Parents have a huge influence on their children and this extends to political and civic engagement. David B. Magleby, former dean of the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences at BYU, and his wife, Linda W. Magleby, explain the impact parents can make in these areas of children’s lives and why society needs a rising generation of responsible, active citizens.
The authors reference a study done by Robert Putman that measured social capital through political, civic, and religious participation; connections in the workplace; informal social connections; altruism; volunteering; philanthropy; reciprocity; honesty; and trust. Putman found that social capital is diminishing.
Families have the most influential role in children’s view of citizenship and civic engagement because children learn from their parents how to participate in the political realm. The Magleby’s offer some suggestions on how we can encourage our children to be actively engaged in government and the community.
- Avoid cynicism. This teaches children not to vote, because it won’t count, and to not put their trust in elected officials.
- Promote efficacy. Children and adults lack the self-confidence that their efforts can make a difference. Help children develop efficacy by fostering civic engagement.
- Teach children that in the democratic system there will be winners and losers, but power is still transferred peacefully. This allows for people with different views the freedom to express their views, run for office, etc.
- Show respect for the law. Obey the law even when no one is looking to show the importance of personal integrity.
- Teach your children the process of voting and show how important voting is by taking it seriously.
- Discuss elections and voting. Help your children develop gratitude for the system in place, that we get to choose our officials and laws by voting.
- Talk about the news. Tell your children about other nations without the freedom of a democracy and how willing these people are to sacrifice their lives to try to obtain it.
- Provide opportunities for community service. This will help children understand that we all have a duty to contribute to society.
- Teach about taxes. While doing your taxes, explain the purpose of taxes and the benefits we all receive from them.
- Celebrate patriotic holidays. Take the time to discuss the rights and privileges we enjoy and also the responsibilities our citizenship carries with it.
- Talk positively about elected officials. Even if you don’t agree with an official or policy, we can still be grateful we live in a country where differing opinions are allowed to be expressed.
- Take family vacations to historical sites. This allows us to teach about the significance of that memorial and create personal memories for your children to cherish.
For the full article see: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1399&context=marriageandfamilies