With the Presidential election day fast approaching, I’ve found myself faced with some interesting questions from my young children. “Who are you going to vote for? Why?” “Who will use our country’s money the way he should to make more jobs?” And the real stinger that arises from our discussion of the two candidates, “What is abortion?”
This last question stops me in my tracks. How do you explain abortion to three innocent children who only recently saw twelve week sonogram images of their newest sibling? How do you explain that the same baby they saw kicking, twisting, breathing, and waving is not viewed by all as a precious gift from God? Our culture has become so hardened against the gift of life that instead of exclaiming, “Awww, he’s so cute!” as my six-year-old son did, some new parents only perceive their unborn child as an inconvenience, a burden, or a “mistake.”
I want a way to sugarcoat this issue or to simply avoid it altogether. But this simply cannot be done. I cannot downplay or excuse the horrors of abortion without driving a wedge between myself and the virtues that lead me towards God. And so I take a deep breath and carefully explain the term as simply as I can, realizing that if they are ready to ask the question, then they are ready to hear the answer. It is in hearing my answer out loud that my heart starts to break with the knowledge of the unraveling of their innocence–that we live in a world that requires such an explanation to be given to such young children in the course of discussing our wonderful right to vote.
I am also acutely aware of how important our family’s values are and the way they manifest themselves in our lifestyle. As we began forming our family mission statement one evening, I asked everyone to think of ways to describe our family. My eight-year-old son immediately responded, “We’re Catholic.” These two simple words summed up perfectly our emphasis on living out Catholic values in every aspect of our lives. Our prayer habits, the way we treat others, and the values we strive to instill in our children all point to the fact that we are, indeed, first and foremost, Catholic.
As attached parents, we demonstrate daily that bringing new life into the world to care for is worth the sacrifice, hard work, and self donation required. Our children see my husband and me sacrifice sleep, material possessions, and fancy vacations so we will have the means to answer God’s call when it is time to welcome their new sibling into the world. They see the amazing ability my body has to be completely turned over to the nourishment of new life within. And we all made sacrifices when I spent a week in the NICU with our fourth child.
I realize there are many issues to consider when voting, but I hope my children will grow to realize that the basic right to life from the moment of conception to natural death should be a given, and that any candidate who does not support this creates such a chasm between himself and God’s grace that he will find it incredibly difficult to make wise decisions in regards to anything else that affects the common good of our country.
On election day, our children will know that my husband and I voted, and they will know why we voted for a particular candidate. In their observance of this, we hope to pass on a tradition richer than being loyal to our country or a particular political party. We will pass on the tradition of voting Catholic.