If you are part of the Pantsuit Nation, as my family is, you are no doubt feeling this morning shock and despair.
I was naïve enough to believe that Hillary Clinton would prevail in the end. I slept little last night, waking up each hour or so to check the returns on CNN.
This morning I am devastated to understand that the majority of people of this country would rather elect a megalomaniac, misogynistic racist than a brilliant woman who was actually well-prepared to do the hard work of running this country.
But I cannot share all of that with my twin 9-year-olds and 6-year-old. They are too young to digest in its entirety what a tragedy this election is for our nation.
As deeply disturbed as I am by last night’s surprise turn of events, my job remains that of taking care of my kids, and part of that mission means not sharing all of my feelings with them. Now is the time to apply a filter, to make sure that what my husband and I say to them at home is developmentally appropriate and digestible for them—not to overwhelm them with our own devastation.
I urge others not to let Donald Trump hijack your children’s mental health.
We need to work together to figure out how to elevate the dialogue about what has happened for the youth of our county. And we need to make sure we are not getting carried away in the privacy of our own homes. Switch off the media. Don’t over-expose children to pundits and images they cannot understand. Discuss the gravity of this moment, but make sure to reassure your kids that as parents, caregivers and guardians, you will continue to protect them—to counteract hysteria that they may be encountering on the outside.
Figuring out how to do all of this is not easy, and so I thought I would share some wisdom a friend posted this morning on Facebook about what he said to his children.
“We stood up for ideas we judged to be good and right, and we opposed the ones we deemed a danger,” this friend told his kids, adding that “lots of smart people thought we were going to win, but we didn't. Unexpected things happen, that's part of life. We, as a family, are extremely fortunate. We, by blessings bestowed and good circumstance, live a charmed life. We are surrounded by family, friends, and a community that values equality, compassion, and respect, just as we do. We do not want for food, money, health care, education, art, beauty, or love. The election will change none of that. Today we are deeply sad. But after a time we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off. We will press on. We don't give up in this family…”
My husband and I will most likely borrow some of these words and blend them with our own. We will continue to talk to our children about how, although we are deeply disappointed that Trump will be our next president, there are checks and balances in the system and lots of other people who will work with him. We will emphasize to our kids that they are safe. We will say these things, even if we don’t 100 percent believe them, because we feel it is the most responsible path to follow for our family.
Our country is stronger than any one person, my husband told me this morning. For our children's sake, I have to believe that he is right.