Well, it’s finally over. Whether you are happy with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election or not I think we all are breathing a collective sigh of relief that it’s done. This is the first election where I was extremely aware of how much my boys were exposed to in terms of media coverage. They were forming opinions as quick as could be based on a sound bite or a campaign commercial. Try as I might to address these thoughts with them, I know there was a lot that slipped by me while they were at school discussing the election with their peers. Here’s the best I could do:
–DEMONSTRATE RESPECT: I am old enough to know that sometimes things don’t go my way. I’ve seen enough underdog sports movies and experienced unexpected upsets or loss, that I know better than to ever believe the candidate I supported was a sure thing. The only sure thing in a political race is its unpredictability. Given that I know I am shaping how my boys will be men in the world, I was extremely mindful of how I spoke about my preferred candidate as well as the opposition. I made it clear these were my opinions and they did not have to agree with me, but they did have to speak in a respectful manner about both candidates. This is because we were discussing the potential leader of our nation. For better or worse, either one would be president and as citizens of this great nation, we need to respect that.
–PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS: There were several occasions in this election where I didn’t feel fully confident in any of the choices on the ballot. As I became more educated and talked my way through my final decision, I always made it clear to my boys that I would vote. I told them I could not have an opinion about who ended up in office if I didn’t take the time to participate in the election process. Voting is our way to have our voice heard. We are lucky to live in a country that gives us this right and especially so for women. By casting my vote I showed my boys that I am a responsible citizen and I hope that means they will be too.
-HEALING A NATION STARTS AT HOME: As a nation, even if we ended up on the side happy for change, I think we are all feeling a bit anxious at the impeding change of power. There was so much vitriol and negativity, that even if your candidate won, it’s hard to fathom that our nation can heal and unify from the ugliness we have seen over the past several months. All we can control is that which is right in front of us. We can look within our circle of family, friends and community and be kind. We can show our children that forgiveness is how we begin to heal. The reality is, sometimes a nation disagrees, but at the end of the day, it is ours and ours alone to preserve.
Together we can heal. There is power in unity.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent