Talk to Kids about Responding to Politics

by Melissa Bonicci

This election has been an extremely polarizing one. That much is apparent. What’s not as apparent is the messages we are sending to our kids as they grow up with the memories of post-election violence, and the possibility that our kids could be the ones participating in this.

Numerous schools serving all ages – from kindergarten to college – have reported incidences of violence and harassment against racial and religious minorities and the LGBTQ community. There have been racist chants, deportation letters, physical assaults, threats, signs, and more.  But the violence goes both ways: There have been numerous reports of Trump supporters getting bullied too. They have been beaten, harassed, threatened, and assaulted.

I ask you this: is this what democracy is supposed to look like? Is this the kind of message we want our kids to receive? That we practice violence when people disagree with us, whether it be politics, religion, or something else?

I want to impress upon everyone that how parents and other adults behave in response to this election will send a message to our kids. And the bullies at school could be your kid. When kids start chanting, your kid may join in. When kids start throwing things, your kid may join in. A conversation with your kid could be the difference in that.

I encourage you to talk to your children about appropriately responding to differences in beliefs, and how they can safely intervene in cases of bullying. I encourage you to explain how violence is not supposed to be part of the democratic process. If our children are seeing a presidential election for the first time, they may not know this.

This is why our country is so drastically divided. Because we spend more time screaming and hurting the other side than we do listening to them and their concerns. Perhaps if we all have a conversation with our kids, the next generation can heal the divisions in our country.

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