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Three things you can teach your kids through election season

By: lauren ayers

“Mommy, who are YOU voting for?”  
“My friend said we are in big trouble if the girl wins!”
“The boy running — is he a really bad person?”
“Is our country going to be OK?”
“Sarah’s parents like (insert name of candidate here). Is that bad?”
 
Election season is different now that my daughter is 7. Not only have I been figuring out how to navigate social media, intense debates, negative television ads, and constant news coverage, but now my daughter is asking me political questions.

My kids are hearing lots of things from friends about the election — some true and some not true. In four years, I am sure my daughter’s curiosity will increase, and I will likely be having these conversations with her younger sister as well. 

As parents, we have the ability to shape these conversations. Regardless of our children's ages, there are some basic truths we can teach our kids during this election.

1. We can love people who are different than us. 

Jesus said the world will know us by how we love others (1 John 13:35). As my daughter grows up, I want her to know that regardless of her own political beliefs, there is a right way to treat and speak to others with different opinions

As my daughter grows up, I want her to know that regardless of her own political beliefs, there is a right way to treat and speak to others with different opinions.

We recently moved to a new state where someone told her they didn’t want to be her friend because of the college she pulled for. We used it as a chance to explain to her that God created all of us uniquely with different interests and passions.

Although right now, my daughter's main disagreements with friends include what games to play and who has the best college sports team, election questions are another opportunity to explain how our disagreements don’t have to divide us. We love others, not because they are just like us, but because the Bible tells us to. The way we speak, respond, and react in our relationships has the ability to build barriers or bridges. As Christians, our goal is not to convert the world to a political party but to introduce them to a risen Savior — the effect of which goes well beyond four years.

2. Voting is just the beginning. 

We live in a progressive country where we have the right to vote. At a different time in history, my daughter would not have been afforded this freedom, and I want her to learn how precious this right is. However, she has an even more powerful duty after her vote is cast: to pray for our leaders. This is a mission she can begin even now at the tender age of seven. 

The leadership my daughter recognizes right now includes her teachers, coaches, and principal at her school. We set the tone now by praying together for all the people who have such an instrumental role in her life. There is incredible power in prayer, and the Bible instructs us to pray for those with governing authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). 

3. Our hope is not in a candidate.  

All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). This election does not have a perfect candidate, and I can promise you the next election won’t either. There will be flawed candidates, and we will be flawed individuals choosing between them. 

We do not have to live in fear of the future. We are made right with God through a relationship with Jesus, and our lives are safe in His hands. 

Jesus is and always will be the true governing authority to which we will all one day bow (Philippians 2:10). I want my daughter to know that her hope is not in a candidate, but in a risen Savior who has victory over sin and will make all things right in His time. 

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