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Should Children Be Around Ardent Trump Supporters?

January 10, 2021

While I follow the news closely I have come to know a group of friends over the past years living on the isthmus who need to confront the world from a different perspective. They are raising children and wonder what should be done moving forward when it comes to presenting the issues of the day to impressionable minds? And, more to the point, how do some of their strongly pro-Donald Trump family members fit into the equation when coming in contact with those children?

Living in Madison I understand that meeting an ardent Trump supporter is about as impossible as seeing a polar bear amble down my street.  But in those rural parts of Republican strongholds in the state, where some of these younger parents hailed from, their concerns are most legitimate. And after the actions of thousands of Trump supporters storming the capitol. and then the echo chamber of that same type in social media who refuse to condemn it does require asking the question about how best to deal with children who are just coming to terms with issues about government, laws, and ethics.

I recall how a local parent several years ago broached the topic with me, given that I do not have children.

Would you feel comfortable, as a parent, if a Trump supporter sat at your dinner table?  A supporter of someone who denigrates a prisoner of war, laughs and mimics disabled or ill people, has a proven record of misogynist, xenophobic,  racial, and religious animus, and proudly does not pay taxes?   Is that person in your home welcome to engage with your children and spread those views around?

I recall as a teenager one of my relatives at the dinner table started talking about if our military had engaged in the right number of troops or type of tactics in the Vietnam War.  It produced some strong feelings.  But never once would it have occurred to my parents that the topic not suited for ‘kids’. But then we always had more free-wheeling talks at our home anyway.

But given what has passed for political conversation during the Trump campaign in 2016 and his single term (thankfully) in office I recognize how parents now have to question what is best for their family.   When the words about the ‘size of hands’ or the monthly cycles for women blend with the mockery of disabled people and the slurs about women, the separation of young children from parents at the border, and the lashing out of people that do not look like ‘us’ does then lead to the question of how best to raise kids in such an environment.

Therefore, it is totally appropriate for parents to ask if those who embrace the views of Trump should sit alongside kids at the dining table. That may seem harsh, but given how some Trump supporters conduct themselves, and talk akin to being in a cult does allow for a needed conversation about this topic. How can we not feel for parents who have to make tough calls about their families and their obligations to their children?

There are those moments in our history when we know parents grab their kids and tell them to watch an event unfolding on the television screen. Perhaps kids are asked to watch the launch of a space rocket, a grand performance at the Olympics, or a moving tribute at a funeral for a national figure. But would any parent have wanted their child to have witnessed the autocratic ravings from the White House as Trump did all he could to undermine faith in the electoral process of the nation? Would any parent wish their younger child to watch such a spectacle aimed at undermining democracy?

Those are the realities now confronting parents. Try explaining to your children the Trump ‘logic’ that the voters have stolen the election.

And so it goes.

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