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How to Talk to Your Children About Amy Coney Barrett

Even in preschool, young minds understand achievement and justice.

This afternoon, I told my three- and four-year-old daughters about Amy Coney Barrett.

It's no secret to my friends and family that I am thrilled Judge Barrett is the nominee. On one level, I am thrilled because we share so much in common. Like Judge Barrett, I am also a Notre Dame graduate, a practicing attorney, a committed Catholic, and a mother of a large family. But on a deeper level, I am thrilled because Judge Barrett is living proof that women can commit to excellence in their careers -- and also be devoted mothers.

Nevertheless, I was initially hesitant to share my excitement with my kids. With very young children, it can be hard to know where to begin. How do you explain the Supreme Court to small children? It can seem fruitless at best, pointless at worst. Would I be trying too hard?

That said, two parenting rules of thumb I have been trying to follow recently are (1) to show, not tell, and (2) to accept that when children are very young, simply exposing them to truth and beauty is sufficient.

So I sat down in the front yard with them while they munched on their afternoon snacks. "I want to tell you about something exciting," I told them. "Remember how I've told you about judges before, and how they're the bosses?"

"Yes. You're the boss, right mommy?" responded my three-year-old.

"Well, I'm the boss of you, but not much else," I laughed. I then explained, in extraordinarily simple terms, that the United States has nine judges who are the bosses of all the other judges, and it's time to pick the next one.

"Who is it?" they asked.

Show, don't tell, I thought.

"Her name is Amy. Judge Amy. Do you want to see a picture?" I pulled out my phone and showed them some headshots of Judge Barrett, a picture of her standing with her husband and children, and the video footage of her family leaving their house and walking to their cars. To my pleasure and surprise, they were very interested. (Admittedly, their interest might have had to do with the fact that I was letting them look at a screen!). As I showed them the pictures, I asked them questions about what they saw in the pictures and how they felt about them.

Some of my girls' observations included:

  • Judge Amy looks very happy.

  • Judge Amy has seven children (I asked them to count), and they have different color skin.

  • They have to drive two different cars to fit all their kids!

  • When Judge Amy goes to work, her children probably go to school, or they have nannies and babysitters.

  • Judge Amy looks like she is a good mommy.

  • Her children might be sad to move across the country, but they are proud of their mommy.

  • Judge Amy's children are happy that they have their daddy when their mommy is busy.

Then, I asked them if they'd like to draw a picture for Judge Amy, and they ran to get the markers.

I am so glad I overcame my hesitation to share my excitement with them and stopped holding back simply because they are so young. Sometimes, I think we don't give our kids enough credit -- while they may not understand the ins and outs of government, they have a tendency to hone in on the truth and beauty of the matter. What a blessing that, before they are even old enough to understand civics, they know by example that the mother of a large family can reach the highest level of professional success; that such a woman can look excited; that it’s not just okay but moreover it’s good for such a mother to get help; that her children don’t all need to look like her; and that her children are happy to be with their father too!

It made me smile and wonder: what should I share with them next?

Check out Primerrily’s other pieces on ACB below:


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