When it comes to this year's nasty presidential election, we need to give it to kids straight. Because they can tell when we aren't. Saying one thing when we really mean another does not fool these little guys. They're not just cute... They're smart absorbent sponges and it makes sense to tell them the truth as we see it.
But when our intention as parents is to be upbeat and not condescending of others in front of our kids, how do we find truth in behavior that seems downright unacceptable?
Given that adults often tell kids that it's important to be respectful of one another, how should parents respond when kids ask questions about some of the adult behavior going on in this year's presidential campaign? And even if the kids aren't asking, we know they're wondering about it.
What do you say to a kid who's watching television with you when a clip comes on showing an angry politician verbally attacking his or her opponent?
Honestly, you probably don't speak the first few thoughts that come to mind (unless your first thoughts are kinder than mine).
The fact is that sometimes we really have to stretch to come up with something to say that's true AND respectful. While we can think of a slew of things that might be true, if respect is something we want our kids to learn, then finding respectful things to say about people who don't seem to be respecting others (or themselves) is one of the best ways to teach it.
Yes, it seems like a tall order. But here's one way to do it:
Look past the anger. What do you see?
Can you see a person who has passion?
Can you see a person who is part of a family?
Can you see a person who has made contributions to business?
Can you see a person who has made contributions to our country?
Can you see a person who has big ideas?
Can you see a person who is competitive?
Can you see a person who is vulnerable?
Can you see a person who is tired?
Can you see a person?
If you can see a person behind all the anger, then you've got plenty to say to your kids when they ask why grown people behave in ways that kids are told not to.
Tell them that adults sometimes do really unhealthy things like getting angry and then instead of trying to feel better, they try to make other people angry too.
Then tell them about the person you see inside.