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How Do I Explain This To My Children?

As my husband and I sit here on the couch on election night, way past our bedtime, smart phones in hand, afraid to hit the refresh button - in complete and utter disbelief - I can't help but be sad for my children. That was the first thing I thought of. "The kids are going to be devastated tomorrow!" we agreed. This election year has been a terrible one. It has gotten so nasty and out of hand and so hard to explain in a way that a child can understand because they are not used to hearing adults say such horrible things to each other. And we actually have not been letting them hear anything about the election (we never let them watch the news) - but they are hearing things from other kids at school and other adults everywhere we go. This is the first election where I have been a mother to young children who are old enough to be aware of what is going on in the world around them. They are aware that Donald Trump has said some really mean things. They are aware that he wants to build a wall to keep people out.

My daughter has a beloved teacher who moved here when she was 19 years old from Guadalajara, Mexico to go to college in the United States of America and my sweet child is terrified that Donald Trump will send her away if he becomes President. My daughter is only 8 years old. She should be worrying about her spelling test on Friday, what to get her friend for his birthday and when we are finally going to get this supposed dog we keep talking about (soon my child, soon) - not if some tyrannical, hate-filled old blow-hard of a man wants to send her lovely teacher back to Mexico. The same woman who made me cry during Back-To-School night because she said, "You love your children when they are at home and I will love them when they are here and together we will become a good team in helping them grow and learn and become the best people they can become. I will be their mother here at school and love them and care for them like my own children." Now you see why I couldn't hold back the tears!

My fellow mothers reading this - this election has reminded me of something. I need to be more present so that my children get my influence as opposed to social media's influence. I know I'm not alone in this. We must band together and check back into our lives to raise the next generation to be better and more evolved than this one. Smart phones, iPads, social media, Facebook has become a brain clog and a crutch for far too long in our lives and it's up to us - the people raising the tiny humans who will eventually run this world to DO BETTER. I'm in tears tonight at the thought of a Donald Trump Presidency for the next four years because as a mother to an 8 year old girl and a 6 year old boy who is just this year a brand new, sweet, innocent kindergartner not yet hardened by the harsh realities of life, I make it my mission to raise children who are tolerant of all humans, who respect all humans regardless of what they look like, who they love, who they pray to and where they were born. We talk at length at home about not being a bully and what it means to stand up to bullies and fight for the underdog and for those who are unable to fight for themselves. We teach them to fight for the rights of all humans. I have made a point when talking to my children to go out of my way to not describe people by their skin color or use stereotypical words when talking about others and I cringe when people do talk like that around my kids. It's mostly the Baby Boomer generation and the generation older than them who think nothing of putting people in nice little cut and dry categories based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Please evolve from this way of thinking. We can be better than that.

We need to teach our kids to have more respect for adults and for their peers. We need to get off our high horses when it comes to our kids and admit it to ourselves if we do have the child who is the bully. They are somebody's child - and we need to swallow our pride, loose the defensiveness and listen to how we can change their behavior because we must change their behavior for the better. It's hard to do, especially if it's a mirror of our own behavior, but it must be done.

We need to unplug the devices and let our child see the color of our eyes when they are telling us a story about what happened that day at school as opposed to the top of our hairline on our nodding head as we look down at our phone pretending to multitask.

Our children are not objects needed to be to multitasked.  

We need to make a "No Phone/ No TV Zone" during most, if not ALL meals and use words and facial expressions to communicate with one another while we are sitting at a table looking at each other. If this sounds weird and foreign the way I'm explaining it, it's because this idea has become foreign to so many. Be honest with yourself, how many meals do you have a week where the whole family is sitting at a table talking and eating and the TV is off and phones are not sitting on the table right next to your plate or in our hands taking your attention away at every beep and buzz. Now think about your own childhood and how your family meals were. Was the TV on?  Did it bother you if your dad was watching the game instead of listening to a story you had about your friends at school? Now is your chance to change it for the better. This is your life. These are your kids. You shape the story they will tell someday of their childhood. Don't loose your child while they are still young enough to want you to be a part of their daily lives. Just ask a parent of a typical teenager about how much their child wants to sit and chit chat about what they are doing with their friends at school.  Crickets...

Regardless of who wins this Presidency, I still vow to raise my children to not judge people by their skin color, to not dislike someone because of who they pray to, or who they don't pray to. I promise to teach them that love is love and to marry who their heart tells them to, not who society tells them to. And to respect people who choose to love someone that society is telling them not to. I will keep teaching them manners and respect and compassion and to not be a bully, regardless of what they are hearing a candidate who is running for President saying to others. I promise to teach them to believe those who speak out about personal tragic stories of sexual abuse for they are the true brave souls in this world.

This election has taught me many things - one of which is that I need to work harder at home while my children are young to continue to lay the foundation of goodness, caring, respect, tolerance, understanding, compassion, and continue teaching them right from wrong so they can make choices in their lives that make a difference for the better. So they will know when they hear an old man named Donald Trump yelling at someone on the TV and using obscene language and being an outright bully to anyone who challenges him on social media and on TV to know that they don't have to respect that sort of behavior just because he's an adult and they are children. They don't have to imitate that behavior and they will know from how their parents treat them that they don't have to ever tolerate that behavior from anyone - even from the President of the United States because they matter simply because they are a human being. Just as you matter. God help us all.

I'll leave you with some Maya Angelou. May she help to spread some positivity and a better understanding and make you feel a bit better.

One of my all time favorites:

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." 
~ Maya Angelou


"You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive."
- Interview from the April 2011 edition of O, the Oprah Magazine (2011)

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."
- Excerpted from Letter to My Daughter, a book of essays (2009)

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
Interview in USA TODAY (March 5, 1988)


"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Interview for Beautifully Said Magazine (2012)

"I am a Woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal Woman,
that's me."
Phenomenal Woman, poem (1978)
The above quotes were found here.



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Peace, Love and Light.


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