I don't tell my kids how they should view the world. I do tell them how I view the world, how I would vote, and why. But someday (and that someday is like a speeding train from pre-teen to 18), they'll have to make their own voting decisions and I want them to be informed. So we watch the debates, some political discussions, and try to avoid candidate references to the size of their... hands.
But as a parent, I'm glad Donald Trump is running. Here's why:
- My kids are learning new vocabulary words -- like misogyny and narcissism. Never did I think that I'd have to explain such words in the context of debates for the leader of our nation, but nevertheless, it was obvious enough to my kids for them to ask what term applies when people degrade and make fun of women or are so self-centered that they always think they're great and right.
- They've learned that making fun of people is an ugly character trait. A grade school lesson that we've focused on since they were young, they've sadly had to realize that it's a lesson some never learn. "Why didn't his mom teach him that?" was an interesting comment in our house. Whether it's one's competitors, reporters, women, or those with disabilities, they're learning that making fun of others becomes part of your character, if you let it.
- They're learning that an undercurrent of racism still exists in this country. The non-rebuke rebuke of the KKK and David Duke sparked a discussion about subconscious and overt bias and about situations where people compromise in order to win or be liked. As my sons grow up into men of color, they need to be aware of such practices even though we'd like to think our society is post-racial.
- We've talked about what it means to be rich in America. I wrote the article "Why I Gave My Son 5 M&Ms When He Asked About Donald Trump" in response to one son's aspiration to be "rich like Donald Trump." But what is gained (or lost) by being rich? Is that really a laudable goal for your life? What are the responsibilities we have with money? Is it more impressive to start from little and make a comfortable and generous life for your family and those you impact, or to just not lose the money you started with?
- They've learned that character counts, but it doesn't mean you'll finish last or first. Those with character can make it to the stage. They can keep their character on the stage. But it's a narrow road to retain that character in the spotlight and many will compromise it in business, politics, and relationships in order to "win."
- History is alive -- they've now learned more about Edmund Burke. Mr. Burke was an Irish statesman and member of the Whig Party, remembered often now for the quotes "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" and "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."
- They're seeing just how easy it is for a demagogue to come to power. We've often had conversations about how the German people and the countries surrounding them allowed an environment for Hitler to flourish. They've asked why someone didn't stop it before it got too bad.
I only hate that they're having to live through the answer.
Melissa Hogan is a recovering political junkie who can't help but rub off on her three curious boys. She is passionate about rare disease issues and playing guitar.
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