“Is there really going to be a war” is the question my 8-year greeted me with this morning. Despite my belief that I had done a stellar job in objectively explaining the democratic process, the candidates, even our perspectives and assuring her that we would be fine, that question was a reminder that our kids require continuous support in helping them contextualize, as well as humanize, what is going on in this crazy world. As with most issues, whether we talk directly to them about it or not, our children are picking up all of nerves and anxieties over this election, ours and the rest of the world.
In any election, there is talk about the candidates, why we like them, why we don’t like the other guy but this election is fraught with high tension and emotion. “It’s a survival vote”, “No matter what who wins, we all will struggle” and “Vote for your life” are all anxiety-provoking statements expressed right in my home, by my eldest of 21. She does not carry these sentiments alone, with many expressing them in loud, at times, frightening ways. Let’s make sure that we do not leave children to their imaginations to figure all this out alone!
This angst and tension is palpable. It is in the very air that our children are breathing. In a time that is already scary to us adults, children have to decipher what all the yelling, clatter, friction and hate means and where they stand in the midst of it. It is confusing and unsettling. It is easy to project our own fears and worries.
While election day is upon us today, it is not too late to use this moment as another opportunity to help our children grow, demonstrate calm, model empathy and kindness and to reassure them that we are their protectors.
· Check in with them and find out what their thoughts are about this election. They may know more than you think!
· Let them ask questions. Give fact-based answers!
· You should share your perspectives and viewpoints without sharing your angst.
· Use this as a learning opportunity to discuss our civic responsibility to make our voices heard with our vote. AND ACTUALLY VOTE!
· This can also be an opportunity to talk about humanity, empathy, equal rights, Black Lives Matter, women’s rights, activism and the list goes on.
· Most importantly, reassure them that we, as their parents, are their protectors. Given the questions asked of me this morning, this point is especially important!
Stay healthy and safe! VOTE!