What I Told Our Kids

I’ve been inter­est­ed in pol­i­tics for most of my life and Angela is much the same. So we of course dis­cuss pol­i­tics quite a bit around the house. I do my best to fol­low my par­ents’ lead and 1) not get over­ly emo­tion­al­ly or upset about pol­i­tics and 2) not present my opin­ion as the only one that mat­ters. This is impor­tant so the kids can grow up form­ing their own opin­ions and also so they will be less like­ly to get in an unnec­es­sary argu­ment with oth­er kids. Kids at school should focus on learn­ing and being kids, not argu­ing with some­one else over who’s par­ents vot­ed for who. Though I’m adamant our chil­dren under­stand how our coun­try is gov­erned, it’s not real­ly impor­tant for them to have strong opin­ions in grade school on mat­ters of nation­al pol­i­cy.

But kids do talk about cur­rent events and even pol­i­tics, to a less­er extent, at school. So I was­n’t too shocked when my son told me last Tues­day night after I turned out his lights “I sure hope Trump does­n’t win or I’ll have to move to Cana­da! He wants to build a wall around the entire coun­try.”

I assured him that we would­n’t have to move no mat­ter who won and that there was­n’t going to be any wall1. The next morn­ing Angela and I dis­cussed the out­come of the elec­tion before the kids got up. But once they did wake up, it was a typ­i­cal week­day rush to get ready for school and work, so there was­n’t any time to talk about the results of the elec­tion. After school, though, while I was mak­ing din­ner, my daugh­ter called out “So did Trump real­ly win last night?”

“What!?” my son shout­ed with a look of gen­uine hor­ror on his face.

So I told them that, yes, Trump did win and that one of the great­est parts of being an Amer­i­can is that we have free elec­tions for our lead­ers. And even though mom­my and I may have both vot­ed for Sec. Clin­ton, we don’t have to leave or lose any­thing just because she lost. I explained that this is just how we pick a leader but it has noth­ing to do with who gets to be Amer­i­can.

Now, to a cer­tain point, that is true. How­ev­er, there are plen­ty of peo­ple who Trump has promised should­n’t get to enter or even stay in Amer­i­ca. And even if Trump has­n’t direct­ly expressed it, plen­ty of his sup­port­ers have some very strong and dis­gust­ing opin­ions about just who should or should not get to be an Amer­i­can at all. But I real­ly did­n’t want to have to bur­den a nine- and sev­en-year-old with that, so I fig­ured that would be the end of my two-minute reas­sur­ance talk with them.

Then my daugh­ter asked what the KKK was and why were some kids say­ing the KKK were hap­py Trump won? That’s right: my inno­cent lit­tle kid was ask­ing about the god­damn Klu Klux Klan2. I explained that they were a very racist group who felt that white peo­ple like me were some­how bet­ter than oth­er peo­ple but that I am most def­i­nite­ly not bet­ter than any­one else, no mat­ter what they look like, where they come from, or for any oth­er rea­son. That God loves every­one just the same and that, with­out ques­tion, any­one who con­tra­dicts that is wrong.

As hor­ri­fied as I was that I was hav­ing to hold this con­ver­sa­tion with my chil­dren as a direct result of a U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, I decid­ed now was the time to start right­ing the ship. I explained that even though we weren’t bet­ter than any­one, there are racist and prej­u­diced peo­ple in this coun­try who wrong­ly believe that. Fur­ther, that our fam­i­ly prob­a­bly already has it bet­ter than most peo­ple and are like­ly to expe­ri­ence far less dif­fi­cul­ties and prej­u­dices than oth­er peo­ple in our coun­try already do and will under Pres­i­dent Trump and many of his sup­port­ers. And that as a result of that, it was our duty to help speak up on the behalf of oth­ers. That if we ran away or even just looked the oth­er way, it would make the bul­lies stronger and their vic­tims’ pain even worse. I asked them both to promise me that if they ever heard or saw any­one else being mis­treat­ed because of how they look, the col­or of their skin, or what they believe, that they would tell the per­son doing so to stop. Tell them that they were wrong. And to tell a respon­si­ble adult imme­di­ate­ly.

They both glad­ly promised that they would. So if two kids are brave enough to make that promise, I know I will be, too. There was nev­er a time in this coun­try’s his­to­ry that we did­n’t need to look out for one anoth­er, but maybe it took some­thing like this elec­tion to remind us of that.

Please note that any hurt­ful or deroga­to­ry com­ments will be delet­ed with extreme prej­u­dice.

  1. I’m equal­ly con­fi­dent about both. Pres­i­dent-elect Trump has already stat­ed that the wall may just be a fence in some places. I doubt even that will get built, but feel free to re-check me on that state­ment over the next four years. []
  2. Let’s be very clear bout some­thing right here: If you feel the need to say some­thing in defense of the Klan, you need to leave this site and nev­er come back. If you are some­how offend­ed or upset that I despise the KKK, just as much as I do any white nation­al­ist, white suprema­cy, or oth­er racist group, you and I can call it quits right here. I may not think I’m supe­ri­or to you, but I know you are wrong and I have zero need to tol­er­ate you. Full stop. []