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January 19, 2017

Parenting The Donald will take us to the Edge of our own Sanity.

 

Editor’s note: Dear friends, while we may disagree with this author, even violently or vehemently, that’s great. We’re a community that allows space for dialogue—even for some of us to be “wrong.” That’s how we all learn. If we want to all agree with one another 100% of the time, there’s MSNBC or Fox News. elephant is not a yes-men club. Please be kind to one another in our speech, even in our disagreeing, which is welcome here. That’s what elephant is for. ~ Ed.

~

Oh my goodness, America; it looks like we have a colicky baby boy on our hands.

I know we all kept hoping that the incessant crying and fussy whining would just go away in time, but unfortunately, I think it’s here to stay.

Last November, we gave birth to this boy: Donald J. Trump.

And while we’re not exactly sure who he resembles, he is indeed ours.The labor itself was a brutal bloodbath of complications (one of the most horrifically painful births on record), but he’s here now and we actually have to take care of him, whether we want to or not.

He sure is crabby, but we must accept him into our family, and raise him up anyway. After all, we can deny it all we want, but we made him, and yes, he also happens to be the next leader of the free world.

For the next four years, we will provide him with a beautiful house, nice clothes and lots of food. We will have to bring our A-game with this one, America. Every family seems to have a difficult, cranky child to deal with, and now we are no exception. We must rise to the occasion, and do the best we can to teach him everything we know about how to play nicely.

Mounds of our hard earned money will go right into his basket, one way or another, and he will demand more of our attention than we ever thought possible.

He will infuriate us and challenge our resolve at every turn.

Just like in every family, some of our relatives will coddle him. They will comfort him, and spoil him. They will let him do whatever he wants, and say whatever comes to his mind, even if it’s rude or uncalled for, and he will get used to certain permissions. They will compliment him even when his behavior is exasperating and grotesque. It’s because they love him blindly.

But we can’t do that, America. Since we have to be his parents, we simply cannot be his friend.

Contrary to popular belief, being the President of the United States is not the toughest job in the world.

The toughest job in the world is being a parent.

And just like in any parent/child relationship, we must remember to call him out on his bullsh*t. If the behavior we’ve been seeing and hearing for more than a year now is any indication of the way Trump will behave in the oval office, we will need to raise our voices, stand firm and dole out any and all consequences we can muster.

We might have to pull him off the team if he leaves us no other choice. Granted, it’s a last resort, but let’s keep it in our pocket just in case.

When he lashes out and gets defensive over his own words and actions, he will not be the effective leader we need.

We can show him a different way. If we lead by example, perhaps he too, will lead by example. We can only hope.

We must remember that most of the time, tough love works. We must collectively draw a line in the sand that he cannot cross. Cross the line, and it’s game over: no more toys.

We can remind him about natural consequences. The other kids will not want to play with him if he is mean to them on the playground. And we all know that no one likes a ball hog or a liar.

When he pouts in the store because we won’t let him choose candy from the tray, we have to reassure him that he will get over it. He needs boundaries, America. We must remember that no isn’t a bad word.

When he doesn’t do his homework, we can’t make excuses for him. When he bullies the other kids in the neighborhood, we need to let him know that it will not be tolerated. If we let him get away with too much, he will feel entitled and emboldened to say and do more damaging things.

Conversely, when we see him being kind, or tweeting something nice, let us try to encourage him.

If he receives enough positive reinforcement for the good stuff, perhaps that will put him on a better path to use his power to do right and honest things? We must try to have some faith in him. Maybe a star chart/reward system would work best since we know how well he reacts to praise.

We may need to take his computer and his cell phone away for a while. He clearly isn’t ready for technology yet, and too much screen time is detrimental to his growth and maturity.

When he crashes the car two days after he gets his license, we must have compassion and remember that he’s a new driver.

It might be time to look into an Outward Bound trip, or some sort of immersion program where team building, trust and empathy are the focus. Maybe we can make him volunteer down at the senior center, or the animal shelter. The more he sees what the real world is doing and looks like outside of his sheltered bubble, the better off he will be.

One thing I know for sure is that we will be exhausted America. Parenting “The Donald” will take us right to the edge of our own sanity. We have many sleepless nights ahead of us. We will feel depressed and disappointed most of the time, because he’s just that kind of kid.

But there are some things that our effective parenting books have taught us.

For example, it’s best to count to 10 before getting into a big argument. We must try to listen and digest (and decipher) what our boy is really trying to say before reacting. Or, when life with him gets too unbearable, we can go for a walk around the block or lock ourselves in the bathroom for a bit before saying something we might regret.

He will age us in ways that nothing else will (hard work, illness, climate change), and there will be times we will want to throw in the towel and just give up on him. But we can’t, America. It’s going to be the most difficult job we’ve ever had, but we can do it. We have to try to get through to him.

The good news is, there are lots of us in the ring, ready and willing to roll up our sleeves. We will need to rally around and support each other through all of it. When he leads us astray, we can create a human wall of resistance to save him from himself (and yes, save ourselves in the process).

We’ll be overwhelmed, no doubt, especially when things go wrong, but we can find strength and solidarity in our numbers.

There are far too many of us who oppose his message that we can’t possibly be ignored. We are one big lovingly dysfunctional family, America. We must call upon our feminist aunts and loud, educated uncles, our strong sisters, caring brothers and generous grandmas and grandpas who are ready and willing to help us raise this cantankerous, difficult child.

After all, it takes a village.

And our petulant boy, Donald, seems to respond to tremendous, “bigly” numbers, so that’s one good thing. Our sheer numbers won’t lie.

America, we need to be good parents, now more than ever. We can’t quit. There’s too much at stake.

~

Author: Kimberly Valzania

Image: Newsday 

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

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