I was talking with a good friend the other day about what we want for our kids-- kind of a big talk but we were focused on just how we're trying to get the important stuff impressed on our kids. For me it's not so much about what but how. Of course there are deeply held values and beliefs i'm trying to pass on to them (primarily in the fields of kindness, respect for our bodies, community and the environment, and thrift) but equally as important to me is that they learn the process of thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.
So although i was thrilled that Obama won and am nothing if not a liberal, we didn't talk a whole lot about who we were supporting around election time. For Henry's first introduction to politics i put the emphasis firmly on the process. What does "election" mean, how do elections work, how does voting work?
Henry accompanied me to the polls and got to participate directly by helping me push the "next" button. As he and Silas get older they'll be able to participate in elections and other civic processes in more advanced ways. Sure, that would be great if we shared political views when they're all grown up, but i'd be happiest if i inculcated an appreciation of democracy and the democratic process.
At the same time i realize 3 going on 4 is an amazing time to lay the groundwork for topics that might come off as "preaching" a bit later. Henry is a sponge and really wants to know about everything. The challenge is how to talk about not smoking, not drinking too much, exercising, helping others, etc. in a way that is age-appropriate and not out of left field. It helps to live in an urban environment where you're shoulder to shoulder with outcomes and actions that you don't really want for your kids. But, i'm always looking for new angles. I figure we've only got another year or two left before all of this brings responses like "oh mom!"