before the complaining began.  “How much longer?” “Mom I’m hungry.” ‘Mom can I go to a friend’s house?’ … And so on.

It’s not that my kids don’t care about parks – they do. They frequent our community parks, and when I told them that they were in jeopardy of closing they were truly concerned.  However, their concern was not enough to want to spend 4 hours on a Saturday walking door to door “spreading the word.” It was in the height of their complaining that it hit me. Their feelings mirrored so many adults in our community.

Did they like the parks? Yes. Were they concerned over losing parks? Yes. Were they compelled to take action?  Well, sort of… Four hours of walking door to door was too much for my kids. Their feelings of ‘concern’ were simply not enough to drive a need to take that sort of action. What is the answer to the question, “How do I encourage my kids to take action on issues they care about?”  It really starts at home.

First, if they see that I do something about an issue that is facing the community, they may be driven to take action for something they care about.  Second, ask for their opinion on issues. It may not be about the same issues you care about, and face it parents they may (and probably will) have a different opinion than you. The importance is in their desire to express their opinion on something. Kids may not be able to vote, but they can still be encouraged to express themselves. Finally, encourage them to take action and support them!  Give them the opportunity to express themselves over what they care about – but just keep in mind their method of expression may not be the same as yours!

In my case, I deeply care about parks so I was willing to volunteer my time on a Saturday morning. My kids care about the parks as well, but in hindsight I should have encouraged them to take action by expressing themselves in a way they felt comfortable with. In the end, my 13 year old daughter passed out flyers to her friends rather than doing door to door. She also posted comments about the issue on Facebook and texted her friends to spread the word about parks.  Although my 10 year old son stuck it out with me going door to door, his action was helping set up for one of the parks events.  When I go out again this weekend, I’ll leave the kids at home, but will continue to encourage them to stay informed, be involved, and express themselves in a way that is rewarding to them.

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