Switching between 7 different news stations and rotating through trying to make what I could of the numbers, I stayed up until 3am watching the 2016 presidential election unfold in real time in some sort of twilight zone that no side predicted. Personally, I did not feel like I had a horse in this race, but I stayed up knowing history would be made regardless.
The world watched the president-elect walk out on stage. He thanked the crowd, told them he was involved in complicated business, and then mentioned he had just gotten off the phone with Hillary Clinton who had congratulated him on his win.
My teeth involuntarily clenched as I waited for some off-color remark to come from his mouth next.
Some joke or something he would never be able to take back was bound to be the black mark that shaped the next 4 years of our country.
And in those seconds I held my breath as Donald Trump said “and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign…[She] has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.”
As he began and as he was our new commander in chief I couldn’t help but think ” We live in a resilient country. We live in a country I still believe in.”
One that has shifted from isolationism to building the atomic bomb to defend itself.
One that has been attacked and risen higher because of it.
One that is filled with flawed humans and fickle politicians and even corruption just like other countries, but our land stands as the land of opportunity for many.
A country I would have believed in if Hillary had captured 270 votes in this country or if some third party came in a swept the electoral college in an upset that would look like 52- card pick-up.
As these thoughts of resiliency and belief swirled in my mind and as I thought of all the people I knew who were so adamant for one candidate over another, I heard Donald Trump give a surprisingly gracious speech.
He called for Americans to stand together and to bind their wounds.
He called for cooperation and unity across parties.
He called for common ground and partnership over conflict.
What our kids can learn from the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election
With those words from a man who so many dislike and after an election cycle so many condemned, I began thinking of the next 4 years and what it will mean for my family, especially my two young daughters and newborn son that will grow up hearing about this historic and controversial election and what do I want them to know about the heart of our country?
And then in the wake of Trump’s inaguration it was truly awe-inspiring to live in a country that both peacefully transfers power to an opposing political party and protests at the same time. Both very American, standing as examples for the rest of the world for nearly 300 years.
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What important lessons do I want them to learn from the election? And maybe more importantly, what do I want them to see in a Trump Presidency?
If you lie, it impacts more than you.
No one knows if the polls were wrong, if the media was lying, or if individuals were lying to pollsters.
We lie in order to protect ourselves. And maybe those polled were too ashamed to admit they were actually going to vote for Trump. Maybe certain media outlets lied about polls to bolster support for Clinton. Both candidates have been accused of lying as well and that impacted the election as a whole too.
It doesn’t matter in the end. America has decided.
It’s the lesson that I can teach my children that no person and no process is perfect, but lying impacts more than just “self”. Even a so-called “white lie” can impact those around us and change the outcome of a situation in a major way.
Teach your kids about elections with these books about voting and citizenship.
Don’t always believe what everyone else is telling you and don’t let it keep you from something greater.
Whether someone is saying that a system is rigged or another is claiming indisputable victory, it does not mean give up. It simply encourages us to work harder at what we believe in and to truly follow our conscience. And it also points to the need to teach our children to keep their heads down and work hard, not stopping until the very end.
It’s a two-fold lesson in that our kids can learn to persevere, but also to filter out the noise stopping them from accomplishing their goals.
Just like the meme where Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying to not always believe what’s on the internet, it’s the case for teaching our children to always question and never blindly follow. The election proves that even the experts can’t predict the future and that facts and figures can’t dictate out actions as people.
The next time your child is the underdog, remind them they can beat all odds.
Your voice is never wasted when you’re doing what you believe in.
In terms of the election, third party and even write-in votes don’t mean that a person did not participate. They can vote 3rd party and work towards a change and any votes can help shape the local government and the legislative branch (which is actually more powerful than the presidency in our system).
Our kids can learn from this.
That their voice matters even if they’re not choosing a side, but speaking their heart in another direction. And it’s always valuable to speak up and speak out when it’s what you believe in.
I want my children to know what a privilege it is to live in a Democratic-Republic and that it’s not only their right to vote, but their duty to do so. The checks and balances, as well as the electoral college, also mean that the voting process is protected against widespread uninformed voting.
Character matters, but our past doesn’t have to shape our future.
Both winning and losing force personal growth. I sincerely hope that in the future I can point to a Trump presidency to demonstrate the concept of grace, change, and redemption. As Trump has not had the most pristine personal track record, my genuine hope is that this is the turning point. That he will rise up and rise above his past to forge a better future.
All people are flawed and no one is perfect, but how we handle ourselves and grow from our mistakes is what shapes us.
I can’t predict the future, but based on the shockingly gracious speech given by Trump upon winning, it’s a lesson I will be looking to find moments and lessons to show my children.
It is my hope to be able to come to my kids in their moments of extreme consequences, in the moments of bad judgment, and when they have made seemingly irreparable mistakes that they can know it doesn’t have to shape their future.
Other important family discussions to have
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