14 Ways I'm Parenting Around Kindness and Understanding Post-Election
Many of us want to make the world a better place for our children. Many of us want our children to grow into happy, healthy and successful adults. Many of us have different opinions on how to achieve that. As parents, I think we should teach our children there is more to diversity than the way you look, the religion you practice, and the person you choose to love. There can also be diversity in political and social views.
In my experience, I feel I’ve grown as a person by learning about different religions, traditions from other cultures, and viewpoints that do not match my own. That is one of the amazing things about the melting pot of America. I want my children to learn we can be better people when we have diversity — and even adversity — in our lives. We can agree to disagree and remain friends. We can oppose someone’s beliefs through conversations aimed at understanding one another instead of insulting one another.
The foundation of freedom in this country allows parents to choose what they teach their children. There have been a lot of things written about what we should tell our children about the recent presidential election. These are my thoughts on how we move forward:
1. We tell our children how they act is their choosing. How you respond to adversity is your choice. How people remember you is your choice. I ask that you consider leaving an impression of kindness and empathy. I don’t believe hate and violence have ever created positive change.
2. I believe using the outcome of an election as an excuse to bully, be violent, or break laws is wrong no matter what your political beliefs are. There is no excuse for it. It was wrong 10 years ago, it was wrong last week, and it’s still wrong today.
3. We tell our children how we treat people matters. They can watch our behavior and read our social media posts. They can learn how to treat people of different race, religion, or sexual preference and people with disabilities by watching the adults around them. Be an example of kindness.
4. We remind our children that everyone’s life has importance and value. Understand that everyone has a story you may know nothing about. You will likely never know everything about a person’s history, faith, disappointments, trials, dreams, etc. Don’t add to someone’s troubles.
5. We have honest discussions with our children about differences of opinion. I believe arguing different viewpoints is what can bring us to better outcomes. Change is challenging; it requires negotiation and compromise.
6. We teach our children that their behavior has consequences. How they treat someone, what they say, and what they post on social media can’t be undone — even if you apologize and regret it. Hurtful words can last a lifetime; what you post on social media might deny you access to the job you want or admittance to the college you want to attend. How you act can create or break a friendship.
7. We have an honest conversation with our children about how people make a decision to vote for one candidate over another. We all have different opinions on the direction of this country and how important various issues are to each of us. As a voter, we weigh the issues most important to us and vote for the candidate who we believe aligns best with our opinion. We tell our children there will likely never be a candidate who represents exactly everything you want, but you have a responsibility to make an educated vote. People have fought and died for our right to do that.
8. We tell our children they should not believe everything in the news and that there is almost always another side to the story. Investigate, be curious, and research issues on your own. Don’t let the media bias your values or shape your character.
9. We tell our children we live in a country of freedoms that allow us to lobby and protest. Those freedoms, however, do not justify rioting that destroys property or creates violence against other people.
10. We teach our children American history. Diversity can enrich our lives, but it can also be painful and heartbreaking. Study other periods of our history when the country was divided (the Civil War and segregation, for example). What lessons can we take from that to help guide us now?
11. We educate our children about what a democracy is. We read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence with our children, and we discuss our viewpoints on those documents in a way that can help them understand. We teach them how to develop their own opinions and help them to understand the process of how our government works.
12. We explain to our children that no one person has universal control of our government or the laws that are made. We teach them about checks and balances. We teach them how other governments in other countries operate and how that compares to ours.
13. We show our children how to be an effective voice for change in a democratic government. Making or changing a law takes discipline, strategy, patience and constant dedication. Creating social change does not happen as a “quick fix,” nor does it provide immediate gratification. It is a marathon process.
14. We empower our children to become active citizens in the world they create. And we remain hopeful that they will “be the change they wish to see in the world” (Gandhi).
Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.
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