Politics the world over is a very tricky issue. And when it comes to Kenyan politics is can be a very complex matter and a thorny one too.
Many of us don’t get Kenyan politics. The more we try to understand it, the more we get confused. Sometimes we even get migraines. It’s so gruelling just trying to keep up with Kenyan politics!
However, it is a fact that politics plays a key role in our lives. Whether we like it or not, politics dictates almost every aspect of our lives — our wages, our household budgets, our transport system, our housing, our education system, our health... just about everything. We are a democratic nation, and we are the ones who put our leaders in office, so it is unwise to ignore politics. We must take interest in it.
Admittedly, politics has a way of bringing out people's raw emotions: prejudice, intolerance, hatred, fanaticism, sycophancy, anger... the list is endless.
But there is a lesson therein for parents: Regardless of political affiliations, it is imperative that parents guard their reactions to the politics of the day.
When they hear, read, or see articles that are political, especially opinions they don’t agree with, they must be prudent in how they express their sentiments in the presence of their children.
If a parent uses inappropriate language to describe a politician whose opinions they don’t agree with, then their children will likely use the same language in their conversations too. This is because parents are their children’s foremost teachers, and they learn from them. The home is the child’s first classroom.
If in a situation where politicians are arguing idiotically, mud-slinging, name calling and shouting at each other, parents should use such an opportunity to teach their children about intelligent debate — that it is possible to disagree and argue respectfully. It is also a good time to teach them about divergent opinions and tolerance. And when a politician is obviously wrong, parents can use such an example to teach their children about the abundance of humility in the act of apologising; something that sadly eludes most of our politicians.
Politics by the way is not exclusively an adult’s forte. Children too have their own politics. Just ask the popular girl in school and how she amasses and sustains her popularity.
That is why parents should learn how to subtly introduce politics to their children. For example, if the children are in disagreement over what television channel to watch, they can cast votes about it. Then the votes tallied — transparently. This is a great lesson for them to learn that the importance of voting, that their vote counts.
By the way, I understand that school children may soon be electing their prefects; in fact some schools have already done this. That is politics right there.
As a parent, take the opportunity to ask your child his opinion about that. Also ask them about what they think of a particular leader.
It could be their class prefect or their school captain. Does he think they are good leaders? Why or why not? Does the child speak about his leaders with disdain? Does he think he can do a better job? Why so? Probe the child, and get to understand his rationale on leadership.
While children may not understand the intricacies of politics at the national level, it is important for parents to teach and show their children that politics is not about tribalism because sadly, Kenyan politics and tribalism go hand in hand. It is the responsibility of today’s parents to raise a generation that will do politics differently and undo the current wrongs.
It is their responsibility to preach and practice tolerance, acceptance, and be involved in the political process. One doesn’t have to be a politician to be involved in politics, but putting in the right leadership is our responsibility. It is never too late to teach our children this.
The writer is a motherhood blogger. Follow her on www.mummytales.com