The election of the next President of the United States is drawing near with just two weeks to go. Many Americans (and I suspect many non-Americans as well) have been counting down the days to the end of what has been a brutal campaign. Like many parents I’ve struggled with just how, exactly, to talk to my kids about this election.
Earlier this year, I started to see articles popping up about how to talk to children about Donald Trump, specifically. But I wonder, too, about how to talk to children about the extraordinary thing they are witnessing in this election cycle: the breakdown of mutual agreements – spoken and unspoken – about how political discourse happens in an open and free democracy with peaceful transitions of power.
To be sure, American politics have always been contentious. Heated debates and party divisions are not new. What feels new to me, though, is the unwillingness on all sides to truly listen with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.
It is this type of listening that I try to model and teach my children. It is this type of listening that helps me to experience being seen and understood. And I think it is this type of listening that can and will ultimately create healing if we are willing to step into it.
Listening is one of my greatest challenges as a parent. In the hustle of day-to-day life – school, work, meals, nap, laundry, dishes – I can sometimes become so focused on what needs to happen (according to me) that I don’t always stop and listen with a willingness to be changed when my kids try to express something to me. I might stop and look at them and pay attention as they speak. I may even silently congratulate myself for being so patient.
But if I’m just trying to make them feel heard rather than actually listening and taking in what they are saying, willing to adjust course based on what they express, am I really modeling how I hope they will show up in the world?
As adults, whether we mean to or not, we are constantly setting an example for the children of the world. They see and pay attention and learn from us, for better or for worse. It is for this reason that conversations about Donald Trump are essential. And it is also for this reason that I think we would all do well to consider whether we are confusing polite waiting for true listening. Are we sitting quietly while our fellow citizens express their frustrations and fears, congratulating ourselves on being so cool-headed, while we simply wait for them to finish so we can respond with whatever preloaded retort applies? Or are we truly listening with a willingness to be changed, to consider the other side, and to wonder, together, how we can address and ensure our common well-being?
How open are you to changing your position after listening to someone’s point of view? Has this ever happened to you?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Ms. V of South Korea. Photo credit: Jay Phagan. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
A thought-provoking tweet has been making the rounds on social media since the horrific mass shooting in Orlando. The tweet reads, “In retrospect, Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.” How can this be? How can this really be?
But something is happening. Since Orlando, there has been a swell of support for real change in gun control measures in the United States. Senator Chris Murphy held the floor for 15 hours in a filibuster to demand a vote on gun safety laws. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chris Murphy brought two powerful amendments to the floor for a vote: one requiring background checks for all gun sales, and another blocking gun sales to suspects on the terrorist watch list (both, sadly, were voted down).
On Wednesday, Rep. John Lewis lead his colleagues in a sit-in on the House floor to demand a vote on common-sense gun control measures. Those representatives are held their ground for more than 24 hours, and plan to take up where they left off when Congress is back in session. In addition, City Council members in Charlottesville, VA passed a resolution this week asking the state to allow localities to create their own gun control laws. Since the Federal government hasn’t stepped up, the city of Charlottesville wants to take the safety of its citizens into its own hands.
Furthermore, scores of articles have appeared in the media championing everything from repealing the second amendment, to background checks for gun sales, from preventing dangerous people from purchasing guns, to banning assault weapons. And, perhaps most importantly, Americans are contacting their representatives in record numbers, insisting on gun control. Constituents across the United States tweeted, texted, called and wrote to their representatives demanding change.
Personally, I will no longer be a passive bystander. I will no longer do nothing shake my head every time there is a mass shooting, yet does nothing. I will stand up for my right and the rights of all to live a life free from the risk of being killed by a bullet. I will not rest until there is a sea change in the way we approach gun politics.
I stand with my fellow Americans, finally demanding an end to the unacceptable loss of life that has become completely routine in the United States. We will keep writing to our representatives until there is a real change in the way we approach gun control in America. We have lost thousands of innocent lives to gun violence. How many more deaths must we endure before we stand up and DEMAND gun control laws? We will endure no more. Enough is enough. We will NOT let Sandy Hook mark the end of the gun control debate in our country.
#ENOUGH #DisarmHate #NoBillNoBreak
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara Wambugu.
Image credits: Knotted Gun via Jim, the Photographer / Flickr. Vigil for Orlando shooting via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr. Rally to prevent gun violence via Maryland GovPics / Flickr.
“Will we be safe there?” My 11 year old son asked me that question as we were discussing our winter holiday travel plans, and I suppose, given that we live in the UAE, his question might make sense. In the last few years, we’ve traveled to Jordan, India, Kenya – all places that have been in the news lately as sites of violence.
Where are we going for the winter holidays, you might wonder, that would elicit such a question?
The United States.
I’ll let you think about that for a minute.
Okay, true, his question was a bit of a joke – the question of travel safety has become a running gag in our household, in part because that question is always the first thing my mother (in Illinois) always asks us.
But this time, when he asked the question, none of us laughed. He’d asked us just after the last mass shooting, the one in San Bernandino. And think about that for a minute: I have to specify for you which shooting I’m talking about. Was it the one in Colorado Springs outside Planned Parenthood, or the one in Oregon, or the one…
In other countries, when you say “mass shooting,” there simply aren’t that many to choose from because in the aftermath of the tragedy, governments have changed the laws to make such events less possible. But not in the good ol’ US of A.
When I tell people in the States where I live, there are two questions I am always asked: do I have to “cover” and “do I feel safe?” The answers are “no,” and “yes.” People who didn’t worry about me strolling home after midnight in New York’s East Village in the late 1980s now seem dreadfully concerned about my safety here, in this part of the world, as I drive off to the mall.
Part of why we chose to live abroad with our children had to do with wanting to give them a cosmopolitan perspective on the world: we wanted them to experience other cultures and learn to be open to, rather than threatened by, difference. I know that in the US it is possible to live in cosmopolitan cities—we used to live in Manhattan, where children from many nations crowded into my kids’ classrooms—but it is a different experience to live in a place where “your” culture is not the dominant.
A little while back, for instance, my older son had some friends over so that we could all go to a water park in the afternoon. When I told them it was time to get ready to go, my son said “well, we have to wait a little bit because T. is in the other room doing his prayers.” T. comes from a devout Muslim family and his mother would have been pleased to know that T. didn’t miss a prayer time just because the water park called. And for my son and his other friends, T. doing his prayers was as matter-of-fact as if he’d been changing into his swimsuit, or drinking a glass of water. Ordinary.
Like many of us, at home and abroad, I wrestle with how to explain to my children why the United States can’t simply change its gun laws and why so many people in the country seem afraid of anyone who worships at a mosque rather than a church or a temple. The explanation in both instances seems to boil down to fear: fear of change, fear of difference, fear of that-which-is-not-me.
It’s not much of an explanation, but it’s the only framework I have to explain why Donald Trump, for instance, can still be considered a candidate for the Presidency.
I know that the demagogues like Trump do not speak for all the people in the United States, and that many, many people are outraged by gun violence, but alas, the picture of the country that travels outward to the rest of the world is one of violent, gun-toting Islamophobia – and it’s scary. For me the fear rests not in the thought that Trump will ever be President because I refuse to believe that his bilious self is actually electable. I hang on to that fact as ardently as I once hung on to my belief in Santa Claus. No, my fear rests in the fact that, according to a recent poll, Trump leads the group of Republican Party presidential hopefuls, with 35.8% of the vote.
THIRTY-FIVE POINT EIGHT?
Maybe there really isn’t a Santa Claus.
How do you explain what’s happening in the United States to your children?
This is an original post by World Mom, Deborah Quinn in the United Arab Emirates.
Photo Credit to the author.
Welcome to 2014! As we bid farewell to 2013 with all of its ups and downs, we are ready to look forward to the year ahead of us. Some of our World Moms have shared their resolutions. Read and enjoy, and add your own resolutions in the comments!
The European Mama from The Netherlands: Learn to read sheet music and play the piano. Have one or more of my blog posts published on a high quality website. Get paid for my posts. Learn more about blogging. Be a better parent. This mama has blogged about her resolutions.
Nicole @ Sistersfromanothermister from Florida, USA: In 2014 I need to find my center. My world seems as though it has been upside down for so long, I need to center my life to focus on what is most important. I need to take care of myself, so that I can take care of others. I need to strive for change on what I can control and let go of all that is beyond that control. And the relationship I have with my girls is all that I make it, and I cannot ‘fix that for anyone else’.
Tara B. from Washington, USA: Play more!
Mrs. P. Cuyugan from the Philippines: I need to seriously de-clutter. Our stuff is all over the house, my email inboxes (yes, all of them) are out of control, everything is just out of order. Even my thought process is messed up. I need to get rid of a lot of junk and try to sort things out and make sense of everything in my life right now. That’s my promise to myself for 2014.
Maureen @ Scoops Of Joy from Indonesia: My 2014 resolution is to focus on my health even more. I’m fighting uterine fibroids and changing my way of eating to avoid surgery so that will be the center of my 2014.
Susan Koh from Singapore: My mantra for 2014- Less Stuff, More Life. I’m aiming to find contentment with what I have, decluttering and purging what I don’t need in my life from toxic friendships to too many cereal boxes that I think I’ll need for crafts with my daughter.
Jennifer Burden from New Jersey, USA: There is one person that I could be spending more time with lately…my husband! My resolution is to make more couple time this year! And family hikes with the kids! And I was thinking the other day that I really want to drive a race car, a totally new desire for me. Not sure if the race car is for this year’s or another year’s resolution yet. I’ll let you know!
Sarah Hughes from New Jersey, USA: I want to step back this year and slow down. Less non-family responsibilities (other than work) and be absolutely 100% present in the moments with my children. Oh and I need to lose 15 pounds, it’s a must!
Karyn @ Kloppenmum from New Zealand: To eat cake, drink wine and have as much fun as is humanly possible.
Mom Photographer from California, USA: Exercise more. Organize more. Eat more. Reading books, more. Being more happy with what I have instead of thinking about and longing for what I don’t have. And funny thing, because driving a racing car is on my bucket list, Jennifer, and just as you, I am not sure if it’s doable in 2014 but definitely sometime in the future.
Elizabeth Atalay from Rhode Island, USA: I am not big on New Years Resolutions, as is evident in the same 10lbs I’ve been talking about losing for years now! That said, Family, friends and travel are paramount, but I’d like to connect the dots a bit more, and this year I intend to start making mini-documentaries as digital content,oh, and I’d like to really make a positive difference in the world through my work somehow.
Mama Aya from New York, USA: To find some time for me! I have been really burnt out lately between the kids, working full time, traveling for work, de-cluttering so that we can sell our place and move, etc. It is affecting everything in my life including my relationships with my husband/mother/friends and is causing me much stress. I resolve to do things for myself, like spend time at the gym or go for a manicure, regularly so that I can be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend!
Mamma Simona from South Africa: My resolution last year was to stop making resolutions!
Kirsten @ Running For Autism from Canada: To give myself permission to follow my dreams instead of neglecting my passions so that others can shine. To understand that there is room for what I want to accomplish while still being supportive of my husband and children.
K10K from Belgium: I have two. (1) I will finally finish at least one of the books I am writing and find the courage to send them to a publisher. (2) I will hide an encouraging or funny little note or drawing in my kids’ lunchboxes once a week.
World Moms Blog wishes moms all over the world a happy and fulfilling 2014. So, tell us your New Years resolutions!
Photo credit: toolmantim. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lately, I have been avoiding my Facebook feed and deleting people who I realize have views much different from mine. Yes, I am aware that we all have varying opinions on all issues, large and small. However, as the United States Presidential election moves closer, I am reminded of the enormity of the race factor in this country. Hence, I no longer wish to be bombarded on Facebook with hate based words and images.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming number of caucasians voted President Obama in to office, there are still large portions of the population that, without verbally admitting it, are uncomfortable that a black man is in charge of our country. And yes, he is considered black, not biracial, despite the current climate of political correctness. If he wasn’t considered a black man, I highly doubt that the legitimacy of his birth certificate would STILL be a topic of conversation.
Has he been a good President? I can’t say; history will make that distinction for me. Will he be re elected? I hope so, despite the fact that I do not vote. (Another topic, for another day) Has he proven that race should not be the defining characteristic of a person? Sadly, not yet but maybe when my children are grandparents, having a multicultural President will be the norm and not the exception. (more…)