When Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, I was in the fourth grade. That night, I cried. I cried because I liked President Carter, and to my little 9 year old heart I felt bad that Amy Carter would have to move out of the White House.
Tonight, as it moved into the darkest part of morning, it became painfully clear that a Trump presidency was no longer a possibility, but an absolute certainty. As we wait for the Sun to rise and wrestle with the need for sleep, the issue, as I scrolled through my feed for many parents rests in what to tell their children in the morning.
As a politics obsessed mother of two, I was so eager to get my girls looped into the years election. But, as the cycle droned on it became a challenge. There were times when the topics were just not age appropriate for my girls. But, we can't hide it all from them. So eventually they caught wind of the many foibles and flaws of then candidate Donald Trump. And now we have to face their shining faces in a few hours with an explanation that will equip them with truth and yet not destroy their faith in our country.
So to the families that are wrestling with this, here are a few ideas to help you shape that important conversation.
1. Loosing is hard. But, that should never stop us from trying again. We don't give up. In four years, we will get another chance to vote for the President of the United States. In the meantime, we do our best to be our best.
2. What is right and what is wrong has not changed. When someone who is acting badly wins - that does not mean that their behavior was/is right. Eventually we all reap what we have sown. We need to keep listening to that little voice, our conscience, and act accordingly.
3. Adults can be afraid too. Many Americans yesterday, went and voted for Donald Trump because they are afraid. They fear that we, as a country, have been making mistakes that are hurting us. So, they voted for what they believe is a better future. We simply may not agree on how to make our future better.
4. People can love this country but not agree with each other. We are all different in so many ways and our ability to agree should never stop us from working together and respecting each other.
5. The majority isn't always right. Between you and me (Mom, Dad) history is rich in examples of the herd mentality gone wrong. Again, we need to listen to our conscience. There will be times when we need to stand alone, firmly on what we believe despite the voices that surround us. This little lesson should be familiar to all of us. Remember.....if all of your friends were going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump off too?
6. Depending on the age of your child, this might also be a good time for a tiny civics lesson - with a focus on citizen participation. Explain, that they can write letters (send e-mails) to their representatives if they don't like something. Introduce them to the concept of a petition.
7. Remind them that we don't just need good leaders to make this country great. We make this country great, with every kind gesture and act of charity we do. We start by loving and caring for our neighbors and neighborhood.
Most importantly, they will look to us. They will listen to what we are saying and watch how we react. Children hear what we say,. But, they focus more intently on what we do and how we do it. So they will be listening....they will be watching. And above all, be honest. Integrity and truthfulness have been such a hot topic during this campaign. Let them see the truth in you. Because, when things aren't going your way, it is great to know you can trust your parents.