It’s interesting to watch how things like elections play out among children and in school, and what I’ve noticed during the last couple presidential elections is that children can easily become polarized and even hateful during such times. As I’ve listened to my kids process the elections, it’s helped me understand how we reflect our views onto our children. That’s healthy and normal and as it should be. Until they have the capability of making their own informed decisions, they look to us to model for and guide them. They are also influenced by their peers, who are similarly influenced by their parents and other family members, which, again, is okay. But I am alarmed when I hear stories of kids being mean to others because of how their parents voted. I think it’s fine to impart our political leanings onto our children, and to explain to them at their level why we feel the way we do. I think it’s equally important not to demonize the opposition. It’s one thing to have convictions. I admire that greatly. But when it moves beyond convictions and turns into hate, I shake my head and wonder how it is we got so off track. Oh, there are many guilty forces — the media among them. But in the end, along with the molding and guiding, we also need to teach our children love. I’m afraid that didn’t happen in the classroom of at least one of my children today, where one boy went home with a heavy heart because his political thoughts did not mesh with the majority of his classmates’. We are failing our children when we do not pass down our ideals and the reasons for them. We fail them even more when we do not pass down our responsiblity to project our passions lovingly.
Here’s a story related to the election that is a little more lighthearted. Of our seven family members, four of us leaned toward McCain-Palin, one seemed neutral and/or apathetic, and the other two rooted loudly for Obama. The latter two were our youngest boys, ages 3 and 5. Apparently, one of our kindergartener’s classmates convinced him to go for Obama. In turn, he convinced his younger brother to go to his side. Personally, I think they simply liked the sound of Obama’s name better. What this little microcosm of the outer world shows me is that we can model all we want, but in the end, our children are going to be individuals and have their own minds about things. I’m glad I’m learning that lesson now, because I have a feeling I will need to fall back on that many times through the years. My parents always encouraged me to find my own path, and made it clear they would love me no matter what. Now, I see this as one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from them besides life itself.
As for the Obama win, I could not vote for him in good conscience for several reasons, but I get it. I really do. Having grown up on the Ft. Peck Reservation in Northeast Montana, I glimpsed and even experienced at times the inner life of a racial minority. White privilege is a reality and those who have been oppressed historically have found new life in this choice, and their tears of joy are real. I do hope Obama can come through for us. He has a tough road ahead, as would any candidate in these days. The true test of his character will be revealed in time and I will pray for a good outcome. In the meantime, and even though Obama was not my choice, I do feel real happiness for those who have been waiting for this day and, for the first time ever, perhaps, feel that their voices will count. Those of us who voted differently still have choices and a voice as well.
Above all, let us move forward with grace, and even more importantly, take a good nap if necessary. After all, even Batman needs to once in a while!