Get your Teen Excited About Politics!
Teenagers across the country are getting involved in the issues they care about, and your child need be no exception. Are bills the work of high-power lobbyists? Political pundits? How about teenagers?
In Maine, a group of teenagers who form The League of Young Voters pushed through an initiative that promises to erase up to $32,000 of college debt for every student who stays in the state after graduation. Your child could be next to make a difference.
Here are three ways to launch your child into the world of politics:
Find a Cause:
Ask learners what issues they are passionate about. Chances are there is something in their community, their nation or the world that has them fired up. It doesn't have to be world peace or funding the cure for cancer. Your teen can start small, as long as it's something which resonates with them. Maybe your child is sick of getting busted for skateboarding downtown and wants to see their municipal government invest in a skate park. Instill in your child that there is a way to make a difference, it just takes a bit of work. Encourage your teen to:
- Find out everything they possibly can about the issue from all sides. There's no way to argue their position if they don't do the research. Following the skate park example, get a copy of the school budget. If your child can point out that $3,000 was spent this year on repairing turf for the football field, it can be used later as leverage.
- Find out the right governmental body with which to raise the issue: Is it the town council? The planning commission? The mayor's office? Attend a meeting of town officials to present the issue when they open the floor to the public.
- Start a petition. It may be hard work, but it's also quite literally a hands-on lesson in the democratic process.
For a list of more balanced teen political sites, check out: www.freechild.org.
Encourage Social Politics:
Social networking sites aren't just teen fads—they have the power to bring kids together to share ideas. Encourage your child to assert their right to free assembly by joining one of the many political groups these sites offer. Each group offers information on the key issues, introduces key political players, and gives kids the opportunity to discuss issues in a safe and open forum.
Watch Political Entertainment:
Comedy and politics go hand-in-hand. With comedians on both the right and the left poking fun at political issues, there's never a dull moment. Simply showing your teen the fun side of politics may motivate them to stay informed. Take it a step further by watching the show with your child, taking note of these jokes and their context. If your child didn't catch that comparison to Watergate, go online, or head to the library. Your teen's drive to get the joke will spur on continual learning.
Now's the time to kick-start your teenager's political interests—not only will it boost those social studies scores, but it will give your child a life lesson in citizenship. Vive La Revolution!