Published by The Huffington Post on November 3, 2016.
No matter who you are voting for, this election is a volatile, mud-slinging insult-fest. Not only are the candidates relentlessly bashing each other in the public forum, but people from both sides of either camp are spewing hatred and intolerance. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of having to explain to my kids why they should stop worrying about which evil liar is going to the be the leader of our country. This is not a reflection of my opinion of either candidate, but is connected to the conversations that I have been having with them based on what they are hearing from friends at school.
Kids are scared. They hear that the country is on the verge of being destroyed, and in their minds that looks like the apocalypse. There is no news outlet that is calmly explaining the platforms of each candidate so that we can make an informed decision. There are just a bunch of people yelling at each other, calling each other names and making everyone feel bad for whoever they are supporting. If this was a school election, and kids were acting in this way, action would be taken over this unacceptable behavior, and there would be serious consequences.
The energy around this election is powerful. It is overwhelmingly negative and charged with anger. Even the younger kids who may not understand exactly what is happening absorb your energy. They feel your concern, fear or hopelessness and they may be manifesting that exchange of energy in subtle and not-so subtle ways. Perhaps they are having trouble sleeping or are a little more clingy than usual. They may be acting out, fighting with each other or may simply seem out of sorts. If you have noticed any of these symptoms and haven’t been able to pinpoint the source, this may very well be the cause of their distress.
But what can you do? Process your own feelings about the election and embrace them without judgment. Teach your children to accept whatever is coming up for them as well. Do not deny or dismiss anything that either one of you may be experiencing. Acknowledge their feelings, whether or not you think they are justified and talk them through it. Allow them to express their concerns in their own words and explain why they might be feeling this way. Just getting it out of their heads and validating their thoughts will in many cases be enough to ease their minds.
If your child is older and having anxiety you may want to go a little deeper. When I couldn’t ease my son’s concerns, I asked him to tell me what he knew for certain would not change no matter who is chosen as the next President of The United States. He was able to list a number of things, and at the end of that conversation he felt confident that his world would remain intact. He hasn’t really talked about the election since that discussion.
The most important thing to impart on your children is that they will continue to have consistency in their life. Teach them to embrace those things that can never change, such as going to school, having friends, the love you have for each other, their favorite activities, family time and the freedom to be true to themselves no matter what is happening around them.
We can easily apply this process to ourselves as well. What will remain the same regardless of the results of this election? Write it down in your journal or on a piece of paper and even post it up somewhere if you need to remind yourself of the things that are truly important. As an adult, the outcome will affect you in concrete ways but there are still many aspects of your life that are untouchable. Your gratitude, love, faith and passion is your choice alone and will not change based on who wins.
The sun will rise and set. The earth will move around the sun and you will still wake up every day with the ability to choose how to face your day. Show your children that you choose joy no matter what life throws at you. That could very well be the most important lesson they learn during this whole debacle.
Check out the original articled posted on The Huffington Post: