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October 22, 2012 at 09:03 PM EDT

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Somehow I’ve managed to be out of the house for most, if not all, of the first two debates this month thanks to one kid-related endeavor or another. Late each night afterward or early the next morning, I’d find myself boning up on the high (or low) points via various news accounts on TV or online, or later in the paper. And more and more often I’d find my 14-year-old and 11-year-old actively watching the coverage and engaging me in conversation about the soundbites, the rhetoric, actual points of policy, and the media spins. (I’ve gotta say that that kind of insight really makes me happy.  I often think part of my job as a parent is to make them savvy about how things in the media are being fed to them, from simple commercials to political spins.)

So tonight I think I’m going to allow at least the older one to stay up late and we can watch this final debate between President Obama and Gov. Romney together. Children will often reflect their parents’ political views because the home is where that sense of the world is first formed. But they will leave my home, absorb other points of view, and have to make a decision for themselves on where they stand. As I know that day is coming, it’s so important to me to arm them with as much fact (how the process is supposed to work) and nuance (how the process often works) to be able to be actively participating citizens.  Like most things, you have to be mindful of where your child is at and how much information is too much. And truly, our conversation are more of the in-passing kind than an old-school dinner table seminar (though we’ve had that sometimes too). But it seems that if I’ve let them stay up to go to a school or family function, this is just as worthy a cause to justify pushing back a school night bedtime… once I know he’s ready for that quiz tomorrow.

So will I be the only one gently encouraging (not forcing, mind you) her kid to watch tonight?  Have you watched the debates with your kids? Is there a downside to it?

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