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The most important place to share and reflect on this message is in our families. While it's always a challenge to use a statement like Faithful Citizenship—so obviously written to an adult audience—within a family context, it's worth the challenge! Civic responsibility starts with the adults in the family.
Do show your children that you are concerned about the issues and questions raised in the statement. Express your opinions or beliefs about these issues and share questions you have about issues or candidates. Look for opportunities to state where you stand on a certain issue or why you favor a certain candidate. Don't push your children to adopt your stance or to support your candidate. Don't preach or try to convert them. Help everyone in your family to know that honest and ongoing engagement in local, regional, and national issues is part of our call to active participation all year- not just in November once every four years. Read more about conscience formation in the Catholic tradition and invite your family members to learn, pray, and discuss issues regularly as part of their own formation. A helpful handout is available in English and Spanish.
Do ask for their opinions, questions, or concerns. Be genuine with your interest, and really listen to whatever they have to say. Don't worry if they don't agree with your position or even with all the positions expressed in Faithful Citizenship. (Most of the issues addressed in the statement are very complex, even for adults.) The most important thing is that your children are aware, concerned, and thinking about the issues in moral terms.
Do show that you truly respect different points of view on the issues or candidates—that good people can disagree on specific matters without rancor.
Do get involved yourself. If you believe strongly in an issue or candidate—and hopefully you do—take an active role. It's a cliché, but actions do speak much louder than words, especially to our children. Do look for activities that your children or your whole family could get involved in with you (e.g., pro-life marches, environmental cleanup projects, the design of posters for a campaign, canvassing or leafleting for a candidate, attendance at rallies, letter writing to elected officials). Don't coerce or shame them into involvement, but invite and encourage it, leaving them free to participate or not. Of course, promising a favorite treat to children at the end of an activity is an excellent means of encouragement! Social action and ice cream just seem to go together.
Do vote and let your children know that you see voting as a priority. Bring your children with you to the polls. Watch the election returns together and discuss their implications.
Using Faithful Citizenship with your family involves thinking creatively, planning interesting family activities, and taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Here are some suggestions:
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