Parenting

Tips for Parents to Teach Their Kids During the Presidential Debates

By Joshua Pease

As a fairly new father (I have a teething 2-year-old and a 1-month-old – please pray for me), I’m realizing how differently I see the world now. Two years ago I would have barely noticed the Halloween billboard with the creepy clown across from our house. Now I worry if it’s going to scare Kid #1. Walking through a parking lot went from being something I thought nothing about to the most terrifying part of my day (Kid #1 is a runner. I’m 100% positive Kid #2 will be. I see it in his eyes). And I think a lot about how I can help form the character of these two little guys as they grow up.

Last night we were watching the vice presidential debate on television while my kids were in the room and my wife was explaining it all to Kid #1. It got me thinking: when he’s old enough to understand what’s happening what would I want him to take away from what he saw? Here are a few thoughts about how last night’s VP debate, and this election season as a whole, create opportunities to teach our kids what (not) to do.

BEING RIGHT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE RUDE

By some counts Tim Kaine interrupted Mike Pence 72 times during last night’s debate, often challenging Donald Trump’s more outlandish statements. Fact checkers found that more often than not Kaine was right in what he was saying, and yet the following day consensus is Pence overwhelmingly won the debate Why? Because while Kaine came off as aggressive and rude, Pence remained composed.

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It’s simple to the point of cliche, but what you say often really is less important than how you say it. This is something my wife and I are already trying to teach Kid #1. He’s not super into the concept yet, but we’re hopeful.

YOUR ACTIONS NOW WILL EFFECT YOUR FUTURE

As a 35-year-old who graduated high school in 1999 I just barely missed the intersection of social media and adolescence. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. I can barely look at things I said five years ago without cringing. The idea of stuff I said when I was in high school or early college floating out in the internet ether, accessible for anyone to find, is terrifying. My kids won’t be so lucky.

I mention this because as Trump’s campaign for presidency continues some of the truly horrific stuff he has said in the past is being unearthed. Video of him in a Playboy video. Tweets where he brutally insults someone. Clips of him blatantly contradicting himself.

Most of last night’s debate centered around Kaine demanding Pence defend Trump’s outlandish statements and Pence having zero ability to do that, because who could? In the age of internet you almost always reap what your words sow.

WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING

One of the most freeing realities of following Jesus is we aren’t in the business of winning. In God’s upside down kingdom the last are first, washing dirty feet is more impressive than being CEO and telling the truth is more important than winning a presidential election. This is something I hope both my kids learn at an early age. My wife and I – but more importantly God – is more concerned with what kind of person they’re becoming than what they are achieving.

This is what I walked away thinking last night. I believe both Kaine and Pence are committed followers of Jesus and men of integrity, and yet Kaine was abrasive and combative while Pence outright lied multiple times about things both he and Trump have said in the past. It’s not worth it to gain anything – even the world – if you lose your soul in the process. Nothing is worth that.

What I hope to teach both my kids – in addition to parking lot safety and avoiding creepy billboard clowns – is that what matters most is each day walking with Jesus and following the path of his kingdom.

If they do that, they’ve done everything that matters.

About the Author: Josh Pease is a writer & speaker living in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. His e-book, The God Who Wasn’t There, is available for purchase on Amazon.

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