Politics and Parenting

Written by Janet Denison
Published on July 26, 2016

I saw a video of a three-year-old holding his growling dinosaur. When he was asked the name of his toy he responded with, “Donal Twump.” Our kids are noticing, hearing, and processing a lot more news than we realize. Do you protect your children from politics or include them in the process? There is value in both choices.

One thing is certain: unless you live in a tent on private property, your kids are going to hear about the two leading presidential candidates. One of those people will become a world leader and a significant part of our nation’s history. There is a good chance this person will become the first president that your child will remember. What do you want your child to think about when he or she thinks about this president? Your answer to that question matters.

If your candidate wins, will your child believe all is well? If your candidate loses, will your child be worried or afraid? Or, will your child think it doesn’t matter either way? If none of those options are acceptable, what do you want your child to believe the day after this election?

The Bible has some important guidelines to consider when discussing politics.

  1. Whoever wins, God is still on his throne. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Our nation is led by a human leader, but the Lord can redirect that leader’s path. We can honor a president’s position, but choose to follow our King in heaven.
  2. When you discuss a candidate, you can honor God in that discussion. Ephesians 4:29 should be printed on our dinner napkins until next November. Paul wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” If your kids are old enough, you might want to give them permission to hold you accountable to that verse. The opportunity to “correct” a parent will teach them to listen with biblical discernment, choose their own words wisely and learn not to slander. It will probably give you the chance to teach them how to correct someone, while still honoring that parent . . . I mean person. (I’m not a huge fan of humble pie, but I’ve eaten more than I would care to admit.)
  3. The reason we honor a president—or any other elected official—is because we want to live for the Lord’s sake. The bigger issue is not the direction of the country; it is the unfolding of God’s plan. 1 Peter 2:13–14: Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. When the grandparents, family or friends arrive and the subject of politics comes into the conversation, what can you and your kids say “for the Lord’s sake?” If those words don’t come to mind, there’s always, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.” Most of us could use a few lessons about the self-control of silence. That lesson might help your kids keep a friend or keep a job someday.
  4. Teach your children that even if they can’t vote, they can make a difference in the life of their president. 1 Timothy 2:1–2 is one of the most ignored passages in Scripture. Paul wrote, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. So which leaders did Paul say are we supposed to pray for? All is a small word to carry such a big punch. It is easy to pray for the candidate we want to win. It is harder to pray for the other person. Your kids can make a difference in the next election if you will teach them to pray—for all. None of us would have voted for Saul of Tarsus, but aren’t you glad he got elected?  None of us would have enjoyed honoring Samson, but he came through in the end. The first thing you can begin to teach your kids is to pray for both candidates.

Christians are in an interesting position with this election. It is quite possible that the most important political science lessons your children will learn will come from watching their mom and dad discuss the evening news. Pick and choose the political discussions you want your children to hear. (You probably should pick and choose what you want to hear as well!) But, your family can handle the political climate and thrive. Some of your children’s most valuable life-lessons might be taught in the next few months. Chances are, your children’s parents will learn a couple too.

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Janet Denison

Janet Denison teaches others to live an authentic faith through her writing, speaking, and teaching ministry. She blogs weekly at Foundationswithjanet.org and often at ChristianParenting.org.

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