Good Life

Fathering: Political debates teach kids what not to do

Robert Orndorff
Robert Orndorff

The recent political debates provide a golden opportunity to teach our kids about effective conflict resolution by using the polarizing behaviors of the presidential candidates and their biased supporters as examples of what not to do when trying to resolve issues and differences with others.


▪ Point the finger inward. When two people are in conflict, it’s rare that one person is all to blame, and the other shares no blame. Usually, it’s much closer to the middle. We should remind our kids to point the finger inward and determine how they may have contributed to the conflict.

▪ Be open and collaborative. The only chance to “meet halfway” is if both parties are open to entertaining opposing views. Encourage kids to also be collaborative, asking how they could work together to resolve conflicts.

▪ Be firm yet respectful. It’s important to teach our kids that they can stand firmly for what they believe in without raising their voice, making a sarcastic remark or using a scolding tone. It’s important for our kids to choose their words wisely when addressing their differences. So instead of, “Your thinking is way off!” consider saying, “I never thought about it that way — give me time to let that sink in.”

▪ Agree to disagree. There are times when people won’t see eye-to-eye, no matter how hard they’ve tried. Our kids should know that it’s OK sometimes to agree to disagree, and that they should move on without holding a grudge.

The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at, Robert Orndorff at, Mick Trombley at, Chris Dufour at, Mark Oleynik at, Doug Loviscky at, or Marc McCann at marc.mccann88