What Do We Tell Our Children About the Election?
Well, the sun did rise this morning, and we now face the reality of an America that has elected Donald Trump to be our next President. Among those of us who did not want or expect this result there is deep shock, sadness, anger, hurt and even disgust at the outcome.
We grown folk can take our time dealing with the stages of our grief. But how do we help our children cope? Our older children have been following the election closely, and may be even more concerned and depressed than we are. The younger ones, who are watching us closely, may be gripped with fear, from the results and/or at our reaction. We can’t wait until we process it all to speak to them about it. What do we say to our children today about the election results?
As you can imagine, the internet is already abuzz with this question. We’ll add to the conversation with the list of suggestions below, which adds GCP perspective to guidelines from The Today Show (found here) and the LA Times (found here).
- Get yourself together—model strength. Your children need to feel safe, and watching you fall apart over this news will not help them do so. Don’t say everything will be fine if you don’t feel that way, but don’t refuse to talk about it or spend time telling them about your concerns. We are a resilient people in a resilient nation. Let’s act like it for them.
- Talk with them, age appropriately, about how government works. Tell/remind them that the checks and balances in our democracy means that no president can make major changes alone. Speaking of democracy, tell them that part of living in one means that sometimes choices are made that we won’t agree with. But we have all agreed to honor the results.
- Reinforce your family’s values. Talk about how what you believe in won’t change with a new president who may not share those beliefs. Emphasize that you as a family will continue to respect others, and stand strong against any intolerant, bigoted or racist behavior.
- If they were especially excited about the election of our first female president, tell them that the fight is not over. Just because it didn’t happen yesterday doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Tell them what Secretary Clinton said this morning: ” To all the little girls…never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams…We still have not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But someday, someone will.”
- Stop the moving to Canada talk—unless you are actually moving to Canada. If you are not, tell your children you are staying because you are not giving up on your country.
- If they are worried that they or their friends will be deported, be honest but optimistic. Tell them that while no one knows exactly what will happen, there are many people, including many lawmakers, who do not believe that sending immigrants away is the right thing to do. And remind them of how the government works.
- Let them know you are proud of them. Tell them you are proud that they are thinking about and grappling with these issues, and focused on important world events. Tell them whatever answers you don’t have right now, you will work on finding together.
This is a tough one. But for your children’s sake, rise above your gloom and be strong for them. Or at least hold it together when you are around them and follow these suggestions!!