What I told my children about the election

tell kids about election

This is what to tell kids about the election:

As you can see, I am very upset, as are millions and millions of people. It would be easy to dismiss Trump and the tens of millions of people who voted for him as stupid and uneducated. But that would only make the problem worse.

We talk a lot about how fortunate we are, how we have far more than most people in the world. What this election reminds us is that we also have far more than most people in this country. Because we live in New York City, and because of the people we chose to surround ourselves with, it is easy to assume that most people are like us. That most people have easy access to jobs that pay good money, and expect that they will continue to have good jobs that will pay more in the future. What this election, and that the majority of voters chose Trump, is that most people in this country are not like us. That is why they like it when he says things that are racist, and sexists and discriminate against people who do not look like him. When people are scared, they get angry. When people are angry, they hate.

Listen to my Like a Mother podcast episode on the topic:

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If Hillary had won, it would be easy to dismiss Trump as an embarrassing fluke, and life in this country would probably continue on more or less how it has. For you and me, that would seem good. Instead, Trump’s win shows us that we have no choice but to pay attention to the fact that most people in this country need help. That we need change, for all of us, to make this country fair and safe for everyone.

We joked about moving to another country if Trump won. Instead, the fact that he won means we have an obligation not only to stay, but to do what we can to fight for a better country. Not to overturn him next election. But to really fight for good jobs and fair treatment for every person who lives in this country, as well as for people everywhere in the world.

I am so sad right now, but I will give Trump a chance. I like what he said when he accepted the presidency, and I will give him the benefit of doubt. [clickToTweet tweet=”‘To dismiss Trump as stupid and uneducated is to dismiss most people in this country.'” quote=”‘To dismiss Trump as stupid and uneducated is to dismiss most people in this country.'”] I will listen to what he says, and consider it with an open mind, because by doing so is listening with an open mind to my fellow Americans. Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better, and I chose to see this election as an opportunity.





Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

36 thoughts on “What I told my children about the election

  1. You almost lost me when you said “It would be easy to dismiss Trump and the tens of millions of people who voted for him as stupid and uneducated.” I don’t appreciate being insulted like that…but I do like how you wrapped up this post. Thank you.

    1. I agree 100% – I was almost set to unsubscribe! We all have our own opinions, and for our own reasons. I’m highly educated, have a decent job, and work very hard to raise my 4 children the best I can. And I voted for Trump.

      Thankfully I do appreciate how the post was brought to closure

      1. You are not smart. You are the problem and you deserve what is to come during his presidency. Trump does not value my life as a woman or as a person of color. He does not value mothers in the workplace, and he based his campaign on the fear of change and the fear of color. I have to raise a daughter in a nation that feels men who sexually assault women can be leaders. I have to raise my son in a nation that judges have based off his ethnicity and not his character. You are not smart. Your education did not buy you intellect

  2. I am a smart, well educated, woman who voted for change in this country. I voted for Trump. But politics aside, here is the lesson I want my young sons to take away from this election.

    When Trump announced he was running people laughed, scoffed, ridiculed. They told him he could never win. His own party even had trouble getting behind him. But one person believed he could win. HE DID. To quote Abraham Lincoln – “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

    1. He won…but at what costs?
      I’m not sure his story is a ‘teachable moment’ — at least it is not the lesson I want to teach my children. At the end of the day, it is to respect yourself and respect others….
      I’m heartbroken.

    2. Haha! The lesson I want my son to take away from this is if someone like Trump can be president surely my son has a fighting shot at the position someday! I hope you appreciate the humor from my ‘opposing’ perspective :)

  3. I told my son, age 14, that he will have to be more vigilant than ever. He’s an African American child in a country that hates him (us) only for that reason. I told him that this election proves that this country doesn’t value the lives of women or minorities. I also told him that until worthy candidates emerge for state, local and national office, our family’s position is that we don’t use our vote. We don’t use our ballot for people who don’t deserve it. Just electing more of the same doesn’t do anything for our family or our community. I sat this election out and I’m proud that I did. Hillary didn’t make any attempts to try and connect with me as a mom or as an African American woman. And Trump proved what a horrible human he can be. Our state and local officials are unapproachable and unavailable – they were willing to let me and my son starve and be homeless, but they were able to go to every nonprofit gala held in our county. So what I told my son is this: people were beaten and died for your right to vote. That ballot is the most precious thing you have after your education. Don’t throw it away on people who don’t deserve the job.

  4. Here’s the harsh reality I will share with my small children: Sometimes life is not fair. Sometimes what we feel and know makes sense, will not become reality. Sometimes no matter how hard we work and no matter how much we try to do things right, we may lose. Not everything will go our way. We may not get the job we deserve, nor the recognition we earned. We may lose the race and not get the support we know we should have. We will have to support managers we don’t agree with, presidents we don’t believe in. But we must still demonstrate class and integrity, continue to work hard, and never give up on our goals and dreams. I’ll also tell them that no matter their gender, sexual identity, age, religious choices, nor race, they will always have my love, support, and my vote.

  5. Thank you Emma for sharing your response. As this is on the mind of many Americans today. I too have had conversations with my children this morning about the results. I also vented my own thoughts and I have finally come to the point that all we can do like you mentioned is give him the benefit of the doubt and see what happens. Many of us don’t care for the way he has conducted himself during the election, but now it’s time for us to see what he does and hold him to it!

  6. I’m mixed race and what this says to ME is that a person can publically say bigoted or racist comments and not be immediately shunned. I’m also an evangelical, basically conservative, so the dislike of Hilary was no shock, however, the extreme comments of Trump make me feel personally depressed in a way I have literally never experienced….including being in NYC on 9/`11. I think this shows how much removed much of America is from the emotional life and experience of non-whites and the power of conspiracy media. (Which I used to follow religiously).

    I do have one child who is pro-Trump due to one small aspect of his foreign policy ideas. So I GET that people votes for him for a large range of issues- most of which are not race or ethnicity based. I get that intellectually. Emotionally, however, I feel utterly crushed. I really did feel we had turned a corner in civic life. It is hard to explain this to young kids, especially those of color and in my school we are 30% black, 30% hispanic, and 30% white…very mixed. I’ve seen kids express fear, sadness and anger.

    Now if Trump is a man of his word…and not simply a good saleman…maybe some of his ideas will bear good fruit. However, it’s hard to see how a person with such a lack of boundaries and empathy, as to have sexually assaulted women many times, can possibly have the self control and character needed to be President of a super-power.

    This is major Republican fail and I blame them with not seeing through the bling of Trump and giving the American people a candidate of substance and integrity to vote for.

    The worst case scenarios? Many. Increased violance against Americans in Muslim countries, increased attacks on minorities in Muslim countries, alienation, anger, and violence in the US, a weakened dollar, and the end of American supermacy. Can one leader do all of that in four years? We will see. It is not without historical precidence.

  7. I will note that so many people “joked” about moving to another country, but I am a Canadian working in the US. The Canadia immigration site crashed. What people will learn if they haven’t already that moving to another country is very difficult, impossible for many. One way or another, people have to work together to overcome their divisions. It’s time for everyone to talk to the many people out there who “aren’t like you.”

  8. My son was sad to hear the news this morning, but I told him to keep his head up and the people we want to win don’t always win. I also told him that if anyone wanted to talk about the election in school, to say “I’m here to learn, not talk politics” and leave it at that.

    BUT… As a sci-fi geek adult, I feel like Padme in Revenge Of The Sith watching the galactic senate vote Senator Palpatine into temporary “emergency” dictatorship. She observes, “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”

    For now, we assess; and most likely form the “Rebellion” that will produce a leader who is willing to help us restore balance to The Force. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

  9. Emma, this is such a beautiful post. You are so right. It takes a smart person with a lot of self-awareness and love in her heart to write something like this. I am sure it wasn’t easy for you.


  10. I was not happy with the insult on my privilege to vote for whom I believe is the best PARTY representative. Our government has the House of Representative and Senate to balance and back the leader. I live in a suburb of Milwaukee, WI, an area with horrible crime and terrible segregation. The nationally publicized riots from this summer show what hand outs and ignorance have come to our fair city when generation after generation of poverty and children having children they do not care about grow into… people looking for handouts and jobs and cash handed to them via social programs with a Democratic Mayor. I voted based on party lines. I have seen a better business climate locally under Republican presidents. This location needs to change and change at the top.
    My decision was also based on the Supreme Court appointments and how each candidate’s choices would impact big issues that are important to me… like gun control… and right to bear arms in a city where all the bad guys seem to be armed, so I want less government involvement with the people who are following the laws now. That’s working, but the bad guys are never going to follow the laws anyway…. I was happy to discuss with my 12 year old son why I voted and the specific issues that led to this decision. I am also dating a Mexican US marine… so seeing Hillary send our good, some of our best men, to their death, was also a big factor. Milwaukee has a very large population of Mexicans. Build the wall (hey, it will create jobs, right?) As long as those who come here do it legally, I’m fine with that. My Mexican is willing to die for this country, I think we may find more good men and people from across our borders… let’s just make sure they come here legally, pay their taxes and then benefit from our social programs.
    We’ve all said and done stupid things… I’m not saying Trump is a great guy, but let’s see what he can do. Reagan was an actor and he did pretty well…. We need a Republican in office. That’s my 2 cents.

    1. Keep the change, your opinion sucks. The riots were due to people being murdered by racist law enforcement. If my SO referred to me as “my Mexican” he’d be out of my life for good.

  11. Your entire post reeks of privilege. A friend of mine reads this blog religiously and she sent this link to me. You are part of the problem in America. The fact that you’re not disgusted that someone like Trump ran for presidency and actually won. Being sad and disgusted are two different things.

    Minorities in America have always told the rest of us the different kind of experience they have living here. At least now on an international scale, it has been confirmed that millions of Americans are bigots and racist. They’d rather self harm by voting for Trump than to push forward. America deserves Trump for the hate in lots of White America’s heart. You are the love you accept remember?

    If Trump ran on policies that make sense I don’t think we’d have so many protests all over the country as I write this. He ran on hatred for other races, pitting people against each other. “Make America great again” means what exactly? I’ll tell you. It means make White supremacy a thing again. Something that so many people in our country fought and died for.
    This then begs the question. If the white skin is the superior most beautiful thing in the world. Why is it being shoved down our throats? If white people are so amazing why are they easily threatened by anything that doesn’t look like them? Reminds me of the fragile ego of a weak minded man. Ever so threatened, ever so weak and always menacingly looking for whom to blame and devour.

    I hope you read this and not dismiss it. I hope you ponder on what has been said. Lots of white people aren’t as open minded as they have led us to believe in 2016. This election has showed us that the hate in your hearts remain. America is already a great nation. The fact that many people are out on the streets protesting without being killed off in numbers shows that we have some democracy here.
    Immigrants, Muslims, Black people aren’t the reason so many white Americans lost their jobs or their steel factories closed. Go and take that up with companies who have shipped off labour to China and have robots doing the work. The world is changing and lots of industries are being taken over by machines. This is the future! Change with it or get left behind. One must be willing to adapt to change.

    Voting for Trump is the single most disgusting act in modern history our white counterparts have done. I do hope you lot are also prepared for what’s coming in the next 4 years.

    1. I have been and continue to be disgusted. That does not conflict with my need to work to make changes. I do not see a single change suggested in your long post. Just insults and rage. Care to add or amend?

  12. Emma, you ought to be angry. Any sensible person SHOULD be angry. Am I supposed to feel bad that I’m angry?

    See, this is exactly what I’ve been saying. What we have ALL been saying. Insults how? Pointing out facts are now insults? How so? History is there for all to see. Why are you so uncomfortable with the truth? Did I call you names? Did I insult you by saying outlandish things?

    White people in America refuse to see what the problem is. Solution? Actually listen to the rest of the country. Stop living in a bubble seriously. This isn’t a lecture. If you want to change start by changing your approach to what’s going on in the world. Be empathic.

    You know why you’d read my comment and deem it angry plus insultive? Because deep down whatever that’s going on doesn’t really affect you. No one has told you that you don’t belong here or that the color of your skin isn’t the ideal. No one has told you that this isn’t really your country and you should go back to where you came from. You’ve never had to work twice/three times as hard to PROVE that you deserve the chances, jobs, schools, opportunities people get easily just by merely showing up. We don’t get to show up. Ask any professional black person who is successful and they’ll tell you how they have to conform, work much harder to prove that they deserve to have the jobs they do. Even then some people still believe you don’t deserve any of it.

    There are lazy people in this world who don’t want to work for anything. I am not on about them.

    It is so easy for you because you’re white to say oh let’s give him a chance. Let’s listen to the other side because in the end. None of the hate that has gone on during this election, before that and in the history of this country has been directed at you.
    I don’t think you’d say let me listen to what you have to say if someone barges into your house ready to rob and shoot you. I don’t think you’d say oh let’s listen to what this horrible person is saying. Let’s come together and kumbaya. Christ! Oh dear! We are sooooooo far from the love and togetherness we pretend to preach about in America. So far.

    I watched a documentary recently from BBC about the water crisis in Pakistan. I was appalled that something I take for granted here in America is as rare as diamond over there. The poor people over there obviously have it way worse because like with anything in the world we live in. It sucks to be poor. There was a protest and people gathered to talk about how the water board is supposed to pump water at least once a week for the neighborhoods but won’t do so sometimes weeks! I don’t now get to sit in the comfort of my beautiful, comfortable home tell these people in Pakistan that they’re angry and insultive for a cause that affects them so deeply. Instead I was moved to tears. I was hurt that such injustices exist in our world. I looked for resources online where I could help in what little way I can. The world is bigger than you Emma. The world is even far bigger than me. Lots of goings on in it doesn’t just affect me. It affects everyone. If a certain group of people are targeted then we ALL ought to feel that we are as well.

    I pray for healing for us all.

      1. So, should I make a list of the things I am doing then to make you feel better that I am in actuality doing something about it? *Shakes head*

        Carry on then.

        1. I don’t understand why you are so angry at me? I am on your side. There are different, possibly equally effective ways to do contend with this shit show that will move the needle for all of us. Raging in the streets may be an answer. Political activism. Peaceful protest. On and on. This is my way. I did not say that I am not angry. Whole range of emotions and conversations happening in my life. This is my message, and it does not contradict your message, nor do I challenge your anger, or right to be angry.

  13. How can we expect the Republican triad (President, House, Senate) to actyally represent a nation of different voices when throughout the election cycle (and 8 years prior) they did not. Intellectually I “rise up” and hope they do. Emotionally, when someone shows you who they are – believe them.

  14. You misstated the facts. A majority of voters did NOT vote for Trump. More voters chose Clinton, although a majority did not vote for her, either. But it is important to keep in mind that the electoral college landslide for Trump does NOT mean that an overwhelming percentage of voters chose him. Having said that, I am still appalled at the number who did choose him, but it makes me feel slightly better that there was no pro-Trump mandate.

    1. More states chose Trump. This rewriting of how the system works is not good for the Republic. The presidential election is not a single election. It is 51 simultaneous elections. You have to win the popular vote in enough of these elections to win the presidency. Hillary didn’t do the work to make that happen. She ran one of the worst campaigns in the history of the country.

      What I am telling my children is that even if you are more qualified you have to do the work to prove that you are better for the job.

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