I cried myself to sleep last night.
Not so much for myself and my personal reasons for feeling horrified about the results of the 2016 election, no.
I cried for the children.
How do we as loving and accepting adults explain to our children that a bully has become the President of the United States?
The answer is, I really do not know. We do not know what the future holds with a madman as our "leader". Uncertainty can be one of the most challenging feelings to have for a parent - especially when it comes at a magnitude such as this.
We want our children to feel safe, secure and accepted, but when we ourselves do not feel safe or secure, when we are filled with uncertainty, how do we model this? How do we turn all this divisiveness into something positive?
Be honest. For so many of you, the last thing you want to do is deliver news like this to your children, but it is the truth. This happened.
Answer questions and be a sounding board for your child. Let them know that they can ask you anything about this process, no question is unwelcome. This can be hard to do because children are often the ones who ask the most raw and honest questions. If you don't have an answer, tell them that - "I just don't know." We must be honest with our children about this, and not shelter them from what is happening.
Let them see you cry. If like me, this election has moved you to tears, do not fear showing this to your children. But reassure them that you are going to do everything in your power to keep them safe.
Turn off the news. A running cycle of the news in your home does not serve anyone well. If you must, watch when your children are at school.
Check in with each other at the end of the day. The teachers of the world have a big job ahead of them today. There is bound to be plenty of talk about this election among the students of school. The last thing we want is to divide our children based on our preferences. Invite your child to talk with you at the end of the day about conversations at school. Again, continue to be a safe place for your child to talk freely. Refrain from getting angry or upset by what they have to say. Calmly discuss, ask questions, move slowly with your words.
Be aware of your adult conversations. Yes, you must be honest with your child about this election, but you do not have to tell them everything. Be aware of your conversations with other adults. Your children are listening to everything you say and do, so save your venting for when your children are not around.
Model love and acceptance. In a situation such as this, it is very easy to point fingers. To get mad at others. To create divisions - us vs. them. This will get us nowhere. We do not have to like one another. We do not have to like the choices made. But we do need to love. We need to accept. We need to treat one another fairly. More hate will spiral this into an even darker place. Choose love.
Keep the conversation going. This is not going away, and for many the healing process may be long. Continue to talk with each other about this upcoming change, do not sweep it under the rug.
Brainstorm together. Think of ways to help out in your community together - volunteer, practice random acts of kindness, help out a neighbor. Be kind.
Discuss your family values. I do not want the boys of our world to look up to him. He is not worthy of that. I do not want the girls of our world to think it is okay/normal/typical for a man to treat them disrespectfully. It is not okay. Discuss with your children what your family values are. Ask them to chime in. How do we treat others (and those who voted for him)? Do we have a loving and accepting heart for all? Are we respectful and kind?
Bullying is not acceptable. It is easy to tell our children not to bully others, but we must first explain how a bully acts so our children know what not to do, and what to look out for. This is now much more difficult, as the person who our children should be able to look up to is the king of bully. Talk about great men and women of our country - find different role models together. Refrain from being a bully yourself (again - vent AWAY from your children.)
Stress safety and security with your child. Uncertainty is a scary place for us all. Remind your child that they are your first priority, and their safety and security matters to you. You don't have to say this with your words, a person can feel safe simply by the environment provided, the tenderness given, and the knowledge that there is a parent/adult who will listen.
Take moments for yourself to heal. You must take care of yourself in order to take care of your child - especially in such a highly emotional time. Remember to breath.
And lastly, do what I did and blast Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All"
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be...
Love on one another today my fellow Americans. That is sometimes the best we can do.