Raising Good Americans By Getting Involved in Politics

I think I’ve mentioned before, that in my family growing up, Dad was a Democrat and Mom was a Republican. Political discussions were lively, and as children, we weren’t pressured into being conservative or liberal; we could decide for ourselves. Among the now adult 8 siblings, we fall across the political spectrum and into both political parties — and we tend to cross the aisle as needed. But my sister Sara is the most politically involved. Here’s what she says about raising politically-minded kids:

I’m Sara Urquhart, married to Steve Urquhart, and politics is the family sport. We talk politics, we debate politics, we question politics, we campaign, and we serve. My husband is a Republican and is currently the Rules Chair of the Utah House of Representatives.

Regardless of our party affiliation, my husband and I work hard to give our children all sides of an issue. Issues are complicated. The ones that are easy have already been dealt with easily. I want my children to be able to decide for themselves where they are politically and why.

Get Involved as a Family On a Local Campaign — Preferably a Candidate You Know Personally

I would love to see every family dive hard into at least one political campaign — preferably for someone they know well. As a Mayor’s wife once told me in the local grocery store, “Every family should have somebody run for office at some time. It gives each person respect for the process and the positions and keeps them from taking so much for granted.”

At the end of the day, it’s teaching your children about the process — not about the party — that’s important. Once we were at a Republican breakfast rally and a kind, blue-haired lady in a stars-and-stripes sweater looked at my brood of children and cooed, “You are raising good Republicans.” I quickly answered back, “No, I’m raising good Americans.”

—–

Thank you, Sara. I love that “not about the party sentiment”. 

How about you, Dear Readers? How do you approach the idea of “raising good Americans”? What has worked at your house?

P.S. — If you’ve wished you were more involved or knowledgeable politically, you may want to visit the newly launched (and party neutral) blog Politics for Moms, which aims to educate Mothers about the political process.


 

Update: Then & Now — What Has Changed in a Decade

This post was written and originally published almost a decade ago. I recently remembered it and thought it was so relevant to today. Over the last year, essentially everyone I know has been feeling the urge to be more politically active, and to engage about political issues with their kids. So I thought it could be good to update and republish it.

What has changed over the last decade? Lots of things, but 3 come to mind. First, a decade ago, my siblings (there are 8 of us) really did fall nicely along the whole political spectrum as described above. But these days, in addition to my mother, there’s only one sibling left that still identifies strongly as a Republican. Have we changed? Or has the Republican Party changed? Probably some of both, but from my view it’s mostly the latter — to me it feels like the Republican Party has become more extreme, bumping many of us with moderate views, people who could easily vote across party lines, out of the way. I realize not everyone will agree, but that’s what it looks like from my perspective.

Second, I’ve never seen the population so politically involved before. Ten years ago, I definitely didn’t see citizens — from both parties and in the middle — engaged in such large numbers. Personally, I find it exciting and inspiring. The more knowledgable and educated citizens are about the issues, the more likely we can make good decisions as a country.

And third, when I consider my sister’s thoughts on “it’s not about the party”, they really resonate with me, but it seems like we’ve moved far from that sentiment. I think of my Aunt Janet, one of the most upbeat, successful and hard-working people I know. Over the past 8 months or so she went from being openly disgusted by Donald Trump to absolutely adoring him, and she has gone from being a fairly standard Republican a decade ago, to valuing her political party above all else today — even above her relationships with her children. Her kids are all grown up, but she will attack and shame them on social media if they express a negative view about the President or about the Republican Party. Sometimes it feels like “it’s not about the party” has become “it’s ALL about the party.”

What’s your take? When parenting, do you ever think about how to “raise good Americans”? Are you and your kids talking more about politics than you used too? Have you ever gotten involved in a political campaign? And what do you think about the 3 then & now observations? Would you agree? Have you observed things differently? I’d love to hear.

54 thoughts on “Raising Good Americans By Getting Involved in Politics”

  1. How cool we have that in common; my mother was also a Republican and my father a Democrat. I have never belonged to a party but am very politically minded and quite libertarian. I’m also a photographer and a musician (and a typophile, decor fiend…general, all-around design lover).

    It is so refreshing to see this on your blog as most other artistic people I come across are dismissive of what they think is “conservative”. Art, beauty, youth, culture, and open-mindedness are not the property of any political ideology.

    I’m new to your blog and it’s already one of my favorites. Thank you!

  2. What a coincidence! I work for the Utah House republicans and know Rep. Urquhart. I also just happened to have starting reading this blog. Small world!

  3. Love the sentiment that everyone should be actively part of a campaign, at least once. We just ran our county’s campaign for Barack Obama, and having never done anything more than vote before, it was REALLY eye opening. Very educational, hard, and motivating. Great post!

  4. It seems SO good but a little daunting. How do you do it when you’re already feeling busy with motherhood?

    Is there a small, manageable way to be involved? Where do you begin if you haven’t been politically active? Is there one publication you would recommend a family subscribe to?

    BTW, Thanks for the politics for moms link.

  5. I find politics a little difficult to manage as well. I was so active and knew so much before kids..now I barely know anything! Really, being a parent is the best reason in the world to be involved and I hate that I’m not.

    I hope my children will always view everything from all angles and never stop questioning everything around them. I will also be crushed if they grow up to be conservative thinking types..I’ll just be honest there. They’re free to be whatever they want, and I hope they’ll be armed with all the information, compassion and cynicism that one needs to be what I consider to be a good and intelligent human being, whatever their political views be.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this!!!

    I especially liked what you said about teaching your children about the process not the party. I believe in teaching your children HOW to thing, not WHAT to think.

    I must say that Sisters Week is one of the best ideas you ever had, Design Mom! The Y chromosomes in your family run rich with brilliant intelligence!

  7. Anonymous,

    First off, don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated when it comes to politics. I graduated with a degree in Poli Sci and still have to re-teach myself what certain things mean each election cycle.

    If you’ve never been involved, find something you feel passionate about (maybe it is the new lunchroom policy at the school or the streetlight issue in the neighborhood)and start asking questions. Figure it out. How can you change things and not just complain?

    Mindi was making a joke but there is nothing wrong with her overall sentiment: if you are too busy to know all things political all the time (and what mother isn’t) have a like-minded friend or two that you can call on voting day to get a sense of how they are voting. Sometimes that is your best research even when you have lots of time.

    Heather,

    Creative, solution driven thinkers are going to do much more to help this country than kids who are taught to think like mommy and daddy. I want my kids to be among the former. Policy Issues (e.g., abortion, education)

  8. what a fun post. i was raised very republican but married a much more liberal guy. i love it. we have some good discussions and have some lively disagreements. the liveliness only picks up when we talk politics with the extended fam. but it definitely opens my eyes to thinking about the issues not party lines.

  9. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now but this is the first time I’ve posted here.

    Growing up my dad was always involved in political campaigns whether it was for the governor, mayor, our just a county council member. In any case, he never involved us kids and never talked about it on any level which probably explains my dislike for anything political.

    With that said, my hubby and I try to talk to our 5 year old daughter about things that she would understand like who our president is now and who is running for president in the upcoming election. I think that as she gets older we’ll get into a little further. I’m not political minded but I do follow some issues.

  10. Politics feel so charged now. But, my sliver of hope with all that is happening is people are GETTING INVOLVED. For so long, everyone I knew just voted, but nothing more. Now, calls are being made, canvassing, meetings…it is the part of a democracy which is necessary, but which we took for granted. No longer will that happen.

  11. Navigating the current political climate with a toddler has been tricky. We don’t want to freak him out, but we want him to feel involved. We took our little guy the Women’s March and a bunch of (family friendly) rallies and it has really stuck with him. We were on a busy street the other day and he turns to me and says “Mommy, are we marching for equal rights?” MY HEART! He will also randomly say things like “Everyone should have a good home and good food.”

  12. I think that both political parties have changed and become more extreme, not just the republicans. I hear older democrats say that it is no longer the same party that they grew up with and joined as young adults. My husband always says that liberals and conservatives essentially both want the same things, but they believe in different ways of achieving it (more government control vs less).

    1. Probably both parties have changed, but in my personal life, I can’t think of anyone who has left the Democratic party and I know lots of people who have left the Republican party. So of course, from my point of view, the Republican party seems to have changed more radically.

      And I do hope that both parties essentially want the same things.

      1. Very interesting to hear that Gabby. I grew up in southern WV, which was very blue when I lived there in the 80’s and 90’s and is now deeply red. Almost everyone I knew as a child was a Democrat, and there are few people in my hometown that would now claim that.

        I think people perceive their values to be the same – steady jobs, hard work, etc, but now the Republican party is taking credit for those jobs, while the Democrats are moving ahead on social issues. My dad and both grandfathers were coal miners and saw what was coming, encouraging us to get an education and not look to the coal mines for jobs. Many miners, however, didn’t have as much foresight and instead of recognizing the changing needs of the market and the environment, are just blaming “others” for taking those jobs.

        I often wonder if I changed, or an entire region did. I feel the same, more aware perhaps, but I feel like the essence of what I believe is the same. But I often see such bigotry, hatred, and ignorance coming from the people I grew up with – church folks, neighbors and school mates. It’s shocking. It seems virtually impossible to assume hundreds of people have changed and so it must be me, but then coming to terms with a different perspective on the environment you were raised in is hard.

  13. You are so right about the party changing, or moving sharply to the right. It used to be that people who were fiscally conservative (but socially liberal) could still have their voices represented within the party. But the tone of the party has changed fairly dramatically for the negative over the last decade, and I don’t mean just this election when the rhetoric has been especially nasty (ha). Look at the behavior of the Freedom Caucus for example. They don’t care if what they are doing harms people as long as they remain ideologically pure. They will spin it to voters as giving them more choices and taking away Govt intervention, and by the time people realize what has happened and how it will impact them, it will be too late. Its going to happen w/ Healthcare, education, the environment. And the irony is some of the people who stand to be impacted the most are people that rabidly vote for them. So yes to more activism, more calling of local representatives, more generous giving to causes we believe in. My son is too young to understand whats happening, but politics will be an important part of his upbringing. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I do constantly wonder how decent, intelligent people can reconcile their choice of candidate w/ their values.

    1. You bring up a good point. It seems like it used to be fine to consider yourself a member of a political party without being pressured to agree with every aspect of the party platform.

      I hope it will feel like that again, because I can’t identify perfectly with either party.

      1. I agree. There are a lot of ideological purity tests, on both sides. It’s so destructive to the parties and the country.

  14. Whitney Ingram

    It’s the same in our house. I am a Democrat and my husband is a Republican. And my husband and I love that we have different perspectives for our kids to see. Personally, I hope it teaches them to think for themselves. If they can see a mom and dad that love each other AND disagree, they are at an advantage. How do we raise good Americans? We teach them to point out racism, we teach them to be informed, we teach them that everyone deserves equal rights and we work to be good members of our community. No political party can disagree with that!

  15. Thanks millions for this post! My father was always involved in government and political matters, but he was never angry about these things. I am disappointed with the anger and rudeness I’ve witnessed when some people discuss politics. Most distressing to me is the constant interrupting before a person has been allowed the time and space to finish a sentence. I’ve presently decided to discontinue listening to anyone who interrupts another before the other has had the opportunity to make his/her point. I cannot stand a mob’s vulgar and disrespectful interrupting and shouting. Such would never happen at an athletic event, even though team lines are intense and losing is never fun.

    1. I like your comparison to sports. That’s a great example. Constant, intense competition, but sportsmanship is expected of all involved.

      And I hear you the anger and rudeness of late. I am certainly guilty of responding angrily in too many instances.

  16. We have always had a purple marriage. I was raised by liberal Democrats, and my husband was raised by conservative Republicans. Over the years there have been stressful moments, but they have been few and far between. I’ve never considered myself particularly political, so as long as my husband agreed with me on the social issues (he did), our discussions were usually civil, and we always learned from one another. All three of our children are in their 20s, and our oldest daughter works for a refugee resettlement agency (you can guess her politics) and the other two also lean liberal. I don’t think that either of us ever tried to influence them, but given the current political climate, I’m not surprised that they are identifying as Democrats.

    This past year has been a doozy. (Not a newsflash to anyone!) As hard as the election of Mr. Trump has been for me, I believe it has been harder on my husband. From the very start, he has been horrified by the fact that the GOP got behind this man. At this point, my husband feels like a man without a party. Where has his Republican party gone? I hear him hurling insults at the TV and furious at the leadership in Congress. It’s very strange, after 32 years, to be politically on the same page as my wonderful husband.

    The good news? I don’t think my children will take things for granted as I always did. As much as I didn’t love the leadership of some of the Republican presidents over the past few decades, I always slept well at night. I believed they were, at the core, good and decent men, and I fundamentally trusted that they would never put their own egos over what was best for the country. I never thought that anything like “this” could happen in America. Now that it has, I’ve become an activist, and I am much more knowledgeable about how our government works. I’m glad my children are experiencing this as young adults, and I expect that they will always pay close attention to what is going on in Washington.

    1. So much good stuff in your comment!

      I also feel more knowledgeable about how our government works than I did a year ago.

      And I feel for your husband and his disappointment with the GOP candidate. In almost every election, I’ve felt comfortable voting for either presidential candidate (and have voted about half the time for Republican and half for Democrat), but this time, I didn’t feel that way.

  17. Notned Snamor

    All I can think is poor aunt Janet just got publicly shamed on your blog that probably gets more readers that any of her social media… Too bad

    1. If “Aunt Janet” (if that even is her real name) chooses to publicly shame her own children in front of the rest of the family, then she runs the risk of someone else calling her out for that behavior, doesn’t she? I think Gabby is perfectly within her rights to use one of her family members as a personal example of how this election has changed her view of how politics affect people.

    2. I don’t think you need to worry about Aunt Janet, Notned. First of all, she doesn’t read Design Mom, and second she is definitely not ashamed of her actions. From her perspective what she is doing is right and correct. And I’m not ashamed of her either. If I was, I wouldn’t have mentioned her at all, and I wouldn’t have called her “upbeat, successful and hard-working”.

      I shared her story because I find her change of attitude mystifying and assumed other people might have observed similar situations and be equally mystified. I think it’s worth discussing.

      If you view this as a public shaming, it sounds like you feel Aunt Janet behaved shamefully. To me, it’s more like she has behaved bizarrely; it’s not about me thinking it’s wrong, it’s about me thinking it’s hard to understand.

      I can’t tell from the tone of comment — it could be that you just want to come here and complain. If so, please find another site to bother, because there’s really no place for rudeness in the conversations and discussions on Design Mom. On the other hand, if your comment was sincere, then hopefully my response will ease your concerns.

      1. Notned Snamor

        I didn’t think my comment was rude in any way… just an observation. Seems to me that if want more civility in politics (which I think we can all agree on at least), it ought to start with trying to understand each other.

        I’m not defending aunt Janet’s attacks – I think we ought to be able to have fruitful disagreements about political issues – but I do think we have to be more to the other side (whichever that is).

        Perhaps it wasn’t shaming, but saying she values her politicsl party more than her relationship with her children (whether true or not) is probably not the start of a productive discussion.

        I am a regular reader but don’t normally comment, and I assumed a good faith discussion was welcomed, even if we don’t agree. I hope that is the case.

        1. Hmmm. I’m still getting a troll-vibe from you. I gave you a thoughtful 4-paragraph response and you’re not sure a good faith discussion is welcome? I’m having a hard time believing you’re sincere. If you’re a regular reader, certainly you must have observed that readers offer differing opinions all the time. They’re offering differing opinions right here on this thread.

          No one called your comment rude and no one implied that you are defending my Aunt.

          If I understand correctly, the point you are trying to express is that you think fruitful disagreements about political issues are possible, but you think that me mentioning my Aunt is not helping.

          You are welcome to think that. And you won’t be surprised to hear I disagree about the aunt part. I believe her story can definitely be the start of a productive conversation because I know the idea of “party above family” sounds unbelievable — and yet, it’s what many Americans are experiencing. Definitely worth talking about.

          (Here’s hoping you’re not a troll and I’m not wasting my time responding.)

          1. Notned Snamor

            No worries, I won’t waste any more of your time. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong that I’m coming across as a troll, so I don’t know how I can fix that. I guess I’d just part with the thought that not being allied to a party doesn’t necessarily make one more open to differing political views. It seems to me that the problem is not so much the party (for example, Trump’s views are all over the map, and he is probably more socially liberal than the vast majority of Republicans), as that we all need to try harder to understand how somebody with opposite political views can come to those views sincerely and even with the same good intentions we have, even if we don’t agree. If we can’t understand how someone can hold those views (and I mean that in both directions), we aren’t trying hard enough. I guess that is my point: always assume good intentions.

  18. I was thinking about this topic today as I took my young daughters (4 and 2) to vote in a local city election with me and purposely tried not to mention political parties when I told them I would be voting for a woman to be mayor.

    I’m reading the book Strangers in Their Own Land (so far it’s fascinating, enlightening, and depressing) and one of the many interesting facts the author cites is how much the platform of the Republican Party has moved right over the years since Reagan and even Bush. It really surprised me.

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation. I hadn’t heard of it and it looks amazing. Does it talk about the Democratic platform as well? I’d be curious to know how much it has shifted (if at all).

  19. Coming from Australia, we absolutely vote for a party, not a leader. Sure, the parties run with a leader but there is no guarantee that leader will be there leader for the duration of their elected time in office.

    I wonder what the feeling would be in America if you voted a party of people who elected a leader rather than a single person who allies themselves to a particular party. The republicans appear to have varied views on their current leader – I wonder who the President would be if the people voted for the Republican Party and then the officials of that party chose their leader.

    As for politics in the home, my husband and I have quite similar views and so our family discussions can be quite one-sided. As my kids grow I will try to incorporate a more balanced view so they can choose independently.

      1. It can be quite disruptive but if the party is not backing it’s leader then there are issues that generally can be helped with fresh eyes.Our first female prime minister got the role when the Labor Party no longer supported the leader.

  20. We are in a bit of a different situation – my family and my husband’s family are both liberal leaning (socially liberal, narrowly fiscally conservative). However we live in a massive red bubble. We have always discussed politics openly in front of our elementary aged kids and are even watching The Circus with them. We work very hard to inform them, in as neutral a way as possible, about ALL sides of each issue. (It is hard when my husband works in renewable energy and I work in National Parks. We obviously have strong opinions on some issues that make explaining the other side rationally nearly impossible. But we do our best!)

    However, similar to your situation with your aunt, I cannot tell you how many times we’ve had to re-educate our kids or deal with tears and upset kids because other kids (or even parents!) who have called us/our kids vile things because we don’t support Trump or the Republican party or are spreading lies/misinformation around as fact. We’re murderers because we support a woman’s right to choose. We’re trying to bankrupt families here because we don’t support a return to coal. Democrats want to take away everybody’s guns. Did I mention my kids are 7 and 10?!? It’s maddening. How is this okay fodder for playground conversations!? So we always return to our mantra of you will not change the minds of those who will not listen. Your job is to educate yourself and be sound in your own values and beliefs. We encourage friendships with those who also encourage discourse and not judging a person based on political affiliation. (“Judge not lest ye be judged” and all that.)

    I also feel both sides have moved farther out on the line of the spectrum although I feel Republicans have moved much farther than Democrats. I also know, as is typical in today’s world, a very vocal minority is hogging the media limelight. Getting active in our own communities is the only way to bring the needles back. I found this video on the partisanship of congress very interesting and very telling. http://www.businessinsider.com/animation-rise-partisanship-congress-house-representatives-60-years-2016-4

    To me, it says our representatives are more concerned about their party than their constituents (on BOTH sides of the aisle). I truly hope this entire mess results in some absolute lone wolves running for office who are not beholden to long party ties or corporate backing and who can shake things up and get our government back in to the mode of working FOR all of us.

    1. “Did I mention my kids are 7 and 10?!? It’s maddening. How is this okay fodder for playground conversations!?”

      Ugh. So frustrating. And that animation! I shared it with everyone I know and still keep it bookmarked because I thought it was so impactful. How do we get back to consistently reaching across the aisle?

  21. So well timed to read this after attending my local precinct caucus last night (Mpls, MN). I have lots of issues with the caucus system. In particular, as a working mom with littles I find it difficult to participate in the political process this way. However, even as someone who has made a career in federal policy-making and loves the political process in general, I was still struck by how wonderful local politics can be in restoring my faith in the political process.

    I had the opportunity to meet and/or hear from several local candidate including my state representative, three people running for park board and heard from many of my neighbors about why they were supporting various candidates for city council and for mayor. Lots of questions about candidates’ different views on pesticide use in city parks, how to make our park system more equitable, and how different candidates are approaching the issue of affordable housing. Plus, I got to meet several neighbors and learn more about volunteering at our local library.

    Granted it was a DFL caucus, but the whole evening still felt more about actual issues rather than party allegiance. It was a good reminder that lots of people in my community are working diligently to make Minneapolis a better city and that there are lots of issues that my local elected officials tackle that impact me and my family in very real ways.

  22. I was a staunch Republican for years, until I started to feel like the Party got too extreme (during all the government shut-downs). Additionally, I experienced two illnesses that would have killed me if I had not been able to receive treatment, and the fact that our insurance covered it all was an eye-opener. I don’t want anyone to ever be in the desperate situation of having a life-threatening illness without insurance.
    My husband is a moderate Republican, and I value and respect his perspectives. We don’t always agree, but there’s a lot of overlap. Neither of us voted for Trump, and we made sure to explain to our three daughters why we could not support such a man. I’m pretty up front with my daughters as far as what I think politically, but I explain my perspectives and tell them that they need to form their own beliefs and views, even if they’re different from mine.

  23. I know I’m really late sharing my ideas to this conversation, but I’ve loved seeing all the comments, as it’s helped me better understand what others are thinking. I can’t stop thinking about this post, and what I’ve learned and begun to understand since Trump was elected. In late November, I read a fantastic article in the Washington Post that really resonated with me: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/11/13/how-rural-resentment-helps-explain-the-surprising-victory-of-donald-trump/?utm_term=.2d53c954fa7f

    Another article, also at the Washington Post, but published on the day of the election went more in-depth into this theory. Jeff Guo sat down with Katherine Cramer (the author of the above article) and interviewed her about her book, titled “The Politics of Resentment”, and the way politics were shaping up as we were all headed to the polls. If you’re interested, I’ve included the link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/08/a-new-theory-for-why-trump-voters-are-so-angry-that-actually-makes-sense/?utm_term=.044607c8fc80

    Both of these articles are based on the idea that resentment among rural Americans created the perfect storm for Trump to be elected. I currently live in a rural area, and I was raised in a different rural area in another state, and both of these areas resoundingly voted for Trump, despite his brash personality and everything else about him that is so repulsive. I was surprised by the deep support he found among people I know and love, so I began to ask more questions to better understand these voters. What I learned absolutely correlates with what Cramer found in Wisconsin. If you read the articles, I’d love to hear what you think, especially since you have lived in several different urban areas, and could provide a perspective that I cannot even imagine (I’ve lived rurally my whole life).

    As I’ve tried really hard to understand others’ views, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps our problem is that too few people understand the other side. As a country, I perceive that we don’t really listen to others. To me, real listening implies that we are actively trying to hear and understand what the other side has to say (thankfully your blog is an excellent example of this!) When we don’t feel heard, I think that’s when we become resentful and are willing to support horrible candidates, not because we exactly believe what they’re preaching, but because we think that things will be better for us. For example, most voters in my area were simply voting AGAINST Hillary because they perceived that nothing would change for their situation because she was too similar to Obama, and his policies had definitely affected them negatively. They also didn’t vote for 3rd party candidates because they perceived that a vote for anyone but Trump wouldn’t get enough votes, and Hillary would win by default. These two rural areas came with near 100% voter turnout, hugely in support of Trump. I personally couldn’t vote for either candidate, and went with a 3rd party candidate because voting my conscience was more important to me than affecting the outcome of the election, but I have been so interested to understand why people who were repulsed by Trump could still vote for him.

    As for shaming those who disagree with us, I’m convinced that this practice has become the rule, rather than the exception, and I feel that it happens in both parties equally. Your Aunt Janet is an interesting example, because I know people who have become like her, and I too am so perplexed by their behavior! But, I don’t think it’s about the party at all. I think we have become so committed to our personal ideas of what is best and how the country should be run, and we’re so busy shouting about our ideas in the hopes that it will convince others to believe as we do, that we have forgotten the important role of listening to each other. This, I believe, has deepened political resentment, not just in rural areas, but in all areas of our country, and especially in our government. As an example, I’m so disappointed by the angst caused by trying to appoint a new Supreme Court Judge. My disappointment began when the Republicans refused to even consider Obama’s nomination, but it continues today as Democrats are doing the exact same thing! The fact that our elected leaders are unable to let go of the ridiculous idea of “control” and simply evaluate candidates on their merits is so disheartening! I see that the “nuclear option” may definitely come in to play, and I believe that action will truly damage our Government and harm all citizens.

    So, in response to your question, do I think about raising good Americans, the answer absolutely is YES! But I’m taking a slightly different approach. I think it’s important for me and my children to understand the issues, AND I’m trying to teach them how to listen to those they disagree with for understanding, listening specifically for ways that they are similar, rather than different. It’s my hope that as they have great conversations, they will be inspired to truly see and understand those they disagree with. I’d love to see a society that can disagree more agreeably than we currently do :)

    Thanks so much for this very thought-provoking post, and for everyone who has so articulately shared their perspective. I am so grateful to be a part of this beautiful community.

    1. “I’m trying to teach them how to listen to those they disagree with for understanding, listening specifically for ways that they are similar, rather than different.”

      I like that idea.

  24. I clicked over to read the politics for moms blog you linked to in your original post from 8 years ago… and the last post on that blog is about Obama’s first 100 days in office: “People either think he has been the most successful president in modern time OR they think he has been a miserable failure. There really isn’t any in-between.” Sounds a bit familiar!

    In regards to politics and children, I hope to teach my children to always have respect for those in office, to try to find out what we have in common with others, and to take action on issues that matter to them. I have family that are very pro-life and they work so hard with their local pregnancy help center to provide diapers, car seats, financial counseling, etc. to families in need. My sister-in-law and her church are working with a refugee resettlement agency to resettle two families in their neighborhood. Voting is important, and protesting has it’s place, but we as Americans can (and should!) do more.

  25. I was very involved in politics in my early 20s — I worked on Capitol Hill for one Congressman and in the District office of another while I was still in college. I am a very liberal progressive Democrat. My husband is a pretty moderate Independent, but his family is VERY conservative. For a long time we didn’t discuss politics with anyone but each other because I didn’t want to cause a problem with his family, but that did change this past election. I no longer feel I am being honest or true to myself by ignoring statements I find both offensive and closed-minded in order not to rock the boat. We discuss politics All The Time with my kids now and we do try hard to present the issues in a non-partisan way and explain both sides of each argument to them. We are probably not always successful in being unbiased, but we make a sincere attempt.

    A family friend criticized my husband on FB a few months ago for even talking to our kids about politics and my husband’s response was, I thought, perfect:

    He said that it is his most important job as a father to teach his children not WHAT to think, but HOW to think. He said that if he doesn’t talk to them about politics and the state of the world now, when they’re young, he’s not equipping them to be thoughtful and responsible and engaged as adults. He said that he must, as a good father, make sure they think critically, consider different view points, decide what THEY believe in, and then stand up for those beliefs.

    Although we’re living in the UK for a little longer, when we do return to America I intend to get back into politics. I’m looking forward to returning to my roots — it was something I enjoyed and felt strongly about and I regret now the years I disengaged. Political involvement by citizens is the basis of a strong democracy so it’s time for me to step up and get involved again!

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