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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Play nice

Posted November 4, 2012

“Mom, I can’t wait for this election to be over. I’m so tired of everyone fighting about it,” my 9-year-old said to me the other day.

“You’re nine,” I replied with exasperation. “You can’t even vote!”

Apparently, she has been hearing dueling heated political viewpoints from some of her fourth grade classmates. Always the diplomat, she refuses to tip her hand as to what she thinks because she does not want to offend, and instead, urges her classmates to make peace. Agree to disagree she pleads. Or, at least, wait until after school to argue.

It’s no wonder children are becoming political beings at such a young age with the amount of passion this year’s presidential election has inspired. Don’t get me wrong, being passionate about your views is a good thing as long as the discourse doesn’t turn ugly, which unfortunately it clearly has in some forums.

Teaching our children about the electoral process is very important. But, as a parent, I believe we have a responsibility to shield them from political vitriol in the same way we wouldn’t let them watch an R-rated movie.

Not unlike most of my friends, I grew up in a household where my parents had very specific and passionate views about politics. But one thing I will always remember is the reverence my parents taught me for the office of the president.

Regardless of their political affiliation, I was taught that the president of the United States is someone to be respected. I’m pretty sure as a child I wrote to every sitting president and received a letter and signed photograph in return. My parents, in turn, framed them, all of them.

As a journalist, I have had the opportunity to interview almost every sitting president either in office, or on the campaign trail. And let me be clear, the shear awe of interviewing the president of the United States, no matter what his party affiliation, is something that has little comparison in my professional life.

Clearly, I have been fortunate to have a career where diplomacy is my touchstone. Because I have to employ it every single day in my work, I have, in turn, become committed to teaching it to my children. I will not ever disrespect a sitting president, regardless of whether or not I agree with him (or her) in my children’s presence. They will have enough time to make their own decisions about politics when they become adults.

My daughter decided to hold a mock household election for president and vice president this past weekend. On the ballot - all of the members of our household, including the dog. She won’t announce the results until election day, but I’m pretty sure the dog is in the lead …

Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

4 Comments

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  • HereswhatIthink Nov 5, 11:39 a.m.

    I love that she included the dog! I agree that children need to be children and at the age of 9 shouldn't have to worry about politics. All that will come in due time. Let them be children for as long as they can.

  • pinkuh Nov 5, 10:35 a.m.

    Honestly Shielding a child from something like this, is really doing them a dis-service. They need to learn early on that this world is full of passionate people, for better, or for worse, and how to deal with that passion, and create that passion for themselves.

  • WorkinMom Nov 5, 10:24 a.m.

    I share your views, Amanda. In my house, where my father served in the Air Force, we were taught the same respect. Another thing we were taught is that who you voted for was PRIVATE. No one has the right to ask and you don't have the obiligation to tell!

  • Ilovemyboys Nov 5, 9:00 a.m.

    It's a shame that proper respect is no longer given to the President. I was also taught that he (and maybe one day 'she') is someone to be respected - it was never about party affiliation. I also get irritated when people talk, play with their phone, etc. during the national anthem. It just goes to show how self centered and obnoxious people have become - common courtesy rarely exists. My parents raised me to show respect and I've done the same with my family. Thank you for doing the same with yours.