Two months before Election Day, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “the choice in this election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four years of their lives.” It was, I thought at the time, an insanely totalistic view of the president’s role, as well as a rotten thing to tell expectant parents, who’d spent a whole summer worried about the Zika virus.
Still, many of our fellow citizens share Clinton’s perspective, judging by the onslaught of post-election columns with titles like: “Donald Trump is our next president. What do we tell the children?” Apparently, that’s what a lot of parents are asking themselves—or their therapists—in the wake of Donald Trump’s startling victory.
Daniel Griffin, a D.C.-area psychologist, told the Washington Post that “many patients were walking into his office ‘shellshocked,’” wondering what they could possibly say to their little ones. “It never really hits you in the gut until you think about your own kids,” Will Bunch broods in the Philadelphia Inquirer, concluding that his son (age 22) and daughter (“24 and starting grad school”) were ready for the harsh truth: “Resist him.”
‘We Need to Talk about Donald’
There’s no doubt that “what do we tell the children?” is a genuinely difficult and wrenching question for some parents. Undocumented immigrants whose families face a greater risk of deportation, for example, or Muslim-Americans worried about increased fearmongering and public hostility, have good reason to think about how much their kids can handle at what age.
For most families, however, the “conversation” needn’t be so fraught with angst. It might even be the occasion for a valuable lesson: Tell your kids the truth: the president can be a bad person, even a terrible one. You don’t have to admire him if he doesn’t deserve it. And just because he’s a creep doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to be one too.
Read the rest by Gene Healy at the Federalist.