The ugly truth behind Donald Trump’s victory

RACHEL DOHERTY

Social worker, teacher and the founder of Tweens2teen

Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. At first look, Trump’s victory seems to undermine everything parents tell their kids. But behind his win, and Hillary Clinton’s loss is an ugly truth.

How can a man who has been so rude to people who are different to him be who the American people chose to be their President?

How can someone who wants to prevent people of one faith entering the country and build a wall to stop others be a statesman for his whole country?

Why is a man who treats women in such a sexist manner the better of the two presidential options?

Donald Trump’s success seems to overturn many lessons I’ve been teaching my children. But there’s a deeper issues that we all need to start talking about.

“If you’re going to be thinking, you might as well think big.”

DONALD TRUMP

The politics of hate and hurt

A friend shared these thoughts in the hours after Donald Trump’s victory:

A thing I am really struggling to understand with elections and referendums this year is how I could be so far removed from those voting so differently to where I am at? 

Is there something wrong with me? 
Clearly the majority feel and think things I do not – and a part of me wants to know their fears and needs. 
What am I missing?

I felt the same.

The US election has been about division. Class, culture, race, gender, education and geography. It has been about privilege and self.

Somewhere between the name-calling and shaming of the campaign, the American people feel that Donald Trump represents a change. He has listened to their fears and needs. He’s acknowledge the pain of globalisation and progression.

Trump has come to the people, not as a politician, but as a business man, ready to solve problems in a new way.

I get his appeal, but I don’t understand why it has to be at the cost of decency.

Donald Trump speaks as a man of entitlement. As a white wealthy man, he speaks in a way that puts down people that are not male and not white. He has encouraged Americans to see difference as the enemy.

It reminds me of this quote from Brene Brown.

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” – Brene Brown

And this is the ugly truth of the 2016 US election. Our world is still divided by difference. Class, race, gender, faith, education and ability all make us different. Some people embrace it, but many people fear it.

Unpacking the ugly truth for kids

If our world is to avoid a major conflict, we need to work towards greater acceptance, inclusion and tolerance.

Those of us living in wealthy countries need to stop seeing our advantages as entitlements. Instead they are a privilege that enables us to be compassionate towards those who have less.

There is still much room for optimism! But we do need to continue the conversation with our kids.

Here’s 5 things parents can say to deal with this ugly truth:

  1. Our differences are what makes us human. Our stories make us interesting. We should encourage our kids to learn from those who are different to them, not use those differences to divide and dismiss.
  1. Life is not about more or less. When we see ourselves as better than others or having less, we act in self interest. Life is about adaption. In a recent article, surfer Bethany Hamilton talked about how the label “disabled athlete” feels degrading. She prefers people to see her as an adaptive athlete. We need to help our kids see people who are different as adaptive, resourceful, resilient and determined and not use labels that put them down.
  1. History tells us that good people must stand up. Fear drives people to do terrible things. Time will tell what sort of president Donald Trump will be, but our kids need to know that we all have a responsibility to challenge judgmental thinking, hurtful words and the exclusion of people based on difference.
  1. We need to live out our values. It’s not good enough to just talk about being compassionate and inclusive. People need to act on their values. The failings of politicians around the world has been too much talking and too little doing. That’s why voters have either opted out or chosen someone different. They are looking for people of substance who will do what they say they will do and treat their citizens with respect.
  1. The world needs empathy. When we can think what life would be like in someone else’s shoes, we start to understand their actions and motives. Jeremy Sherman called this shoe-shifting in an article he wrote for Psychology Today. Our kids need to be good listeners and learners. They need to be discerners of information, not just consumers.

The politics of hate and hurt might seem to have triumphed, but at the core of this vote has been a plea by ordinary people for a voice. To have their needs and fears listened to, rather than being told what’s good for them.

Time will tell if politicians and other leaders will heed this message. But in the meantime, it is up to us as parents to ensure our kids understand the part they play in making this world a great place for everyone to live.

What do you think? Are there some lessons you have learned from this election that will impact on how you raise your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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