Did you vote for Hillary? Or maybe Trump? Did you buck the trend and go third party? Guess what… I don’t care. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on, we can all agree on one thing: politics suck. The constant jockeying for positions, flip-flops on the issues and the endless rundowns of the other parties are emotionally exhausting. What ever happened to getting along with one another and not identifying along party lines? Our current political scene is a mess, and it seems like it won’t be resolved any time soon.
What’s more palpable to me is the cut-throat political scene that you might not be aware of. I’m talking about a white-knuckle, no-holds-barred production, bursting with intrigue and twists that’ll make your head spin. It’s a tumultuous and enthralling high-stakes game of cat and mouse, packed with the drama that entails all the political theater of the newest shows from the big networks, and it’s happening right under your nose and you don’t even know it. The melodrama of which I speak, of course, is the world of little kid politics.
Children approach their daily lives in a manner not unlike our own. They must navigate the waters of society as best they can, watching out for the pitfalls of life in the guise of peer pressure, relationship issues or social ostracizing. Environmentally, their political landscape is not that far removed from our own. You have a few big players (big corporations/parents), an enforcement mechanism (law enforcement/teachers and parents), social outreach campaigns (social media/playgrounds) and structure (economy/sports, school and family).
The level of interaction a child has will depend on their environment as much as their personal constitution. In my home, we believe that outdoor play is vital to proper development, and we encourage our children to play outside with their friends from the neighborhood. Not only does this allow them plenty of exercise (not to mention some peace and quiet for my wife and myself), but it allows them to prepare for real life situations. If conflicts arise, they must learn how to deal with the situations and the settle the matter accordingly. Occasionally, they will meet new kids to play with and make new friends in the process. These principles are the foundations on which a strong, stable and well-adjusted child is built.
If you have children, then you know where I’m going with this part. Children are drama producing machines. From the slightest sleight to the most egregious of misdeeds, they will fill what seems to be every waking hour with some form of drama. They can make a mountain out of any molehill, turning a seemingly benign situation into an all-out slug fest in milliseconds. It could be something simple, like not having their favorite cereal for breakfast (because there’s nothing good to eat it this house, of course) or it could be more complex, like missing a piece of sporting equipment that they took off somewhere that they can’t remember (so it’s clearly your fault).
Of course, these examples pale in comparison to the pinnacle of little kid drama. The worst part about it is the fact that it often doesn’t directly affect your child, but they drone on about it anyway. It affects their lives and indirectly shapes their opinions and perception about others. The most influential and nerve-racking drama that your youngster will face, you might ask: school, of course.
Nothing compares to the drama generated at the school level. You do your best to raise your child in a safe, loving environment where they can learn and grow, free from judgment and ridicule. But when your child converges with the rest of society in the schoolyard, and they get their first cold dose of reality, the sparks will fly. You’ll find that your parenting techniques are far different from others, and some of the kids won’t have any oversight at all. There will be a clash of styles and hierarchies will form, based on perceived social status and individual charm. It’s almost like watching the dawn of civilization in a microcosm. My hat’s off to the teachers and administrators that wade through that daily (you deserve a raise, by the way).
Girls and boys will handle drama differently. Boys, for the most part, are lower drama and tend to handle issues in a more immediate fashion. This may mean some sort of altercation or yelling match, but things get resolved quickly and generally don’t linger. The fairer half of this equation tends to act more emotionally, meaning that the drama-laden issues persist for longer, resulting a ‘cold-war’ of attrition. The individual personality of the child is the greatest factor, and you may experience some cross-over in your child’s coping skills. It’s important to recognize the means in which your child handles these issues and tailor your approach accordingly.
In my opinion, children are far too young and impressionable to be introduced to social media. Until you are confident in who you are, and even understand what that means, you should not have a presence on any social media platform. The potential for harm far outweighs the benefits, especially for young, impressionable youth. Cyber-bullying, self-esteem issues and real-life harassment are several issues that have permeated the social media landscape. Some companies are stepping up their effort to combat these problems, but still they persist. The nascent mind is too fragile and ill-equipped for such a deluge of negativity.
Not only are the dangers of social media ever-present, but you must also consider the amount of time that your child will waste on these endeavors. As referenced in a previous article of mine, your children are only young once. They need time to develop and grow, and wasting time online will stunt that emotional maturation process. Time on social media is also time wasted that could be applied to more meaningful things, like bonding with their family.
What does it all mean?
Your understanding of the quasi-political pressure that your child experiences will directly correlate to the success of your relationship with your child. Having a working knowledge of what they are going through will not only keep you better informed about their lives, but will help you as their steadfast and trustworthy mentor. Everybody loves to talk about themselves, and if you coax them just right, your child will confide in you and keep you well informed about their daily struggles.
The desire to help your child comes naturally. It’s the very core of paternal instinct. Give yourself the best tools and set up in the best vantage point to help them, and you will both benefit and grow. The political scene is brutal, regardless of what level you play on. Be there to understand your kids, give them the time, and help them prosper. They are your future, and ours.