The tone of the recent political campaign was divisive, hateful, exclusive, and lacking respect. Most of the energy was about one-upmanship and outshouting your opponent, with scant attention paid to the needs of our children. There is a reason why most Americans are walking away from this election with a bad taste in their mouths, and it has a lot to do with what we’ve been focusing on. I want kids to learn from this experience so that these misbehaviors are not repeated in our homes, schools, children’s friendships, and politics.
The following are examples of how we’ve been focusing on the wrong values.
People have been more invested in:
Assuming vs. acquiring knowledge
Exclaiming vs. examining or exploring
Disrupting vs. discussing
Condemning vs. considering
Attacking vs. appreciating
Harsh words vs. hearing others
Dismissing vs. discovering
Usurping vs. understanding
Interrupting vs. being interested
Interjecting vs. inquiring
Interposing vs. investigating
Politicians as well as voters spent more time looking for information to affirm their position instead of becoming more informed about all sides of issues. People have been more committed to being right than to being close, and so anger and hatred pushed aside love and compassion. These aren’t just words; they represent our intentions, values, and way of relating to others.
In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate; only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible. Knowing this, how can you quarrel? Buddha
I know from working with children and especially teenagers that you must live by the following principles in order to be close to your children and to have an influence.
Kids who feel heard are more willing to listen.
Kids who feel understood are more open to understanding their parent’s perspective.
Kids who feel cared about are more likely to care.
Kids who feel respected are more apt to be respectful.
Kids who feel loved will be more loving and compassionate.
These principles go both ways; if kids want to be respected and to be heard they might first give respect and be a good listener. These are values that I want kids to adopt as take-away from this election; a bridge over troubled water if you will. These things are necessary for adults as well; grownups are just little kids in big bodies when it comes to such needs and feelings.
Instead of being left with a sense of disillusionment, encourage kids to become people of character who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of what everyone else is saying or doing. Hopefully they will do as I say and not as the politicians have done.