It's been a wild and wacky year for politics, but for those of us with children coming of age, it's also been one that's left us wondering how we can involve them, while still shielding them from some of the more seedy rhetoric.
As the parent of a fourth grader who spent the year studying the American Revolution and the basics of democracy (while singing along with the Hamilton soundtrack), it's been particularly difficult. He's watched the debates and heard the mudslinging that's typical of a traditional election season. But he's also been exposed to immature name-calling and blistering personal attacks that, in my opinion, have no place on the national stage. We call these teaching moments when they occur, but they're not lessons that a 10-year-old, no less a 5-year-old, need to be exposed to when their parents simply turn on the news.
That's why I'm loving this attack ad against Donald Trump. Though I'm a card-carrying Hillary Clinton supporter, that's not why the ad speaks to me and so many other parents. The ad shows children of various ages sitting in front of televisions, watching Trump at campaign stops and debate podiums, spewing his most bombastic phrases. Rather than a voice-over attacking him and his use of language, the screen turns black and projects two powerful sentences: "Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?" It then goes in for the sting with the Democratic nominee standing before a crowd and calmly saying:
"Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time at the choices we are about to make . . . And we need to make sure that they can be proud of us."
Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? We want to show our children leaders who we can respect and who we can point to as good examples in this world. And while every moment can be a lesson, they shouldn't be lessons in hate and ignorance, regardless of your political leanings. Be it a Democrat or a Republican or a third-party candidate, children deserve a leader they can look up to, not someone parents need to defend by saying, "He's just being himself, but you shouldn't act that way."
Our leaders should be examples for our children.