How do you tell the children?

imgresI kept reading over and over again from friends and people the same question “How do we tell the children”?

We pass on our own morals and values to our children.  We teach them to be respectful of others.  We teach them the difference between right and wrong.  Most important we want them to feel safe.

How do you explain to your children that their country elected a man into office who is a bully, misogynist, a racist, a narcissist, has taken advantage of several women including his wife, appears to have not paid his taxes for decades, has ignored all rules of civility and at all counts appears not to care because he thinks he is above it, is completely not curious, has not paid people who have worked for him, has filed for bankruptcy multiple times in order to not pay anyone but himself….ok enough but there is more.  How do you explain to them that there was obviously a lot of people who voted for someone like this even though they are educated and know better but because perhaps they are also racists but more than likely they care more about their own pocket book than their fellow person.

Your children ask you….how could this happen?  How could our fellow country people vote in someone who has never held office or understands the issues at hand?  We might have lost as Democrats but it isn’t like we lost to a fit Republican who just doesn’t agree with the same policies that we do.  This is a whole other ball game.

I can’t help but go back to 9/11.  Gathering our children at school and walking up 6th Avenue to our home.  The city was cast in a pallor of shock.  That shock continued for weeks on end and as adults we all realized our world had just changed.  I remember our kids asking us the simple question that we were asking ourselves….why?  Why would someone do this?  As a parent we answered in truth.  People don’t have the same morals, values and respect for others as you do.  There are bad people in the world.  People who hate us for the way we live and the freedom we have.  Not easy to understand at 9, 7 and 4 but you must explain to them the issues at hand even when you would like to shield them from it.  Unfortunately that day was a learning moment about the realities of the world.

Our children who are young adults are feeling unsafe, untethered and confused.  We have lived through different administrations but they have lived through very few.  The last 8 years have been uplifting and powerful to have a black President who is smart, curious, cares about people and by all counts tried to do the right thing at all times.  There was no drama in that White House for 8 years.  The only drama came from outside, in the Senate and the House, where they attempted to block his every move.  That was not pretty but that unfortunately is the politics that has made this country angry.

I am unsettled too.  This is not politics as usual this is something completely different.  I want to wrap my arms around our kids and say it will be ok.  I am not so sure it will be but we have no choice but to band together, try to understand what happened and realize that our morals and values are being compromised but we shouldn’t let go of them.

Comments (Archived):

    1. Gotham Gal

      great piece.

    2. Rohan

      I was just about to share that, Arnold. Thank you for sharing it.One thing we know for sure – he can write. :)The other thing – he did spoil us with Jed Bartlett, Arnold Vinick and Matthew Santos.

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        I had a soft spot for Arnie. The Atheist Republican. Only Sorkin could have dreamt that up.

        1. Rohan

          Same!A republican who was winning in California and a democrat who won Texas. Always the idealist.

    3. Susan Rubinsky

      I’ve been watching Sorkin since last week. Needed it badly.

      1. awaldstein

        Yup language to me in the hands of some is a palliative–amongst other things. Like an interesting bottle of wine. Necessary tools of life.

    4. Susan Rubinsky

      This is a fine piece. Thank you for sharing it. I hadn’t seen it yet.

    5. Donna Brewington White

      This is just as hateful as what is being condemned.But it is written out of anger. So I get it.

      1. awaldstein


        1. Gotham Gal

          I’m angry he won. I’m angry that government is a mess and it is about staying in power not helping their citizens. I am angry that Hillary ran a shitty campaign and did things that were stupid. I’m really angry

          1. awaldstein

            you and i both.It has colored my thinking and thrown me into places i’ve not really known before.It has confirmed for me that i have a line that i can’t simply can’t accept.I’ve lost two friends. people i liked and respected not because we disagree, but because i simply cannot accept the moral compass of those who think that any idea of a hater like trump has value enough to stand with yes, pissed off as well.but my anger is not hateful. nor unfounded. nor is what i think only driven by my emotions–though fueled by it.

          2. Gotham Gal

            I get it

  1. Sunchowder

    Beautiful words as oh so true.

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    What we tell our children. My son is a sophomore in college. He texted me all night on Tuesday as the numbers came in. Eventually he said he’s moving to Canada. I wrote back: “No, you’re not. You’re staying here to finish college. Then you’ll go out into our country and do the good work that needs to be done. Our country needs you young, smart, thoughtful people now more than ever.”And, I do recall having that 9/11 conversation with my son. He was four years old at the time and in kindergarten. A different conversation is had with a four year old than a nineteen year old. My son was petrified for weeks that I would die because I worked in an office near the top of a 14 story building in New Haven. A small child does not understand that a 14 story building is far different than an office tower in Manhattan, all he knows is that some bad person might fly a plane into it on purpose and kill his Mom.What we do and say is what we always do and say if we are true to our values and ourselves. We get up, we organize, we keep on doing the good work we’re doing. When our children see us do that, we are being the best role models they can have. We can also talk to our children about history and place this tiny time point on a larger scale to help them understand that we will work through this and we will work toward good.

    1. Gotham Gal

      the day after 9/11 i made all of us take a subway uptown. we had to keep going.

  3. pointsnfigures

    The same way I told my kids when Bush beat Gore, Bush beat Kerry, Obama beat McCain, Obama beat Romney. Follow the Golden Rule. Treat people the way you want to be treated. At the school my kids went to, they had grief counselors for kids WTF. When I was growing up and Johnson won, or Nixon won, or Carter won, there were no grief counselors for me or my friends. I think we way over dramatize things. We ain’t gonna agree on politics I know-but I also think the more we can keep it out of our relationships the better. I don’t think less or more of anyone I interact with simply because they believe in Ds or Rs. Treat em all the same and try to treat them the way I want them they want to treat me. If we all did that, things would take care of themselves. For a take from a conservative blog, read this:… I thought it was also pitch perfect.

  4. JLM

    .’Perhaps you tell them that the United States changes its governments by the will of people. That more than 200 years ago some men mapped out how our republic was going to operate. It was a good, not perfect, start. They made some mistakes but they left us with a document which could be amended to fix the problems they may have inadvertently made.Using that amendment process, we corrected some big mistakes — slavery, womens’ suffrage, Presidential term limits.It is still the best system in the world and our country is a place which people are willing to risk life and limb to get in — legally and illegally. So, we must be doing something right.You might tell them that our good people elected the first black President and he served for two full terms. It was a singular achievement.This election offered up a woman to be the first female President. and many folks saw that as an attractive advancement in much the same way they were proud to elect a black man to the office.She, unfortunately, was a flawed candidate (perhaps all candidates are flawed) but she was one you supported for whatever reasons you might want to articulate.Her opponent was a New Yorker who bested 16 other candidates to emerge as the candidate of the Republican Party. It was a stern test and he vanquished professional politicians who had years of experience. Nobody thought it was likely but he showed them.But, America was angry. It manifested that anger in the 2014 mid-term elections wherein the Republicans were handed a mandate — control of the Senate, a larger margin in the House, more governorships and more statehouses than ever.The President said, “Make no mistake, my policies are on that ballot.”When 2016 came along he said, “The election of Donald Trump would be a personal repudiation.”Candidate Trump was the only candidate — primary or general election — who got it as it related to the angry electorate. He tapped into it and said he’d be their advocate. They returned the favor and voted for him. They did, in fact, repudiate the Obama legacy.The pollsters and pundits and the HRC campaign missed the magnitude of the anger.Trump won the Rust Belt. Look at a map. Other than Illinois, Trump swept the Rust Belt. Clean sweep. Places Republicans hadn’t won in decades.And the Rust Belt is where the people whose jobs had been shipped overseas lived. Where the union members whose bosses had failed to safeguard their jobs ran things. Where jobs were being taken by illegal aliens in other states.The election was further compounded by the alliance amongst the Democrats, the HRC campaign, the White House, the MSM, the pundits, the pollsters but so deep was the reservoir of the abandoned, the deplorables, the overlooked, the flyover country — Trump won.Tell them that in life, you don’t get what you want just because you want it. If you want something bad enough, you go work for the campaign. You raise money for the campaign. You put skin in the game. Elections are not coronations.Then, you tell them that we have a single President at a time and it is picked by all of our citizens. This duly elected man will be our President for four years and maybe eight. You tell them you’ll defeat his policies and governance at the ballot box next time.And, you tell them one day there will be a woman who is President and who deserves the job and wins at the ballot box and doesn’t have to cheat to win. But you close by saying — “Ours is the longest lasting republic in the history of the world. This is the way we change Presidents, by the will of the people. There will be no tanks in the street. Next time, we will put our person in.”Then you go on with your life knowing you live in the best country in the world.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. Twain Twain

    As a female investor committed to investing in diverse startups, you inspire and show your kids and other people how to do good as a role model.It’s that type of signal and light that the world will need more of during Trump’s presidency. So this election result will only galvanize and resolve those who share similar values to President Obama and the better version of all of us, to make sure the light stays strong and shining bright.Many people around the world are also heartbroken because of what America is supposed to represent.* https://www.theguardian.comhttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…It’s important to note that, for some women, Trump’s casual misogyny wasn’t an issue.https://www.theguardian.comhttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…The irony is that in 1995, when she was First Lady, Hillary Clinton said to the Chinese: “Women’s rights are human rights.” Fast forward to 2016 and ……Meanwhile, in data and AI, the casual unconscious bias of male researchers means … https://uploads.disquscdn.c…*…President Obama and Hillary Clinton grasped these issues. They’re people who are “smart, curious, care about people and by all counts tried to do the right thing at all times.”*…Will a President Trump have the same nuanced intelligence and patience to work with technology leaders to reduce and resolve data and system biases on behalf of everyone?Meanwhile, Chinese companies like Alibaba are forging ahead with the philosophy of Yin+Yang (female+male), working well together as equals.http://www.huffingtonpost.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

  6. Kirsten Lambertsen

    The first thing my 7 year old daughter said when I gave her the news was, “What’s going to happen to my friend, Aranza?!” Aranza’s parents immigrated here from Mexico City before Aranza was born.Fortunately, I had an easy answer for that one, because Aranza’s parents are both citizens now. But I don’t have an easy answer about our friend and babysitter of 8 years, Cecilia. Her citizenship is delayed (after being here 30 years) because she accidentally voted 25 years ago after someone at the DMV told her she should.My policy from day 1 has been to be as honest and transparent with my kids as possible and to respect their intellects. Now I find myself navigating between that and avoiding filling them with unhealthy fear and anxiety.But the protesters last night, bless them, gave me what I needed, I think. I’ll tell my kids that no matter what, we’ll fight for what’s right. That millions of people believe in fairness and equality, and we’ll all band together to overcome.

  7. rickfield

    Here is the best approach I have seen on how to discuss all this, from Martellus Bennett, an African-American football player addressing his three-year old daughter:

      1. Gotham Gal

        That’s great and that kid is adorable

  8. AMT Editorial Staff

    But, the same “talk” would be necessary with HRC in a way. The lies, profiting…It should be how do we get our kids to grow up and be honest, accepting, curious….to be the “right/good” candidate…to do better.

  9. Donna Brewington White

    It might help the parent to read this post from Mark Suster and go from there:https://bothsidesofthetable…If we raise our kids in an ideological bubble unable to understand or relate to (or at least RESPECT) those outside it then we will continue to have a divided nation. The problem I have with the Sorkin piece is that it perpetuates the arrogance and presumption that got us to this place. We are right, they are stupid and wrong (and all the same). Maybe some humility?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I agree. It’s a tough topic period