Raising Politically Aware Children
With the local election coming soon, our mom columnist engages her children in a bit of political awareness.
Yard signs are out in Florissant once again and, yes, we have one.
When it rained last week, the boys filled cups in the downspout and dumped them on our sign to “clean” it.
By reason of journalistic integrity, I will not mention which candidate’s sign is in our yard, but I do want to speak a bit on the effect our political involvement has had on our children.
Growing up, my parents* involved us in numerous political activities, local and national. We watched council meetings, attended protests and rallies and were included in their political discussions. I have always had a passion for justice, and political involvement has proven to be a good outlet for me.
My husband and I have resolved that when our children come of age, they will be among the few residents under 50 who are truly informed voters.
As we drive down Charbonier Road, I hear “Hey, there’s a (our candidate) sign!” with big smiles, and “Hey, that’s not a (our candidate) sign,” with a mixed look of disappointment and confusion.
At this age, they might not understand all the reasons why we are backing a certain candidate rather than another.
As Jeffrey Tulis, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin states, "young kids' reaction to politics is much like their reaction to sports and religion. They just want to know, 'Whom do we root for?'" And root, they do.
They have been know to open our front windows as people are walking by and shout out, “Vote for (our candidate)!” and “(Our candidate) for mayor/council!”
Tulis also mentions that local elections usually mean more to children than national ones. This definitely rings true in our home. It is easier to see local candidates in action and teach our children about local issues.
As they grow, we look forward to discussing the issues more in depth with them, sharing our discernment process of weighing the candidates’ integrity and values, challenging them to do their own research before elections, encouraging them to contact the candidates with their own issues and concerns and perhaps even holding mock elections in our home.
But for now, we are satisfied to see our excitement about politics rubbing off on them, knowing they are learning the importance of being involved and informed residents.
Of course, it does not stop with the election. Our children will be encouraged to stay aware of the current issues, both local and national, and to seek to understand both sides of the issue, no matter which side seems right to them.
While we will be celebrating the first official vote the boys cast after their 18th birthdays, we hope they will be knowledgeable and involved in the political process long beforehand.
I have compiled as much contact information for the candidates in the Wards 3 and 6 elections as I could find to make it easier for parents and older children to get to know the candidates' positions and ask any questions they may have.
Ward 3 Candidates
Ward 6 Candidates
*Maria Jansen is the daughter of former Ward 1 Councilman Susan Geerling.