Ask the Rebbetzin: How Do I Help My Children Move Past This Election?

Dear Rebbetzin,

How can we begin to heal our divided country?

Where do we go from here

Dear Where,

I feel crushed by the enormity of this question. The divide is huge and I have witnessed so much blame and accusations over the past week. I’ve been invited to join the revolution, the unifying efforts, the writers response, the clergy resistance, the congratulatory team. The voices are loud and they are coming from such different directions. I feel dizzied. My five-year-old came home from school last week saying she heard Donald Trump doesn’t allow strollers on buses.

Yesterday, she heard Donald Trump was going to kill her favorite teacher. He’s black. This is what she heard on the kindergarten playground in Brooklyn.

How can I begin to address this? In an effort to pull myself out of this rut, I called my grand-mother. Mommom, as we call her, a Philadelphia resident in her late 80s, is a lifelong Hadassah member and active member of her Jewish community. She is the ultimate matriarch and force of strength in my family.

“I’m sure you’ll figure out something to say,” she told me. I told her I wouldn’t.

“The country is in turmoil; the problem is the extreme right and the extreme left,” she said.

Mommom was going to save the day! I sat down in a nearby park to take notes.

“You’ll figure out what to say,” she told me again. “You always find a way to approach difficult questions.”

I insisted I wouldn’t; I needed her advice. She had lived through so much. “Nothing quite like this,” she said. But then added:

“You have young kids; You’ll teach them to be moral, what is right and maybe they can help sort this out.”

My two-year-old is still in diapers! This was going to be a long road.

“That’s my other line dear, I love you,” she said. With that, Mommom answered her Call Waiting and left me alone in a meadow with my racing thoughts.

Not for long, though. A letter from my daughter’s elementary school popped up on my email. The principal was imploring the parents to fill their kids with hope and not despair. The school was a “No Place for Hate” zone, she reminded us, and though many students and parents were feeling distraught after such a contentious election and its aftermath, she emphasized the importance of democracy, of unity, of pursuing justice while also following the lead of the current president in rooting for the president elect’s success.

It was a beautiful letter. It acknowledged a complexity of experiences, and it was filled with the type of nuance that I believe is necessary to move forward. The nuance that allows me to tell my daughter that there is no place for hate at her playground or in our home - that we will stand up against such hate - without simultaneously inciting fear and hate within her.

And so I did what I do every morning, but this time I did it fully splayed out in a field on my back, looking up at the sky; I prayed:

Dear God, please give me the strength and courage to do what is necessary for this world.

And then I got up and kept going.

I don’t know if this provides you with comfort, or if it seems like much. But, for now, Where, it is all I’ve got.


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This story "Ask the Rebbetzin: How Do I Help My Children Move Past This Election?" was written by Alana Joblin Ain.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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