How To Talk to Your Kids Today About the Election Results

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It’s been a long time since our nation was collectively shocked from coast to coast by a single event. Granted some will say they were confident of the election outcome but most Americans are united on this post-election day by one emotion: stunned disbelief.

If adults are feeling this, then our children are too. In the last few days of the presidential race two ads portrayed the all too obvious flaws of both candidates and one ended with the statement, “Our children are watching.”

In the fall of 2001, our two youngest daughters sat in their high school classrooms and watched as the twin towers imploded into mountains of debris and dust before the eyes of the nation. One of them was struggling with insecurity and self-doubt, normal for every teenager alive, but this event catalyzed her angst into a genuine depression. Her wavering confidence was crushed in the rubble of the towers. Though we tried to have conversations with her, she concluded for a season that life wasn’t dependable. Stability wasn’t real. The system couldn’t be trusted.

Our children are watching and they need to us to listen and lead.

Don’t underestimate the impact of this election on especially vulnerable teens.

Today every classroom in America will talk about the election. Will every dinner table tonight do the same?

Here are some questions for kids from first grade to seniors in high school. Ask them today and regularly in the days and weeks to come:

What did your teachers say about the election?

About the victor?

About the system and the process?

What did your friends say?

And don’t let your kids just give the facts. Probe for an emotional response. Ask how did that make you feel? Why did you feel that?

Help your children name their emotions. Fear and anger are two primary responses with a host of other names: anxiety, worry, confusion, insecurity. The opposite emotion might be jubilance if they were on the side of the victor. That should be discussed too, so you can guide your children away from pride or arrogance or a critical spirit toward others.

What comments have you heard about our new president, Mr. Trump? Kids parrot what they hear moms and dads say at home, so no doubt there have been or will be hateful, angry, fearful or prideful arrogant words thrown around the playground or in the lunchroom at school. How do those comments make you feel?

For older kids who have certainly heard the sleazy sex talk on the now infamous tape, ask them how they feel today about this man being our leader? Talk about sin, repentance, restitution, and salvation. Ask them what they believe should be our response and why?

Then take your family together to the Rock of stability.

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Get out your Bible and start reading the book of Daniel to your kids. This is a perfect time to bring the greater Story into the swirl of our present-day story. You as parents are to be role models of stability for your children. Show them you trust and believe in a God who rules over the affairs of men and nations.

The first chapter of Daniel describes how the king of Babylon besieged and conquered Israel and carried away a number of its people, including youth who would be educated in the ways of the Babylonians.  Then it tells of Daniel’s decision to reject the food and drink of the Babylonians and remain obedient to God’s law.

Read this chapter together tonight at dinner or at bedtime. Ask your kids read some of the verses too, even though some of the words are challenging.

As you read ask some of these questions to help your kids to engage with the story.

  • What does it mean when it says that Nebuchadnezzar “besieged” Jerusalem? (Look it up in a dictionary to get the full picture.)
  • In verse two it says that “the Lord gave the king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. Ask what does that mean? (answer: He allowed Babylon to conquer Judah.)  Why do you think God allowed that?  Ask them if they are surprised God did this? Does that make you feel afraid? Why do you think He sometimes allow things to happen to our nation that we might consider bad?
  • What did the king of Babylon ask for in verses three and four? How do you think those teenagers felt about being taken from their families? Let your kids tell you how they would feel if they were marched off to a foreign land to live without their families.
  • What did Daniel do in verse eight? Why do you think this is important?
  • What do you think it means in verse nine when it says that God gave Daniel favor?  How does the rest of the chapter show that God is in control even as Daniel is dealing with how to act when he is a captive?
  • And be sensitive with young ones who might be fearful of being taken away after hearing this story. Listen to your kids with your heart not just your head.

If you want to continue this story the rest of this week, you can read about the dream Daniel interpreted in chapter 2, the story of the fiery furnace in chapter 3, the hand writing on the wall in chapter 5, and the lion’s den in chapter 6. I suggest you pray and let your kids each pray out loud as you finish reading.

No matter where you stop, don’t miss these words at the end of the story of Daniel: “The people who know their God will display strength and take action. And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many” (Daniel 11:32-33).

My prayer for you is for you as parents, that you will take action to help your children stand strong on what feels at times like unstable ground.  Give them reasons to be like Daniel, who stood tall by faith in His God in the face of possible death multiple times. Your kids will, or might already be, facing multiple threats to their faith. What is their anchor? What is their stability? What is your source of security?

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It can’t be what happens nationally.  It must be what happens eternally.

Take advantage of this moment of national change, of our country’s momentarily united focus on an event that Daniel tells us is not a surprise to our God. Talk to your children and teach them about our God who can be trusted no matter what happens in this life.

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18 thoughts on “How To Talk to Your Kids Today About the Election Results”

  1. I’m late commenting on this, but I think what the other comments show is that our kids are not the only ones who need to be allowed to share their feelings about the election. This election was so divisive that it is threatening to tear our country apart. Even Christians can’t talk with each other about it without high emotion, to the point of anger. I won’t tip my hand which way I voted, but I will say that as I was watching the election, I wrote a blog asking Christians to put this behind them and try to show the world that we are different because of our God-given love for each other. Wouldn’t it be something if American Christians could be an island of peace in a sea of chaos? Wouldn’t that be a great testimony for God?

  2. I wanted to take a few days to let the article and replies soak in before leaving my reply.
    The story of Daniel has many applications, for sure. This includes the idea that many times in the history of God’s reign over His people, he handed his people over to captivity when they had strayed, as our nation certainly has.
    But I was thinking that the story of Sampson is more relevant. The Philistines were mocking God’s people, and God raised up a strong man to change the dynamics. Sampson was physically strong, but not very strong spiritually. It is my prayer that Mr Trump will avoid Sampson’s fate, but I will not be surprised if that is in our nation’s future over the next few years.
    Barbara, I believe that your article does not reflect your statement in your reply to Madeline, that you recognize that both candidates were flawed. It seemed clear that you assume that most christians would been OK with Ms. Clinton, but are now rightly afraid of a Mr. Trump as president.
    I have a feeling of “queasy relief” that our nation has escaped a rapid race away from christian values, and that we each have a chance to influence the world around us into a godly direction. We must NOT rely on Mr. Trump do do that.

  3. How do you now deal with all the negative adds and insults against other nationalities. We as Chritians need to prayer about divisions created by all the negative talks and adds during the campaign I as an adult still grieving over all those talks I wonder what our children are going through as Chritians we cannot allow the enemy to divide and conquer us we have to find a way of creating unity in the body of Christ and to be about our Father,s business.Let people that name the name of Christ depart from iniquity and be true to our calling.

  4. I am very appreciative of your article, Barbara. The fact that America selected a man who has a history of sexually assaulting women, mocking individuals with disabilities, and threatening minority groups, planning to deport millions, and build walls is sickening to me. Donald Trump gives Christianity a bad name. I agree that the candidate he was running against also has flaws. I am stunned, saddened, and disturbed that a man with this character is being embraced by those who call themselves Christians. This person does not stand for what I believe Christ does. Even his pro-life stance is questionable, he has publicly made comments that don’t align with this, and yet many Christians have voted with him solely because of the Republican stance on this issue. He is a hypocrite!

    1. You are not listening to what Barbara said. There are many hypocrites in the church. Does that mean we should stop going to church? Are you perfect to throw the first stone? How do you know how many Christians voted for him because of the Republican stance on pro-life? I didn’t.
      We all will ANSWER to God for the decisions we make, not you. We need to consider the words found in Romans 13:1-7. God is the one who sets up governments and authorities. We are to obey that authority. Many times it is to judge the nations–no matter who is in office, God is in control!

  5. Thanks for bringing to our attention this is a great subject to discuss with our children’s,relatives, and friends.
    I love how you use the book of Daniel to reference to this election and regardless of your party affiliation we as Christians should align ourselves with the Bible to apply to our lives daily.
    It’s amazing to me that one of the comments made by one individual would bring up sin and emails when you are talking about addressing the teenager about the election and our president elect.
    Thanks you for reminding how important it is to talk to our teenagers about this elections from a Christian standpoint.
    😀😀😀🙏🙏🙏

  6. My husband went to his study the morning after the election. He opened his reading that morning to the following verse; this verse was the next sequential reading in his current daily devotional. The verse spoke to us of God’s sovereign plan in the election. The verse says “I have given help to the one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people.” Psalm 89:19. This gave us an extra confirmation that God is on His throne and will help our new president. I can trust with ease and give respect to the man God and the American people have chosen. May God help us.

  7. Thank you for your wonderful suggestions on helping our kids talk about their feelings and turning their focus back to God. My personal feelings, which I know we will be sharing at our table, is that God did a truly miraculous work. He heard the cry of His people and poured out His mercy, making a way where there seemed to be no way, and protecting our country from continuing down a path to further destruction. Along with most evangelical Christians, Donald Trump would not have been my first choice, and seriously, not on any list of choices I would make, but I voted for the men he gathered around him. I voted for an agenda that was more in line with my Christian values than the other party, who I believe would lead us into more and more rebellion against God’s principles. Like many Christians, I have been praying against this other party continuing to rule with a political agenda against everything that I believe, and I am amazed and thankful that God did what everyone thought could not be done. I am incredibly thankful for His protection, for those He has placed around this new president, and for the godly influence I pray they will have in the days ahead.

    1. Indeed well said. Honestly, there’s no way a true (and informed) Christian could vote for Clinton or the democratic platform… Additionally, I hope and pray that people would quit watching the manufactured news broadcasts who are constantly trying to divided people and incite violence. They seek out the 2% of the US population that believe half of our nation is racist and play those stories continuously on a daily basis; please, make your own observations of that. As Christ followers, we cannot give this garbage (“news”) the time of day. Our battle is in the spiritual realm and we need to keep our eyes on the King of Kings and oppose this dividing onslaught brought on by the enemy. We are united in Christ alone and the world needs to see that — for His glory. Amen.

  8. Pingback: Election 2016: How can I talk with my kids about all this? - A Generous Grace

  9. Barbara,

    Your insight into this very subject has encouraged me to talk with my teenagers and older children regarding how they feel, where they stand and who they stand for in light of the election. Thank you so much for sharing and God bless you and your family. In Christ, Connie

  10. Wondering why you wouldn’t also ask: how do you feel about a candidate who handled their access to secure information on an insecure network? Talk about sin, not telling the truth, and mishandling trust.

    1. I didn’t mention specifics because my goal was to encourage parents to talk to their children. Both of these people are flawed and have made obvious mistakes. It’s a great opportunity for us to trust in God and not in men or women. That was my purpose in writing. Turn our eyes upon Jesus who is the same yesterday today and forever.

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