Many of us woke up on Wednesday, November 9th with tears in our eyes and fear in our hearts. We weren’t just afraid for the future of our country but the future of our families. As CNN political commentator Van Jones said in his honest short speech on Election Night, we were scared of breakfast because it meant having to face our children. It meant having to tell our children that a bully had won the election, a bully that won’t protect our trans and LGB children, our LGBT families, our multiracial families, or our immigrant families. It meant telling our daughters that they couldn’t look up to the first female president, but were left with a leader who makes sexist comments and has rape and sexual assault accusations against him.
Today is Thursday which means you’ve already told your children what has happened. But your job isn’t over yet. During these next few months and next four years, your children might need to be reassured that things will be okay with Donald Trump as our president. Here’s some ways in which you can do that:
Stay calm and provide hope.
“Children absorb our energy, so the more at peace you can be, the better for your children,” Chicago psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo told NY Daily News. “This does not mean you need to like the president-elect. It does mean you move through the stages of mourning to acceptance,” she said.
So stay calm and find acceptance that this is our new reality. Your kids look to you for strength, so show them that strength.
Furthermore, don’t let your children be without hope. Remind your young girls, that they can still be president. Remind your children, that the U.S. will get through these four years and that if we band together, we can still make progress happen.
Teach your children about checks and balances.
Assuage your children’s fears by teaching them about checks and balances in the U.S. government — how the three levels of government check and balance each other, thereby preventing any one branch from holding too much power. Reassure your child that though Donald Trump is the president, he is limited by what he can and cannot do (despite what he says). Remind your children that there are good people in Congress who are working to protect the rights of groups and minorities that Trump has targeted with his speeches.
Has it been awhile since your U.S. Government class?
Click here to be directed to a kid-friendly site that explains checks and balances.
Click here to be directed to a kid-friendly site that explains the executive power of the president.
Talk to your children’s teachers.
If you feel like your children’s fears could affect their experience at school, talk to their teachers. Let them know that your children are nervous and it might affect their school work or social interaction. For the most part teachers, despite their personal views or political affiliations, are focused on providing your children a safe environment to learn. Your kids are with them most of the day, so make them aware so they too can help when you are not around.
Help your children feel pro-active.
Many of us are itching to do something about the presidential election (and we don’t just mean scream at Facebook). Show your children that Donald Trump’s new elected position does not mean change can’t happen by volunteering or becoming involved in movements that fight against the racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and sexism that Trump has advocated on behalf of. Get the family involved in Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights movements, or women’s movements. Or how about leading a Girls Scouts group in a positive, glass ceiling shattering manner? Raise money with a lemonade stand each weekend and have your children donate to protecting the environment or some other movement that can make a change for the betterment of our society.
And if Donald Trump actually does keep his promises about deportation or a wall or anti-LGBT laws (though we cross our fingers that he does not), pick up the phone and call your elected officials. Let your children write letters to your officials. Show your kids that their voice can be heard.
Do de-stressing family activities.
Find a way to help the whole family de-stress from the election. Friday is a holiday which makes it a good time to unplug from the news, social media, and TV and take your family where you can reconnect, have fun, and laugh. Because we will need laughter and love to stay strong and move on.
Seek help, if need be.
This is probably the most important advice of all — watch your children and if need be, seek professional help. Some kids might have to work through their feelings with a professional therapist or child psychologist and that’s okay. For that matter, so may you! If you feel like they’re becoming overwhelmed, provide them another outlet to vent and sort through their feelings by seeking help.