What an important question posed by the Ali Michael, author of an online post entitled What Do we Tell the Children? Its advice lingers in my mind. Here are her talking points:
- Tell them we will protect them. Tell them that we have democratic processes in the U.S. that make it impossible for one mean person to do too much damage.
- Tell them you will honor the outcome of the election, but you will fight bigotry. Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.
- Teach them how to be responsible members of a civic society. Teach them how to engage in discussion—not for the sake of winning, but for the sake of understanding and being understood.
- To ease their minds, remind them (and I am paraphrasing) that people cast votes for lots of different reasons.
Let me just say, God BLESS all of you who are serving on the front lines with children who, because of the election outcome, fear for their families, themselves and their futures. In the name of all children I am considering this question: What do we tell the children?
The answer I hear in our nation is:
- Sometimes adults may say this, but you shouldn’t.
- Sometimes adults might do this, but you shouldn’t.
- Sometimes adults watch this, but you shouldn’t.
- Hey kids! This is adult stuff. You’re too young to understand.
And by ‘adult’ we mean… These are “adult drinks,” this is “adult entertainment,” this is for “mature audiences only,” caution there is “adult language.” These are “adult issues” kids, don’t bother your little heads about these things. The adults are here to protect you.
Are we? Are we entitled to engage in all these behaviors, dabble in all these things, and then excuse ourselves because we are being “adults”? Do we really think our kids are this naive?
The term family values has been bantered about and, apparently, has gotten the boot from our political process because we can’t agree on its proper usage. But what if we used our children as the litmus test for our own behavior? What do we tell the children about what’s going on in their world? in our world? in the world we are meant to share?
Early this morning, I got my first word on the election results via WhatsApp from my young adult daughters who were distraught, saddened, angered and fearful. Instantly, my brain went blank and my vision was clouded by the tears of an unbidden prayer. “I’m so very, very sorry for the world you have inherited,” I responded. “PLEASE go and change it.”
As one devastated mom I set out on a very long run-walk. Two hours later I returned wondering this: If my life were a prayer, how would I live it? After all, my life is what people see. Some of those people are children.
If my life were a prayer, how would I live it?
May God forgive us and help us forgive each other that we might draw closer and do better, ever to praise His Holy Name.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. ~ Ephesians 5: 1-5