Whether any of us is individually happy or not about the outcome of the election, we can all agree that this election did not model responsible civic behavior, either online or off.
Instead, we lived through a vicious campaign season that sharply divided our nation. We witnessed one presidential candidate engage in a horrible "Twitter war" and, in the last days before the vote, negative campaigning by the other. Then, suddenly it was over: President-elect Trump stated in his victory speech that, "Now it's time for us to come together as one united people." And, in her concession remarks, Secretary Hillary Clinton said that, "Fighting for what is right is worth it."
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How Should You Talk to Your Kids About the Election?
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Today, post-election, most of us want to embrace those values. But, as parents, we have something else far more important to do first: We have to reassure our children. How do we do that?
Reassure them that they are safe.
When speaking to kids of any age about the election, the most important thing is to assure them that regardless of who was elected, they are safe.
Young children and adolescents worry about their safety when any big change occurs, which is why this is the most important thing we can address. Remember that, as children, they have not yet experienced repeated political election cycles and so cannot draw on an understanding of our nation's peaceful transitions of power. To adults, uncertainty is normal; to children, it is not.
So, explain to your kids that they are protected by our political system of checks and balances -- be sure to define what that means -- which keeps any one person or group from "controlling" the country. When doing this, maintain a reassuring calm: Whether you are acting in your role as an entrepreneur or a parent, your children will pick up on your moods and demeanor.
Parents' moods can actually scare children. So, be mindful what subtle messages you are sharing. Emotions are natural, and it's fine to let children see that at one time or another, you are angry, frustrated or worried. But also show them that you can sort out those feelings and move on. And when you explain these things, remember that, when it comes to kids, keeping things simple is best.
Address the bullying and racism we've seen in this election.
Donald Trump’s bullying, name-calling and racist statements during the campaign need to be addressed. It's quite logical in this context that some children may be confused. "How can a man that is mean to people be our president?" they may be asking.
Parents need to emphasize that such unacceptable behavior is never okay, but that sometimes politicians act like this during the election season.
Now that Trump is going to be president, his job will be to bring everyone together. Unity is very important, so tell your kids that both Donald Trump and Secretary Clinton spoke graciously to each other following the vote, as did President Obama to Trump.
Those actions, however, while commendable, do not excuse Trump's headline-making statements -- you know the ones.
Talk to your children about how hurtful personal and racial comments can be. Use this as a teaching moment. Using actual examples is much more effective in getting across any message regarding bullying or bigotry. Emphasize that regardless of what other people do, you expect your children to always treat others respectfully.
Also focus on the positive aspects of the election, the big picture: There are winners and losers, you might say; and what do you do if you lose? Clinton's concession speech was an excellent example of losing gracefully. She asked people to give the winner a chance, and she spoke about the important nature of the "fight.”
As an entrepreneur, you too can teach your children that if you believe in something, then fight for it. Work hard to pursue your goals and don't let others deter you. Get involved, so you can make an impact.
As a parent, look for the positive takeaways in this time of certainty and confusion. Give your kids the hope and encouragement to see the positive.