An expert tells us how to talk to your kids after the election
After an incredibly divisive and painful election cycle, Donald Trump has been elected president. Needless to say, this is not the result that many of us had hoped and prayed for, but it’s time to recognize our new reality and find ways to cope with it. #WhatDoWeTellTheChildren is trending on Twitter, and many of us are at a loss for words, so we spoke with an expert about how to talk to your kids about the election.
So where do we begin?Stephanie O’Leary, Psy.D. urges parents to step in and provide a voice of reason for their children:
"[F]acing the reality of a Trump presidency means taking a firm stance on respect within your family and within your community," she says.
O’Leary acknowledges that, over the next four years, it’s unlikely that Trump will change his behavior and rhetoric. Although the president absolutely has an impact on everyone in our country — children included — she emphasizes that parents are their kids’ most important role models.
"This may be hardest to pull off when it comes to voicing your opinions regarding the new leadership of our country. If you are able to share your thoughts and feelings while choosing respectful words, then you set the tone that disrespect is not tolerated," O'Leary says. "If and when your child hears disrespectful commentary, it will register with them and it will feel wrong. It will feel inappropriate."
When hateful and disrespectful rhetoric has defined an election cycle, it’s up to us to rise above it and lead by example — even when we’re experiencing painful emotions surrounding the outcome. O’Leary discusses how she approached the outcome with her own children this morning.
"My message to each of them was crystal clear: No matter what happens at school today, I expect you to behave appropriately. I expect you to respect your friends and your teachers, and to choose your words wisely when you're sharing your thoughts and your opinions," she says. "I told them that I trust they will make good decisions and that I am here for them if they have any questions."
As O’Leary emphasizes, she and every other parent has the power to make a positive impact on their children –regardless of who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Please don't let anyone take that confidence away because your child needs your guidance now more than ever," she concludes.
Although last night’s outcome was upsetting to many, we can lead by example and prove to our children that love truly does trump hate.