I had my first child in 2016, just two weeks after Donald Trump was elected into the White House. This event changed me as a parent, and hardened my already firm beliefs of raising children who would be empathic, open-minded, and tolerant.
As a budding developmental psychologist, I am very aware of the scientifically supported ways to raise a prosocial child. A secure parent-child attachment is the first step towards a child’s understanding of the world as a trusting and good place. As Nature intended, the many ways of building security far exceed those that impede it. Along those lines, whether or not the child enters daycare, participates in playdates throughout the week, or has siblings has less to do with prosocial outcomes as with what is ultimately modeled and valued by the caregivers themselves. Therefore, my husband and I make it a priority to talk about inclusion, tolerance, and model those behaviors as best as we can for our children.
I also work with my children on their ‘Theory of Mind’, a developmental milestone where children begin to understand that other people hold beliefs and desires different from theirs. I use it during discipline when I say, “How would you feel if your sister grabbed a toy from your hand?” or play: “Pretend you’re a doctor, what would you do to make me feel better?”
Unfortunately, and despite our efforts, we are reminded daily of the selfishness and egocentrism that is present and condoned in the current Trump-Pence administration. I realize that regardless of my understanding of psychological science and that information based on scientific research exists, conspiracy and lies leak into the portals of public information. Moreover, beyond my acts of community work and prosocial behavior, there are those in representative positions who publicly demonstrate exclusion and hate. My children see all of it.
I cannot control those who hold values and engage in behaviors different from me, however I can do a very fundamental and powerful thing: I can vote for the policies that lift my fellow man and are reflected in the representatives that support them. And I can vote against the current administration that works to deteriorate bonds of human equality, integrity, and justice. I live in Germany, and I have made it a priority to register and request my absentee ballot. My voice does little good for me without the actions to support it.