In previous decades, politics was only typically discussed during election years. Today, politics has invaded every area of life, and campaigns seem to start as soon as an election has ended. As your children grow, they may become confused about the government and political processes of their nation, and you will play a key role in teaching them using unique tools, such as reading a modern fable about politics.
Many people call the United States a democracy, but the founders called a democracy a mobocracy. This is because the big cities and states with large populations would always rule over the smaller, less-populated states in a true democracy. Therefore, they made our country into a constitutional republic. Although one part of our legislative body, the House of Representatives, is elected based on population, the other, the Senate, has two representatives from each state, which provides balance and allows the less-populated states to have a say in the laws of the land.
The founders also put both vertical and horizontal checks and balances into this constitutional republic. Each branch of the government was given specific duties. For example, the president is only allowed to execute laws, not make them. Only Congress is allowed to create laws. The Judiciary ensures that the laws do not violate the Constitution or the people’s inalienable rights. These three branches create horizontal checks and balances.
The state and local governments are given rights and much greater power to create laws and hold the federal government accountable for overstepping its delegated authority and duties, creating vertical checks and balances.
You should also discuss the voting process with your children. They should understand that not only do the citizens of the nation have the right to vote, but they have a duty to vote. The voters of this nation are solely responsible for the people in office and the laws they create because these individuals are voted in as “representatives” of the people.
Your children should also understand the voting age, who is legally allowed to vote and how to register to vote.
Seek the Facts
It is sometimes difficult to discern where a politician truly stands on an issue. Therefore, political research is vital. Teach your children how to research candidates and ballot initiatives. You may show them how to learn what each person did before becoming a candidate and discuss any legislation they were part of. They should understand why it is important to dig deeper to find the truth. Help your children discern the truth and to separate facts and opinions. Teach them to distrust those who lie.
As you teach your children, choose age-appropriate tools, and reinforce and expand their knowledge each year as they grow and their mental and emotional capacity expands.