Talking to the Kids About President Trump
How to find the teachable moments in the things that are hard to explain
The results are in. Donald J. Trump is the president elect of the United States, overcoming Hillary Clinton. I could talk about how quickly the decision came in last night, and the surprise that I think many Americans and political pundits feel today at the outcome, but I'd rather not.
The die has been cast, and based on the results, which are clear but very close, America is divided. So how do we talk to our children about a Trump presidency? I'm trying to take the high road and find those teachable moments for the things I can't explain.
My 7-year-old son has heard more vexing ads and talk than I ever wanted him to. It was hard to avoid. He has asked me questions about Trump throughout the past month, and about things he's heard he said that are hard for any parent to explain to a child. As a parent, I teach my child to use kind words. There were a lot of unkind words blurted out throughout this campaign. I consistently stay on point with telling my child to use kind words with everyone, even people who he may disagree with.
He's heard about building a wall. My son's first question this morning when I told him Trump was the winner: "Will he build a wall?" Of course, he doesn't really know all that wall symbolizes, but his question is a good one, and one I can't give a definitive answer. Realities of campaign promises are to be determined, but when he asks questions, I try to make it a teachable moment again. I will teach both of my children to think for themselves, read up on issues and make knowledgeable decisions ... and be accountable for the stances they take throughout their lives.
This election is unprecedented with the first female candidate on the ballot and a wealthy businessman who hosted a reality TV show — each with their own set of flaws — but we live in a democracy. A democracy is what enables an election like this. I've talked to my son about democracy, the branches of government and voter choice throughout this election. Choices are something he and his little brother will have to make over and over again in their lifetimes. I want them to be smart about how they choose.
I will also teach them to be honest, hard workers. Words only go so far. Be committed. Don't sneak and don't cheat.
I'll teach both my sons to respect themselves and treat women with respect. This one has ranked in my book of must-dos long before this election. I won't give my opinion on Mr. Trump's comments on women, or anyone else who thinks these type of comments are OK, but I can and will teach my boys to respect girls. One day they will be teenagers and young adults with raging hormones who need to value women and not treat them like objects even when ads, tv, movies and locker room talk might have have them believe it's OK to think different.
Along with that, I'll teach them to respect differences. Respect all people regardless or race or religion, and never to "judge a book by its cover." Ask questions and learn about other opinions. And I'll teach them to be brave, fierce and never give up. Of course all this is just as applicable for girls as it is boys.
I want my children to understand resilience, too, and optimism. I also want them to know they are safe. The world is big, but our communities are small and we work together to take care of each other. Be nice, love each other, never bully over skin color, gender, religion, hair style or fashion choice.
It was an ugly campaign, but the campaign for raising a better generation never ends.