Kveller recently posted a letter to our children on how to survive the next four years of Donald Trump’s presidency. In it, the author begins by telling our children that many of us have no respect for the incoming president, and that he is a mean man who has been mean to a lot of people. And we wonder why our kids are crying in fear.
We need to stop scaring our kids about this election. There is simply no reason that my 5-year old should cry herself to sleep because someone told her that the world is ending. (Yep, that happened!) We need to spin this election in a positive way for them, and this positivity needs to go beyond the “we will always have each other” and “show kindness to your fellow man” mentality that seems to be the one silver lining people are clinging to these days. Our kids need to understand that, even though we may not agree with the outcome, our democratic process prevailed in this election. That is an amazing thing.
“But what do I tell my daughter?” cried just about everyone in my Facebook feed. I get it. Little girls wanted to look up to a woman president. Because girls rule, boys drool. (If you can’t tell, I spend a lot of time with 5-year olds). Believe it or not, we can still find positive lessons for our kids in this election and give our daughters great aspirations. Here is what I’ve told my daughter:
1. We live in an amazing country, where any citizen, anyone at all, can stand up and say, “I don’t like the way this country is being run and I am going to be president so I can fix it.” I hear what you are thinking. Most of us are not billionaires and can’t just step into the arena at the highest level. But that isn’t the important point. The take away here is that a regular citizen, a political outsider, who was vilified by the press and even abandoned by most of his own party in Congress, won the presidency because the people wanted it so. Which brings me to my next point.
2. The voice of the people spoke louder than anything else in this election process. This is democracy working! Many countries still struggle to hold true democratic elections, and we are so lucky to have them here. The people spoke louder than the politicians, louder than the pundits, louder than the press, and louder than the celebrities. Regular people, just like us, cast their votes and it mattered. Votes matter. People were unhappy, and they sent a loud and clear message to the country by voting. This election has allowed me to show my daughter what a powerful thing it is to vote. Voting gets your voice heard.
3. I have also made sure that my daughter understands (even at her young age) how special and important it is for women to vote. I explained that a hundred years ago, women were not allowed to vote at all. They had to fight for it. They struggled, sacrificed, and suffered in order to win votes for women. This year, a woman almost became the president. We, as women, have come a long, long way, and that is an amazing thing!
4. I told my daughter that one day, we will have a woman as president. Other countries, including Israel, have had a female president or prime minister, and it will happen here one day as well. Maybe she will become the first female president! (“No Mommy, I want to be an engineer, remember?” Oh well, I tried!)
But more importantly, I’ve taught my daughter that she should never vote for a candidate just because she is a woman. We’ve actually had more discussions about this lesson than any of the others. It is not easy to explain to a 5-year-old that sometimes, being a girl just isn’t enough. You also need to be smart, understand how to do the job, and understand how to best serve your people.
I told my daughter that I would never want her to get a job just because she is a girl. I want her to earn it by her merits. This is one of the most important lessons I can teach her as her mother: that she should believe in her own power and her own intelligence. I want her to become a capable, qualified candidate for any position that she will hold. I want her to know that anyone who only sees her as a woman, quite frankly, disrespects her.
5. Finally, as a mother, it really bothers me to hear people say that anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, anti-Semite, or misogynist. All we are doing is showing our kids that when things don’t go our way, it’s OK to call people names. And rather awful ones at that. The majority of the country elected Donald Trump, and I really don’t want my daughter thinking that she lives in a country chock full of “Deplorables” who hate her. Because she doesn’t, and neither do we. I have explained to her that we live in a country full of good, hardworking people. People who just want to earn a living and love their families. Elections are complicated, and people have different reasons for voting the way that they do. It doesn’t make them horrible people. I’ve taught my daughter to respect other people’s opinions, even when she doesn’t agree.
So please, let’s stop scaring our kids. We have many positive lessons to learn from this election. You may not be happy with the results, but our kids have enough on their plates. Don’t scare them with the “Boogey-President.”