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Talking to Your Kids This Election

The article, Talking to Your Kids This Election, was written by John Sarrouf and published August 1, 2016 on Public Conversations Project‘s site. In the article, Sarrouf shares a conversation he and his daughter had about her anxieties this election, and showed her the power she had to share her voice and listen to experiences outside her own. While the conversation was held with his 8-year-old, the lessons drawn from it can be shared with young and old alike. Especially within the dialogue and deliberation field, it is our ability to empower people to actively participate by using their voices and hold space to hear each other.

Below is the full article and it can also be found on the Public Conversations Project blog here.

From Public Conversations Project…

The idea that she and I could get on a bus and stand in the street – and that it would make a difference – tapped into something deep inside of her. It gave her some agency in a world that I can only imagine seems totally out of her control. After all, she cannot vote, she cannot write letters to the editor, she cannot donate money to campaigns or to meetings, she cannot even decide what time she goes to bed. She has very little control over her own world. That she might be able, with her own two feet and her small but mighty voice, to walk to the center of the world’s power and say “no” or ask for a “right” captured her imagination. And that is exactly where I want her imagination – thinking about her own power in the world, how to ask for what she cares about, how to use her voice alongside others.

This is the story we as champions of dialogue and courageous conversation can tell our children and our fellow community members. There is a place for you to be heard. Rather than talking about moving to Canada, let’s talk about how the country needs your participation. The country needs your involvement. You can make a difference if you use your voice. Our work is to help it be heard in the halls of power, in PTA meetings, in living rooms, in the challenging but utterly necessary conversations we have with each other about who we want to be together.

Especially in this moment of division in our country, we do not need to wait for our government to solve the problems between us – we can and must do that ourselves. And we must not allow the divisive rhetoric of our leaders keep us from reaching out to each other. We must make spaces for each other to hear and be heard – by one another and by our elected officials.

Our work as facilitators is to support those conversations, to make a space for those voices. We can turn our libraries, church basements, coffee shops, museums, living rooms into spaces of reconciliation and renewal. Tell your children that they have a voice and we will make space for their voice to be heard. Tell your children that they are the answer to our world’s problems and to do that, they must be willing to speak up and also to listen. The world can be a scary place to a child and the answer to some of those fear lies in their ability to make a difference. It is up to us to build a circle for them where they can find their own power, and encounter one another in new and healing ways.

About Public Conversations ProjectPCP_logo
Public Conversations Project fosters constructive conversation where there is conflict driven by differences in identity, beliefs, and values. We work locally, nationally, and globally to provide dialogue facilitation, training, consultation, and coaching. We help groups reduce stereotyping and polarization while deepening trust and collaboration and strengthening communities.

Follow on Twitter: @pconversations

Resource Link: www.publicconversations.org/blog/talking-your-kids-election

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