How do we explain the outcome of the Presidential Election to our kids?
I just read a CNN Article by Alexandra King that touched on this exact issue. I must say when I went to bed last night, we as a nation, were heading towards Hilary Clinton becoming the first female President of the United States the night before. (When I went to bed the tally was 190 to 168 electoral votes for Clinton.) When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was check my phone to confirm the results which were completely different. DONALD TRUMP WINS PRESIDENCY. This is what my phone told me, and as I got dressed and ready to work, this thought pained me. What am I going to tell my son?
My son was born in the Obama era. As long as he has been a conscious human being, he has had an African American president and first family. The possibilities of his world are limitless. My son, like many other children, are actively vocal, and he and his class mates speak about the election process at school day and they were all confident that this MEAN MAN would not become the next President of the United States. So now, here is the most urgent problem we are facing. Our bright eyed innocent children, who watch the news and have been privy to the presidential debates and have their own very own viewpoints have questions. Specifically the first, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN.
The CNN article quotes Dana Bash, and she indicates that we should inform our children how democracy works, and there are times when the outcomes of elections are not in favor of the opposing party. She also stated, that sometimes democracy can get a bit messy.
I like the direction that Ms. Bash was going in her statement, but this I’m not sure about all parents, but a child of mine, and those that I know, will undoubtedly have follow up questions.
First of all, as far as my lifetime dictates, democracy is rarely this messy. Presidential elections have been passionate at times but in most cases the candidates always exhibit a certain level of decorum and poise. This is a part of the job description, the President of the United States meets lots of people, and works across demographics internationally, he or she is the focal representation of our nation. So it would behoove them to be DIGNIFIED. Donald Trump, has not showed himself to be a dignitary in any sense of the word. Children have seen this.
It is possible that they are starting to question if our teachings about goodness, politeness, and hard work were merely propaganda. They wonder if the way to really win in the world means you have to be an asshole that calls people fat, takes advantage of every loophole, SEXUALLY ASSUALTS WOMEN, and has no qualms about offending massive amounts of people.
So parents, teachers, and adult influencers, what do we tell the kid? Specifically how do we address this outcome to young girls of all races, and all minority children? What do we say to these kids that looked up to us to make a decision for their future?
As I type I’m still not completely sure so I wrote a list:
- Yes democracy, is flawed in many ways, where a Presidential Candidate can win the popular vote, and still loose the general election, because each state is granted a certain number of electoral college votes and those people are basically the anchor of the relay race. The people of the United States run the race, and pass the Paton to the electoral college, who then determine the next President. So in our case here, the Paton was passed to more people who believed that Donald Trump should be the President than HRC.
- Further, go into detail about although the President of the United States is “designated” as the most powerful man in the U.S. he has to run a lot of his decisions through the US Senate and the House of Representatives. (Even though both the Senate and the House hold Republican majority, there are a lot of them that do not like this guy, and will not just pass every initiative/bill/program he poses.)
- Sometimes, mean people win. That does not mean that you should stop treating people with decency and respect. It just means that sometimes, a bully can be rewarded for his lude behavior. It is not right, but it is the truth. Unfortunately, as you grow up, you will see this happen more often that you would like. Again, stay positive, do not succumb to negativity and do not change, because bad behavior is popular. You will stand up for what you believe in and you will not give up because you have seen this happen.
- You will never be powerless. The fate of your entire life is not based on one man, it has not been, nor will it ever be. You will face whatever obstacle that is put in your way, and you will succeed because hard work is important. Being strong, wise, and educated is still important. The values that you have learned thus far are still paramount to the man that will be delivering your State of the Union Addresses for the next four years. Be present and know that change is possible. You were born under the first black President of the United States.
To Black Boys and Girls Specifically There are people who came before you, who literally would have never imagined that this would be possible. There are also people that you know now who HATE that this was a reality. There are people who will be afraid of you because you are beautiful and BLACK. So what! Look at those people at eye level, cower to no one, and continue to strive for everything you have ever wanted. This may not be easy, you may have to fight for what is owed to you, but it is your BIRTHRIGHT as a descendent of those who built this country on their backs. No one will give you anything. You will not be rewarded for bad behavior. And even if you were, you will not take it. You deserve better than this.
To all young girls. Do not give up. This is not the first or last time that a woman ran for President of the United States. It can happen again, we will eventually win. You can’t give up. You could be the next President of the United States! Much like for black boys and girls, there are men out there who don’t believe that you are good enough, capable or deserving of certain jobs. Guess what, it’s our job as girls to prove them wrong. There is no way that this will be easy for us. They will say really mean things to you and even try to stop you. But you will not be stopped. This is not the end for you either.
Bottom line. The future is still bright for our kids. I firmly believe that. Although today may seem dismal. But we have to stay strong for our children. So they can become adults to impact our world.
Well, let me know your thoughts. What did you tell your kids today?