What do we tell our children—children who went to bed last night eager to awake to news of our nation’s first female president? There are no easy answers to this question, but as a mother of a second-grader, I’ve given some thought to what I can say that is age-appropriate and reassuring. I will explain the following:
- In the USA, we have free and fair elections. Everyone gets a vote (or at least they are supposed to), and clearly our country is very divided right now.
- Life is risk. No one can control the outcome of a political campaign or predict the future, but it’s worth taking a chance and reaching for your dreams, just like Hillary Clinton did—even if you know you might not win in the end.
- The world has changed rapidly in the past fifty years or so, and unfortunately, many people are afraid of change. They’re comfortable with the way things used to be, with the “status quo,” even though many other people want to keep working to make the world a better place for everybody. And their votes count just as much. That’s Democracy: everyone gets a say, even people we disagree with.
- This means progress isn’t linear. It features lots of ups and downs. We have to take the long view and hope that overall, we will continue to become more inclusive as a society.
- But we can’t just hope. We must do *more* than hope. We must stay engaged and work towards the progress we cherish. This is the most important thing: It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make this world a better place, and to lead by example, even if our elected leaders do not.
A conversation like this is not easy, but we have to be clear-eyed. We have to keep our chins up. Our children are watching us. They are looking to us to help them figure out how they should react and process our election’s results. Remember Michelle Obama’s wise words: “They go low, we go high.” That is the path forward.