You can’t make this up. From schools convening assemblies to sing “We Shall Overcome” to parents consulting with psychologists for tips on how to reassure their kids that they are safe, one is led to believe either one of two things: Kids are in a complete panic over Trump’s win, or their parents are losing their minds. You can’t totally blame them. Many parents headed off to bed Tuesday night with the paranoid sentiments of Van Jones ringing in their ears:
It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bully.’ You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bigot.’ You tell your kids, ‘Do your homework and be prepared. Then you have this outcome, and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of, ‘How do I explain this to my children?’
Reading between the lines I can’t help but wonder if these feel-good sing-alongs and psych sessions weren’t designed to ease parental nerves. The reality is that, contrary to Hillary’s ad campaign, kids don’t sit in front of the television watching stump speeches. Parents do. Therefore, a child’s impression of Donald Trump isn’t really up to Donald Trump, it’s up to their parents. That’s right, regardless of current trends in kid tech, parents are supposed to be the gatekeepers between children and the media. Therefore, if parents were truly concerned about the impression Donald Trump might make on their child, they should’ve simply prevented their child from mass exposure.
I can hear my critics now. “You just don’t understand, they see everything nowadays.” No, they don’t. Not as long as you’re the one holding the remote and controlling the Internet access. Media is only as pervasive as you permit it to be. The overwhelming amount of parental fear is nothing short of a testimony to the fact that a gross number of parents have resigned their natural authority over to the almighty iPad.
As much as these parents fear Trump’s power over their children, they’re incredibly hesitant to claim any of their own. I’ve seen an endless number of articles discussing the dangers of President Trump becoming a role model. What kid looks to a president to be a role model? Despite eight years of being told to practically worship at Barack Obama’s feet, the majority of kids in America still look first to mom and dad. It’s the peril and pleasure of parenting: Everything we do is admired and imitated because we are so deeply loved.
If there’s one lesson parents should take away from this election, it is that they are the ones in charge of their children’s lives. Not the president. Not the government. Not the news anchors, pundits, bloggers, or even experts. When it comes to kids, Mom and Dad are the authority figures and role models in and outside of the home. Everyone else will always be second-best no matter what title they hold.