As a U.S. citizen and, more importantly, a mom, I am disappointed by the actions of people over the last few months. Do you think we adults have been behaving the way we want our children to act? I finally felt I must speak about this.
I normally would not write a piece like this on my blog, and you will probably never see one again, but I feel compelled to speak out in some manner. (So if you only want to see crafty or normal mommy posts, bear with me and just ignore this one post. Go check out my Home Maintenance and Deep Cleaning Checklist for Spring instead.)
Let me state upfront that this is not pro-Trump or anti-Trump, or biased towards any political party. I never share political articles, comment on political threads, or even react to them with a “like” or other emoji. I have many friends and associates with completely different views and I read all sides carefully and form my own opinions, but I choose not to share mine. I understand, however, that others do like to talk politics, and I am not against it, rather I am all for it— as long as the discussions are informative and constructive. However, I have seen shocking behavior coming from all sides — Democratic and Republican, male and female, black and white, gay and straight, Muslim and Christian, young and old. I have made every attempt to keep this post completely unbiased. And all I ask of you is that you read this post knowing my intentions and keep an open mind.
We want our children to grow up to be inquisitive, truthful, and kind. Accept other people’s differences, value others’ opinions, and respect authority. Conduct themselves in a responsible manner and be a productive member of their community. Can we all say that we are setting this example right now?
I am dismayed to see so many “unfriending” or belittling people because of differing political views. Why? Isn’t everyone entitled to their own opinion? Isn’t this the message we convey to our children? if your child came home and said that Joey wasn’t a friend anymore because he doesn’t like pizza or is a Yankees fan, would you condone this behavior? Or would you say, “That isn’t a good reason not to like someone. I like mushrooms and you don’t. Do you still like me?” No two people agree on everything and that is good.
And what if you found out your child was calling another child names or bullying? That is exactly what adults suddenly seem to feel empowered to do, on both sides. Just because you don’t like someone’s political stance, looks, mannerisms, or fashion sense, doesn’t give you the right to treat them with disrespect. And adults going after White House children like Barron or Chelsea is completely wrong. They didn’t choose to be in the spotlight. Children are off limits. Period.
There is so much anger behind everyone’s words now, angrier than I’ve ever seen before, and I wish I could understand why.
People are going so far as to publicly wish for the assassination of the leader of this country. Think about this for a moment. People are condoning the murder of a man who has not killed or maimed anyone or committed any other crimes against humanity. They just don’t like his political views? Whether you like him or not, Trump is a human being, a husband, a father and grandfather, and businessman. Again, should we be teaching our children it is okay to kill? Don’t all human lives have value? Is this the right way to deal with conflict?
We teach kids to accept our differences... & respect authority. What about adults? Click To TweetEven if not condoning harm, some people are saying that he is not their president. Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but he is your president whether you like it or not. He was elected to the position by a majority vote by your fellow citizens (and don’t start arguments about delegates versus popular vote or voter fraud. That’s a discussion for another time and place). Do we want our children disrespecting their teachers because they don’t like them? Do we want our kids to mock authority and be unlawful? Do we want our children to think they are above the law? We may be in for some troubling times if this behavior continues to escalate, and I fear for our children’s future.
If you are over 30, there is a good chance that your candidate hasn’t always won the election in the past. What was your reaction the last time this happened? Were tears shed? Expletives shouted? Friends unfriended? Protest marches formed? If your child’s team doesn’t win the soccer game, what behavior do you expect from the children — on both the winning and the losing side? You expect the winning side not to gloat or demean the other team, and you expect the losing side to congratulate the winners and not be sore losers. You encourage the losing team to discuss where things went wrong and what could be done next time to improve their odds of winning.
Why is everyone’s behavior so different this time? If you are not a Trump fan, then maybe you are nervous. He doesn’t have political experience. He’s not predictable. He could do bad things with his new power. He might embarrass us. Well, he certainly has done some cringe-worthy things, and other things that aren’t popular. But has he really done anything to truly fear yet? Before you answer that with a “YES!,” are you sure? Don’t just listen to the headlines. There are lots of rumors of what people think he has done or plans to do.
Have you thoroughly researched and understood what he has put into action so far, or are you relying on others to give you the cliff notes? He’s only been in power a month as of this writing. Has there been enough time to determine if it was a good decision or not in the long run or should the jury still be
out? Every president makes decisions and policies that are not favored by all because it is impossible to please everyone. As a mom trying to plan dinners, you probably know that!
At the beginning of each school year, your elementary-aged children get a new teacher. Your child may come home and say they hate their new teacher. When probed why, they may respond, “Because Mr. Jones doesn’t do it the same way Miss Johnson did.” And our reply is to tell them to give the new teacher a chance. “Keep your mind open and maybe you’ll find that Mr. Jones’ way ends up being a better way. Or maybe it’s not better. It’s just different and you just have to accept that.”
Another example that maybe adults can relate to is when their favorite sports team gets a new coach, especially if that coach has a history with other rival teams. You are used to thinking of him as the enemy. And now he comes in with a different coaching style than the previous coach. How can you now change your view and accept him and maybe even cheer him on?
Getting truthful, reliable information is key to really understanding what is going on. But how do you know which news sources to trust? A quote we often tell our children is “question everything.” Whether you are on the left or the right, the news media on BOTH sides are stretching truths, creating sensational headlines designed to incite anger, providing inaccurate or misleading soundbites, and leaving out key details if it doesn’t fit the narrative. Mainstream media has turned into The National Inquirer!
Have you ever had your child come home and say something like: “Suzy says she was in Hawaii yesterday and the day before she was in Italy, and her mom bought an elephant today.” Huh? What do you say to your child? You might start by saying something like: “Did she really say that, or are you making that up?” If they insist she did, then you may follow up with: “Do you think she was telling the truth, or was she lying? You’ll have to ask Suzy how she went to so many places. And where did they buy the elephant? Where do they keep it and what do they feed it?” Maybe it really is all true, however far-fetched it sounds. They could have a private jet and they could be sponsoring an elephant at a sanctuary. You cannot assume a statement is true or false without more detail. Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to get the real truth as more people have become tech-savvy and can easily doctor a photo or video or provide a link to a false “source” document.
Going back to the news media, when they are caught in an outright lie by someone who takes the time to research the truth, they may or may not print a retraction, but if they do, it mostly likely will be buried on page 17 of the issue or deep in the web site. If you found out your child lied to someone, like a teacher, wouldn’t you make your child go back to the teacher, apologize, and tell the truth face-to-face? Why aren’t we holding the media to the same standards of decency? It’s just like in court when a lawyer says a bunch of stuff they know will trigger an objection, but once it is out there, it is hard to remove the impact of those statements from the jury, even if the statements are omitted from the transcript. The damage is already done.
Instead of just spouting off on social media, some people have gone to a protest march or rally. Everyone has a right to disagree and voice their opinions. But do you think they all know exactly what they were protesting? Do you think it helped? Did it or will it effect change? It costs the taxpayers thousands, if not millions, of dollars in overtime for police to manage the crowds, direct traffic, and keep law and order, and for sanitation departments to clean up the mess afterwards. It is disruptive to people trying to get to work, and hurts shop owners in its path as non-protesters try to avoid that scene.
Then, unfortunately, some people get that “mob mentality” and do things they otherwise would never do, like destroy property. This is property of innocent people being destroyed. It could be your neighbor’s shop or your friend’s car. And if insurance pays to replace it, that means it affects the rates for all of us. Not to mention the other effects, like the shop having to close its doors and not pay wages to employees until repairs are made or stock is replaced, or your friend not being able to get to work for a week. That shop may be the only grocery store in walking distance for locals, so now an entire neighborhood is hurt. Is that right? Is that decent behavior? Many people who attend these rallies and marches don’t do it in their home town, but travel to another city. Would these same people do this in their own town or neighborhood, affecting their local shops and being seen by people they know?
Getting back to relating this to our kids… In a schoolyard, if two kids start fighting and then others start cheering or join in, would you condone this behavior? Or, picture the familiar scenario of a kid disrupting class, maybe making faces behind the teacher’s back. Then the teacher turns around and says, “Billy, do you have something to share with the class?” All of a sudden that class clown clams up and isn’t so brave to speak out and be accountable, is he?
Whether online or at a rally, people feel emboldened to lash out, call names, and even incite unrest. The anonymity of it makes people think this is okay. This is why cyber bullying has become such an issue with our children. But wouldn’t efforts be better spent researching the details of the issue so supporters can talk intelligently about their cause? They could then go door-to-door to talk to their neighbors and fellow citizens face-to-face to present their case and drum up support, hand out pamphlets, provide contact information for their reps, get signatures, or even get donations to help the cause.
Or how about a small, local public debate or round table on the issues, where people talk intelligently, orderly, and respectfully? If you respectfully and calmly present and defend your arguments, maybe you can convince others to see your side of the issue. But you, in turn, need to keep an open mind and listen carefully to their viewpoints as well. Don’t do this with the mindset of trying to convince everyone you are right. And if they are not convinced to change their stance, politely and in a friendly manner agree to disagree. Better yet, see if people can work together to come up with solutions that work for everyone that can then be passed along to your reps.
Think about two siblings fighting. Lots of name calling, hair pulling, pinching and/or shoving. You step in and get an earful of “Joey did this!” and “Jimmy did that!” How do we handle this situation? We first tell everyone to calm down. Then we try to calmly hear both sides. Finally, we try to resolve the problem, which may result in a compromise. “Joey can play with it for 10 minutes, then, Jimmy, it’s your turn. Now, apologize to your brother for hitting him.” Jimmy may be disappointed he doesn’t get to go first, but it’s Mom’s call and he respects that and obeys. And he will get his turn.
As adults and law-abiding citizens, we can argue our case and talk to our government officials. They, in turn, need to listen to what the people in their jurisdiction are saying and try to determine what the most important causes are they should be championing. And Washington needs to listen to what the people want and act to support them. Not everyone will win their case every time, and at times it may not seem like decisions are made fairly. Just like with Joey and Jimmy’s mom. She may not have gotten the whole story, and she may even have made a wrong call. But she is in charge, and she made the decision she thought was best and fairest at that time. We teach our kids that they might not like it, but they must accept our decisions.
In the end, everyone has a different back story, different problems, and different needs, so we will never all agree on every issue. You may be a mom who cares most about education. Your neighbor on one side may be retired and cares more about social security and healthcare. Your neighbor on the other side might be struggling to find a decent job so is more interested in job creation. Your neighbor across the street might be a legal immigrant but has family abroad and is more concerned with immigration policies. And the neighbor behind you may be a business owner and is concerned with government regulations and tax burdens. And that is okay.
The beauty of this country is that it is “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Let’s show our kids how people of all different types can get along and work together to make this nation great.
P.S. Please pass this along!
P.P.S. Comments are welcomed! However, please note that comments are moderated. I will NOT approve any comment using foul language (this is a mommy blog!), name calling, snarky remarks, or, really, any comment that takes a hard political stance, because that is not the purpose of this post. Rather, I’d like a discussion of things we can do to get people talking, to open up to differing opinions, to finding ways to solve problems and resolve differences instead of just complaining about the problem. How do we explain to our children that what they are seeing right now in this country is not acceptable behavior? How do we change this? We want to set good examples for our children. How can we best do that?
If you would like to comment, put yourself in this scenario as you write. Pretend you are sitting at the dinner table at Thanksgiving. Your young children or little brothers/sisters are there, your mother and grandmother are there, your cousin is there who brought their new love interest to meet the family for the first time, and I am at the head of the table. Proceed. Reread what you write before you hit Send. Take a deep breath, count to ten, let it out slowly, and reread again. Then you may submit it. From now on, do this before you respond in any forum on any topic! Thank you!
[[ NOTE: Consider adding to the post one or more quotes from the following source: http://www.typology.net/quotes/maria.html.
Would this help or hurt or be irrelevant to the narrative? Could any quotes be used in a sidebar/ meme-style graphics scattered throughout?]
Think about adding something about adults in couples counseling. How are we talk to resolve issues and stop the fighting, blaming, name-calling, resentment?
Also think about adding example of looking at past and the “well SHE go to do it!”
Protesting b/c they are “offended” instead of for an actual cause or action.
People don’t want to admit when they were wrong or misled or defeated so they continue to be defensive and try to redirect… “Sally was coloring on the wall…” … “…Did you know Sarah was jumping on the bed?”
Egos are being threatened. “Wishing into reality” what they were trying to prevent! … self-fulfilling prophecy.