Getting kids involved in politics for real (Oct. 15)

October 14, 2008

I always take my kids with me when I go to vote. It lets them see that voting is something you have to schedule into your busy day (and driving too fast to get to the polls is presumed to be one of the causes of a spike in car crashes on election day).  It also shows them that it’s not exactly a party atmosphere — as of now, all they’ve absorbed of the debates on TV has been the hoopla.  We don’t talk about issues.  I figure 5- and 2-year-olds don’t need to think about the economy or war.  But if your kids are old enough to be concerned about issues facing their world, you might consider taking them to a viewing party specifically for children tomorrow (Oct. 15) during the final debate of this election season. It takes place from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. downtown at 2000 Market Street, sponsored by the advocacy organizations Every Child Matters and the Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies.

I like their approach of letting kids write and/or record video messages for policymakers. Many of them will probably parrot their parents’ beliefs, but giving them an action to take seems more effective than just letting them “play election” and cast pretend votes (most likely for the candidates their parents intend to support). The more we educate them about how the system really works, the better prepared they’ll be when they do turn 18 and have to fit the mad dash to the polls into their own busy school- or workday. Hopefully by that time they’ll be better drivers than we are!

For details on the viewing party, call 314.421.1388.

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