Raising Driftless Kids

Welcome, November, the season of midterms, political ads on TV, and our children asking why grownups are bullying one another. Here are the leaders of our communities, states and nation saying negative things about one another rather than focusing on the positive changes that they will bring. The easy solution is, of course, to turn off the TV. However, next come the mailers and the obtrusive signs along the road. Our children observe all of this and they wonder what it’s all about.

Like any responsible parent we explain the process and the people as best we can, careful not to say anything bad about the candidates that we don’t support, explaining why we are choosing to support the others. We take our children to the polls and we explain to them that this is our responsibility, our right and our privilege as Americans. We carefully direct the dinner table conversation, (Dinner Table. Conversation. This is important. Have a sit-down dinner together and talk. As often as possible.) to include topics that aren’t necessarily upsetting, yet keep them informed about our world and those who lead it.

We don’t want to shelter our children too much, but we also don’t want to hide the truth from them. It can be difficult to find balance, and it can be difficult to know when to shut it all off for ourselves, too. These political seasons take their toll on us and if we’re not careful our children can be inadvertently affected.

So, regardless of how things come out this election season, as we enter the holiday season, I plan to focus on the positive and the good. I plan to teach my children about the spirit of giving, of supporting our communities, and about being good friends and neighbors.

We will donate toys, books, clothes, household goods to at least one family this season. Local churches and social services offices can help identify needs and provide lists.

We will play games together and do puzzles at least one evening per week going forward.

We will not let the cold weather keep us inside. We will get out and explore the world around us in the winter. After all, the parks that we love in the summer don’t migrate south in the winter.

We will shop locally/non-chain as much as we can this holiday season. Our small towns are full of unique, inviting businesses and artisans offering wonderful selections for everyone on your list.

We will snuggle and watch holiday movies and read holiday books. If we don’t have them and we can’t easily stream them we will visit our local library. We will make yummy treats and we will share them with others. We will laugh. We will create new traditions.

We will hold our children closely, because the world can be a little overwhelming and stressful for us all. When we share our love and spend quality time with our children we are making memories with them they will carry forever.

Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is the co-owner of Driftless Kids in Mineral Point and shares her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on education and kids.