After last week’s election, there was one question that I heard over and over from concerned parents.
What do I tell my children?
As a parent myself, I wondered the same. How do I tell my kids that the man whose campaign was fueled by racism, misogyny, and bigotry was now the president-elect?
First, I gave myself a 24-hour timeout to be angry, sad, fearful and indignant. When I was done, I pulled up my big girl pants, put my mom hat on and told my kids what I believe they needed to hear.
I told my 17 year old daughter who felt that America failed her that we do not give up on our country and move to Canada or New Zealand. America hasn’t failed. On the contrary, America was working just as our forefathers planned. As a democracy. Democracy may not always be on our side but it will always be on someone’s side.
I told my 13 year old son that we would always protect him and his sisters from racism, bigotry and misogyny and that they should always stand up against these intolerances in any form.
I told my 8 year old daughter who burst into tears when I told her Hillary Clinton would not be president (because all she wanted was a girl president and not some dumb boy) that we will have another chance in 4 years to elect a woman for president.
I told them that many who voted for Trump did so because they were frustrated with the economy, felt socially left behind and wanted a change. They are not the enemy. They have voices, too, and need to be heard just as we do.
I told them that not all who voted for Trump believe those awful things he said during his campaign. But I also told them there are some real bad apples out there who really are hateful, angry and believe they’re better than others based solely on the color of their skin. But they are on both sides. Trump or Clinton supporters, white or people of color, male or female. This is the harsh reality of the world we live in.
I told them there are still sooo many good people in this country who choose love over hate, acceptance over intolerance, hope over despair. I promised them. These people are out there.
I told them to always be educated and learn the facts. We talked about the purpose of the Electoral College, something I admittedly had to get a refresher on, because they are soon going to be of voting age and they need to understand that their vote always counts, despite the Electoral College.
I reminded my children about respect and how people should be treated regardless of whether they have similar or opposing views. I reminded them how to recognize when someone is being disrespectful and to utilize the words of our First Lady when someone is disrespecting them:
When they go low, we go high.
Finally, we watched Secretary Clinton’s concession speech together and we let her words seep intentionally into our cores.
Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.