I’ve been struggling with this for the last few days since the outcome of the election. I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and other social media outlets about how to speak to our children after Mr. Trump’s win. People from both sides are chiming in. There are Clinton supporters voicing concern over the topics they have to address - sexism, misogyny, and harassment. Which in my opinion, are valid reasons to be concerned. I saw a post yesterday that bothered me - a Trump supporter said talking to your kids is not an issue as long as you’re parenting correctly and not raising jerks. No brainer, right?
Here’s the thing - we are responsible as parents to raise our children by our own standards, which I hope are high and resolute. However, we cannot deny outside influence. Whether it be on a global scale - celebrities, sports figures, rock stars - or closer to home - parents, teachers, coaches. As parents we communicate right from wrong, good from bad every day, that’s part of our job. But when it comes to electing the President of the United States of America, someone who is supposed to represent the greatest power in the world, someone I was taught to look up to because of their values as a human being, this time we have a disconnect.
You can say all you want about President Obama - you may disagree with his policy, his ideas, his choice of tie color, whatever. You cannot say that he is someone our children can’t look up to. He has been nothing but gracious, dignified and charismatic allowing the American public into their lives without scandal. He and the First Lady have done an excellent job raising their daughters in the public eye. Our President Elect could take a few pages out of that playbook.
When speaking with my children about this election, policy and governing are secondary. At my children’s ages (11 & 4), I care about the kind of person they have to look up to as a role model. The question, (and it is an appropriate one), is - how do we tell our children that we just elected someone no one should want to be like when they grow up? How do we tell our kids - bullying, mocking, shaming and harassing is not okay when the leader of the free world does it at will?
Therein lies the problem my friends. We can teach our children our values all day long in our homes, then hope and pray that they uphold them when they’re not in our presence. But what happens when the phone call from school comes in letting you know that your son was mocking a disabled child or bullying another kid? What happens when your daughter comes home and says she was spoken to or touched inappropriately? Will the acceptable answer from your child be “But the President does it.” Is that ok? Because I’m gonna tell you right now - there’s no way in hell that’s ok in my house.
Take it from someone who has had to dodge inappropriate comments since the age of, oh I don’t know, 13 or so...it’s awful. No one should have to deal with that. And oh by the way, it still happens to me and I’m a 43 year old mother with 2 children. Being attractive should not be a detriment and yet, sometimes, it is. There’s a reason I took a self defense class and learned how to kick box when I was in my 20’s, and it wasn’t to stay in shape. There’s a reason I left my corporate job after 16 years and it wasn’t because I wanted to try something new. Harassment is real. It happens every day, and it’s never, ever the recipient’s fault. EVER.
Look, I know we’re all trying our best here, especially when it comes to raising our kids, but awarding someone for behavior that no one I know condones (regardless of which side of the aisle you sit on), is questionable at best.
I’m going to continue to raise my boys the way I have for the last 11 years. To be kind, compassionate, charitable, respectful (and all the other attributes). I will do my best to keep them aware of outside influences. I will try to find the right words when they question the behavior of our President elect, but I will never tell them they should want to grow up to be like him.