This morning dawned a new day, with a new President-elect, and people are really struggling to feel heard and understood…on both sides. As a family, we expose our children quite a lot to the political process. We want them to see what is happening, understand how it works, and also see how people react. But, this election has been slightly different for me. If you read my earlier post on whether or not this political climate is making us into bullies (you can find that post here), you know that in the end…one of the things that matters to me a great deal is how our children are feeling. This morning, the children are STILL watching us. What are they learning today?
No matter what your feelings about this election, there is a lot to be learned for the young mind. Are you a gloating winner? You are teaching them that when you win, you do not have to do so with grace. Are you mourning, twisting your hands, and saying the world is ending because your candidate did not win? You are teaching them that if you lose, you also need not do so with grace. This is the very basic lesson. But, there is a LOT more happening here.
Through the night last night, watching with my 10 and 13 year old sons, I said one thing over and over again. I told them, no matter what happened, “We are going to be alright”. I’m their Mom. It’s MY job to make sure I stay aware, stay informed, and look ahead for trouble. So, I can reassure them that we are ok…we will still be ok tomorrow…and I am watching every day to try to make sure we will stay OK. If something comes down the pike that I didn’t expect, we will deal with that together…as a family.
When children hear you talk about the world coming to an end or about all the terrible things that are “going” to happen…they think those things are definitely going to happen. You are their leader. Your words are something they look to and rely upon. When you say this is bad…they know it is bad. Don’t fill their little minds with doomsday prophecies that you have no idea will ever come true. They deserve better than that from you.
If you turn your words to hopefulness, they will feel that, too! You can tell them this isn’t the outcome you had hoped for, but that you hope that everything will work out. You can show them grace in winning, or in losing, and show them that the world does not have to end. You can put on your work boots and get to work creating the world you’ve hoped for….for them.
I am not suggesting that you hide your joy or your disappointments from your children, but I am suggesting that you show them that life is full of both. No matter what, each and every day the sun will come up. You will get to work creating the best, and most joyous, life that you possibly can. You will still smile, and laugh, and cry. Life’s struggles are hard enough for our children without them shouldering our grown-up fears and beliefs. Let them form their own, while watching you make an amazing life for your whole family. Someday, those lessons will serve them well. Until then, they will continue to look to you as their guide through it all. Show them that you can keep going.