A Vote for Trump is a Vote Against Humanity

Every day of this election cycle I am more and more saddened, angered, upset, and disgusted by my fellow Americans. I am drawn to write and share my perspective but it feels like every day  there is something new and more offensive, and I just can’t keep up. But recent events have compelled me to put into words my thoughts on this election and its most recent developments.

Namely, we’ve all heard a Republican candidate for President speaking about women as if they are meat. Talking about us like we are an achievement to be conquered not human beings worthy of respect. Worse, he talks about us like we are objects to be assaulted. And while we previously heard him call women pigs or insult them for their physical appearance, and we heard him openly ridicule Hispanics, and disparage a disabled man, it is only now that so many people are outraged.  And yet, there are people who heard  Donald Trump’s vile description of his actions towards women and they are still defending him.  To say I am disgusted is an understatement.

I was shocked when I saw a woman post this to her fellow Trump supporter’s Facebook page with the comment, “I thought this was funny.” Yes, a woman posted this:

trump-kermit

The last time I checked 50 Shades of Grey was fiction. And the last time I checked, we as human beings are capable of reading books and watching movies in which illegal/inappropriate/deplorable things happen without condoning those same actions in our real lives. We’ve all watched movies in which one person murders another person. That does not make it OK for Presidential candidates to murder people. This should not have to be stated. These clear truths should be just that…clear. But sadly, they are not.

I have always held strong views on political issues. And I have always been up for a feisty debate. I have friends who are both Republicans and Democrats, and while I’ve always felt strongly that Democrats are more focused on doing the most good for the most people (I posted about this back in 2012) I have always been able to at least understand the opposing side’s viewpoint. And while I was saddened, disheartened, and frustrated beyond belief when Bush “defeated” Gore in 2000 (the first Presidential election in which I was able to vote) I never truly feared for the safety of our nation and world because of Bush’s election.

But this election is no longer about politics. It is about human decency. It is about showing respect for the vast majority of human beings in our world: Women, Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics, refugees, people with disabilities. Nearly everyone fits into one of those categories  and if you don’t, you know someone who does. How people can make excuses for and even contemplate voting for a man who so clearly disrespects people who fall into these categories is nauseating.

I understand that Hillary Clinton is a polarizing figure. And I’ve heard and read every argument against her; even the completely false ones. I personally know people who are convinced that when Hillary was first lady that she refused to allow military personnel in the White House in uniform.  While I was fairly certain the Joint Chiefs of  Staff were never caught on the White House lawn in their underwear while changing into civilian clothes, I figured I would check with a Marine friend of mine. He verified that he personally knows a pilot who flew Marine One for the Clintons and he verified he was in the White House on many occasions, while in uniform, as was every other military person who ever set foot in the White House. Where do these lies come from?

For a moment let’s pretend all the accusations, lies, and rumors about Hillary are true (for the record: They are NOT!) but let’s pretend. Even then, she still doesn’t prefer to write misogynistic tweets at 3a.m. over studying policy proposals and understanding the complexities of our world. She is not publicly ridiculing the vast majority of the world’s population. She does not spew hatred and disrespect. She doesn’t speak cavalierly about nuclear weapons, suggesting the ease with which we should use them and encouraging other Nations to acquire nuclear weapons.  She does not praise our enemies. When people compare Hillary and Trump and try to say they are “equally bad,” I know they are misinformed. If Michael Chertoff, the once lead Republican lawyer on the Senate committee investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater scandal, former Secretary of Homeland Security, and lifelong Republican can vote for Hillary because he truly believes Trump would threaten the security of the United States then I suggest you gather your facts a little more carefully before stating otherwise.

If you’re a one issue voter on something like abortion, because you call yourself “pro life,” how can you vote for a man who so clearly does not value the lives of so many people?  This is a man who prefers to watch innocent men, women, and children in Syria continue to suffer than welcome them into our Country with open arms. He is a man who believes a woman who is so desperate, scared, and hopeless that she seeks an abortion should be punished. Trump is a man who believes killing the family members of terrorists, just because of who  they are related to is acceptable. He thinks he should be able to grab a woman’s “P***y” just because he’s famous; a gesture that devalues that woman’s life. This is not a man who respects life. If you’re “pro life” and voting for Trump you’re really “pro unborn child” and anti nearly everyone else.

This election I am truly struggling to understand and respect those I know who plan to cast their vote for Donald Trump. They are knowingly casting a vote for a misogynistic, Islamophobic, racist, xenophobic, narcissist. They are voting for a man who shows little respect for people who are different from him and who poses a sincere threat to the safety of our nation and world because of his denunciation of facts and preference for ratings over logic and careful calculation.

I’m not asking those who disagree strongly with Hillary’s views to vote for her. I’m just asking that they not vote for Trump. Though, I can honestly say that if Trump was the Democratic candidate (because let’s be honest, he was a democrat until he decided he had a better chance of winning as a Republican) and any other recent Republican was his opponent (Romney, Kasich, any of the Bushes, yes, even Cruz) then I would vote for his opponent because I could not take any part in risking his Presidency. But, I can understand how one’s principles would make it difficult to vote for a candidate with whom they truly disagree, and I respect that. But if you insist on voting for Trump despite what we clearly know about the type of man he is, then I cannot and will not ever understand you. A vote for Trump is a vote against humanity and I for one cannot respect people who would cast such a vote.  For our Nation, for our world, for your daughters and sons, and for the people who deserve so much better than this man, please, do not vote for Donald Trump.

 

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Maybe Donald Trump IS Good for Something

TrumpThis morning I shared what I thought was a cute anecdote about my kids and their disdain for Donald Trump. I explained how almost daily my two oldest boys (6 yrs and 3 yrs) clamber down the stairs in the morning, grab the Washington Post and eagerly look for pictures of Donald Trump to “X” out. I also shared how now my 21 month old is getting into the fun and every time he sees a picture of the GOP Nominee he yells “DUMP!! DUMP” and I shared my great pleasure in his toddler mispronunciation.

But then a friend with children older than mine called me out. She said:

“That might sound cute now. But it’s not so cute when they start crossing out pictures of their classmates in the yearbook. I know you don’t like him (and neither do I) but this is a good opportunity to not teach hate. Just speaking from a perspective of a parent with older children. Later, you’ll want your kids to try and find something positive in a classmate, especially one that doesn’t make friends easily. It’s easier to join the “everyone hates him so it’s okay to be mean” mentality. But is that really right?”

In reading her comment I realized a few things.  Primarily, she had a really good point and I told her so. I had no idea kids do that in their yearbooks. When I was a kid we signed each other’s yearbooks and never thought to cross out anyone’s picture. I would be mortified if one of my children ever did that to a classmate.  But the bigger thing I realized is that in my disdain for Trump and his rhetoric, and my frequent postings opposing him and showing support for Hillary, I have failed to mention the deep and important conversations I am having with my kids during this election season. Deep, important conversations every parent should be having with their children, regardless of their party affiliation.

My children don’t just know that I can’t stand Donald Trump. They know why. They know that I do my very best to be informed about the candidates and that my goal is to vote for the person who seeks to do the most good for the most people. I first wrote about this back on election day in 2012 when I was pregnant with my second son, and then again when this primary election season started. I know no candidate is perfect. I know they all have flaws. But I guarantee I will consistently vote for the person who I believe seeks to make life as good as possible for as many people as possible.  And I do not believe that is Donald Trump.

I will not vote for the candidate who wants to build a wall to keep out immigrants. I will not vote for a candidate who believes people should be barred from entering our country because of their religion. I will not vote for a candidate who makes no effort to speak the truth and when confronted with the truth finds ways to blame others or deny culpability. I will not vote for the candidate who uses bullying tactics against people who disagree with him. And my boys know this.

So, what is it you ask that Donald Trump is good for?

Well, because of Donald Trump we have talked a lot about hatred and acceptance. We have talked about what it means to try to see the best in people and not the worst. We have talked about how we are so very, very lucky to have been born in the United States and that we should seek to help other people who are not as lucky to have similar opportunities. We have talked about how it is unfair to deny people greater advantages just because they weren’t as lucky as we were by being born in the United States.

Because of Donald Trump we have talked about what it means to judge someone by the “content of their character” and not by the color of their skin, or the clothes they wear, or who they love, or their religious beliefs. We have talked about how all men and women deserve to be treated equally and that women are to be viewed as equals and not something to look at or judge harshly. We have talked about race, inequality, and social justice.

Because of Donald Trump we have talked about what it means to be a bully and how such behavior will not be tolerated. We have talked about ways in which we can stand up to bullies. I have encouraged my oldest son to look for the subtle signs of bullying at school and how to respectfully let his fellow students know that such behavior is not OK.

And because of Donald Trump we have talked about how even when we really, really, really do not like someone, we still must treat them with dignity and respect; That we cannot hurt someone just because we don’t like them and that we can’t wish bad things upon them (except of course horrible results in the polls) just because we disagree so strongly with them.

So, yes. My kids taking a huge purple crayon and “X”ing out Donald Trump’s face every morning in the paper may seem harsh and unkind. But it’s not. It was initiated by my 6 year old with no encouragement by me or my husband because he has truly absorbed and understood how deplorable of a candidate we believe Donald Trump to be. And he started “X”ing him out as his 6 year-old way of showing his own disapproval, a way of casting his vote.  When he sees Hillary Clinton in the paper he will proudly circle her face.

Because, you see, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not my son’s classmates. They are not peers who have difficulty making friends. No, they are public figures running for the most powerful office in all the land. As good citizens we are required to evaluate them, judge them, and choose between them. This is not the case with classmates. But with politicians it is. And I want my boys to understand from a young age that their voice matters and that they should never be afraid to speak about and share their opinions openly and respectfully. I have no doubt that with the conversations that my husband and I will continue to have with our children in the coming years that they will find ever more effective ways to do that.

But, in the meantime, while Connor yells “Poopie Dump” from the back of our minivan and Ryan and Zach excitedly search for Donald’s face to put an “X” over it I will continue to smile with pride. For I know that they are kind boys, learning about what it means to be accepting and upstanding. They are beginning to grasp the complex details of our political system and these are safe and age appropriate ways for them to express their feelings and opinions.

But when they’re older if I ever find them “X”ing out the face of a classmate in a year book….so help them…

Why DeMOMocrat?

Another blog????

I’ve been blogging for years over at “The Cam Fam” which started as a way for me to journal life with my young kids. Over the years I’ve started to write more and more about politics and my views on the world. I decided I wanted to keep the “family stuff” separate from the “political stuff.” So, that’s why I started this blog. Now, of course, I can’t really write about my views on the world without sharing about my own life experiences. Everything I do these days is seen through the lens of being a mom. So, I can’t keep these two worlds completely separate. But if you’re looking for cute stories about my three boys, head to kcamfam.blogspot.com. If you want my insights and views on current events, politics, the ridiculousness that is Donald Trump and why I think the way I do, then you’re in the right place.

Over time I plan to transfer to “Demomocrat” from “The Cam Fam” many of my posts that sway more political. In the meantime…enjoy my first Demomocrat post: “Maybe Donald Trump is Good for Something!”

A White Mother’s Reflection On Race in America

I have three boys. My neighbor is currently pregnant with her third boy. We live in the same town, in the safe affluent neighborhood, on the same street, two houses from each other. Her boys and my boys come from parents with advanced degrees. They come from loving homes full of opportunity. Her boys are kind, outgoing, and polite. Mine are too…most of the time. Her boys and my boys will go to the same schools. And yet, I know that her experience as a mother, particularly as her boys get older, will be vastly different from mine. Why? Because my boys happen to be white and hers are black.

I will fear for my sons’ safety as they learn to drive and get behind the wheel of a car because of reckless drivers and the poor decisions teens sometimes make. She will have these same fears, but she will also have to fear that her sons’ lives could be in danger for buying a bag of skittles or driving with a broken tail light. I’ll worry that my sweet boys don’t get caught up with a “bad crowd” or that they aren’t picked on or bullied at school. She will worry the same. But she’ll also worry that her sons will be seen as a threat to someone else’s safety if they happen to choose to wear a hooded sweatshirt. She will live in fear of how people will falsely view her children and how they might react when they sense a false threat.

Parenting is a fear-filled endeavor for anyone. But having that fear magnified by 1000 simply because of the color of one’s skin is an unfathomable injustice. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to live with that fear. I would be angry…I would…Actually, I don’t know how I would feel. And the truth is, I will never know. I was born white and so were my boys. And because of that pure luck, and because I will never know what it’s like to be anything other than white, I have a responsibility to try my absolute best to understand the experience of people of color, like my neighbor, her husband, and their three boys.

Slide2

The recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have put in pristine focus for me the extreme ways in which other human beings react in a moment of perceived threat.  People can believe what they want about Mr. Sterling and whether he did something to attract the attention of the police. But that is a moot point. He was tackled on the ground and clearly overtaken by the police officers. There is no reason he should be dead. As for Mr. Castile, there are no reports anywhere that he did anything other than drive with a broken tail light to attract the attention of the police. He reportedly told the officer involved that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, which he disclosed was on his person, and that he was getting his wallet and identification as was asked of him. And now he is dead. Perhaps worst of all, as these men lay dying the officers involved did NOTHING to provide aid or prevent their death. They did not provide first aid. In the case of Mr. Castile, who it seems was shot only in the arm, imagine if instead of pointing the gun at his girlfriend and handcuffing her if the officers had instead placed a tourniquet on his arm. A simple show of humanity could have saved his life.

We have all walked or driven through areas that we perceive, sometimes quite accurately, to be unsafe. But what we have to remind ourselves is that those areas are not unsafe because black people live there. They are unsafe because there is little opportunity in those areas. There are few programs for children and adolescents. The schools and other educational opportunities are limited. In the areas most in need of services and support, even basic needs are more difficult to attain. There are fewer grocery stores and department stores. People have to drive/walk/use public transportation to go further to get less. And when people are desperate, and they lack education, and resources, and support, they react out of fear and desperation, and do things and behave in ways they otherwise would not. Yes, these situations are desperate, and no, there are no easy solutions. Knowing where to begin, and what we can do to help is challenging and sometimes seems so impossible that we freeze. Donating money seems superficial. Volunteering time can be a struggle when we are doing our best to care for our own families. But one place we can all begin is by opening the conversation and committing to better understanding all of our fellow human beings.

I read today an article on race that compared racism to a gigantic societal-sized boot. The author asked, if racism is a boot, then who is “fighting the hardest to avoid being squashed by the boot?” Yes, people of color. And who is it that is wearing the boot? Yes, white people. And who then should be responsible for stopping the boot from squashing anyone? The people who are already fighting against the pressure of the boot or the people wearing it?

I hope you came to the correct answer yourself. But if you didn’t, let me spell it out for you. White people. White people have a responsibility to stop the boot. This author was not saying all white people are racist, and neither am I. I certainly don’t like to consider myself racist, and I hope I have never acted in a way that is. But, I also know that I have not openly acted in a way to challenge the racist beliefs of those I encounter. And as a white person, I am in a unique position to open the dialogue and potentially change the viewpoints of other white people who may be racist; a position that people of color are not in at all. And so, with this post, that is what I am attempting to do.

I also commit to better understanding issues of race in our country. I have already reserved the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander at my local library. It was on hold and I am 3rd in the queue. This fact in and of itself gave me hope. Maybe other people in my community have had the same idea I did.  If you too would like to better understand issues of race, so you can open a dialogue that is not at all open enough, then check out the article I linked to above and check out this article which includes links to a reading list on issues of race.

Now, I started writing this article on Thursday before the horrific shootings in Dallas occurred. And so, I would be remiss to not address that tragedy. Those officers were assassinated. The actions of the people who carried out those killings are not justified…not even a little bit. Those individuals were no doubt angry. But they only made the situation worse. Instead of drawing greater attention to issues of race, injustice, and excessive force by some police officers they have provided fuel to the fire for people who will say, “See? It’s them. They are the problem.” And that will only serve to shut down an already difficult conversation even further.

Slide1

And I fear that because of the actions of these snipers in Dallas that the overwhelming message will now be “black lives will only matter when police lives matter.” And that is not true. In fact, Dallas was an exemplary example of how the black community and the police community can work together. The police were out in full force making it safe for a Black Lives Matter protest to proceed peacefully and successfully. And yet, so many people seem to believe that you either have to support law enforcement or support people of color; that police lives and black lives can’t matter simultaneously. But they can, and they do. As John Stewart (seriously, when will that man run for office?) so eloquently said today “You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.”

And so, we will all struggle with what to do and how best to react to the tragic events that have occurred this week. But please join me in my commitment to more conversations, more understanding, and more willingness to see both sides of this issue; an issue that is of utmost importance to the survival and success of our great Nation. It is my hope that I will raise boys who will grow up completely confounded by the idea that someone would ever judge someone differently because of the color of their skin. It is my hope that my three boys and my neighbor’s three boys have life experiences far more similar than I expect they will given the state of things at this time. But I have to believe there is hope that can change.

Slide3

Together, let’s ask questions. Let’s try to understand. Let’s accept that some people may not use the exact, most politically correct words when trying to better understand and instead of judging, let’s educate. The future truly rests in the hands of our children and it is our responsibility to raise children who will make this world a kinder place than it is now. We can only do that by opening and changing the conversation, by working together to lift the oppressive boot of racism. Start now. Start tonight. Open the conversation at your own dinner table. I know I will be.

Let it begin with me…and YOU

When I was 16 years old my parents planned a surprise birthday party for me. They invited a group of my friends to Planet Hollywood in Washington, DC. The day of my party also happened to be the day of the annual Capital PRIDE celebration. In order to get me to Planet Hollywood my Dad and brother framed it as “let’s just go check out DC for the day.” We headed into DC and started walking towards Planet Hollywood with the plan that my brother would just casually suggest eating there for lunch. In order to get there we walked smack dab through the middle of the PRIDE parade. At one point we were practically in the parade. I remember watching my Dad’s face to see his reaction. I remember the smirk on my older brother’s face as he smiled about the surprise that awaited me and probably imagined my mom walking through the same parade a few minutes prior with a group of my good friends, some of whom she didn’t know that well. I remember smiling in awe as I took in the bright colors, open expressions of love, and colorful personalities that surrounded me. It was a joyous event and one I have not and never will forget. We eventually arrived at Planet Hollywood and I was indeed surprised. But whenever I retell the story of my 16th birthday party Planet Hollywood doesn’t even get mentioned.  I like to tell it as “Mom and Dad planned a surprise party for me at the Capital PRIDE Parade. It was AWESOME!”

And awesome it was. This was my first true experience of LGBT culture and I don’t remember much except the immense feeling of joy and warmth that came from being a part of that parade. My Dad, brother, and I must have stuck out like a sore thumb walking through; But not for a second did I feel out of place or uncomfortable, because everyone there stuck out for their own unique style, beauty, outfits, hair, costumes, love, energy, and excitement. It was a wonderful feeling.

A number of years prior, when I was about 10 I remember standing in the kitchen of my grandmother’s house when I overheard a conversation in which I learned that my beloved cousin Paul, was gay. At the time I had recently heard in the news about there being a greater number of people who were gay who were contracting the AIDS virus. So, my first thought was one of worry. I just wanted my cousin, whom I loved dearly to be ok. Once I talked to my mom and learned that he was completely fine, then so was I. I loved him, and who he loved didn’t matter at all to me, or to my parents.

A number of years after that I remember meeting my cousin’s boyfriend (also named Paul!) for the first time at their apartment in Greenwich Village. I was there with my boyfriend, and the four of us went to lunch at a local restaurant. Paul and Paul had been dating for some years at that point but this was the first time I had the chance to see them together as a couple. I remember being struck by the tender and sincere love and affection that they shared and still do.

Since that time, through college and work I have been fortunate to call many men and women who are gay or lesbian, my friends. And from each and every one of them I have never felt anything in return except love, acceptance, and friendship.

Why do I write all this? It is to tell the Orlando shooter (who I will not even name) that he messed with the wrong group. Mr. Shooter, your heart may have been filled with hatred. And your goal was to spread that evil far and wide. You likely sought to silence and scare a group of people you rejected as “other.” But we will not be silenced. We will not be brought to our knees in fear. We will rise up. We will spread love. We will reject hate. And we will make this world a stronger and better place in light of the evil act you committed.

Yes, I say we. For the attack may have been directly against the LGBT community, but all of us who are their allies and friends will stand with them to spread the love further. We will recall the kindness, joy, acceptance and openness that we feel when surrounded by the LGBT community and we will seek to take the lessons they teach and preach so well, and we will raise better children; we will be better people; we will love more and hate less.

The same cousin I mentioned above currently lives in Florida. He posted a video this morning from a memorial service he attended last night in St. Petersburg. In the video everyone was singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I cannot think of a better way to honor the 49 men and women who died in the wake of such evil. Their deaths will not be in vain. For each of those brave brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands and wives, I say:

“Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.”

Will you join me?

What do we tell the children?

There are so many bad things happening in our world. And as an avid NPR listener—when in the car (don’t worry, I let my kids listen to Casper Babypants, and BNL Kids, and Rocknocerous too, but Mama’s gotta get her news fix somewhere!)—my kids hear about them. I’m a Social Worker by profession and I’m not one to shy away from a tough conversation with my kids.  And as my oldest gets older (he’s 5 now), those tough conversations have been getting a lot tougher. I’ve spent my career talking to kids who are dying (and their loved ones) about death. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.   But having these sometimes very sad conversations with my own kid is really hard.

So, what do we tell our kids when they hear about a mass shooting, with racism at its core, in South Carolina, or about another shooting in a movie theater/school/church/pick your place, or about an ISIS attack in Syria or Iraq, or about a family who got evicted because they couldn’t pay rent? Sad, scary, devastating stories about our town, country, or world are not things we should hide from our children. Instead, we can take an opportunity to talk to our children in an honest, caring, open way that I hope will help prevent many of these tragedies from occurring in the future. My hope is that my children won’t have to have as many of these tough conversations with their own kids.

When my son heard the reporter on NPR say, “9 people were gunned down by a 21 year-old in a South Carolina church,” the conversation went something like this:

Ryan: Mama, what did he say? What is gunned down?
Me: It means that one bad guy shot 9 people with a gun.
Ryan: Did they die?
Me: Yes, they did.
Ryan: Why did he do that?
Me: Because he was a very bad person. He wasn’t taught how to love people the way we do.
Ryan: Why did he want to hurt them?
Me: Sometimes, bad people think it’s ok to hate other people just because they are different. And we know that’s not ok.
Ryan: What was different about them?
Me: Well, the bad man who shot them had light colored skin like you and I have. And the people he shot had brown skin.
Ryan: He shot them because their skin was a different color?
Me: Yes, he did.
Ryan: That’s silly.
Me: Yes, it is very silly. It’s terrible…and very, very sad.
(long silence……)
Ryan: Mama,  are there bad guys like that near here?
Me: Maybe. But we are very lucky. We live in a very safe town, and the police, and all the other good guys do everything they can to keep us safe from any bad guys.

And that’s where it ended this time. He’s getting older, and one day I know the follow-up question will be, “But Mama, what if the bad guy near here had a gun and still was able to hurt people? What if they hurt us? Or someone we know?” And I would say, “That would be terrible. And we would all be scared and sad. But we would also all work together to help the people who were hurt. And we would then do everything we could to try and make sure it never happens again.” As he gets older, I’ll explain that it’s our responsibility to do what we can NOW. No one should wait until the next tragedy is in their backyard.

Here are some general guidelines I use when talking with my kids, or other kids about really tough subjects:

1.     Be Honest:
Kids are smart and intuitive. They can easily tell when you’re not being truthful or are trying to hide things from them. And hiding things from kids only makes them feel more anxious and worried. Children have very vivid imaginations. If they feel that something is being kept from them they may imagine things are much worse than they really are. The truth is scary. But not knowing what to believe or who to trust is scarier.

2.       Give Information In Tidbits
In the conversation I had with my son about what happened in South Carolina you can see that I fed him little bits of information at a time. I let him ask lots of follow-up questions. I let him voice the questions that mattered to him. Sometimes, we can give kids too much information and overwhelm them. If we spit out too much information too quickly, we might cause them to worry about things that they haven’t even begun to understand, much less worry about. So, follow your child’s lead. Answer the questions they ask one step at a time.

3.       Don’t be afraid to show emotions
Not showing our honest emotions is akin to not telling the truth. And as I said, above, kids are intuitive. They know when we’re hiding something. When kids can sense that they aren’t being given the whole picture—and they can sense this at a very young age (a fascinating study on this topic was just recently published, you can read about it here)— they grow anxious and distrusting.  If we don’t let kids see us cry, or show anger or frustration, then they will think that doing so is wrong. Hiding our feelings teaches our kids to hide their feelings. Showing our emotions teaches kids that it’s ok to show theirs too.

4.       Give them hope
As grown-ups we all look for the positives in tragic situations. Not doing so leaves us feeling hopeless and paralyzed by fear. Children too, need that glimmer of hope. Mr. Roger’s quote (above) about looking for the helpers is one of my favorites. It can be used in many situations and circumstances. Develop the habit in yourself of looking for the helpers so that your children learn how to find hope in the most tragic situations.

Gandhi quote

5.     Keep the lines of communication open
One of the best things we can do as parents for our children is to assure them that we are always available to talk, that no topic is off limits, and that they can trust us with the really hard stuff. If we don’t talk openly, easily, and honestly with our children on a daily basis, then they won’t seek us out in scary, sad, and difficult times. Helping our kids understand, process, cope, survive, and thrive after a tragedy is not something achieved only in times of tragedy. We work toward it every single day. The way you communicate with your children and with the people you love teaches your children how to communicate with you, with the people they love, and the people they encounter on a daily basis. As Gandhi so wisely instructed us, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and begin with your children.