If there's one thing each member of my family has in common, it's that we all are supremely confident in our abilities to prove a point. This lends a sprightliness to our general conversations, and also occasionally lands one of the younger debaters in a time-out, should their points be delivered with a little too much verve, i.e., disrespect to the senior members in the conversation. Learning how to think critically, to be able to take what you know and sort and synthesize to be able to come up with a convincing set of beliefs is vital to intellectual and personal growth, so I am tolerant (TO A POINT) of  semi-regular missteps from my children in this area. Better to use me as an early verbal sparring partner than, say, a dispassionate judge later on.

Genuine, deep confidence comes from knowing what you know and say is true, and that you have solid, multiply-sourced, and reliable paths to use as confirming proof if needed. It's easy to speak from the heart eloquently if you know you've got nothing to hide. But when it comes to Presidential political debates, the stakes are so incredibly high that the element of showmanship must enter into the arena, and that showmanship includes faking confidence when you know that you aren't telling the truth, or all of the truth, or that the complete truth is simply too complex and too difficult for most people to deal with. It's why we get battered with dull "talking points," why the person who speaks with more conviction and who speaks longer will often win the day, and why having good hair and being taller than your opponent is often and sadly more important than the issues in the subconscious mind of the nation. Knowing this, and a little body language psychology too, helps to sort out tired rhetoric from useful information, and those candidates who are more truthful, and those who are less so.

I was very pleased that two of my three kids (Miss Ten and the soon-to-be-21 Couch Young Adult) of their own accord sat down with me to watch tonight's Presidential debate, the second between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. (To be fair, Mr14 was off at his martial arts class.) I did the same when I was a kid; political engagement was important in our house, considered a civic and moral duty, even, and I am proud that the tradition seems to have continued on here. They learn so much more than just the differing Republican and Democrat ideologies; they learn about comportment or lack of it, of grace or rudeness, of rambling circular logic or laser-beam precision in thought. They learn something about fairness and balance, of the value of being well-prepared, the hidden power in subtle choices in words. Most importantly, I think they see and hear for themselves how genuine confidence and fake confidence plays out and the impression that it leaves, and hopefully they take those observations and think about the kinds of people they wish to be in life, even if they never run for political office of any kind.

President Obama had quite a good zinger with his "sketchy deal" comment tonight, but here, the "sketchy deal" was Miss Ten's drawing as she watched the TV. She handed it to me, smiling, confident.