7 steps to explaining the election to your children
Regardless of how you voted and the things this historic event made you feel, your children are going to look to you for answers. They are intuitive, and smart, and are being bombarded with information from all sides. You are their anchor, even if you feel like your own boat is bobbing in some stormy waves at the moment.
We don’t always have the answers, but that won’t stop our children from asking questions. Child development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa has developed a system to help explain current events to our children — starting with simply telling your children how you feel.
1. Teach them about how government works. I don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of the Schoolhouse Rock series. Call it nostalgia, but those tapes taught a generation.
2. Look for your values. “Go with them to read about the love and acceptance and support that people are already showing.”
3. Spread your own message of love. “Get involved in telling everyone you know why your family stands strong in its values of inclusion,” said Gilboa. “Get your kids involved in that work.”
4. Don’t lie. “It’s healthy to, in an age-appropriate and gentle way, let your children know how you are affected by this news.”
5. Remind girls who were excited at the prospect of a first female president that the fight is not over. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. Progress is progress. It took 72 years for women to even be able to vote, so patience is key. If anything, this just means that the opportunity for them to make history and steal the throne is still available!
6. Unless you really are moving to Canada, cut out the jokes. Explain the “joke” of adults who talk about migrating north, but make it clear that the governance of our country is no laughing matter.
7. If kids are worried they or their friends will now be deported, be honest but optimistic. You can tell nervous children that, though no one knows what will happen for sure, many people believe sending immigrants away would be the wrong thing to do. Remind them they can use the power of their voice to protect others.
“In fear for others, we have to pay attention and speak up. In fear for ourselves, we have to do the same. And be willing to ask all the good people we know to do the same.”
No matter how upset parents might be today about election results, this can be a moment to model resilience for their children, Gilboa said.