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The real battleground for America is in our homes

Posted October 19

If we let this election — or these candidates — determine our future, then we are giving away too much of our power as citizens and parents. (Deseret Photo)

Moving to Canada after the election? Giving up on America? Wondering how we got to the point where we’re talking about whether the debates are too X-rated for our children and how to choose what many are calling the lesser of two evils?

I get it. This election is about as crazy and nasty as it gets.

But I am not about to sprint across the border. I am not about to give up on America. Just because this election has brought out some unflattering truths, it doesn’t mean we are in an irreversible tailspin.

Although this election is critically important, it does not define America or me as an American. If we let this election or the candidates entirely determine our future, then we are giving away too much of our power as citizens and parents.

While the grandstanding and political bickering is capturing headlines, the real battleground for America is taking place in our homes.

As parents, we have a hand in what the future will look like by the quality of the children we are raising. The outcome of this election will not change the values and morals I teach my children or the fact that I have some control over what kind of America they wake up to after Election Day.

So, when people rant about this election and the downfall of American values, I wonder what they are doing to fix it.

What if instead of just ripping down the candidates, we spent our time trying to exemplify the values and virtues we wish they had?

Think Trump is a misogynist? Consider how you talk about women in your home. What examples are you giving to your daughters of strong, powerful women and to your sons of how to speak about and treat women?

Think Hillary is a liar? What kind of lessons about honesty and integrity are you teaching your children?

If you worry about social injustice, what are you doing about it?

If your heart goes out to refugees from Aleppo, what have you done to help them?

I faced this question in my own home recently after showing my 9-year-old daughter a video about refugees. I, of course, cried like a baby by the end of it. But that's all I did. My daughter, however, jumped up and said, "We have to do something!"

A week later, she's already organizing a volunteer group to make activity kits for child refugees coming into our home state.

The lesson was clear: Don't just sit there. Do something.

Don’t just throw your hands up and declare the end of the world. Get involved. Get active in local politics or PTA or anything that embodies the American values of hard work, community and hope.

Do something.

Stop whining about the poor choices on Election Day. Stop lamenting the downfall of democracy in front of your children, who are getting the message loud and clear that we’re all doomed and there is nothing we can do about it.

Instead, let your children see you do something — anything. Let them see you fight for the America they will inhabit. Teach them about the power they have to make tomorrow better for everyone.

The power of a democracy is incredible, but it pales in comparison to the influence we have in our own homes.

I love election season (yes, even this one) because it reminds us that every single American can choose the future of our country. In a few weeks, you will vote for the candidate that you think can best lead us into a better tomorrow.

But don’t forget the most important leader is the one in your own home.

So please, go to the polls on Nov. 8 and vote.

But then go home, and get to work.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her and her newborn son wins hearts with his dimples.

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