With the presidential election in full swing, I can’t help but think of the millions of girls, many of your daughters included, who are watching the debates as homework. What are girls’ takeaways about what it means to be informed citizens? How is this election really influencing their understanding of womanhood?
All of our experts agree that when it comes to addressing awkward subjects, you have to “find a way in.” In a time when the race for the American presidency is dominated by sexual politics, we’ve never had more to talk about.
As always when talking to your teenage daughter, she might give you short answers and eye rolls, but the important thing is that she knows you are available to talk and that you value her opinion. You can send these signals by asking simple questions. When it comes to tackling the sexual topics of this election cycle, don’t be afraid to ask some awkward questions and make your own values known. Fathers play an important role in empowering young women. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
5 Questions to Ask About the Presidential Election:
1. What have your teachers been saying about the election?
2. There’s a lot of talk in this election about women’s rights and Donald Trump and Bill Clinton’s treatment of women. Have you and your friends talked about that at all?
3. Do you think sex should be talked about in the elections?
4. What are the most surprising things to you about this election?
5. When it comes to elections, I’ve been following [choose an issue] closely. If you could pick one issue to vote on, what would it be?
A Tip for Fathers Wanting to Address Sexual Politics in this Presidential Election:
When addressing sex and sexuality with teens, Harvard’s Dr. Richard Weissbourd suggests dividing conversations by topic – safety, mechanics, pleasure, reciprocity, and caring. As a father, you may not want to talk to your daughter about the mechanics or pleasure aspects of sex (though you can), but you should certainly address safety, reciprocity, and caring. Sexual assault, misogyny, extramarital affairs, and “locker room talk” are coming up on the debate stages and on social media feeds. Give your daughter the facts, don’t leave it up to Snapchat.
FiveThirtyEight.com’s 2016 Election Forecast
Nate Silver, renowned statistician, presents straightforward election statistics and easy-to-understand visuals illustrating the voting habits and influence of each state.
Rock The Vote
In their own words, “Rock the Vote is the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in the United States driving the youth vote to the polls.”
Further Reading and Conversation Topics:
Teaching Seventh Graders in a “Total Mess” of an Election Season
The New York Times
In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a swing state, students are “most likely exposed to more political messages than most of their peers in other states.” One 7th grade teacher and his students illuminate some of the classroom tensions springing up this election cycle.
How to Teach Our Kids Not to Hate, Despite All the Hate They’re Exposed to This Election
Young people are being exposed to hatred without being offered “peaceful solutions.” One expert weighs in on what parents can do.
Hillary Clinton to Girl’s Question on Body Image: ‘Let’s Be Proud of Who We Are’
The New York Times
Body image is a hot topic in girl world, and hearing the perspective of a female leader can influence yourdaughter‘s own self-confidence.
5 Ways to Discuss Self-Esteem With Your Daughter During the Debate
This guide from the Dove Self-Esteem Project helps you turn negative soundbites into confidence-building moments.