Tomorrow morning President Obama will speak to our nation's children. This single act has sparked controversy in many areas. Some school districts are refusing to show his speech. Others, like the one in which my children attend, sent home letters giving parents the option of having their children opt out of watching the speech. I have had neighbors ask me if I'm going to allow my children to watch his speech. I am. Don't get me wrong, I disagree with Obama on several issues. I am not one of his supporters.
I read the letter that education secretary Arne Duncan sent to principals of schools. I've read what some people have said about the speech. I've even read an advance copy of Obama's speech. But there are two main reasons I have chosen to allow my children to listen.
He's the President of the United States. He was elected by the majority of citizens of this country. We should respect the office that he holds. We don't have to agree with him or his policies. By allowing my children to listen to his speech, I can teach my children in at least a small way to respect that office. This was the reason I first decided to allow my children to listen. Some of their comments to me when we were talking about how Obama would be speaking to them made me realize that this is something they could learn.
One of the things that makes this country great is the freedom we have to hold our own opinions. More and more it seems as if people are forgetting that. They are forgetting that just because another person has a different view on something it doesn't make him a bad person. How can we teach our children that it is okay for someone to have a different view if we don't allow them to hear those other views? To me that is much like someone saying to their children that their neighbors aren't bad people just because they don't belong to the same church then turning around and not letting their children play with those same neighbors because they don't belong to the same church.
By allowing my children to listen to Obama's speech, I am provided an excellent opportunity to teach my children these things. I can discuss with them the things that stood out to them and ask them how they felt about it, which could help them know better that I do care about their opinions. Even if their opinions may be different than mine. I can watch Obama speak as well and tell my children the things I liked or didn't like and why.
Just as a side note, the only thing I read in that advance copy of his speech that stuck out to me as not needing to be in there were just a few sentences where he asks the children to wash their hands often and stay home when they are sick. Just didn't really seem to fit in with the rest of the speech and a bit unnecessary. I will be interested to see how closely he follows the advance copy.