As I watch the Democratic National Convention this evening, I can’t help but think about the importance of encouraging our 18 year old sons and daughters to register to vote, and to make sure that they vote in the upcoming elections.

We must make sure our children know the history of our struggles to obtain the right to vote, the continuing efforts to restrict these rights, and most importantly, the critical importance of exercising this right in November. It is tempting for many young people to turn away from the bickering, finger-pointing, name calling and stunt casting that often overshadows the discussion of any substantive issues during this campaign. Hard to blame them, when Clint Eastwood’s incoherent chat with an empty chair at the Republican National convention dominates the news cycle. But we must encourage them to sift through the silliness and focus on understanding the issues at stake, determine where each candidate stands on these issues, and develop their own political perspective. We must remind them that they have an important role in determining who will run the country for the next four years, a role too important to ignore or decline.

Even if your sons and daughters aren’t anywhere close to the voting age, take this opportunity to talk with them, in a way that makes sense for their ages, about this election and the importance of voting. Take them into the booths with you in November, and let them watch you pull the levers or push the buttons. It’s a thrilling introduction to a critical process.