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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Watching the Debate with Your Kids


Last night’s debate was exciting for people who awaited it as anxiously as some anticipate the next episode of The Bachelor. As my husband and I watched the candidates spar, we shushed the children so we could hear every retort.

My twelve-year-old asked, “What is Michele Bachmann accusing Rick Perry of?” when she saw my husband and I ferociously tweeting, blogging, and analyzing every second of their exchange.

Afterward, I realized that it might be better parenting to actually speak to my kids about what’s going on instead of referring them to our crisply written blog posts and asking them to sign up for our Twitter feeds. After the debate ended, I let them analyze the debate exchange among Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum — without telling them what I thought about Perry’s controversial attempt to mandate the HPV vaccine for young girls. (I chose this segment because my daughter is twelve, right in the age range of the mandatory injection.)

What I discovered is that it is great fun to hear the kids’ responses to each candidate’s statements and to hear who they believed answered well. 

However, I made my husband explain to them what an HPV vaccine was first. After all, I wasn’t going to be the one to explain what Rick Santorum was referring to when he said, (paraphrasing) “Unless you guys in Texas have a really progressive way of learning, you can’t catch cervical cancer at school.”

Do you guys watch the debates with your kids? Do you tell them in advance who you support? Do they ever disagree with you or have interesting ideas that don’t reflect yours?

If you don’t typically watch the debates with your kids, think about making the next one a family affair!


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