It’s a question I’ve watched many parents and caregivers, regardless of whatever background or race, ask on social media in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election results.
For some, the answer is rather simple: “Our lives will hopefully change for the better because a good guy, a better guy, is in place to lead our country now.”
Rewind four or even eight years ago, and a different voting demographic said the same about President Obama, because that’s what was honestly believed.
But today, on November 9th, 2016, it’s those who are not of the mindset that Trump is a good guy–the best candidate to lead this country–whose mind’s and soul’s are deeply challenged by this looming question.
What do you say to your child(ren), when they’ve witnessed “a mean man” who says “mean things about girls, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, and the disabled” (many of whom may be friends and loved ones) essentially be rewarded?
What do you say to your child(ren) when it seems, at least from one perspective, that America let one of the biggest bullies of all be freed of accountability and yet in schools and online claim they have no tolerance for bullying?
What do you say to your child(ren) when the apparent “bad guy” wins and now the world has to call him “Mr. President”?
If you ask me, the answer is quite clear: you tell them to say, “Hello.”
Yes, “Hello” to the “bad guy.”
To say “hello” is to the face the unknown, the threatening, and the discomforting…head on. Which, despite political or spiritual beliefs, we know this world can be all of those things.
What good does it do our children, and our children’s children, to shield them from this truth? How does this, in any way, prepare them to be the future if they are not equipped to face the present? Although difficult due to the limitation of humanity that must constantly be stretched: it’s possible to face a painful truth and still be grounded in a sense of love and not fear.
So if you want to know what to say to your child(ren), first ask yourself what kind of reality have you set them up for when it comes to their being informed about the realities of the world and politics.
A child can be taught their family fundamentals (aka values), while also being taught the truth about how those values measure up on the world’s stage.
Think along the lines of “in the world but not of it.”
For example: “You have a right to participate in the voting process, but you’re not guaranteed to see your preferred candidate emerge victoriously. Furthermore, the way in which they go about getting the desired position, may not look like what you think it should, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t to still hold yourself to a standard that represents what your family (or personal beliefs) stands for—or what you ultimately decide to stand for once you become an adult.”
As a mother raising two young girls in the spirit of love and not fear, the message that hangs in our bathroom has become a constant reminder of what our family is committed to doing through thick and thin, clear and uncertain:
So what do you say to them when your goal is to produce children who are loving, tolerant, open minded, informed, grounded in their values, faithful, forgiving, strong, proud, fearless, and undefeated?
“The world has done and become what it always has been (to varying degrees) but we, my dear, will not.”
As we all know, there is no handbook on the best way to parent.
Nonetheless, I believe there are power in words and power in strategy.
Be mindful of what you speak into your child’s psyche at this sensitive time; if you need to take a moment to get yourself in a better state of mind, then do so.
Remember: you could easily, and possibly unknowingly, create the next positive or negative force that is unleashed within this world in the form of a child being shaped by the hands of time and circumstance.
This is an opportunity to show them how to build, thrive and rise…in spite of.
I wish you and your family good mental health and well being…because let’s be real: this election took it’s toll on everyone regardless of who they were voting for.
Now it’s time to step back and put somethings in perspective for you and the child(ren) in your life.
After getting your mind and spirit right, and figuring out what to say to them, a good way to keep them focused on the possibilities of the future is to ask:
Regardless of what has just taken place, where do you want to go in life from here?
Be sure to answer that question yourself as well.
– Sincerely Syreeta