Raising Civic Minded Kids
On episode 19 of “One Day You’ll Thank Me”, my teen cohost Anna and I had a very informative and interesting conversation with our special guest Ed Wynn. Ed is the author of "We the People: Restoring Civility, Sanity, and Unifying Solutions to U.S. Politics."
Today's episode strives to help parents support their kids in becoming respectful citizens and educated voters in our society. With everything going on in our country around the election, President Trump having COVID 19, the replacing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, how do we talk to our kids in an educated and respectful way about all of the different opinions out there?
According to Ed Wynn, what parents need to be aware of and help our kids address, is that opinions can be so divisive at times. We want to first be aware of that so we can be improving the landscape around that and then knowing that, implement some good strategies to address it.
Ed covers a lot of great topics in his book, we started by diving into some nuances of government around the electoral college. He shared that 75% of electoral votes are already locked in prior to the election, meaning that states are predominantly in favor of one party, the majority of voters in that state will vote for that party, therefore all the electoral votes will go to the candidate of that party.
It really makes me question - is my vote really going to count? And as I am watching the polls and see early results coming in, should I even bother?
Ed feels it is really important that we do not follow the national polls because they can be misleading. Someone can lead in the national polls and then voters have a false sense of security that their candidate may win, but because the president wins based on the electoral vote, not the popular vote, it is very misleading. Every vote counts, we need to also be thinking about our local races also.
What is important are the battleground states, the results of those states is really how the president is elected based on electoral votes. As we are seeing now, the candidates are really placing their focus on these states.
We have all heard the term gerrymandering, but what does it mean?
How Ed describes, it is drawing the lines of congressional districts to favor the predominant party. You would think they would parcel up the state equally into districts, however how they do it is they look at voting patterns so that they can get more of the districts to have a majority of voters as the same party in power. How they design the district and divide them out will make it seem as if that party won more districts and a higher percentage of the states votes, even though they did not. The justification behind doing this is said to be to help enfranchise minority voters, but data and research shows this is wrong. It is more for the predominant party and not to enfranchise anyone.
How do we help the process? Ed strongly urges us to respond to the census because this will be how they determine how many districts will be in each state. That can make sure each state has the appropriate number of districts to reflect the actual population, not just the percent that respond to the census, and an appropriate amount of federal funding.
At this time in our society, there are so many biased articles and news programs, fact checking (who knows who is fact checking), how do we know what is true and where to get information that we can trust?
Here are a couple of easy suggestions we learned from Ed.
Anything that triggers strong emotions is most likely not true. The more an article contains nouns and verbs, and the less it contains strong adjectives and adverbs, most likely is true. When I read information using mostly nouns and verbs, I tend to believe it.
Allsides.com provides a pretty good guide
NPR tends to be a fairly good source of information
Pay attention to see if news and articles are biased. Does the host give opinions? Do they consider the other side? Any one sided news that doesn't consider the other is going to be naturally biased.
Anna shared how she sees her teen peers behaviors, in relation to political opinions and social media. What she feels is that many of these teens are very strong in their opinions and are posting things that are over the top and it almost seems they are trying to hurt people at times. She feels that many are getting inaccurate information and then are using it to sway their peers to agree with them. As parents we want to be aware of what stances are kids are taking and having good discussions with them. Educating and empowering them.
As we all know there are a lot of high emotions, misleading information and confusion out there, especially for our kids. In his book and on our podcast, Ed shares some ideas and examples of what sources to use for more accurate information, ways to approach this within the person themselves and when dealing with others.
When it comes to deciphering the difference between facts and opinions, how do we go about that?
-We should be looking at some type of citation or reference to back up the fact (support their statement)
- When something starts with I, it tends to be opinion
- Facts are pretty neutral in nature, not outrageous
From a teens perspective, all of this can be pretty overwhelming. They may feel that they can’t really do anything until they turn 18. On behalf of all kids, Anna asked Ed -
What is the best way that I can prepare myself to be an informed voter when I vote for the first time in 2024? Ed's response:
- Continue to keep up to speed on political things in our nation, but also your state and city. Being informed is very important.
-Don't give up hope on us adults
- Be curious, don't accept things as just they are. Ask questions!
-Make a positive influence in and communities and schools
-Sign up to be a poll worker
-Set a good example for all of us
In closing, I feel it is important that we educate our kids on the role media has on opinions and how they communicate with us. We are being influenced all the time. Technology is said to have a big role in our mindset and kids (even adults) can be susceptible to being brainwashed. When a kid's brain hasn’t developed yet and they are not aware of this influence, we need to be paying attention and keep the conversation going with them.
Help support your kids to get involved, be responsible citizens and productive members of society!
Get a copy of Ed's book, HERE
Visit Ed's website HERE
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This podcast episode is edited by Laura Bauder of PodcastHERs.