Political candidates will too soon be in full mudsling mode, trying to make themselves look better by making their opponents look worse. Everybody ends up looking pretty muddy. But if you use the elections as a learning opportunity for your teen, all will not be lost.
Use Political Campaign as Teaching Tool
It really has very little to do with whether you’re a Republican or Democrat and everything to do with how to treat other people. We think that parents can teach their teenagers a lot about what not to do and how not to act by observing the behavior of political candidates. We think political behavior has become disgusting and just plain tiresome.
If You Can’t Stand the Heat …
Sure, we know the refrain: “It’s just politics … That’s the way the game is played.” And that’s exactly why it’s the perfect teaching tool. It never changes. You can pretty much depend on any political campaign to gradually depart from substantive issues and go for the jugular—to attack, embarrass, humiliate, and tear down.
Can you imagine what grade your teen would get on an essay if the assignment was to discuss why education is so important—and all he did was attack the teacher, downgrade the school, curse the establishment and put down his classmates? Or if the assignment was to write a critical essay on Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and your daughter delved into Twain’s private life, castigated him for his religious beliefs and made fun of his hair! They’d both flunk.
All Politics Is … Personal
Ridiculous, huh? That’s what politicking has become … personal attacks, counter-attacks, slinging sludge, drudging up one’s past, taking comments and events out of context and skillfully crafting half-truths. Somewhere along the way, the profession of politics has become less honorable and more self-serving. With an historically low approval ratings, how do members of Congress look into the cameras (or the mirror) with a straight face?
We Ought To Expect Better
Mom and Dad, you can certainly use our never-ending political season to point out to your teenager that this is not how they should conduct themselves to get ahead in school, at work, or in life. Men and women running for office ought to be those who aspire to represent greater ideals of human interaction and humanity itself. They should be intelligent, knowledgeable, honorable and truthful. They should also be humble, thoughtful, respectful and kind. We don’t typically associate those latter modifiers with political candidates.
Yet, we should expect those attributes of ourselves and our children. As parents, we should model the very best human behavior possible. Our efforts will win much more than a political contest. They will leave impressions for a lifetime.