Four for Four Years: Parenting Lessons For Our Elected Officials

Whether you are Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, being a parent trumps everything Washington can offer up.  And if you are like me, as much as you are proud to be an American, you are more often disgusted with the way our leaders go about getting elected to office.  From the money that is spent, to the ads denigrating each other,  to lack of character and example displayed by both sides of the aisle, I am troubled by our electoral system and ashamed of our political process.

What Washington needs might be a lesson or two drawn from the playbook of good parenting.  Perhaps if our candidates took heed of the lessons we work so hard to instill in our kids and took stock of the example that those lessons provide, just maybe our country would be better for it.  So while our candidates desperately seek four years of power, I offer up four parenting lessons that I propose our candidates think about as we near election day.

  1. Worry about yourself and stop tattle-telling on others: For once,  I would like to hear our candidates focus on what they have done, have not done and what they plan on doing.  There is a reason we get after our kids for telling on their little sister and the kid down the street.  First, its god-awful annoying, but more importantly, it encourages them to take responsibility for themselves and to stop automatically blaming others.  Furthermore, in not allowing them to constantly tattle-tell, kids figure out that solutions are best worked out with the source of the problem.
  2. A White Lie is Still a Lie:  Call it what you will, when our leaders spin the truth, use carefully edited sound bites and misconstrue each other’s messages, it’s a lie.  As good parents, we’re on the look out for truth.  We not only want it for our kids, we require it.  If we are requiring our kids to tell the truth, we should demand that our leaders do the same.
  3.  If Billy Told You to Jump Off a Cliff, Would You? Often pulled from the playbook of parenthood, the frequently used term aims at teaching our kids to do the right thing and follow their own heart and own personal judgement.  Why do our leaders seem to change their tune, alter their platforms and conform more than one can count?  Given a parent’s perspective, our leaders are listening to Billy and jumping off cliffs more often than is humanly healthy.  You see, in Washington, Billy comes in the form of money, influence and Super Pacs.  Billy pays for elections and ultimately in the end, our leaders jump from many cliffs, thus abandoning their own heart and own personal judgement.
  4. When You Have Done Something Wrong, Say You’re Sorry: This lesson seems to have wandered off in general from our Great Nation.  I was always raised with the understanding that if you screw up, admit it and make amends.  No doubt it’s hard to swallow at times, but it’s the right thing to do without question.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing for our leaders to open up a State of the Union or stump speech with something like, “First I want to apologize for my handling of the economy,”  I would like to take responsibility for poor decisions that lead to soldiers losing their lives,” or “I cheated on my wife, it was wrong and I apologize to her and to my country.”  One of the greatest epidemics in our land is the refusal to admit when you were wrong. Our athletes deny steroids, our politicians deny culpability and it’s wrong and cuts squarely against the grain of what we as parents work so hard to instill in our kids.
Come November 6, I will take to my local polling place and cast my vote for my candidate.  I believe it is my duty but I have a greater duty. It is being a parent.  In elections like the one before us now, it is easy to believe that my one vote really won’t make a difference at the end of the day. I don’t really know about that to be honest.  What I do know is that my work and effort as a parent will undoubtedly make a difference not only in my children’s lives, but to those around them.  At the end of the day, this nation’s power, influence and opportunity to make a real and positive change in our world rests in the hands of parents.  It flourishes in the arms of families.  The sooner we as a country realize this and take greater responsibility for it, the sooner our leaders will resemble what we work so hard to raise.


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