If your house is anything like mine, the upcoming election is a major topic of conversation. Lately, the conversations have centered around “what if’s”. “What if _______ is elected, Mom? Will we still be allowed to homeschool? What if he decides to outlaw Christianity?” This election year, my kids are old enough to feel some very real anxiety as they watch the debates, hear all the endless political ads and listen to the conversations all around them. Four years ago, they enjoyed watching the returns on election night, keeping track of the percentages for each side throughout the evening. This year, their understanding is much deeper and they have much more personal concern over the outcome. My two younger children even learned a harsh lesson about the ugliness of politics when a sign that my son had labored over and staked out in our yard (giving their political opinion) was vandalized (twice) with the opponent’s name spray-painted over their artwork.
As a mother, how should we use this election time to teach our children? First of all, it’s a great opportunity to teach our children about the electoral process. As they ask questions, share with them how our country chooses a president. Teach them how important it is to choose carefully whom they will vote for, and especially to choose someone who will follow God’s leading in governing our country. Teach them to pray for the leaders of our country, and to pray for the outcome of the election. Consider attending a political rally or volunteering some time for a local candidate. Giving your children an understanding of the process and a respect for the privilege of voting will help them to be ready to assume this responsibility when they turn eighteen.
Even more important than teaching our children the mechanics of elections is to be sensitive to their fears. As children get older, they will sense the anxiety felt by their parents as the election nears. Hearing adults debate the candidates endlessly, and hearing each side bash the other in political attack ads can be very stressful for children (and for me, too!). This year, especially, the candidates are so diametrically opposed in their moral values that the stress is very real. During this time, we have an opportunity to teach our children something far more important than how the government works. We have the priceless chance to teach our children that God, and only God, is in control, no matter what the outcome of the election.
In our family lately, we’ve talked a lot about what God could be doing in this election. In reading the Old Testament, it is painfully obvious that the Israelites only turned back to God in times of suffering. When things were going well, they would merrily make their own way, away from God. Many, many times, God handed the nation of Israel over to a more powerful enemy to draw their hearts back to His. In looking around at America lately, maybe it is time for Him to do the same to us. If things don’t turn out the way we’d like in this election, we are confident in one thing: God knows what He is doing. If the candidates we favor lose this election, it’s not the end of the world. Romans 13:1 tells us that “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Help your children to find comfort in that fact…it’s a great lesson in learning to trust Him even when we don’t understand exactly what He is doing. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.” God can use any president, just as he did the wicked kings of the Old Testament, to accomplish His divine purposes.
So, in this time of political uncertainty, do your kids a favor. Set them an example, first of all by exercising your privilege to vote (and by voting for godly candidates), by praying for the leaders of our land and for the election, and, most importantly, by teaching them to trust in God’s sovereign plan for the future of this great land. Let’s raise a new generation of true American patriots, who understand that America was established to be a nation that honors God above all else.
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