Tell Your Children This

Many people have asked what they should tell their children about the 2016 election. There are all sorts of issues surrounding meanness and bullying and I’m not sure how I would handle that discussion with young children but here is what I will tell my older sons.

Boys-

Your candidate lost. You feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under you and that you are on shaky ground. The 2016 campaign and election were not typical but nonetheless you have just witnessed the democratic process at work. And even if you don’t agree with or understand the result, the process itself is a thing of beauty. It worked in 2016 as it has for over 200 years and as it will continue to work because as divided as the populace of our country is, the state of our union is strong. The president-elect, our current president and the defeated candidate all spoke humbly, graciously and appropriately. Here are some takeaways:

1) The process is bigger than any one man or woman. Your father and his law firm joined thousands of others manning election hotlines to assure that the process was fair.

2) You don’t need to like or agree with the positions of the person holding office but you need to respect the office of the presidency.

3) Complacency is a luxury we can no longer afford. Everything we hold dear is on the table. Fight for it. If there are rights you want to preserve, fight for them. If there are political candidates you want to see in office, work for them. If there are people you know who need your protection, take on their cause. Let the sting of defeat motivate you.

4) We largely live in our own bubble buoyed by those around us who agree with what we say, on social media and in the real world. We need to get out and listen but listening is not enough, we need to really hear what people are saying. It’s easier to turn away. Don’t do it. Stay engaged. Be part of the conversation.

I believe that your father and I and our peers are of the generation that must die in the desert before reaching the promised land. There are just too many of us who cling to old notions about race and gender. I believe that you and your generation will make this world  fairer, more color blind, and more accepting of the fact that gender should not define us or limit our destiny.

I do not despair because you my boys will get there.

As ever,

Your proud mom

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4 thoughts on “Tell Your Children This

  1. Hi

    I don’t know if you know me but I am a fellow member of Agudath. Although I have younger children (two daughters….one in 5th grade and one in 3rd) I have subscribed to yourblog and truly enjoy reading your pieces.

    This one was, as always, so well done and in my opinion spot on! Thank you for writing and sharing.

    Ok if I forward on to others?

    Thanks Debbie Rosen

    Get Outlook for iOS

  2. While I sincerely appreciate the calmness and fairness of your post about what to tell children, it appears to me that you are missing the opportunity to teach about propaganda. So much information, from both sides, has been clear propaganda; and yet so few people seem to know how to identify it. I agree with you that our sons and daughters should be taught to listen, and listen well. That is very true; however, learning to listen well means they must also be taught to think critically. Critical thinking skills are necessary to make informed opinions and decisions. Unfortunately, the grossly overrated and dangerous reliance on what newscasters, celebrities, entertainers, peer-hearsay and social media have to say does not promote critical thinking. Before reacting, commenting, posting or “liking” anything, perhaps we can take the time to inquire: What do you mean by that? [really, truly listening to what is being said or promoted] Where do you get your information? [finding out the source of information and how much research someone is really doing on an issue] How do you know that’s true? [what makes the information credible and reliable] and, finally, What if you are wrong? [offering the opportunity for open dialogue about another perspective or thinking about consequences]. It is also vital that we learn to be able to answer every one of these questions regarding our own opinions before we go about promoting anyone or anything. It matters not what “side” you are on – these questions need to be asked and answered in rational and respectful conversations – free of histrionics, name-calling, belittling, labeling, bullying and intimidation. Additionally, employing the old adage of being sure to ask yourself these three things before you even open your mouth…”Is what I am about to say kind? it is true? is it necessary?” …will go a long way in healing and continued communication. That’s what informed, kind, and mature people need to do…and the world will be a much better, more peaceful place indeed.

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