Politics and Playgrounds

Thursday, November 08, 2012 12 Comments A+ a-

This was the first election that I had children in school during the campaign season.  During the 2008 presidential election, I had a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old, and was in my 3rd trimester with Reagan.  And even as physically exhausting as that time period was, it was infinitely less stressful.

This election Devyn has been more aware of the election process.  From repeating political tv ads to asking questions to forming opinions of her own; its been a thoroughly fascinating process.  But through it all, I’ve been convicted of one thing.  No matter my political opinion or beliefs, my 7-year-old does not need to be burdened with such an adult responsibility.  I’ve answered the questions asked, I’ve watered down opinions, and I’ve encouraged a difference of opinion. 

For the very reason that I wanted to avoid what happened on Devyn’s playground on election day.

A friend asked her who her parents were voting for and after Devyn shared what she believed was an innocent response (as it should have been), the friend retorted, “Your parents are stupid.” Devyn didn’t come home in tears, but more out of confusion.  And as she retold the story, my heart broke.  The polarizing game of politics had indeed reached the playground.

Throughout this election campaign, my heart has been burdened.  Friends were no longer speaking to each other, words were used as weapons, and a difference of opinion meant that families were split.  To be for one, meant you were against another.  It became an all or nothing, war of words.  It was ugly.

Yet, folks were shocked that America was so polarized.  Really?  Just one look at my Facebook or Twitter feed, and it was obvious WHY it was polarized.  No one wanted to admit that either side could be a tiny bit right, on any issue.  The biggest travesty for me this election season, was not that my candidate didn’t win, but that children are now carrying adult conversations and opinions to school.

I don’t know about you, but I strongly believe that children should not be shouldering the political views of adults.  They should be learning to share the swings, daydreaming about fairies, and learning their time tables.  They should not be creating us vs. them mentalities in grade school, but instead learning to work together and problem solve word problems. 

These children, the ones who skip through the play yard and swing on the monkey bars, are our future.  It’ll be up to them to overcome differences and solve the very real problems that our current government is facing.  And if I want my children to be open to new ideas and be willing to work with others who don’t agree with them, then its going to have to start in the home.  Its MY responsibility to teach grace, love, and tolerance.  Its MY responsibility to teach them that the ads they see and hear on tv are NOT indicative of the human race, that one side isn’t better than the other.  Its MY responsibility to see that my children carry on the belief that everyone is just doing the best they can.

I answered Devyn’s questioning look of whether her parents were stupid or not.  “Mommy and Daddy voted for the guy they thought would make the better president.  Others voted for the other guy because they think he’ll do a better job.  Neither is right, neither is wrong; we just believe different things for different reasons.” 

It’s a shame that my 7-year-old had to learn that lesson at such a young age.  Please.  I ask you, I beg of you, to be aware of what’s being said in your home.  Remember that little eyes are watching, little ears are hearing, and its being repeated at school.  I have high hopes that future generations may someday bridge such a wide gap between the parties, but we have to do our part and it starts at home.

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

12 comments

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Lauren
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9:41 AM delete

Beautifully said, my friend!! Xo

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9:43 AM delete

Girl, it broke my heart that happen to her, since when do kids talk about politics, on the playground? ~Erica

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10:10 AM delete

I am so sorry that happened to Devyn. The thing I said to McKayla on the way to school after election day was, "No, the candidate we voted for did not win, but the Bible says we are to pray for the leaders of our country, no matter who they are." This election was ROUGH. I am glad it is over.

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10:14 AM delete

I found your blog through the silent auction for Julee Turner and have greatly enjoyed reading your posts! I'm from Colorado (Lafayette) but live in Texas now.
My children are much younger and I was so sad to read this post... big prayers are needed for our children and the next generation...

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Courtney
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10:49 AM delete

I don't know why but this post made me tear up. You worded this so perfectly and I hope to be a similar example to my own kids someday.

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Jessyka
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10:52 AM delete

Very well said. As a parent this is very eye opening. Sorry your little had to endure that situation.

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Amy Silver
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2:03 PM delete

Even though my kids are way too young to understand right now, it was for these very reasons that I do not talk about my views. I don't talk about them with family either. It just... Causes animosity. I've learned that no one will change my views and I won't change theirs.. So what's the point?? This makes me stand by that belief even more. It's a shame that people do talk like that in front of their children..

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Joanna Grace
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2:31 PM delete

I was at the restaurant I work at before the election, and in the waiting room is some magazines, one of which had Obama on the cover. A couple of 5 or 6 year old kids were pointing to the cover and saying, "I hate Obama" over and over again. I made a promise to myself that when I have kids, that I will try my best to teach my kids to not hate any elected leader (if it's ok to hate the president, then isn't it ok to hate a classmate?) and to pray for them in their overwhelming job. Thank you for this post, I really look up to the love and wisdom you have shown.

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Micah
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4:58 PM delete

Amazing post, Jenn. It's so true. Little ears hear everything. I firmly believe our children are bullies at school because they're hearing demeaning comments at home (and think it's normal). Even when the parents aren't aware of what they're saying. Clearly, it extends to politics. And you're absolutely on point -- one side is not more correct or smart than the other, we just have different visions.

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Heather
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8:33 PM delete

First I just want to say, I love your new blog look!
On the night of the election my sister was taking her 7 year old to bed when she noticed she was wimpering. She thought it was because she didn't want to go to bed but it was because her side didn't win. They had not discussed the campaign with her and they didn't think she had seen anything on TV but she knew more about what the candidates stood for than most adults. It was crazy and a little sad that she was so worried about it.

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Birdie
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8:43 PM delete

So, I had seen this posted on FB around Tuesday and I am Agnostic, and generally a cynic. The people that posted it are judgy, pushy religious people, hypocritical and fake, as I sadly encounter very often. However this post made me take a second look at it, and try to believe that there really are Christians like you out there, who actually practice what they preach. I am politically the polar opposite of you but I think you're a wonderful person and mom. Everybody could benefit from your advice! http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/11/05/a-prayer-for-america-on-election-day-2/

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