About a week ago, before the 2016 Presidential election, my kindergartner came home one day and announced that his class had held a vote. “We voted for our favorite cookie,” he said proudly. “We voted for chocolate chip or Oreos. I voted for chocolate chip, and we won!” He was really, really excited that the cookie he voted for won the class election.
Then, on Election Day, my husband and I loaded the kids up into the minivan and headed to the polling place and told our boys that Mama and Daddy were going to vote. We would have let them go into the voting booth with us, but during last year’s gubernatorial race Noah, my kindergartener, was in the voting booth with me he hit the “submit” button before I was finished making my selections. So he’s grounded from the voting booth until he’s a little bit older.
Given our kids’ ages – 5 and 2 – we hadn’t really talked to them about the presidential election much at all. We just figured it was something too big for them to understand. So I was a little surprised when, at dinner on November 9th, he announced, “Donald Trump is going to be the new President of the United States of America.”
“Who told you that?” my husband and I asked. “Did you talk about it today in school?” “My teacher told us,” Noah explained. “What do you think about that?” my husband asked. “It’s not good,” said Noah, meaning he must have heard at least something negative about our President-elect at school that day. “You’re also supposed to keep who you vote for a secret,” Noah said.
And that’s when my husband and I stepped in to teach Noah, and even his two-year old brother Declan, some important lessons about the election that resonate with our family and may resonate with yours, too.
First, my husband latched on to the fact that Noah thinks Donald Trump is bad. “Do you know who is bigger than the president?” my husband asked. “God is,” he said. For families who are not religious, perhaps explaining that the love of family is bigger than the president as an alternative.
Next, I told Noah that God tells us we’re supposed to pray for our president. So every night since November 9th, during our nighttime prayers, we’ve been praying that Donald Trump will be a good president for our country. Older kids, or families who aren’t religious, might instead want to write letters to the president-elect, with kids explaining to Mr. Trump what issues are important to them.
And finally, my husband and I both told Noah that while it’s perfectly fine to keep who you are voting for a secret, it’s okay to talk about it too, as long as you talk about it kindly.
Before the 2016 Presidential election, I didn’t think there was much I could teach my young children about presidential politics. But just look at these three valuable lessons they have learned all because of a conversation at the dinner table!