The last several months have been rife with controversy and political differences, but the last week seems to have taken us back in time and it’s left me wondering how the hell I’m supposed to parent. One of my friends often says that the only thing we really need to be worried about is making sure we don’t raise assholes, but that seems harder and harder in a world seemingly full of them.
Many have compared Trump’s first week as President to the experiences of so many before and during the Holocaust. And, just like the Holocaust, there are those peering down from their ivory towers, believing, foolishly, that they will never lose their privilege, that they will never find themselves there, amongst the persecuted and the broken. Yet, history has taught us that any of us can be sent to the guillotine at any time, and our privilege can only take us so far before our skin colour, gender, country of birth, religion, or physical ability places us in target range.
So, how do you raise kids in a world so full of hatred? You do the best you can. You teach them how to be empathetic by showing empathy. You teach them how to be respectful by using respectful language. We don’t deny what is happening in the world, for that would be to raise them in a fairytale. Instead, we limit what they see and hear from other sources, and we explain to them in ways they can understand. Because something happens to kids and their openness, somewhere along the line they pick up our insecurities, our judgments. Our basic job as parents is to keep them alive, our goal should be to keep their hearts open; to teach them to learn from and love others not despite our differences but because of them. We need to teach them that there is hatred in the world, but that we abhor it. That there are those who hurt, but that we will not stand by and allow it. That there are freedoms that others will try to deny, but that we will fight for them. That it doesn’t matter if they go after my children or my neighbour’s children or children a world away, that I will show my kids that we cannot and will not let anyone, no matter how powerful, take away the basic rights we have fought so long for.
I could not claim to be a good mother, or even a decent human, if I raised my kids in this world, and didn’t say it’s wrong, didn’t shout from the rooftops how disgusted I am, how heartbroken it makes me. Instead, I will raise empathetic feminists, because I refuse to be a bystander or to raise them. Let us remember that voices together are so much clearer and so much stronger. And that is what our children need from us-strength.