Many of us, not only in the United States, but across the globe, are still shell-shocked with the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. For many, the results are hard to process, evoking feelings of confusion, shock, frustration, disappointment, anger, and fear. Many individuals have struggled to find the right words to console themselves, and are realizing that it is even harder to talk to their children about the future of our nation under a Trump presidency.
As we go forth together, maneuvering through the election aftermath and beyond, here are some conversation tips that will hopefully help reassure both you and your child.
- Acknowledge everyone’s fears: With the uncertainty of the Trump presidency’s direction and the negative and scary things that were said throughout this election season, there are many fears and unanswered questions about what is to come. Share your feelings, thoughts, and fears with your child; encouraging them to do the same. If you don’t know the answer to a question or concern, be honest and tell them so. At this time, it is very important to be transparent with information and make sure that you remain calm.
- Use this as a teaching moment: Teach your children how the process works. Teach them the difference between the Electoral College vs. the Popular Vote. Educate them on how a democracy works so that they will be comfortable with the process and grow into informed adults. With elections constantly on the horizon, even though some may not be of legal voting age, get them involved in the political process. Everyone can volunteer. There is nothing better than first-hand experience.
- Protect their sense of normalcy: It is important to continue normal routines. Children thrive on normalcy and routine. Make sure that you let your child know that even though we will have a new president after January 20, 2017, you are still going to go to the movies, they are still going to go to school, they will still have to do homework, etc. etc. Make sure that they know, nothing is going to dramatically change in your household.
- Let them know that they are protected and safe: The most important thing for a child is to feel protected and safe. Let them know that as their parent, that is your top priority. Unfortunately, during the electoral process, we saw a traumatically hateful resurgence of extreme racism, bigotry, sexism, bullying, and classism. Make sure that your children know that you are there to ensure their safety, no matter what.
Earlier today, Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton said in her concession speech that, “We owe Donald Trump an open mind and chance to lead.” Shortly thereafter, President Obama echoed Clinton’s sentiment stating, that we are “all on the same team. We are all Americans.”
So, let’s put our focus on our children, remembering that we are indeed all on this ship together. Our children can change the world. Let’s come together as a community, and educate, support, and look to a better future filled with hope and inclusion. Be an example and encourage your children to be the change that they want to see.