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What We Say Matters

When I picked my four up from school this afternoon, the first thing out of their mouths was to proudly tell me they’d voted today. Sure enough, they were all sporting “I voted” stickers, and knew who the main candidates for the presidential election are.

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Classes received an age appropriate, crash-course in the candidates and where they stand on some major issues, and then they were brought to a couple of voting booths, that my boys say looked exactly like the ones Nick and I vote in at each election (we almost always bring them with us). At the end of the day, they announced who had “won” and with what percent of the vote.

Chase: “Do you know who won? With 80% of the vote? Hilary Clinton.”

Lily (giggling): “I voted for Donald Trump, because he has the same first name as Donald Duck!” (An excellent exhibit for why we don’t allow 5 year olds to vote for real….)

Jackson: “I was surprised so many people voted for Hilary and hardly anyone voted for Trump.

Me: “I’m not entirely surprised…”

Boys: “Why?”

And so ensued some very interesting and serious discussions. Yes, we discussed politics – who believes what, why things are important, the importance of looking for understanding on both sides, importance of voting, etc.

Politics aside though, we had some very big, important discussions about being humans.

My answer to the “why?” question?

Well, a lot of people feel like Donald Trump acts like a bit of bully. He’s said some pretty mean things about people and even directly to people. When he speaks, he sometimes has a terrible tone to his voice. He’s encouraged people to hurt others sometimes. He’s just kinda mean. People don’t like bullies, and it makes it hard to want to vote for him, and a lot of parents probably talk about that in front of their kids or they have their tv on the news a lot at home, so kids at the school may have gone with what they’ve heard their parents say.

When you guys were given your info on the candidates, you were only reading facts, and didn’t have things Dad and I have said to help guide you. You were making a quick decision, based only on that.

Now imagine if Dad and I got to vote without ever hearing the candidates talk. If we only went off a sheet of paper too we might be more inclined to vote one way or another, but we hear the candidates talk all the time, and we know about past things that been said or done, and it all comes together to form our opinion of them. This shows you just how important how we talk and treat others is! It’s so hard to look past unkind words or bully-like behavior and hear what a person is saying. When someone is being rude, disrespectful or unkind all you can think about is how terribly they’re making you or someone else feel, and you can’t think about what they’re actually saying. They could be saying puppies are their favorite animal in the world and all the reasons why, but if they look and sound angry while saying it, you’re going to be focused on the anger and how it makes you feel.

You can also see how what we say affects other people. You guys are constantly listening to what Dad and I are talking about, other kids are listening to what their parents are talking about, and you know what else? Kids listen to what other kids are saying. It’s so important to watch our words!

Honestly, we don’t talk politics a lot in this house. We believe in kids being kids and not worrying about too much adult stuff. If one of our children asks a question, we’ll absolutely answer it, but the discussion never lasts very long. I was pleasantly surprised with the turn this one took! They had valid reasons for voting the way they did (2 of the 3 boys revealed to me their choice, while the 3rd is still holding out), but could also see the good points on the other side (such good Methodists {wink}). They fully grasped the “what we say and how we say it” talk and we had wonderful conversations about how that applies to them at school right now. We had a great little discussion about what a “filter” is and why that’s important too.

My dear children, I hope you internalized just three things from today: your vote matters, research matters, and what you say and the way you say it so very, deeply matters.

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