09 November 2016

If You're a Parent Asking, "What Do I Tell My Child About The Election?" These Answers Are a Good Place to Start

This election has been one unlike any other. Most election years, you can count on your sphere being filled with the back and forth rhetoric and the jabs and low blows from both the opponents and the public, but this year? This year was different.

There’s simply no possible way to sugarcoat it. This election was a brutal affront to women, Muslims, Jews, people of color, and basically anyone who values tolerance, kindness and inclusion. As a nation, we opened our arms and accepted a man who ran on a platform of bigotry and divisiveness, a man who made fun of the disabled and slurred and demeaned war heroes. A man who openly and proudly admits to treating women like dogs and as a result, now has the allegations of sexual assault and a recording to prove it.

Indeed, this election has been difficult for everyone, especially parents or as a person responsible for raising a child. As a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, or a caregiver, we spend the majority of our parenting time teaching our kids about the importance of inclusion, kindness, acceptance and compassion each and every day. Regardless of who you support, how do we explain to our children the success of a man who has made their career about, and found success in, being a bully while literally bashing every single person who doesn’t look or think like him? How do you explain to your child that instead of right and justice winning out, bigotry wins? Hate wins. Bullies win. Sexism wins.

What do we tell them?

We tell them that hate and bigotry is not a democratic value and is never tolerated.

We tell them that while we accept the results of the election, we do not agree, and that we will continue to stand on the side of equality and inclusiveness.

We tell them that we stand by our Jewish, Muslim, Latino, Native American, Black, Same Sex and Immigrant family and friends. That our gay, lesbian and trans students are assets to this country, their schools and their communities.

We tell them that everyone is entitled to love who they wish and marry who they want. We tell them that healthcare is a basic human right, and not a luxury. We tell them that every woman has the right to protect and make decisions for her own body and that it’s no other person’s right to do so.

We tell them to always speak up for what is right. We tell them that silence is dangerous. We teach them how to speak up when something is wrong so they are empowered.

We teach them how to love one another, how to respect each other, and how to peacefully solve conflicts. We teach them how to live in a world filled with diverse individuals and that it’s those same diversities that make us unique and great. We teach them how to live in a world with such diverse and conflicting ideologies and that just because someone is different, doesn’t make them bad or one to be feared.

We teach them about our democratic process and how they can be involved to help bring about change. We teach this at a young age and continually develop their awareness to politics, social issues and justice. We educate them to be informed citizens of the world we live in.

We teach them the importance of thought-provoking and intelligent discussion, not for the sake of winning or being right but for understanding and to be understood by our peers.

We tell them that it’s okay to be sad and disappointed. We also tell them that it’s those same emotions we use to channel into turning bad things into good.

We tell them that one of the benchmarks of our democracy is the transition of power every four years so that nothing is ever permanent.

In this election, Trump appealed to our worst impulses, thoughts and fears… and he won. It is now time for the rest of us to roll up our sleeves and begin to do the hard work of proving that his platform is not all that America is. We are called on now at this time to rise above and face down bigotry and hate in a rational and civil way.

Now is not the time to lick wounds, complain or point blame. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to shine light into this dark world. Now is the time to continue exposing the abuses of power and privilege. Yesterday is gone. Yesterday is in the books. What’s done is done. We do not have the luxury to wallow in our disappointment and allow it to consume us. Now is the time to act in a positive and productive way.

And how do we do this?

Above all, we tell them that in our homes, love, compassion, and acceptance are still our core values. On this, we do not waver or make excuses. This does not change.

It all begins in our homes.
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

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