Talking to Your Kids About the Election

Words do matter, and many of us have been unsettled by not only the language used but also behavior exhibited throughout this election process. Parents have struggled to explain what is going on in our culture to children and teens. We’ve been discussing racism, bigotry, and sexism and feeling at a loss to explain why bullying seems to have been rewarded with publicity and power.

Try not to catastrophize what has happened, and if you honestly feel the election outcome is a disaster, take some time to center yourself with a reminder that many different people have been elected to govern our country, with many different results, and we have survived as a nation. Wait until you can calmly explain things to your children, as they often take their lead from you. Talk to other adults about your deepest fears and concerns, not your kids. If you are confident and reassuring, you can calm your child’s fears and concerns.

Ask your kids what their questions are about the election, and what are they hearing at school from their friends. As we advise when talking about the birds and the bees, just answer what your children are asking, rather than explaining everything in great detail, no need to overwhelm them with too much information. Adapt the information to what is appropriate for their age.   The most important thing your children need to know is that you will take care of them. Your everyday life as a family has not changed; and the routines of school, work, soccer practices and dance lessons will continue.

If your child or teen knows classmates and friends who are worried about deportation, reassure your child that decisions have not been made yet about how that will work. As confusing as it is, many campaign promises are made that never materialize. Ideas sometimes become laws, but it is usually a lengthy process.

Politics has been center stage in this election year, and we can only hope it will retreat into the background noise. Limit exposure to twenty-four-hour news cycles that tend to dramatize, predicting doom and gloom. Remember, kids are very literal, so watch adjectives that could create fear: scary, crazy, mean, evil. It’s better to admit that we don’t know what kind of President our President-Elect will be, but we are hoping our government works the way it is designed, and checks and balance will be used to make good decisions for our country by all branches of government.

We can also explain to our children that not everyone who voted for the President-Elect is a racist or bigot; some of the Trump voters are hoping for changes in the government that will create more, and better paying, jobs and better lives for them and their communities.

As parents, we can exercise our power and voice our opinions and concerns to our local lawmakers, State representatives and members of Congress. You can also narrow your view and get your family involved in a local organization that is working to make a difference in your community:

ProduceGood: Host a harvest or pick fruit to be donated to food banks

Big Brothers and Big Sisters:

Salvation Army Oceanside Bell-Ringer: Kids, Teens, Adults 760-631-8212

Thanksgiving Meal Server, Salvation Army Oceanside 760-631-8212 Thursday, November 24, 2016, 11:00a-1:30p, 3935 Lake Boulevard, Oceanside, CA 92056

North County Family Volunteer Opportunities:

Adopt a Marine for Thanksgiving Program: 760-385-4921