Parents have been holding a lot in these past eight months. In addition to the multiple stressors of life during a pandemic and social unrest and violence in the news and neighborhoods, the intensity of the election cycle is an experience both for us as adults and for our children. Depending on their age, children and teens may be aware of the anxiety of the adults around them and experiencing their own anxiety about the outcome of the election next week.
Knowing that our children are watching what we model with our responses, we can start with listening to them and providing both information and reassurance of our presence and care. Below are some resources for talking to children and teens about the election, as well as thoughts on how we can support parents in our meetings in coming days.
How to Talk to Children About Politics from PBS Kids includes talking about civic engagement, politics in the media, and community and family values. Suggests guiding questions to keep the conversation going with young people.
How to talk to kids about election 2020 and the ugly side of politics, according to experts is a great article, with solid advice for younger and older children.
- 17 Tips to Steer Kids of All Ages Through the Political Season from Common Sense Media
- Children’s books help to explain and normalize the election process and voter’s responses to it; titles listed here can be found on YouTube as read-alouds:
- V is for Voting by Kate Farrell
I’ll be reading this on Election night during the Quaker Family Devotionals. Email me for the link to join and have some fun that evening!
- Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
- Sometimes People March by Tessa Allen
- 10 Picture Books About Elections and Voting
- V is for Voting by Kate Farrell
- A Word on Protests, for Young Children is a short YouTube video created by an educator for her Kindergarten class during the protests that followed George Floyd’s murder. If protests follow the election next week, it has language that might be reassuring for young children to hear or helpful for parents to use.
- A Kids Book About Anxiety by Ross Szabo (part of the “a kids book” series; for ages 5+)
So, if parents are holding a lot — how are we holding them, in our meetings?
Friends in our meetings can work together to reach out to members of the community to simply check in, or provide more specific support. This reaches across all ages — children who are missing school routines while doing classes online, teens who miss their peers and being together, adults who are stretched by work, parenting, and elder care, and our elderly members who may be isolated by Covid-19 precautions. Our oldest and youngest members may be missing the ability to be with grandparents/grandchildren. And because the needs reach across ages and concerns, committees can collaborate: Care and Counsel and Youth Religious Education might partner to reach out to families, check in, listen, and ask what they need. Meetings might consider setting up multigenerational “home groups” for small circles of Friends (combining individuals, couples, families with children) to do the checking-in on one another.
Companions on the Journey
Connecting with other families experiencing the same questions, concerns, and needs can support our own journey. Quakers have a tradition of spiritual accompaniment. In this challenging time, how can we walk with one another on our parenting journey?
- Quaker Family Devotionals
These informal programs on Zoom are designed for adults and preschool/elementary age children to participate together. There will be a story, a query and some quiet, and singing! All are welcome to sign up for the Zoom links. Program times: M-F at 8AM ET, and T/Th at 7PM ET.
- Mutual Support Groups for Quaker Parents
New York Yearly Meeting is launching these groups and Quaker parents everywhere are welcome to join. They will provide a space for conversation between Friends who are currently parenting children. Facilitators will be present to set things up and provide listening ears, but the time will be loosely structured so that it can be what you need it to be.
- PYM Community Playdates are an opportunity for children and their parents/caregivers to gather for fun and fellowship. Online for now, the program is led by Children & Families program staff for children in 5th grade and younger.
The 2016 presidential election is an event etched into my parenting memories. I clearly remember navigating the responses, questions, and feelings on election night and in the days that followed with my children, who were in elementary, middle, and high school at the time. My youngest child reluctantly went off to bed on election night after telling me that depending on the result I should wake him up: “I don’t want you to be alone,” he said. Let’s all find ways to be together in spirit and community during the days ahead.
Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org