The effect of a brutal campaign has deeply affected our children. The sacrifice of their emotional well-being might be the most devastating collateral damage left in the aftermath of a political season that looked more like a war zone than a democratic process.
This conversation between my daughter and my grandchild is reflective of this reality. Names are changed in the interest of privacy. This is how it went.
Mommy: Yes, Megan
Megan: Roger (who is white) told me that if Trump becomes president all the brown people are going to be slaves again.
Mommy: (Thinking, “Jesus take the wheel”) No, Megan, that is not true.
Where did that little boy get that information? It is important to note that, in asking the question, Roger was deeply concerned. He did not ask about this with a tone of gloating. However, we have to ask ourselves, as adults, “To what have I exposed my children?”
This question does not only relate to what we have allowed them to overhear from the media. The question relates more to our reactions, what we have said, what fears we might have allowed to overtake our children.
Grappling with Reality
None of the political experts saw this coming. They had the candidate down for the count before the people spoke. Nevertheless, the people have spoken in a manner that loudly, and indelibly, belie a deep-seated undercurrent of dissatisfaction and weariness with the political status quo. They wanted change, and by-god that is what they got.
Yet, if my Facebook feed is any indication, many are grappling with depression and emotional upheaval with the outcome. How well we deal with that emotion will determine how well our children will fare. How can we protect their emotional well-being and foster a feeling of safety in this aftermath?
It is Time to Suck it Up and Get Perspective
Somebody posted that they were going to the inauguration in protest of the decision. They stated that they could “not allow this to happen.” I wanted to reply, “New Flash! That ship has left the harbor, my friend.” Understanding that emotional shock is generally followed by denial, I resisting that urge. I moved on. How long it takes to move through the denial phase to acceptance is ground that, in the interest of our children, we must navigate well.
Beware the stages that may follow the sense of grief. Yes, grief, if your candidate lost. Recognize them for what they are and know that acting out of that inevitable emotion could have resounding consequences on all possible levels. How we handle it matters.
Change often involves some type of loss. If you are one who is grieving the election results. Here is what you can do to emerge with your sanity without compromising your children’s senses of security.
- Recognize and Face the Stages of Grief
Beware of these five stages of grief: 1) Denial & Isolation; 2) Anger; 3) Bargaining; 4) Depression; and 5) Acceptance. These intermingle, and they occur and recur throughout the grieving process. Don’t ignore them. Don’t deny them. Allow yourself to move through them. Recognizing what is going on is what will allow you to keep things in perspective. You will not heal properly by ignoring them.
- Don’t Try to Cover it Up
Children are keenly aware of your emotional state and they need you to be truthful about the matter. Being truthful, though, should occur on the developmentally appropriate level of the child.
- Make No Decisions Unless Absolutely Necessary
Be careful not to make any major decisions while you are grieving. Grief is an emotionally charged state from which making objective decisions is a challenge. Try to allow yourself to get through the stages before making any major life decisions. In other words, it might not be a good idea to start packing to take that trip out of the country alongside Ginsberg!
Don’t Shoot the Messenger: A Word to the Church
This one is for people of the Christian faith. Call off the firing squad and don’t shoot the messenger. The truth is what it is and we all have to swallow what might seem as a bitter pill. I’ll let the Bible do the talking here:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves . . . For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good . . .
New International Version (NIV)
As divided as the nation appears to be right now, the truth is that all we can do is get in line with this reality. If you are a God-fearing Christian, you must also pray for those in authority. These are not my words, but Biblical direction. Again, don’t shout me down when I’m preaching “good.”
Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1 Timothy 2:1-3
New King James Version (NKJV)
Finally, in the face of Trump posters, the endless talking heads expressing shock at the outcome, and as you grapple with the reality we all face; please remember this: regardless of whether you are an atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Christian or Catholic, what we all share is our humanity. It transcends politics, religion, and stock markets. It rises above political agenda and international objectives. It is the foundation of understanding.
God Bless Us All. God Bless The United States of America.
Linda F. Williams, MSW CCLC CPLC is an author, Certified Personal and Professional Life Coach, behaviorist, and motivational speaker. As founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching Services, she is creator of The Whose Apple Dynamic™ GPS Road Map to Destiny™. Linda is author of Whose Apple is it, Anyway: Empowering Purpose to Achieve Your God-Ordained Destiny and Too True to Tell (Why What We Don’t Say is Leading Us Down the Path of Stolen Vision).