Writer Nicole Chung on why she Is having the Challenging Discussions on Trump with her Children

08. September 2017 Parenting Guide 0


Writer Nicole Chung has been having a whole lot of discussions about Donald Trump with her kids, two girls ages 6 and 9. In a poignant contribution to the collection How Do I Explain This For My Children? Parenting In The Age Of Trump, Maryland-based Chung, also the managing editor of publishing firm Catapult, explains trying to help her kids make sense of Trump’s success.

It is a sentiment shared by many parents confronted with concerns and questions regarding the U.S President’s behavior from their offspring. The Globe and Mail talked to Chung about how the conversation has changed in the months since the election and the publication’s launch in June, what topics are toughest to discuss with children and why these discussions are an chance to impart significant values.

It seemed like your daughter was very excited by Hillary’s candidacy. Did you have a strong sense of confidence in the lead-up into the election?

I did. I guess it was cautious optimism. I never actually believed that the election was for certain in the bag. I was shocked on election night, naturally. My daughter is bright and inquisitive. We’d talked a lot about the election. It did mean a lot to her that Hillary was a girl. The election result hurt for a lot of reasons, but surely I dreaded telling her the following day.

How did you describe Trump’s triumph to her?

We wanted to avoid the temptation to try to make it better or to minimize the value, because it was clearly extremely important and it was likely to have these far-reaching, horrible outcomes. There’s that tendency for a parent to say, “Everything will be fine.” And this is one of those cases when we actually couldn’t say that.

Has the Trump presidency continued to be a subject of conversation with your oldest daughter?

We have discussed the scapegoating of immigrants and the Muslim ban. We talked with her about Charlottesville and Trump’s remarks after Charlottesville and how damaging they had been. We spoke with her about that fairly honestly.

What type of questions has she come to you with?

Sometimes she will just ask, “What’s Trump doing?” She has asked specific questions regarding immigration policies — she does not phrase it like this. She asks, “Did Trump do this terrible thing that he said he was going to do?” She has asked us about the U.S.-Mexico border {}. And she did have questions about Charlottesville. And I also wanted to speak with her about it in an intentional way and let her know why we had been paying attention to the information that weekend and what was happening.

You write in your essay how important it is for you to speak honestly with your children. I struggle with this because I want my children to still think that the world is an excellent place with a great deal of good people inside. Is a tension for you?

Of course. There are times when I worry that perhaps I’m putting too much on her. Section of you as a parent, you only want to protect your children. But at exactly the same time, my motives for talking with her during the election were [that] she had been coming home from school with questions, too. She heard kids talking about it in school. And I don’t have any idea where all of them got the info. However, it was not only always my husband and me bringing this up with her. Once your child comes to you with real questions, I think it’s particularly tough to turn those away, even when you’re tempted to shield them.

For sure. You don’t understand what they are hearing or how they’re processing it, so you need to help them make sense of it.

It can feel frightening passing this on to them, but finally in a way what you are giving them is some type of power. We need her to see herself as part of her community and school and also our overall movement of people who care about justice and would like to work for it and fight for it. I need them to know and feel solidarity with everybody else who’s scared at the moment or mad or hoping for change.

What’s been the hardest subject that you speak with your children about?

It’s always tough to discuss racist violence. I didn’t really need to speak with my daughter around Charlottesville, specifically the white supremacist rally there, in the town where her grandparents live, in the town where we have friends. I know I needed to speak with her about it, but it was challenging. It’s painful.

*****

The day after the election, I told my daughter the truth

We attempted to explain why this occurred. A great deal of men don’t respect women and women, whatever they may say. A good deal of white folks in this country are afraid of people who don’t look like them or think all of the things they think. They feel left behind; they are searching for people to blame. They’ve a vision of how this country should be that’s, was always, untrue. Our kid nodded along as we told her this; she has heard it from us earlier. Yes, people are mad, we said, and a number of them have trigger. However, it doesn’t matter how justified your frustration is — you don’t take what power you do have and use it to hurt others or cause them to feel less safe.

Our daughter, who’s much like me and so always wants to be aware of the Strategy, asked what she could do. We said, you are doing something. You can attempt to be a particularly good buddy. Be compassionate. Be mad when your buddies are angry for a great reason. Be the sort of person someone might reach out to if they’re sad, or scared, or lonely, or being humiliated. Be aware of everybody — especially the children who seem a bit out of place, who may not have lots of friends.

This election, we told her, proves that you can not listen only to what people state about who they are and what they think. You must see them and see what they do. Respect needs to be earned; not everybody in possession of authority warrants it — which includes our new president-elect. The day after we elected Donald Trump, I advised my daughter the truth: This is the wrong option. I am devastated. I am furious. And I am sorry, because you deserve better.

Excerpted from , initially printed on BuzzFeed and reprinted in How Do I Explain This to My Children? Parenting in the Age of Trump. Copyright 2016 BuzzFeed.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail


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