Talking to kids about Trump (when their friends support him)

I have tried to let my children come to their own conclusions when it comes to politics. I have shared information with them, and have done my best to educate them without bias or propaganda. I have always wanted to avoid indoctrinating my children in regards to politics because that is how I was raised. I grew up in a conservative Christian home. You love Jesus and you are a Republican, end of story. There was no nuance. No possibility for looking at both sides. No encouragement of critical thinking. I have tried to parent in a very different way.

However, I found myself feeling challenged when my children came home from school one day announcing that most of their friends are fans of Donald Trump. They hopped into the car expressing shock and confusion, parroting the propaganda their friends had told them. Propaganda that was a fairly succinct regurgitation of the very same propaganda put out by Fox News and other Trump supporters. "Trump is going to make America great again. Trump is going to save us from the terrorists. Trump is going to make sure America is the best. Hillary is a liar. Hillary is a crook. Hillary will ruin the country. Trump is the honest one."

They seemed sincerely confused to be hearing such a hostile things about Hillary and such praise of Donald Trump. And I, as a mom, felt backed into a corner. I didn't want to run a smear campaign against Donald Trump (or any candidate) in my own home. But I felt like I had to equip them with more information. They were hearing one side at school. And I felt compelled to show the other side at home. Later that afternoon, we sat down and watched several YouTube clips. One was a compilation of some of the most sexist things that Trump has ever said. My daughters were appalled that he suggested that women's place was in the home, and that he admitted to not helping with the changing of diapers of his own children. We watched him insult Megan Kelly, we watched him objectify women, we watched him berate Rosie O'Donnell. My kids were dumbfounded.

Then we watched a compilation of his most racist comments. This put them over the edge. My children literally could not believe that someone running for president would say such things. I paused at certain moments, asking them to think critically about what they were hearing. "Is what he is saying true?" I would ask. "When we walk around downtown Santa Ana, which has one of the highest populations of Mexican immigrants in our state, are the people you observe there anything like what he is describing Mexican immigrants to be?" I watched my own kids becoming irate, because they were shocked at the falsehoods he presented.

Lastly, we watch footage of a young black woman who was kicked out of a Trump rally being taunted, push, and insulted as she walked out. We watched footage of the crowd turning on a Muslim woman, whose only crime was coming to the rally and a shirt that read, "Salaam, I come in peace." When I initially sat down with my kids, my hope was to inform them. But as we sat there watching these young minority women being miss treated as people changed Trump's name, I began to cry.

I was crying not just for the women I was watching, but for the fact that we have a country where families that my children attend school with want America to look like this. I was crying because this is not some vague threats that lives in another place or state. These are families we know . . . nice ones at that . . . who condone this kind of America. I was crying because it's just so incredibly confusing. What have we become, and worse, what WILL we become?

Despite me trying to stifle it, my kids saw me crying and asked what was wrong. My daughter crawled up in my lap. I tried to explain why this was so scary. I tried to explain our American history, and the hate that normal American citizens levied against black people not so long ago. I tried to explain the Holocaust, and how that started with citizens turning a blind eye to this kind of racist leadership and propaganda.

I have said this all along: it's not Trump that scares me. It's a country of normal, everyday people who allow his brand of hate, fear, and misguided patriotism to flourish. What scares me the most is kind and good people who are unable to see the trajectory that Trump has ushered in . . . racism masked as national pride, infiltrating his rallies and emboldening the latent racism already present in our country. I can't shield my kids from that. And when they looked and me and said, "I can't believe that my friends support this," all I could say was . . .

I can't either.

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