The American Moms website was inspired by post-election day reaction. You saw it, right? The response was explosive. We wanted to just turn away, but couldn’t. So many people were outraged, in tears, confused, and some just at a complete loss of words entirely. All over social media, particularly Facebook, we saw parents who were distraught and confused about how to explain the presidential election to their children. Emotions ran high that day (and, honestly, run high even still). What we also noticed, however, was a lack of good responses. To those parents who wanted to know how to respond and explain the results to their kids, the civil, kind, and responsible-minded responses were lacking. We saw numerous articles on how to respond… they were mediocre at best. And many of them political, and therefore lacking much needed civility.
Politics is wonky. It can be confusing. And sometimes, it’s just plain over our heads. It’s for these reasons, and probably many others, that we lose interest in what’s happening with our country. Maybe if we don’t pay attention, we can pretend it doesn’t matter. But, it does matter. It matters what we teach our kids about the world around them. It matters that we teach them to get involved in our communities. And it matters that we show respect to those around us who have different perspectives on life, even if we don’t agree with them one bit. That’s what makes the world go round. At least, that’s what makes the world go round happily.
So, to those mothers who wonder what to say to your kids… maybe we can help start the conversation.
Here was our response on who to explain the election results to your kids:
I hate Facebook almost as much as I hated my choice of candidates this election cycle. I almost never post.
But what I hate even more is one thing I keep seeing over and over today: “What do I tell my children!?” Seriously? You tell them this: That we live in the greatest country in the world. That we live in a country where we are free to vote for whoever we choose. That sometimes our candidate of choice doesn’t win but that it’s okay because no one is in office forever and another election season is always right around the corner. Our Founding Fathers designed it this way.
You tell them sometimes there are winners and sometimes there are losers. When you’re on the losing end, life goes on and you don’t be a poor loser.
You tell them the words of Hillary Clinton herself, that “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” And then you let them be kids because kids are resilient and are going to be just fine no matter what and you stop being dramatic about it because guess what, they’re probably already fine.
And then you lead by example. You be the best darn citizen of this country that you can be and teach them to be the same. You teach them that political parties should take a backseat to being an American. Because this country is so much more than just crazy elections and political divisions. It’s so much more than letting the craziness of election cycles define who we are and being ugly at each other for our differences.
You tell them that this country is run by doers and not those who sit idle. If you don’t like the results of an election, do something more about it next time. From someone who has both worked and volunteered on multiple political campaigns (for winning and losing candidates), there is so much more everyone can do. Yet most of us just sit and whine on social media where nothing is accomplished but creating more of a division.
So instead of trying to inflict more drama on our children by telling them you’re sorry a bully won, or are sorry that a woman didn’t win, next time take your children with you to volunteer for a cause or candidate you believe in. Teach them we live in the greatest country in the world and that they can be part of the political process. Teach them that there’s always a “next time.” Otherwise no one wins. Ever.
Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.