This year I went to an Iowa Caucus and left with a different view of parenting.

Late last year I took a contract with an organization that would have me working in Iowa through the Caucuses. The job would have me in Iowa on Caucus Day. As a Colorado resident I couldn’t vote in the caucuses, but as an Iowa native and someone who had spent years working on political campaigns, I knew how to caucus. So I volunteered at the Polk County Party to help any way I could. They asked me to assist at a precinct caucus in the west suburbs. I showed up and was immediately put to work running the help desk/voter registration table for a large fast growing precinct in Urbandale.

At the desk I had the pleasure of meeting a father and his high school age son. His son was 17 years old and a high school junior who would be voting for the first time (Iowa law states that 17 year olds may vote in a caucus if they will be 18 years of age before election day in November). I handed the son a voter registration form and said it was always nice meeting a student who took an interest in politics. As the son was filling out his voter registration form he told me he didn’t really care for politics. But he studied up on the candidates and know who he was going to vote for. He was at the caucus because that is what you were suppose to do as an adult. His father told me that he had taken his son to a caucus 4 years ago so he could observe how they were run. And now that he was old enough, it was time for him to be a good citizen and cast an informed vote.

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation the last couple of weeks. My son is in elementary school so we talk a lot at home about being a good student, a good teammate, neighbor, etc. But I never talk about the responsibilities of being a citizen. So this year I’m going to make him sit at the table as his mother and I fill out our absentee ballots. And I am going to take him with me as I drop them off at the post office.

Never too early to start teaching the lessons that matter.

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