Commentary: The conversations parents and teachers are having about Trump being elected

Student walkout
Students in South Gate protest the election of Donald Trump as president in front of City Hall.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

“It’s another day in America.”

That’s how Vandana Bahl started the conversation with her 19-year-old daughter. And she emphasized this: “We will be OK.”

Since Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential election, Big Emotions have pervaded social media – elation and hope on one end of the spectrum and devastation and disbelief on the other. (Take a look at the reactions readers have shared with us.)

These conversations are happening in living rooms, classrooms and break rooms across the country. 

We offered some thoughts, asked for your thoughts and have heard from readers: 

Tell us your story »

“What I told my children is that this election outcome is a live example of how unpredictable life is. Everything can change in the blink of the eye. Don't ever underestimate your opponent until the end of the competition. What we are concerned about is that bully and sexual harassment will get worse as people see Trump can get away with it and become our next president.”

– M. Ng

"Morning ... it's another day in America, and we have to think ahead. Thankfully, our system has enough checks and balances, and ours is not a dictatorship. Trump will have to work within the system and will learn running a country is not like running a business. We will be OK. We should work on electing Chelsea Clinton to the White House next or maybe Sasha or Malia Obama. If it has to stay within political families - which though we have seen it clearly does not … but, the Supreme Court is a concern – you are just going to have to join [Sonia] Sotomayor to help her. Mom"

Vandana Bahl

It wasn’t just parents navigating this with children. I also heard from a high school history and current events teacher in Kalamazoo, Mich. He sent me a thoughtful essay in response. “I didn’t know what to say today,” he wrote Wednesday, “so I started writing.”

An excerpt from the essay he shared with his students: 

“Love one another, and embrace that we live in a world with conflicting ideologies. Many of the adults in our world are still figuring out how to do this. You must learn how if you ever want to make things better (and please, share your secrets when you do).

...I became a teacher because I care about what happens in the world around me and I want to be a part of shaping it. I became a teacher because it’s a hell of a lot easier to complain about things you don’t like when you actually do something to try to fix them. You all are the next generation of voters and workers and parents and leaders. Find ways to be happy and get along with others because you can’t just make people disappear when you disagree. We are a country that is more than Democrat and Republican. We are a team, always.” 

Jimmy Johnson

Schools have been navigating issues of bullying and harassment throughout the election. Some sent out messages to families on Wednesday. My son’s school sent out a note reaffirming its approach to character and community. LAUSD Superintendent Steve Zimmer issued this statement Wednesday: 

Several LAUSD teachers in classrooms my colleague Joy Resmovits visited after the election were focused on allaying fears their Latino students were expressing: 


Despite the attention being paid to the shock of Trump opponents, not everyone in the country is fearful or distraught, of course. I heard from some who are cheering Trump’s election with advice on what to tell the kids. 

"Obama won and I don't remember people writing articles pondering what they were going to tell their children....” wrote Mario Palacios. “How about you tell the children that things won't always go their way and that's OK." 

And Mark Holmes responded with a rhetorical question, pointing to the reservations many across America had about Hillary Clinton: “So, if Ms. Clinton had won, you would have no problem explaining to your children that America just elected one of the most corrupt, lying, scheming politicians ever?”

The conversation on Facebook about discussing the politics, leadership and future of our country with our kids is continuing on Facebook.

Here’s a sampling of how folks answered “What do we tell the children?”:

Share what you are telling your children about what’s next for America, whomever you voted for Tuesday.

Note: Reader submissions above were edited for clarity and space.

Chat me up on Twitter: @mmaltaisLA 


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