It is no secret that I am a politically active Mama. I write my legislators. I am the chair of a political action committee. I am also running for office in 2018. There is simply no getting around the fact that politics are a daily theme in our household.
I took Abigail to her first march in November 2016 in Nashville. She had just turned 6. We marched with 15,000 other people to make our voices heard. We wore our #NODAPL and Water is Life tee shirts. She carried her turtle rattle. I started to explain to her, in a basic way, that rallies, protests, marches and just standing on the side of the street with a sign making your voice known is a big part of America, what our country is built on, why her Granddaddy served in the military and why she should be proud to be an American. To me, that’s part of what it means to be an American. I have a voice and I am allowed to use it. I was also proud to be there with two of my dear mama friends and their children. We made quite the site with our four beautiful children. But, they were certainly not the only children in attendance. There were newborns to teenagers in attendance.
I got home on the high of American democracy at work. The next morning I opened my Facebook to a surprising message from someone I had not spoken to face to face in 20 years, but still felt they had a right to criticize me as a mother for taking my girl to Nashville. Their message was horrible. I will not even repeat it here. I was pissed. Pissed was not even the word to cover the rage I felt over someone telling me they would “pray for me” because I was teaching my daughter what democracy was about. I wanted to call this person out on Facebook and lambast them in every way I knew how. I wanted to dredge up every single tiny piece of dirt I knew about them and lay it out. But, I didn’t. I took the advice of my girl, Michelle Obama, and went high. I simply reminded people that just because they see me on Facebook it does not give them the right to comment, critique or criticize my parenting choices.
Fast forward 7 months to another political rally. This time in our hometown to make our displeasure known about the House and Senate plans for healthcare. Senator Mitch McConnell was in town and so it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. There were many children in attendance carrying heart shaped flags and signs that asked about their friends. The picture below was posted and the comment came that he should not be at the rally. He is too young.
Let me ask this question. WHEN IS TOO YOUNG TO TEACH DEMOCRACY? Do we not think that part of the problem with voter turnout is that people do not believe in our democracy or value the vote? Too many people believe they have no voice and have no say in what happens to them. Too many people would rather not be bothered by all the politics. Too many people want people to shut up and sit down. I say NO. I say that the younger we teach this next generation about voting, about finding their voice on critical matters, about loving their neighbor and making sure public policy does the same– the BETTER for us and our future. And, where is a better place to do it than with them watching their elders participate? So, no. Three is not too young to begin the lesson. Six is not too young to begin the lesson. Where it is never too late to start embracing our democracy, it is also never too early to start teaching the value of democracy to the next generation.