I took my two eldest children to the polling station on the way to school this morning.
One or more of my three kids, now aged 7, 5 and 3, have come along with me to pretty much every election since I became a mum. They know how important the right to vote is. They know not everyone in our country used to be able to vote. They know that once upon a time only wealthy people were allowed to vote. They know that women died to get the right to vote. They know that the vote is our chance to have a say on how the country is run. They know that not every country gives its people the right to vote. They know that sometimes we may vote for something we believe in, but more people may vote the other way and our party won’t win. They know this is called democracy. They also know that if their party doesn’t win, they should keep standing up for what they believe in.
They know about the main political parties and some of their key policies and priorities. They know that sometimes Mummy and Daddy have voted the same, and sometimes they have voted differently. They know that no one can tell someone else who to vote for. They know that one day they will have the right, the privilege and the duty to vote.
I’m sure your social media feeds are as full as mine of people sharing articles and opinions reflecting their political beliefs, as well as people really confused about who they should vote for, wondering what is true and what is not.
The only thing I’m going to say is the same as I told my children.
Some of us may struggle to get 100% behind a party – maybe we disagree with some of their policies, maybe we like the party but not the leader, maybe we don’t like things they’ve done in the past and struggle to align ourselves with them now.
But at the end of the day, the election is happening and we still have a duty to vote. We need to look at the overall picture of what kind of country we want to live in and we have to think about not just our own situation but that of other people too. I’ve told my children I am voting for the party which I believe will give them, and others who are not so fortunate as them, the best future, and the party whose priorities and beliefs most echo my own.
I genuinely have no idea how today will go; I’ve spent a lot of time crying over politics and world events this last year and I am fully prepared that tomorrow will be the same.
But, in the famous words of Whitney Houston, from a song I always channel at times like this,
“If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe.
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity.”
I know I did my bit for what I believe in and I hope my children will learn an important lesson in values and compassion from it too.
For again, in the words of Whitney,
“I believe the children are our future.
Teach them well and let them lead the way.”