It's important to involve kids in the election process - why do candidates make it so difficult?

Kids & the Presidential Election

Kids and the 2016 Presidential Elections -

My state Primaries are coming up this week and I will exercise my right to vote, but only when my 4 children are accompanying me.

Voting has always been a topic I feel strongly on.  It is the way in which our nation allows every eligible citizen the ability to influence government decision making.  From the time my first child was born, I always tote them along with me because I believe it is important for them to see me participate in the voting process and learn about it first hand.  We talk about it throughout the experience:  why we vote…  why it’s important.  It is my job to shape these children into model citizens, and I personally place a high value on the importance of exercising your right to vote.  I don’t value the local elections less than the Presidency, however my children are very familiar with the President and so this year should be a very educational year.

Bring your kids with you to #vote - teach them how important it is! #Election2016 Click To Tweet

I want my children to learn about the voting process beginning with the importance of educating themselves about the candidates objectively.  Even at a young age, I enjoy listening to who they would choose to vote for, and the explanation as to why they made the choice that they did.  I want them to watch some of the debates and campaigns – but I want that to happen without having to worry about the participants acting like toddlers fighting over a green sippy cup, and I don’t want to worry that “The Hunger Games” may erupt at anytime.

There has always been mudslinging – and I have always wished that the candidates and the media would place more focus on what makes them the best candidate without putting other candidates down.  When you interview for a job you arrive prepared to discuss your accomplishments, not to trash talk the other prospective candidates.  I understand the need for debates – however there should be a higher focus placed on positive self-promotion than discussing your opponent negatively.

This year though – things are different.  There is violence, fear, and ugliness unlike campaigns I remember in my lifetime.  Issues aside & candidates aside… I am finding it difficult to expose my children to to the Presidential Campaign this year.  Considering how interested my 8 year old is in current events, this truly is a shame.

Make the Presidential elections more family-friendly! #Election2016 Click To Tweet

I asked my 8 year old about the qualities she would find favorable and unfavorable in a presidential candidate and these were her answers:

The things an 8 year old seeks out for her ideal Presidential candidate... unfortunately we have no one that meets her expectations.

I can not say with certainty that she would be able to apply her current standard to ANY of the current candidates, and I believe many Americans feel the same way about the candidates this year.  We should not be voting for the lesser of the evils (something I have heard frequently).  We should be nominating the best of the best.

It all makes me wonder: How can we raise our children to be the kindness in the world when our nations (potential) leaders are so cruel?  How many children, at one point or another, aspire to be the President of the United States when they grow up?  I can remember walking through the hallways of my middle school, thinking how neat it would be to be the first woman President.  (Back then, I thought it would have happened by the time I was old enough, lol)  My kids think the President is “so cool.”  And as the leader of our nation, the President should be a strong and capable leader, which should not include instigating violence,  name-calling, assigning blame, and putting others down.

We are quick to demand zero-tolerance policies towards bullies in school – yet our election processes reward bullies with Presidential nominations.  I have not heard any of the candidates asking citizens to calm down or act rationally. The politicians just keep adding fuel to the fires.  It’s a contradiction that my child will not understand, and to be honest, I don’t know how to explain it to her.

Bullying: Why the double standard?! #Election2016 Click To Tweet

Bullying has no place in our schools - or in the Presidential Elections!

My husband reviewed a portion of this post and mentioned that it was reading very “Anti-Trump” and believe me, it is NOT meant to be.  While most of the media coverage does seem to focus on concerns within the Trump campaign, this is by no means an issue unique to Trump, Trump-protesters, or any specific political party.  I am not trying to start a political debate – because my concerns and questions are on a much deeper level.

The stereotypes we accept as “normal” for politicians are shameful – especially considering the extent to which our children idolize those in elected office, especially the President.  The leader of our nation should reflect the core values of a model citizen, while fulfilling the numerous responsibilities expected of that role.  Obviously, the President is human, so perfection is not to be expected – but we should be able to expect professionalism.

I wish that there was a way to improve the election process to optimize the candidates’ positive strengths, while placing less of an emphasis on making competitors look bad.  We should not expect less from the Presidential candidates than we would expect from a job interview, and we should have no reason to classify the election process as anything but “Family-Friendly.”

I am not sure what the answer is… but this years Presidential Election leaves me uneasy about the path which we are on (as a nation).  I will be voting on Tuesday – with my kids – and spending some time thinking about how to approach this topic with my children to get us through the next 8 months.

What do YOU think?  How do you handle involving your children with the election?