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While sitting at a basketball game on Sunday, I heard a boy who was sitting a row behind me that looked around 10 or so ask an adult he came to the game with two questions, “Did you vote for President Obama? And why are you going to vote for Obama again?”

The woman tried to explain briefly why she was going to vote for President Obama again in between the nail biting scene on the court and without sounding condescending.

Her answer wasn’t good enough for the young man because he followed up with, “Well, my mom said all he does is sit in that chair. He doesn’t help anyone. He hasn’t tried to help anyone.”

A little stunned by his remarks, their short conversation got me thinking about how children are exposed to the structure and duties of local, state and federal government as well as duties of the U.S. president.

It can be difficult for adults. Even more so now that we are truly in the election mode, which can truly show the dirtiness of modern American politics. So, how do you put that in terms a child can understand?

For my godson, I will follow these guiding principles when talking to him during this political season:

Involve him at every level. Discuss the process openly including watching bits of significant speeches from numerous candidates as well as taking him to vote on Election Day.

Consider what he might hear at school. Kids talk about what they hear adults say. That was pretty evident in today’s conversation. And sometimes they might not get everything straight. So, as with all important topics, I want to be sure he learns the important lessons from me or his parents–not the playground.

Treat the other side fairly. Speaking respectively of others is a priority in the home, and a presidential election doesn’t offer an exemption. Me and my godson’s parents are frank with him about what we believe-and why-and he knows who we support. But we don’t bash the people for whom we do not vote.  Our own family and friends have people at every conceivable spot on the political spectrum, and I use that fact to explain that good people can disagree about politics, and still like each other.

How are you teaching your children about the roles of politicians and the upcoming election on the state and federal level?

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