Dear Decaturish – How do we explain this to our kids?Oscar Najarro waves his American flag. File Photo by Travis Hudgons
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As I scroll through reactions to the election outcome on social media, I am noticing many levels of anxiety. Perhaps the one that resonates most strongly with me is this guilt that many parents of young children are expressing about the results. I have been agonizing over how to explain this to my daughter. This is what I have come up with, and it has managed to help me find little bit of comfort in what has been for me an overwhelmingly distressful night. Perhaps other parents will find it helpful too. And, I think that this would hold true regardless of the outcome of the election. So, what do we tell our children?
As citizens of the USA, we have extraordinary responsibilities, the four most important being the following.
1. Be informed. Seek to understand what is going on at all levels of government from the local to the federal.
2. Be engaged. Use your information to act, to make decisions regarding the brands you support, the clothes you wear, the movements you support, the media to which you choose to read or listen, and the language you use to initiate discourse, or to critique, respond, react, renounce, and rejoice.
3. Be accountable. Accountability doesn’t mean accepting responsibility for things that go wrong – it means claiming responsibility to do everything you can (see points one and two) to right those wrongs.
4. Seek to understand those whose political ideas differ from yours, and then seek common ground.
We tell our children that today happened because too many people didn’t follow those four rules – in part because we don’t do a good job of teaching our children about these rules. But perhaps by the time my daughter is old enough to vote, enough people will.
Model these rules, and encourage our children to model them too in their communities. Advise them to seek to influence the people around them with kindness and positive reinforcement. Never through judgment, and never through shame.
We are all in this together.
– Laura Jones