I am so tired of seeing attack ads from politicians, both on television and the Internet. Between all the name-calling and unsupported claims, what is being modeled for our kids? That if you tear a person down enough, people will like you more? I don’t think so, and I know most parents don’t think so either.
At Boys Town, we have a more positive way to teach youth about citizenship and the electoral process. Each year since 1935, the youth of Boys Town have elected a Mayor and a Vice Mayor from the upcoming senior class. There are a few guidelines every candidate must follow in order to run for these offices:
- You must respect all other candidates.
- Your campaign can last only two weeks.
- You cannot make promises you can’t keep.
- You can’t use food as a campaign gimmick or as an incentive to get people to vote for you.
- You can post only a set number of campaign flyers and posters.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we only had to put up with political ads for the last two weeks leading up to the election?
Your kids probably have seen many of the current campaigns’ attack ads and have questions. This is a great opportunity to talk to them about politics and the appropriate behaviors candidates should display. Those behaviors include being respectful of others, disagreeing appropriately, being willing to listen to others and working together to solve problems.
You also can have discussions with your kids about why you support or disagree with certain candidates or positions, and how your faith influences your political decisions. (Check out resources like the League of Women Voters® for helpful information.)
Election season can be a very exciting time. But it can be confusing for children, especially when the candidates seem more interested in slinging mud than talking about important issues in a constructive manner. As a parent, you can teach your child about the positive side of politics and the good behaviors that go with it.