This week, Donald Trump’s first presidential term ended, and Joe Biden’s presidential term began. Any time a new U.S. President is inaugurated it’s a momentous event. This time made even more visible by the inordinate amount of media and social media attention given to politics today.
If it is a lot to take in for us grown-ups; just imagine how children and teens are processing all of this.
I have found, in many cases, children are simply echoing what they hear from their peers or social media influencers. More often, they parrot what they hear their parents say. This should add a sense of weight and sense of responsibility to parents and grandparents, about how to talk about such matters, especially those of us who are followers of Christ and who are called to a high standard.
Various people have taught me a few helpful things I want to live out that I will share here, about how to discuss politics with your children.
Begin and end with prayer. Regardless of who is in the White House (or other public offices), Christians can and should pray for our elected officials and other leaders. 1 Tim. 2 is a go-to biblical text to guide your prayers. Spend time with your children in prayer.
Use respectful terms. We have heard so much about “Trump” and “Biden.” What if we called them “Mr. Trump” and “Mr. Biden”? That small and simple adjustment demonstrates a degree of respect that will elevate the conversation, as young people are listening in.
Know your history. In this Internet news age, conspiracies and rumors and misinformed history swirl with ease. If you hear outrageous news or questionable history, tell your child this is an opportunity to do some more research. Then spend some time doing research with them.
Respond, don’t react. The Bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). When it comes to conversations in your home—a place where it is easy to have your guard down—we should especially watch our words. If our reactions are all over the charts, don’t be surprised when kids follow suit.
Politics ain’t everything. I am an avid follower of politics and political history. When news related to politics come up, my kids look to me. What I am hoping they see is that while I do believe government and politics is extremely important and has implications for everyday life, it’s not the only thing. Indeed it’s not even the most important thing.
Trust God. As Christians, our hope is not in any political figure. It’s in God Himself. Let’s teach our children that our ultimate hopes don’t rest in any politician (Psalm 146:3-7). If, amid challenging times, we look to God as the Rock and the Redeemer, we will not be fearful and thus set a good example for future generations.
These are just a few ideas of how to talk with children in an age of raging political talk. Lord help us…