Explaining Trump to our Children

In Your Everyday Vote by Sheila Ellison

Van Jones said it best
It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids don’t be a bully. You tell your kids don’t be bigot. You tell your kids do your homework, and be prepared. And then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast.
They’re afraid of, “how do I explain this to my children?”

I’m lucky, my kids are grown up, but still I had the conversation with my adult children when they called in shock. “How does this happen mom? It wasn’t like a newspaper made it up, the words came directly out of Trumps mouth.”
“What he said would get a teacher or coach fired, how can he be president?”

Schools around our country hired counselors to speak to teens confused as to how a man they watched on T.V bully a multitude of people is now president.

Trumps damage control squad tries to say that it’s just part of the campaign, he’s really not like that, he doesn’t mean it—he’s truly nice to all people, women included. And so does that mean that it’s okay to say whatever you want to get the preferred media response, is it now fine for all of us to pick any person we want and throw insults at them and then turn around and say it was just words. Sorry, I thought that was on snapchat and it would disappear.

Has social media fed the monster? Are we so inundated with insults, faceless, nameless people allowed to post insults and rants without identifying who they are? First amendment rights, I know. But really, can we take one moment and examine what we’re doing. Because we as a society have allowed the cat out of the bag and now the cat has multiplied by the millions, anonymity for all. Is that really what our founding fathers had in mind?

What has been revealed for all of us to digest is the underbelly of a society that no longer is offended by verbal or physical attack, a society who may even find it entertaining.

And yet we have children to teach.

What can we do as parents to cast our vote each day for the values we hope our children will learn?

A few ideas come to mind. We find ways in our everyday life to make choices that are in line with the society we want to live in.

We can use Trump’s rants as a teaching tool. It’s probably impossible to keep children from seeing Trump speak, his comments about women, immigrants and the disabled are streaming sensations. Consider watching them together. Pause after a sentence and explain to your child how the words make you feel. Talk to them about uncles or aunts who might be gay, about veterans who serve, about the disabled child in the classroom and make it very clear how the words make you feel. Listen to what your child has to say. The important vote to cast here is to put fear aside and face the monster head on.

You have incredible influence as a parent. The turmoil before us offers so many teachable moments. It allows you to ask your child what would you do? What do you think about this? How could you offer love instead of hate here?

Encourage your child to become a detective, to pay attention to how people are treated at school, teach them how to identify verbal attack, racial injustice or inequality. Give them words and tools to express themselves in positive affirming ways.