Parenting through election hell, Pt. II

Pretty humbled that my Medium post resonated with a few people last month. It feels good to be writing a bit again. My posts are one-part flexing creative muscles, and two parts kicking the tires on various publishing platforms like WordPress and Medium. Very few people read my stuff here, and I don’t promote it. I also don’t post with any regularity so I don’t expect many clicks.

In this case I did want to try distributing the post, and I was right that I’m not alone in feeling all this. I put the link on Facebook, and was happy to get compliments and see it shared by friends and acquaintances and some of their friends. It didn’t go viral by any stretch, but it’s definitely the most-read thing I’ve written in a few years.

Then, through a former colleague, I was connected with journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams who was working on a similar piece for Salon with, you know, the actual reporting that my commentary lacked. Williams thought highly of my piece, and asked me for an interview. We never could connect by her deadline so she instead included a snippet of my post in her excellent article. Thanks @embeedub!

I followed through with my promise to watch the Michelle Obama video with my son. We watched the whole thing. He took it all in and was very thoughtful when it ended. I asked him what he thought. He said it was good, and that it was important for leaders to be respectful to others. I didn’t press him with more questions or a lecture, but rather just let him absorb her powerful speech. He gets it.

The struggle with this topic hasn’t ended. I volunteer with Project Cornerstone at my kids’ school, and we talk a lot about bullying, being respectful, being an “upstander,” and the like. Today in a volunteer meeting we parents discussed how we can teach kids to avoid both real and virtual bullying traps. We talked about judging people, and possibly using an example like the video of golden-voice Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent as a great example of how first impressions and judging people can be so wrong. The judges and crowd ridicule her onstage before she sings, and then of course she blows everyone away and becomes famous overnight because of her angelic pipes.

I argued that produced shows are made to dramatize failure and/or surprise results like Boyle, even though it’s true that we as people judge others all the time. We see this in media consistently, never mind the judges in produced reality/competition shows tearing people down. We’ve got reality show star and presidential candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail shaming women and others.

So what’s a parent to do? Some in the meeting said: vote with your eyeballs. Don’t watch the stuff, and resist the urge to click on crap online. Kids need to be told they have the power to avoid these traps. Another said they should also be exposed to positive messages, including the Obama video. She’s right, and I think a segment of it might be worth showing the class I’m reading to this month for Cornerstone.

As Obama says, “When they go low, we go high.” It’s an incredible tagline and message. And here it is yet again. Watch it with your kids.


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