Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How To Talk To Your Kids About the 2016 Election

So I am super depressed today about a certain president-elect.  I can't even put his name in the vicinity of the word "president."  Just seems like an insult to George, Abe, FDR and the gang.

But life must go on and I gotta get out of bed, mainly because I have children who really are capable of surviving for at least a few days by themselves, but whose whining borders on listening to Donald Trump say "China" on loop as one of my Top 10 Ways I Don't Want to Go Insane.  Interesting Top 10 list, you might say.  Begs the question of how you WOULD want to go insane.  Thanks for asking, I have actually thought about this extensively, since my insanity is pretty much assured anyway, and I've settled on being licked incessantly by kittens OR living the rest of my life in the grocery store cereal aisle OR, my perennial favorite, baking cookies with my children.  Those all rank highly because, while they will indeed drive me insane, there could intervals of enjoyment.

In addition to whining and various other annoying activities, my children are also looking to me for (shudder) leadership on how to view this election.  After ruling out running through the house screaming "The end is NIGH, Patriots!!!!" while throwing random things into boxes marked with an address in rural Cataan, which my husband has repeatedly settled with great success, I've decided to go with some more measured options that will reassure my children and even show them the upside of this election, which I will share with you now, because as you know, this blog is ALL about offering expert parenting advice on a variety of difficult life topics.

Emphasize that they are not going to die from the election. Today.  Kids don't really know how to take the long view, they live in the now.  And right now, the adults in their lives are subtly signaling to them that the world will spontaneously combust soon, and that may be upsetting to many children.  But you can share with your children the good news that this election is highly unlikely to cause their deaths today, especially if they simply play away from the windows and doors through which angry mobs of feminists are likely to fling their pantsuits. If you feel up to it, however, you can go ahead and have a more challenging discussion in which you gently tell your children that everyone and everything on earth dies eventually, including two-hundred-and-forty-year-old democracies, and that the world actually will eventually spontaneously combust since we are apparently not going to do anything about global warming.

Explain to them that hypocrisy is actually very normal and nothing to be ashamed of.  The ways of adults can be baffling and overwhelming to children because they simply have not acquired the neurological maturity to process them.  For instance, children assume that when adults tell them that certain behavior is wrong--such as calling people names, lying repeatedly and compulsively even when there is TV footage proving you wrong, grossly stereotyping whole groups of people and then strangely adding "the" to the groups' names, and light sexual assault-- children actually believe that we are serious.  They don't understand that those things are only wrong when there isn't a vacancy on the Supreme Court, and that the rest of the time, hypocrisy is a perfectly normal thing that  grown ups do sometimes within the context of a loving relationship with their own righteousness.
And that goes doubly for Christians, because Jesus called us to win every single time and at all costs and when Paul said they will know we are Christians by our love, what he really meant is that they will know we are Christians by our single issue voting.

Tell them that sometimes good people make bad choices.   It doesn't mean they are bad people.  Ask little Susie if she remembers that time when she chose to eat cat poop and then vomited it up all over the new, Constitution-shaped sofa and then ate the vomit and threw that up, too. Was that a good choice? No. But did Mommy still love her and think she was her adorable baby girl? Yes, she did.  However, the sofa was never the same, and nor was Susie's digestive tract.  Sometimes there are consequences to our actions.

Explain that there are almost certainly historical preservation and zoning codes that will constrain the new president's White House decorating scheme.  Children find it reassuring when their external environment remains unchanged.  You can gently assure them that it is highly unlikely that Donald Trump will be able to gold-plate the White House or set up a casino in the basement, although a red velvet throne in the Oval Office is a distinct possibility.

Assure them that McDonalds will not cease to exist as a food option.  McDonalds is a top priority for our children, and though America as we have known it may be ending, McDonalds is here to stay, because if McDonalds can survive Michelle Obama, it will certainly survive Donald Trump.  Until he deports all the undocumented immigrants.  OK, McDonalds may indeed cease to exist as a food option BUT we will still be able to buy chicken nuggets at Costco and China will provide the Crappy Meal toys to all American children for free.

But certain vegetables might.  Your children will feel much better about the future once you've told them that trade embargoes could easily make avocados and other vegetables unavailable in the United States.  On a similar front, coffee may also be unavailable, which means their parents' vicious cycle of drug addiction and their own co-dependency may finally come to an end.

Reminisce to your child about how fun the fear of nuclear holocaust was.  The Cold War was a super interesting and exciting time to be alive--the drama! the intrigue! the cheesy movies! the oversimplified dichotomies!  You have not lived until you have seen Red Dawn, and if the movie was that good, imagine the real thing.  No more boring Saturday afternoons around here!

Explain that Donald Trump will not let Robert Mugabe take all our land.  OK, this one may be case specific to my household.  But if you also have a child who is terrified of Robert Mugabe and fears that his fellow autocrat will invite him to America to pillage our property, you can soothe your child by explaining that Donald Trump almost certainly does not know that Zimbabwe exists and thinks Mugabe is the name of the villain in Zoolander.

Tell them that there WILL be other elections.  Actually, scratch that, that might scare them worse.  

I am sure I not covering all the pertinent issues that your child may bring up.  Feel free to forward me your questions, and I will do my best to help.

Peace out American parents!!! And today's parting tip, just for dads: Remember, your daughter needs to be regularly assured that she is sexually attractive enough for you to date in order to have the confidence to compete in today's job market.

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