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How to Talk to Your Children about the Election (from a Rabbi's Perspective)

Renee Eder on Monday, March 14, 2016

The election is being discussed everywhere these days. Your children, no matter how old, are aware of it. So, there is no reason not to talk with them, share your views with them, and involve them in the process. According to Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, the Director of Rabbis Without Borders at CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, it is "one of the best ways to fulfill our civic duty."

This is what else Rabbi Sirbu has to say:

1. Let children know that healthy debate is good. They can be curious about the opinions of others and ask questions. Jewish tradition encourages this.

2. Be polite. In spite of the current climate of the political process, the teaching of Rabbi Hillel still stands, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When talking with someone who shares different views from you or your family, do not call them names or insult them.

3. Many scary things get said about the future in presidential debates. If children are getting upset by what they are hearing, talk to them about it. Ask why they are upset, and talk through the issues and the political process.

4. Be aware of your own behavior. Your children will model what you do and say. How do you want them to be behaving? What do you want them to take away from this election cycle?

5. Talk about the issues and how they can get involved. Many kids want to feel a part of this process. Find out what issues may interest them and empower them to act. Small acts can make a big difference. If nothing else, take them with you to vote. They can learn that every vote counts and that their voice is important.

Let kids know that even though they can't vote, they can encourage the adults in their life to register to vote and to campaign for their favorite causes and candidates.  For more details on talking to children about the election, please see PBS parent's guide, "Helping Kids Understand the Election." For details on where candidates stand on Israel and other issues important to many Jewish people, please click here.


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