Sunday, January 29, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - A son votes

This past week was another "on" week for me at the paper. For new readers to this blog, I pen a column for our city's daily paper, the London Free Press.

The feature is called Ink Blog, and I'm part of a rotating group of writers who share their thoughts on the op-ed page. We write about whatever hits us, and about whatever we think will hit readers.

Canada voted on Monday. This first column - the pieces publish from Tuesday to Saturday, inclusive, with deadlines for each set for the day before publication - presented a bit of a logistical challenge.

Essentially, I had to write before the election, but it was going to be published after the results were known. I could have taken the easy way out - namely, by picking a non-election topic - but that would have been a cop-out.

So as I have done so many times before, I found my answer within my family. Our kids really are remarkable people.
Our kids represent political future
Published Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The London Free Press

My 11-year-old son’s eyes shone an unblinking blue as he asked me who deserved my vote. “What makes one party better than another?”

My wife and I pondered his question carefully as we deliberated our eventual choice.

He’s only seven years away from casting his first ballot, but we were delighted to see him diving head-first into the political game.

Doing our best to hide any of our political biases, we explained the major differences between each party. We discussed recent history, and why elections get called in the first place. He’s learning about government in school, but it seemed to matter more to him that his parents shared their own experiences with him.

In the end, the relative merits of one party over another mattered less than the fact that a boy who can’t yet vote took the time to learn why this matters.

To the embarrassing percentage of citizens who failed to vote last night, my son would be only too happy to have the chance to shape his world.

Your turn: It's so easy to become jaded. With that in mind, how do you get your kids excited about politics and democracy?


Lucy Stern said...

With our kids we talked about the Constitution and what it means to us. We tried to talk the issues with them. We told them that if they didn't vote, then they didn't have a right to gripe.

scrappintwinmom said...

Hoo-boy. That's a toughie. Over the past couple of US elections, I've grown pretty apathetic. Mainly because I feel as though those in power have shown us that our votes don't really count. Or perhaps that's just my perception. Here via Michele as always!

Im Chele In [dot} LA said...

...I would have to say involve them until they get the hang of it..
We walk to vote with Alexis around the corner from our house ... She goes in and votes in the booth with us..
She is getting it slowly but surely..
She turned nine this Jan..
You have to watch the news with them .. and not maybe the just the local, but the national..

utenzi said...

I'd bow out of the politics thing and teach him or her about the stock market. It's another arena where you can be jaded and cynical--but at least at the end of the day you can count your chips and relate to others just what happened. Mostly.

Michele sent me to see you again, Carmi. Happy New Year! (Chinese, that is)

kenju said...

I'm with Lucy Stern. We did the same thing. I have always been interested in government, but politics bores me, so we approached it from a civics angle.

CAn you believe that Michele sent me here again today??

kristal said...

I am not as politically aware as I should be. We tend to focus more on individual decisions than on being a part of a group. We do take them to vote with us and discuss elections when they happen.

Plumkrazzee said...

READ, TALK, READ, TALK SOME MORE. I am in perpetual speaking mode with my son. He asks literally 50,000 questions a day...and I always give him an answer. This is oh so very tiring, but oh so very necessary to a growing and expanding mind and spirit. Kids learn alot about politics from what is in their home, also. If you had to ask him what his mom and dad believed in, he could probably tell you just by how we live, and how we speak. It's a never ending lesson around here.

KaraMia said...

it's funny, I work for an elected official and yet I am not really that into politics. I vote, I expect my son to vote...but I don't really get too involved in it. I guess because I see a bit more behind the scenes, i've become jaded.

jude said...

we explained to our then 4 yr old during the bush kerry the differences between reublican vs democrat and her interpretation of it was this: Goerge Bush will let us have more money for toys, and John kerry will try to take our toys away.

Kathy said...

Here via Michele as well! I have a 12 year old and a 4 year old. The national elections are tough ones, although I always vote, so I'm allowed to bitch about it!

But local issues are easier to show my daughter. School board elections and local ballot proposals where the issue wins or loses by 50 votes. It seems more real when you see that only 4000 people vote and it's that close.

As with most everyone, I've become jaded. As a child, my parents would have me help work on a campaign. They always volunteered to stuff envelopes, hand out bumper stickers, drive people to the polling places. My community service is more people and animal oriented, rather than political.

Tabor said...

Good for you in allowing your child an unbiased view of the vote. He will be a critical thinker (certainly in the minority) when he grows up. By the way, you look so different in your column photo!

Shelli said...

Talk, talk, talk about it. Inform them. Read to them. Probably columns such as yours. My Dad taught me to love the written word by reading to us every night from the newspaper, the readers digest or whatever else was handy. It's important. It broadens their horizons.

Pearl said...

If they join a political party they can see it from the inside and have inside party voting rights early - at 14 isn't it? That could keep empowerment until the state sees fit to grant them a legal voice.

Bhakti said...

I don't have children of my own, but I can tell you this: as a school teacher, I get my students interested in the voting process by showing them my enthusiasm in having the right to vote. I let them know that it is a priviledge to vote, and a way to ensure that democracy lives on. :)