“We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another.” - Henri Nouwen

Conversations. Yard signs. News reports. Social media posts.

Children see and hear them. They ask about them. They listen to everything.

In this highly polarized election season, it is our responsibility as adults to model to our youth the civility and respect for others that we ask of them. We must each act with deliberate intention and purpose.

In order to encourage our children’s interest and engagement in the democratic process, we must embrace the notion that exercising our right to vote is worthy of celebration. We must reinforce that voting is more significant and lasting than election results themselves. Regardless of who “wins”’ or “loses,” we participate as citizens in order to be heard, valued and counted.

With all election outcomes, there is the potential for a sense of relief or distress. How we regulate our own responses is critical in shaping how our children will view their role in democracy. We must teach that the political process need not foster ill will and that civil discourse is both possible and necessary. We can hold different perspectives without eroding the foundation of community. At the end of the day, we must set the example that standing in solidarity with our neighbors, regardless of political view, is what strengthens our city, state, and nation.

As teachers, mentors, and parents , we are exhausted by 2020. Let’s work together to shape the narrative and to show our children that, with civility and grace, we can move forward together with focus and hope. After all that our world has been through this year , let’s take this opportunity to play nice and be gracious.

Our children are paying attention and they will learn from us.

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