How does a parent soothe a child, upset that Donald Trump was elected president?
There have been a lot of tears and disappointment and fear from people who are heartbroken and nervous about Donald Trump being elected as the new President of the United States. And not all of these people are even of voting age.
“My 12-year-old son, Reichen, woke up and I told him who the next president was. He cried and threw his blankets over his head. When he finally got out of bed, he was spouting some not so nice things.”
Renton mom, Jana Simpson, says two of her three kids were upset over the election results. Her son was upset that:
“Five of his cousins, who are Muslim, would not be allowed back in in this country if they went to their birth country to visit relatives.”
Meanwhile, at the same time, but in the next room over, Jana’s wife was having a similar conversation with their 9-year-old daughter.
“Sadie asked my wife if her best friend, Ava, was going to be deported because she’s half Hispanic.”
On Facebook, I have seen many posts from many parents who had to have tough conversations with their kids after the election results were revealed.
Dad, and former KIRO reporter, Chris Filippi, says his 11-year-old daughter, Ashling, grew more and more upset as election night wore on.
“She started to tear up when we got home. She said that she was concerned that one of her friends would have to move. She has a very good friendship with a girl who is in her class who is from England and she happens to be a Muslim. There’s no basis in the idea that she’s going to be forced to move or anything, but just the inflammatory rhetoric that she’s heard, it really had her concerned that her friend was going to be forced to leave the country and it was devastating for her.”
Both Simpson and Filippi say they don’t discuss politics a lot at home, but their kids have obviously been picking things up at school and from the news the family watches, and now these parents have to step in and have reassuring conversations.
“Really it was just about trying to diminish the idea that it’s a crisis,” Filippi said about soothing his daughter. “Talk her through this. That this is a situation where, even if we had a president who really wanted to move forward with an extreme policy like that, we have a system of checks and balances. We have a system that is set up to bring people to the middle to force compromise. Something extreme like that would be very difficult to implement, if it ever happened at all. And really trying to reassure her that our country has been through a lot. This seems like a crisis, this seems urgent because it’s what’s happening today. Obviously you don’t have to go very far back in American history to see that we’ve dealt with far worse than this. Her friend is not going to be forced to leave the country. Even if you’re disappointed in the result, you accept it. You can be upset about it and that’s okay. But you move forward and you become more engaged. Like I told her, what you should really take from this is the need to better educate yourself. To really focus on studying up on the political process in school. Take it seriously and understand that it has real world consequences for you and your friends and everybody and it’s worth learning about.”
Simpson was able to calm her son, who woke up not wanting to go to school, but she says the conversation was not easy, especially since she was also upset over the election.
“After the second one, with the 9-year-old, it broke my heart, it actually brought me to tears,” Simpson said. “It was just so emotional and we had to try and reassure her. She doesn’t quite understand. She just understands the key words that were spoken in the past about immigrants and deportations.”
Filippi’s daughter is in sixth grade and he’s now keenly aware that she’s starting to become engaged in the world.
“As a parent, it’s an interesting transition because when she was younger we really tried to shield her from the news and current events. She was in the third or fourth grade when Sandy Hook happened and I was absolutely terrified that she would find out about that and just freak out. And really have some difficult questions for Mom and I to answer. Now, she never really heard about that. But it just points to the interesting transition here that she’s really at that age in middle school where you’re becoming more aware, you’re becoming more engaged and the real world is upon you. It’s time to learn and it’s time to be ready to interact with it.”
Simpson and her wife were on the front lines fighting for gay marriage, and they took their kids on that journey with them. Now they’ll continuing to push the message that getting involved is the best solution.
“We just have to do our job as parents and reassure them that if they want to make changes, they have to do something about it,” Simpson said. “We told our son, if you want to make change, run for elections at school, volunteer, do what you can. It doesn’t always work but it’s your best shot at a better future to make changes yourself.”