Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Talking Politics With Teens

If you have teens in your life, you know how challenging it can be to discuss politics without someone melting down (usually you) or tuning out (usually them). Here are five habits to practice, all deduced from the school of hard knocks, while trying to engage young adults in the campaign.

Be teachable. A conversation isn’t about one person sharing knowledge and information with another. That’s better known as a lecture (or so I've been told). Listen to teens, allowing them and others to inform your opinions.

Be honorable. It’s okay to take issue with a candidate’s positions, but disparaging his or her character is a definite turnoff to teens and twenty-somethings. To everyone, in fact.

Be flexible. Your candidate isn’t Jesus. Teens appreciate hearing how we disagree with the person we support. Give them the grace to do the same, and don't take differing opinions personally. Endorsing your candidate's opponent doesn't mean a young person is repudiating your authority. Although it might.

Be controversial. Surprise and provoke them once in a while by saying something radical, starting with “I totally disagree with _____” or “I 100% agree that ____.”

Be passionate. Caring deeply about an election is contagious. Young people who watch us thinking deeply and talking freely about our opinions will be more likely to do the same. And they’ll be more likely to vote now and in the future if they remember us faithfully trekking to the ballot box during primaries and elections.
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Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) is the author of two novels about a candidate’s daughter, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover and First Daughter: White House Rules (Dutton). Her main character, Sameera Righton, described by Publishers Weekly as “an intelligent, witty and prepossessed heroine," is keeping track of the hype around the REAL First Kid wannabes at www.sparrowblog.com. To learn more about the novels, visit firstdaughterbooks.com.

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4 comments:

Barbara O'Connor said...

A spanky box!!?? ooooo, Mitali - you're so kinky! :-)

You are also a Marketing Queen!

Mitali Perkins said...

Barbara! What does 'spanky' mean?!?! I meant spiffy. Oh dear. I changed it.

Barbara O'Connor said...

I don't know...but, hey, we can use our imaginations, right?

Alas, I won't make it to the party - but I wish you MUCH luck and good wishes!!! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

go barack obama