We’re No Kennedys But That’s Ok

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The Kennedys famously discussed world politics at the dinner table in preparation and hope of their children’s political future. Our family dinner conversations usually revolve around school, family business, scheduling and a conversation about best and worst parts of the day. However, our family has found an opportunity to have deep discussions about world events, politics, science, and culture. Instead of the dinner table, our conversations happened before dinner, sitting in the minivan on road trips.

 

On our long-haul trips we would drive anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day. We read books, sing, play games and listen to music, but at 4 o’clockI would always like to listen to the news–NPR’s “All Things Considered” (we also listen at home while we make dinner).

 

As we listened to certain stories, the kids would ask questions like: “Why are we going to war in Iraq?” “What is the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?” “What is climate change and how do we fix it?” and dozens of other

questions about the world and it people. Instead of telling them they would understand when they were older, we would always try to explain and answer their questions—causing deep discussions on complicated issues.

 

Jennifer’s first rule of parenting is “kids aren’t dumb”. She thinks kids have the ability to understand complex issues. During drives and dinner prep we had more time to talk—more space to really engage. Over the years we our many conversations about politics, history, art, literature, science, and world events led to greater discussions and in depth knowledge of places and people we encountered at national parks, museums, and in books.

 

As our kids grew older they began to form their own opinions about the world—in the formation of these opinions we thought it was important to challenge their ideas and cause them to try to see the other person’s point of view/ perspective. The last thing we want is for our children to just parrot our opinions. One of the most important things we want is for them to be able to understand both sides of complicated issues. Now our adult children listen to NPR for themselves. They have become nerds just like their parents—but not Kennedys . . . yet.