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Oh, to be a kid again in summer

By Ed Hoffman

Let’s face it – whether it was 50 years ago, or 20, or even today – being a kid in summertime meant innocence.  Yeah, maybe we had to help out on the farm with chores like feeding the chickens or picking peaches. Twenty years ago maybe summertime meant dusting the furniture, learning the fine art of scrubbing the bathtub or, heaven forbid, loading the dishwasher.  Even today summertime might mean taking a job as a lifeguard, helping out at vacation Bible school or, for the younger ones, going through your abundance of toys for those you’ve outgrown to pass on to your younger cousins.

But it probably didn’t mean watching (or even listening) to the major political conventions.  But parents – if you don’t have your kids, over about 12 years of age, join you in watching/listening to at least a portion of the conventions you’re missing the boat.  Having your adolescent kids, even the youngest of adolescents, listen to what’s being said is critical to sharing the larger world with them.  It’s your opportunity to “train them up in the way they should go” as the Good Book says. It’s your chance to begin explaining to them why you support one candidate over another, to share your values with them in words (and then live it in action day by day) and then back it up with facts. It’s a time to hear them out, answer their questions and to begin the process of nurturing political critical thinking skills.

But a note of caution.  Whereas you may be bold and have them listen to some of both political parties’ conventions you need to be able to compare and contrast, debunk the lies and highlight the hard, cold facts.  That may mean a bit of study and homework on your part!  But do it! Nothing can be more important in raising our kids with the values we want them to share than being a student ourselves.

Don’t know the facts of what happened in Benghazi (and Clinton’s lies about it)?  Turn off the mindless television and tune into what’s being said about national and international affairs and form your own conclusions.  Consider watching the movie 13 Hours; watch it carefully as it will tell you important facts about what was going on, who knew what and when they knew it.

Certainly our kids learn U.S. history in school, first in fifth grade (think Paul Revere’s midnight ride), then in eighth grade (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights), and then as high school juniors we get a whooping dose of civics, economics and the chance for mock debates on the issues of the day.  But as Scott McAfee and I shared in last week’s radio broadcast, as kids we take it for granted, we don’t relate to it so it doesn’t really mean anything to us, because it doesn’t have context in our lives. But we do have the chance to help them understand if we just talk to them about it. We need to talk to our adolescents, our teens and young adults; we also need to listen to them to hear what is being said to them and around them by others.

We need to actively engage our kids in what they are being taught at school and share our perspectives on history and government, especially these two subjects, in an age-appropriate level with them.  But summertime, and especially during every fourth summer, we have the perfect opportunity to point out the lies, the misstatements, the distortions and point our youth to the truth.   Donald Trump didn’t say “I alone will fix it” as Hillary Clinton has claimed.  She simply manipulated what he said so her claim of “We’ll fix it together” sounded good for the cameras, the convention and the sound bites played over and over.  Trump actually said, “I alone can lead it.” This is a perfect example to point out to your fifth-grader to be how words can be manipulated and twisted, of how wrong it is to lie (especially on a national, truly an international, stage) and why Hillary cannot be trusted.

Think about it folks.  It’s not rocket science but it will make all the difference in the world – the world our kids stand to someday manage – and it’s nothing more than separating fact from fiction.  Yeah, summertime is a time of innocence for our kids but we adults have a lot to learn in order to teach our kids so they’re not so innocent when they do inherit the world.

Ed Hoffman is host of The Main Event on AM590, which airs Saturday 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM and Sunday 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Follow him on Twitter @EdHoffman, and like him on Facebook by searching The Main Event 590.

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