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Raising Lexington: Voting with the Kids

Election Day is a great opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of the voting process.

 

I would love to rename Election Day as Freedom Day. I think more people would vote if they could remember or, in some cases, even know what it took and what we lost in order to secure our Democracy.

I guess you can tell by my tone that I have always been fascinated by politics. Yes, it can get ugly -- especially in a presidential race -- but cut through all of that nonsense and you get to the core of what Election Day is really about: Our freedom to decide who runs our country.

My father was born in Germany and never ever took his right to vote in the United States for granted. He was incredibly proud to be an American citizen and passionate about his right to vote. We all learned at a very young age what a privilege it is to vote. I went to the polls with my parents more times than I can recall and loved it. I had so many questions and everyone was so friendly. There was an excitement in the air that even as a young child I could feel.

This Election Day -- I mean Freedom Day -- I am taking my young children to the polls for the first time and I can hardly wait! My kids have seen the numerous lawn signs, car magnets and I have allowed them to watch both candidates speak on TV, so they know what’s going on to some degree. I am proud my kids can point out our President and call him by name. I am also proud they know who his is opponent is, who I am voting for and why.

My 5-year-old son was asking what a president does while we were on our way to school last week. My 7-year-old daughter quickly chimed in, as she usually does, and told him that the president is the leader of the United States. She continued by reminding him of all of the leaders he already knows, like the school principal and mom. Yes, she told my son I am the leader of our house. I smiled and savored that moment. President Audra. I like that. I jumped on that idea as I saw the wheels turning in both kids’ heads.

I reminded the kids that just like we have house rules, our country has rules too. And just like we have family meetings and everyone gets a say, our country has elections and everyone gets to vote and decide how they want the country run. “I want to be President” the kids yell in unison. It was at that moment I decided to let the kids be President for the Day. I told them they would have to make up a plan called a platform, tell us all about it by campaigning and decide who does what around the house and stick to that plan 100 percent or they would not get the chance to be president again.

The kids were suddenly very quiet. “We have to do all that? We just wanted to tell everyone what to do for the day and get everything we want.” I told them that being the president of anything takes hard work, passion and determination but that it was worth it. I told them that being a president is an honor not a right. Then, I let it go. The rest of the car ride was quiet and I was OK with that. I think I had given them a lot to think about. Later that day, I went to a local book shop and found some books on the election process. One that I like a lot is Grace For President by Kelly S. DiPucchio.

So off I go to take my kids to vote and hope you will too. While there, teach them about the process and let them know how lucky they are to live in a country where they can stand up and be counted. And while you are at it, tell them that every vote does count as we may very well see come this Freedom Day 2012.

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