We are failing our children, and we’re doing a spectacular job at it.
It is Saturday morning, and after one piping hot cup of coffee, which I sipped while scrolling through social media feeds, I am now sitting at my keyboard, my insides awash with incredulity, my mind scrambling to pluck words that will present themselves as composed and constrained. Because I want to scream at all of us.
Does this look like anger? Disappointment? Fear? Bafflement?
AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO’S NOTICING WHAT’S HAPPENING??? (How about that?)
What I am about to write is not a post on politics, so please don’t come at me with vitriolic comments. What I am about to write is how we, as adults and parents, are behaving in this election cycle and how that (mis)behavior is seeping into the lives of our children, all while we turn a blind eye. Or maybe not.
Maybe some of us witness our middle schooler provoking a peer who innocently announces he supports Ted Cruz because his parents support Ted Cruz and we pat ourselves on the back because: Good job, honey. You’ve been listening. She’s sure to follow in our liberal footsteps. Or maybe our fourth grader comes home after school and between bites of a chocolate chip cookie and slurps of cold milk he confides as an aside that he told one of his classmates (a girl) that Hillary Clinton doesn’t stand a chance because “girls can’t be president”. Or maybe we boast on social media that we (an adult) see a teenager in Target wearing a Trump t-shirt and take that opportunity to “harass” him.
According to my social media feeds, all of these things actually happened. All of the aforementioned children who had the audacity to stand up for a candidate of their choosing (even if their opinion was based solely on their parents’ choices) were shut down because of us. They have learned that opinions matter unless it’s the wrong opinion because of us. They have listened to us preach about inclusion, courtesy, and humanity only to watch us turn away and spew hateful comments about those who harbor different opinions and beliefs than our own. And they are echoing those hateful comments because of us. So go ahead, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re #winning at #adulting today. Are you #killingit? Because from my point of view, we have thrown the golden rule of parenting out the window: teach our children the art and duty of kindness. Of tolerance. Of acceptance.
If there is one theme that pulses through our generation of parenting it is that, through the far-reaching magic of social media, we are really working to break down the falsely constructed idea of what it means to be “normal”. We are raising awareness of disabilities, we are tearing down stigmas and stereotypes, we are fighting back against racism and sexism. We are teaching our children that #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter, and we are #changingthefaceofbeauty, and we are flipping the phrase #likeagirl on its head. But not when it comes to politics. When it comes to politics all bets are off; it’s a dog-eat-dog world (and I’m not talking about Washington).
I get it. I get that tensions are high and emotions are wrought with fear and deep-seated beliefs. And it is our constitutional right as American citizens to express our opinions, but it is also our charge as parents to present our opinions and beliefs through mindful discussions, goodwill, and grace so that someday our children will do the same. And we are failing.