Raising Kids in a Time of Fear

Parenting in a time of fear and and discontent | Life lessons from Donald Trump | Parenting in the time of Trump| Maple and Marigold

The headlines last November said it all.  
“Donald J Trump is the President of the United States.”

For months the conversation around our dinner table had been about the US elections, and the blurring of lines between comedy and reality. Every day there were new examples of indecent and mean behaviour from the man who was standing for elections to the highest office in the United States.

Life lessons from Donald Trump | Parenting in the time of Trump| Maple and Marigold“Grab them by the……”
“And some, I assume, are good people.”
“Look at her face.”

The list of mean-spirited comments was long, and with so much evidence mounting against Trump, he seemed to be the antithesis of a role model. Who would want Donald Trump as the leader of the free world and role model for our kids, I thought.

Sadly despite this poor behaviour Trump was elected to be the President of the United States.

I remember clearly that morning in November I woke my oldest daughter up. The first thing she wanted to know was the results of the US elections the previous night. Her reaction said it all:

“But how could people vote for him, Mom? He’s such a butthead!”
“Sorry hon, sometimes buttheads win.”

Since then I see the change that is sweeping the world; in living rooms and on Facebook, and in between strangers at train stations. A low standard of behaviour towards minorities, women and even the differently-abled has become acceptable. After all the President does it! 

There is another change that came about around the same time; that of speaking up against racist, sexist, bigoted behaviour. Hundreds and thousands and millions of people, on social media and in real life are using their voices and standing up for what they believe in.

The world is changing all around us and if we believe in equality and justice for all we need to step up.

Parenting in a time of Trump

The incessant rapid fire of news and events these past few months has taught me a few things about how I want to raise my kids. I hope you find these lessons worth sharing with your kids. 

Judge people on their words AND their actions

Not on how they look. Not on how we hope they may be. People show us who they are every day, and it is up to us to sift through their behaviour and words, and treat them accordingly. During the months of election campaigning Trump showed us the kind of man he is – one who ridicules and mistreats others. I’m sure you can find similar examples in your life. We need to stare reality in the face so that we can do something about it. It’s time to take off those rose-coloured glasses and stop with the Instagram filter.

Raise Sceptics 

If there was ever a time to raise kids to be sceptic then this is it. As parents it is our responsibility to help our children be rational and consult multiple sources of information. There is a lot of noise around us and even though we imbue our kids with good values it is easy to get swayed. Take a breath and check actions against our values and raise our voices.    

Raise kids to believe in their power

I grew up in India in a climate where questioning authority wasn’t widely acceptable. In the years since I’ve learnt that authority isn’t always right. And times like these where people in power may be oppressive and bigoted, it’s even more important to look out for each other. Standing together makes us stronger.

The majority isn’t always right

Much of the world lives in a democracy where majority rules. But sometimes the majority isn’t right. A group of people speaking the loudest aren’t always (if ever) right. Look to your own compass and ask questions. 

Be engaged

Write, act or petition, quietly or loudly; your way may be different from mine. Whether it is standing up at the Women’s March or commenting on Facebook – be engaged. 

Teach kids to be respectful of the other side

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and at the same time no one is allowed to put you down for yours. You may not be on the same side of the fence as your friends and that’s OK. It’s important to be part of a respectful dialogue and raise our voice for what we believe 

Sometimes butt heads win

Yes, they do. It may seem contrary to all common sense but sometimes butt heads do win. It may seem that behaving poorly and demeaning others can take you straight to the top. It did after all work for the current President of the United States. But that isn’t a message you want to raise your kids with. 

Parenting in this time of discontent and fear just got more complicated and what we do today matters. Equality and justice for all matters. How we treat others matters. And our kids, yours and mine, need to be equipped to handle this world that is divided and changing as we speak.  Parenting in a time of fear and and discontent | Life lessons from Donald Trump | Parenting in the time of Trump| Maple and Marigold

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Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
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