Trump is President: A Parent's Guide To Talking To Your Children If You Voted For Hillary

I voted for Hillary.  Please don’t let that make you stop reading if you made a different choice from me.  I’m not writing to tell anyone that their choice was wrong.  I am writing to help parents whose children woke up after the election and were afraid.  I’m writing to help give them the words to calm their children and move forward.

On Election night, as the results became clear, my beautiful 28 year old daughter called me, sobbing.  I cried along with her for a while and then I pulled myself together and became a parent. I told her the following.

Half of this country right now is confused, angry, frightened, and sad.  She and I and our immediate family are among them.  This is true.  And. We will be ok. 

This election has brought out things that have been there all along but which we were able to ignore: racism, xenophobia, sexism - I don't need to write them all.  We all know how long the list is.  These things are not new.  They are part of our country that we thought we could overlook and now, we can't.

The deep divide in our country has been exposed for the raw, ugly wound that it is, and it is time for us to steadfastly keep doing what we've always done but, now, to do more.  We must love more deeply.  We must listen more carefully and less dismissively. 

We must look into the eyes of the Americans who voted for Trump and see their hurt, their anger, their fear and do everything we can to heal it.   We must see their triumph and realize that they believe just as strongly that they were right as we do.  We must seek to understand what motivated them to make the decision they did.  And we must do so with curiosity instead of judgement.

We must live courageously.  We must be an example to our young people of resiliency and hope, even if we feel neither of those things.  We must not give up.  We must keep fighting for justice for all people.  And we must let our children and grandchildren witness it and draw their own courage from it.

So, parents, if your children are scared and hurting; if they can’t understand how someone can speak in the way that Trump did and be President of the United States you must acknowledge that change often feels scary.  You must be clear with them that you will help to keep them safe.  That’s your job as a parent.  You must tell them that you will work to help keep their friends safe.  That’s your job as a good person. 

You must tell them that we live under a Constitution meant to protect against the violation of our basic rights, no matter who the President is.  (A kid-friendly version of the Constitution can be found here: http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/constitution_day/in...)  You must say that you believe in the ultimate goodness of people and that truth and love and justice will win.

You must say that it will be ok.  They will be ok.  We will be ok.  You must tell them to always look for the good.  You must empower them to stand up for people who are suffering, who are being bullied, and whose rights are in jeopardy. You must help them stand in the light even when the darkness seems as though it will overpower it.