2016 Presidential Race
Who did you vote for in the 2016 presidential race? Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Perhaps you decided to write in your own name! Isn’t politics crazy sometimes?
If you are anything like me, just thinking back on this experience triggers a lot of different emotions…anger, excitement, embarrassment, disbelief, revenge…maybe even hope.
Without question, this race created the most contentious political climate our modern society has ever lived through!
Politics and Your Kids
We’d be fooling ourselves if we said that our kids weren’t affected by politics. Who could escape the 24-hour news stations, radio, social media, fake news, and so many other ways we were bombarded with every detail?
Cheryl and I made a point of it to talk with our kids about what was happening. We have done this for years. We want to make sure that when they are old enough to vote they never will vote out of ignorance or for the wrong reasons.
Today, I’d like to share with you some of the principles we are continually teaching them. Keep in mind, each of these truths must be communicated in an age-appropriate way.
1. God is not a Republican or Democrat.
I know this may be disappointing to some of you.
We want our kids to be able to think independently about their voting choices. Teach your kids this principle, and as you do, train them to vote according to the Bible and their conscience.
There is no political construct that is completely Biblical. Both Democrat and Republican ideologies contain ideas that agree with Scripture and ones that are contrary to it.
2. Respect the office.
We tell our children that they will not always like the person who is serving as their president. Regardless of how they feel, they must respect the Office of the Presidency.
I must admit, this was a tough one this time around. Why? Because people were slinging mud at each other from both sides. Who could forget Hillary’s email scandal or the tape of Trump’s lewd comments with Billy Bush? And then after President Trump was voted in, we had people walking around saying, “Not my President.” Really?
Despite all of this, we told our children to focus on the amazing influence an American president has and how every decision he or she makes has lifelong consequences. We told them that someday when they are older, they would have to vote for the person who is best qualified.
It is important to us that they call the president by his formal name: President Obama or President Trump. They don’t need to agree with everything the president does to show respect.
I must admit, this becomes much more difficult when your kids see adults on Facebook slandering the candidate they oppose by attacking his or her character and that of the people who follow them. This kind of thing led to a number of conversations with our kids about politics.
3. Pray for the President and other leaders.
If number 2 wasn’t difficult enough for you, number 3 may take the cake!
Pray? Really? Yes. The scriptures command us to pray for those who are in authority over us.
We tell our kids to pray that God will give our president wisdom to make decisions that are in line with God’s truth.
They should pray for his or her family that God would protect all of them from any physical harm. We tell them to pray that God would give the president favor with leaders around the world and that the president would rule our land with integrity.
Have you ever prayed for our president? It’s important that your kids hear it first from you.
4. God’s laws are higher than man’s laws.
As Americans, the opposition we receive at times does not compare to the persecution people in other countries have to endure.
In fact, a report which is produced annually by Open Doors USA found that persecution of Christians rose globally for the third year in a row, reaching “unprecedented levels” in countries located in South and Southeast Asia, among other locations.
All of these persecuted Christians live in countries where the law of the land is opposed to Christ.
While the climate in America may not be that bad, Christian ideas and principles are becoming less and less the majority. This means that our children will face even more opposition to their faith in Christ.
So how do we as parents help them with this? We teach them the Word of God.
Do you have a time each day when your family sits and talks about the Bible? If not, I encourage you to do it. It will only strengthen your children’s ability to tell the difference between man’s ideas and God’s.
5. God puts kings in place.
In the book of Romans, Paul wrote, “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
When Paul wrote this verse, Nero was the emperor. Nero turned out to be one of the severest persecutors of Christians. How could Paul hold this belief?
He recognized the sovereignty of God. An easy way of explaining this to your kids is to tell them God is ultimately in control. Nothing happens without Him knowing about it.
We don’t completely know why evil leaders are allowed to wreak havoc like they do. What we do know is that he uses evil rulers for His own higher purposes and we also can be sure that he is a just God. No one gets away with evil. Everyone must stand before God, including wicked leaders.
6. Politics is a very relevant part of our everyday life.
I grew up in the 1980’s. As I think back on my childhood, I remember being taught that religion and politics should not mix. I learned that mixing the two only caused more problems.
The reasoning for this type of thinking stemmed from the belief that morality could not be legislated. While this is true, it certainly doesn’t mean that Christians should avoid politics altogether.
Our kids need to know that we need Christians in political circles. It’s not a denial of Scripture or Christian principles to work with other politicians to make our country a better place.
7. Make your voice known.
When I worked in the church world, we would often sit as a staff a couple of days after an event and evaluate it.
We would put 3 columns up on the white board with the titles Plus, Minus, and Ideas. When it came to bringing up something in the minus column, the rule was that a minus had to be accompanied by an idea of how to make things better next time.
I must admit, it drives me crazy when people criticize something but don’t take personal responsibility to help make it better. I always tell my kids, “Anyone can sit on the sidelines and throw rocks. However, it takes integrity and leadership to bring lasting change.”
My prayer for my kids is that they will grow up to be godly leaders and that they will do their part to make the world a better place. I’m sure you feel the same way about your kids.
Keep the discussion going.
I encourage you to keep an open political dialogue with your kids. As I mentioned earlier, this must be done in an age-appropriate way. Your 4-year-old is not ready to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of capitalism!
With that said, your older children may be more eager to talk to you about politics than you think.
Where to start
Perhaps you are reading this post and you don’t know how to start this kind of talk with your kids. One easy way is to watch the news with your kid and ask him what he thinks about a current event and how our government is responding to it.
Another idea is to talk about it when you are driving in the car. I love talking to my kids in the car because there is no way they can run away! You have a captive audience.
For those of you haven’t broached the subject yet with your kids, I encourage you to find a good time and way to do it. If you are already having these kinds of discussions with your kids, I applaud you! Who knows! You may be looking at the next President of the United States!
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