I had another topic prepared for this week's blog, but I just can't let the election go without commenting on it.
I am a mom with two children, ages 12 and 14. This election year was the first time my children have gotten really interested in politics and it was a lot of fun to watch the RNC, DNC and debates together leading up to election night. We had some amazing and in-depth conversations about various topics, policies, county demographics and the democratic system in general. It has been very interesting to see things through their eyes, listen to the questions that they are asking, and start to understand what they think as individuals.
With Donald Trump winning the election and becoming President Elect, we have had some other, tougher conversations, and here's why: Because regardless of our political views, the way Trump speaks about others is not part of our family values.
My husband and I work hard to teach our children certain values and behaviors:
- Speak your mind, but be respectful.
- See what is on the inside of a person, not on the outside.
- Know that no one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else.
- Stand up for those who are being bullied.
- Respect people's boundaries and listen when they are telling you they don't like something you are doing.
- See that actions can speak louder than promises.
- Help those in need around you.
- Be kind to others.
Again, I don't want to debate politics. What I am saying is that though Mr. Trump may have the most amazing policies in the world, that does not excuse the fact that he has said and done some horrible things. And he will soon be our President - he will represent the United States to the world.
So what do we do? How do we reconcile the fact that we will have a man leading our country who does things that don't align with the basic human decency we are trying to teach our children?
Here are a few things I have talked to my children about since the election results:
- Respect the position of the President of the United States even if you don't respect the person in it. That goes for teachers, coaches and others in positions of authority.
- Respect the democratic process. You may or may not like the result, but respect the process. It's what sets our country apart from many others in the world.
- Educate yourself - knowledge is power. I want my kids to take responsibility for their opinions and actions. So be passionate about what you believe in, but make sure those beliefs are based on facts. Do some research on both sides of an argument so that you can have an intelligent conversation about it. Go educate yourself!
- Continue to be the person we are teaching you to be. Make others feel welcome. Help a classmate. Be a friend. Speak up for others. Spread kindness, not hate or fear. Volunteer. Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.
- It will be OK. We will make it through and we will learn something through this process. We will learn that some of the friends that we thought held the same values may not. We will learn what people feel strongly about and what they are willing to stand up against.
So whether you are sad, joyful, confused or a mixture of all of these emotions following the election, make sure your children know that you love them and value them. Make sure they understand that their vote when they are an adult DOES matter and can have an impact on the future of this country. For the next presidential election, my daughter will be 18 and voting for the first time. I hope she votes with her heart as well as her head.