November 9, 2016
All over social media and in private conversations amongst friends, there is this looming question after the election last night: how do we talk about it with our children? No matter what our views may be, or who we voted for, how do we talk about this election, what it meant, it what it did for the morale and psyche of many Americans?
I don't have all of the answers, but I do know that our children are watching us. They are watching us and how we handle our disappointment. They are watching us and how we handle our triumph. They are watching us and how we talk about and treat others, even people we really dislike.
My son, today, caught a few minutes of the morning news, and 10 minutes later he had used pillows to construct, "A wall to keep the people out of Mokahoma so they don't push all the buttons." He was impacted, even if he doesn't know what it means, what the politics, ethics, safety concerns, public and international relations, etc. surrounding it are. He doesn't even how to pronounce Mexico. He's just trying to filter what he is seeing, hearing, and feeling, and he's looking at me to help him do it.
I need to check my response. Is it going to be filled with hate or bitterness? Is my response going to be gloating, or snobby, or elitist, or condescending? Is my response going to be to fall into a pit of despair loss of hope? Is it going to be based on fear and terror?
Are those ever the things I want to instill in my children?
Or is my response going to be filled with grace. With acknowledgement of disappointment, of pain, and of being hurt. Am I able to clearly communicate my feelings and emotions and point of view without allowing them to become me. To consume me to the point that I can no longer see others clearly. Is my response going to be filled with hope: in myself, in my children, in our future. Will my response promote human dignity and peace, in myself, in my children, in my home, in my neighborhood, in my country, in my world.
Appropriately navigating really hard things... is tough. And then you have children and the stakes get higher. I do believe, though, that we can rise to the challenge. For the sake of our country, our future, and our children. Here are some ways to deal with it:
How about you? How are you finding ways to be open and honest about the difficult things that face our country, without causing them excessive fear or anxiety about it? How are you helping your children navigate a difference of opinion, perspective, and thought from another person? We would love to hear your wisdom.