How To Have Rational, Balanced Conversations
With Your Kids About The Divisive Presidential Election
When I was Principal of our local Islamic school, Barack Obama had just become President of the United States. The day after the election, our students arrived with an even greater excitement and cheeriness than usual. They walked in high-fiving each other and chanting “Obama-USA”. Students were excited that a candidate they wanted had won the national election. However, I knew there were staff members and maybe even students of families that may have voted for the other candidate. I took this as a teachable moment, an opportunity to have a conversation with students during our morning assembly that as we celebrate the victory of a candidate we wanted, we need to realize that there may be individuals among us who didn’t vote the same way as us. I emphasized that it was now more important than ever to bring everyone together. Islam teaches us to seek justice and strive for the well being and advancement of everyone around us. This is the way Prophet Muhammad (SAW) lived and practiced. He always took the input from those around him and advice of trusted companions. The Prophet (SAW) brought the community together with the concept of shura, consultation, for the betterment of the entire society. Keeping this in mind, even though we may share different views and perspectives, we all seek freedom, justice, liberty and respect.
This past election and upcoming election however has perpetuated hate, polarized groups and created a tribalistic atmosphere within our own communities. As adults we feel this divisive rhetoric has caused stress and anxiety, and children of all ages have felt that as well. A 2018 study found that 86% of teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 felt emotional stress, anxiety, or fear in the months leading up to the 2016 election. It is more important than ever to provide our children support to steer away from “us versus them” mentality. Here are some tips to help your child deal with the challenges with the upcoming elections: