As a mom of a six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, I am always on the lookout for ways our children can experience our family values of civic duty and compassion for all in action. This midterm election was a prime opportunity to do so, but my kids’ most important Election Day lessons began far earlier than November 6th.
Election Day is about educating yourself.
The kids and I started talking about candidate options and ballot questions months ago. They came with me to local meetings where candidates spoke and information was shared. We talked about important issues in the news in a manner where I could frame them in child-friendly ways. They began to understand that good voting decisions are informed decisions.
Democracy is not meant to be a passive experience.
Democracy works best when paired with action. The kids and I chose lawn signs together for candidates and issues we wanted to support. We wrote postcards to voters together and also with friends. They experienced the momentum and energy of working towards something we care about with the power of community.
We talked about voting as a superpower and the power of using our words and our voices. We hosted a local candidate at our home for a meet-and-greet night for our community. I will always remember my daughter’s choice to come down in her pajamas to gift this wonderful woman with her lucky penny and a pink beaded bracelet for good luck. She witnessed the virtue of what it takes for candidates to put themselves out there, and in her own six year old way, she was trying to do the same.
Election Day is an opportunity to celebrate.
The kids learned that although things may not always go as we hoped in elections, when we’ve done our part by getting out the vote, supporting people and issues that matter to us, and voting ourselves, everyone’s hard work and bravery is a win. It’s an opportunity to talk about how standing up for what you believe in inspires others to do the same. That inspiration lasts far beyond Election Day regardless of whether it was an election win or loss.
We talked about how Mommy knocked on doors, texted voters around the country, and stood in the rain to hold signs at the polls. We called that a privilege, and we remembered that there are many people around the world that can only dream of having that freedom.
We discussed how proud we are of our town for coming out in droves to vote in numbers that we haven’t seen before. No matter how they voted, our neighbors were using their superpowers and being part of something way bigger than themselves.
Election Day may be over, but for my family, it’s just the beginning of a long and now elevated conversation. There are wins to celebrate and memories made that will be part of the fabric of my children’s memories. Most importantly, there are old and new dreams to focus on, and I hope that we will all carry the knowledge forward that dreams must always be paired with action. And as moms, I’m reminded that we carry the responsibility and opportunity to shape our future in the most powerful way as we raise the next generation of voters to shape our great country.
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