What Do We Tell Our Children Today?

My family’s feelings range from disheartened to sickened today. My son Matt, my husband Mark and I are having dinner at home tonight to talk about how and why Donald Trump became our president. Emma will Skype from school. We will make ourselves feel better by talking about a Donald Trump presidency being temporary and how they can each be a good citizen now. I’ll probably say something corny while intending to be inspirational. Something like, “He may burn the house down, but we can rebuild it.” Matt, Emma and I already had a chat this morning about checks and balances that didn’t make them feel better.

Mostly, Mark and I want to lift our children and give them a path through this presidency. They are truly devastated by the outcome of this election. After all the sadness is shared, we will ask them to define what being a good citizen is and how we can each be a version of that person. We will talk about speaking up, joining, starting things. I might ask them to copy one of the opinions they post in social media and paste it into an email to a legislator. They don’t believe they can make a difference with such a simple action.

The 2016 election, while utterly debilitating, got us talking and more involved in the life of governing. To be quiet. To stand still. You do these things when you feel defeated. David Remnick wrote in The New Yorker today that the election of Donald Trump is an American tragedy. Maybe for a moment but certainly not in the long run. Our family will never let this election define our future or our fate. I don’t think you will either.

As always, I will say that love heals and kindness matters. And I will keep these thoughts in the front of my mind when we talk tonight.