Striving to set a better example

Michael Miller - Contributing columnist

Parenting through a pandemic hasn’t been easy. Some of us have engaged in some version of homeschooling or tutoring, changed our sports routines, and continually dealt with “Mom and Dad, I’m booooored.”

We all feel it. I think most of us aged about six years in a six-month timeframe. Just as we thought parenting couldn’t get any more difficult, we now have to parent through an emotionally charged and quite divided election.

Parenting through an election has challenges that are not as obvious, but may have even deeper consequences. So, let’s navigate through this together.

A few years ago, I got a note from a teacher showing something that my oldest child wrote on an assignment when answering, “How can we make the world a better place?” I won’t repeat his answer, but it was inappropriate, and my son got his answer directly from the mouth of a politician.

At that moment, I realized that we are in an age that parents have to be as careful with politicians as we do with music or movies. Even presidential debates are full of terrible examples for our kids – so we have to actively parent through these moments. But how?

First, we must rise above these poor examples ourselves. We cannot embody the immorality, or the words of our leaders unless those words and actions are right.

See, our kids are watching more than TV and YouTube — they are watching you. They hear your arguments. They hear how you speak of others. They hear your comments as you watch the news. They want to be like you, and will mimic your behavior.

So, the way you talk about the opposing political party, or the candidate that you do not like – your kids will mimic that at school and talk to other kids that way.

In Ephesians 6:4 we are instructed not to provoke our children to anger. By being angry and hateful, we provoke hate and anger. Let’s do better. Let’s instead be peaceful and loving. (Romans 12:16-19)

Next, we must teach our kids. Sheltering them might not work. They ride the bus.

They talk to other kids. They are sneaky detectives finding out all the stuff you don’t want them to discover.

Instead, we must talk with them – teach them. Again, looking at Ephesians 6, but this time in verse 1, we see that children are to obey their parents.

How are children to obey if we haven’t instructed them? When politicians say or do things wrong, we can talk to our kids about it. These can actually be good teaching moments.

However, if we neglect these teaching moments, then we let them drown in the ocean of information, biases, narratives, and lies.

They need our help. We are their lifeguards.

Finally, we can unplug a bit. Right now, it is easy to scroll through Facebook and get fired up about politics. We can spend a couple hours watching our favorite 24-hour cable news channel and eat it up.

However, our time would be better spent playing with our kids. We directly influence the future through interacting with our children, but worrying about the election only causes stress.

I’ve already gained 20 pounds from pandemic stress eating, so I’ll try not to gain another 20 from election stress eating. Maybe I can lose a couple by kicking a soccer ball around with my boys. What about you?

So, be a good example, teach your kids, and unplug a little. It is an easy sentence to write, but a difficult challenge to win.

For motivation, you might keep from getting a nasty note from your kid’s teacher, and you might lose a pound or two.

We can do this together. God is with you in this, so lean on Him.

A final thought from Ephesians 6 – now in verse 10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

See? With God, you got this!

Michael Miller is Children’s Director at Elevation Community Church in Blanchester.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.

Michael Miller

Contributing columnist