In order to build a stronger civil society, parents need to take a more active role in passing on the civic value of voting to their kids.
My parents are regular voters. When I was growing up, my parents would take me and my brothers along with them when they voted. I remember the old-fashioned lever voting machines in the booths. Going with my parents to vote and seeing them engaged in the political process played a very significant role in my life. I learned from an early age that it is a responsibility and not just an opportunity to help choose our leaders. In addition, I learned valuable lessons about what to look for in a leader by listening to my parents discuss the candidates and their positions on the issues of the day.
Did your parents ever take you to vote? Have you ever taken your kids to vote? If you take your kids with you when you vote they will see its importance and learn to value civic engagement.
Talk with your kids about who you voted for and the reasons that you voted for one candidate instead of another. If you and your spouse voted for different candidates, discuss the reasons for that with your kids. If you communicate the value of voting to your children by voting yourself, when they grow up and are eligible to vote, they will already understand the value and can take ownership of their own vote. Have your kids ask their grandparents about the first time they voted and what the issues were back then. This is a great way to pass along the historical nature of voting.
As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
Part two of a four part series on civic engagement.
Part 1 – Why You Should Vote
Part 2 – Voting With My Parents
Part 3 – Obama, Millennials, and the 2008 Election
Part 4 – Tocqueville on Civic Life
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