Sunday Reflections: My Teens Will be Voting in the Next Presidential Election, What are We Teaching Them?
In 2008 I stood in line with The Teen, then 6, as we waited in line to vote.
I remember being choked up as we watched the election results happen that night, clearly understanding that irregardless of any party affiliation history was being made.
This year, I recorded the debate and watched it by myself after my girls had gone to bed, knowing that sexual violence was going to be discussed and knowing that many people were defending the words of a man who had just advocated sexual violence.
Although I have wanted to listen to political commentary on NPR, I am forced to turn it off when my kids are riding in the car with me.
Make no mistake, we do talk about consent, healthy relationships and sexual violence in my home. But in age appropriate ways and the girls father and I control that discussion. Much of the discussion happening right now in a very public forum takes that control away from us. And even more problematic, many of the voices we hear in the public are dismissing words which I have spent my time as a parent reminding my girls are indeed sexual violence. As a woman, as a parent, as a human being, the verbal gymnastics that many are going through to condone these words are soul crushing.
But it’s not just about sexual violence. There is a tone to this campaign that terrifies me. There is a lot of hatred and bullying, name calling – all characteristics that I try to teach my children are not okay.
And now there is talk which attempts to undermine the very fabric of democracy, suggesting that if a certain candidate wins the other party will not accept the results and will block every single one of their proposals and nominees. It smacks of the kid on the playground who screams they will take their ball and go home if we don’t follow their rules when the rules have been clearly established through 200 plus years of American history.
I listen to the discussions surrounding this election and it crushes my soul. In the next presidential election, The Teen will be old enough to vote. This should be a great educational opportunity for her to learn about citizenship. Instead, it has become a farce and an embarrassment. I keep telling her, it’s not supposed to be like this. It’s become an example of what not to do instead of how the political process should work.
I voted early on Tuesday. I didn’t take either one of my kids with me, afraid of what my happen at the polling place.
Our teens are watching. What are we teaching them this election season? I fear it’s nothing good.
Filed under: Sunday Reflections
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network