Wondering what to say?
Trump’s tweets came up today in our coaching call for the Opening the Communication group program. There’s a lot to unpack, many angles to look at.
Let me zoom out and say this first though:
My top priority is for you to safeguard your child’s life. Teens with non-heteronormative sexual identities are much MUCH more likely to attempt suicide.
Here are some statistics from the Journal of Adolescent Health. GB = Gay/Bi, LB = Lesbian/Bi
Whether your child is openly gender questioning or not, they need to know that you’ll love and accept them no matter how they choose to present themselves to the world, no matter who they date, whether they conform or not. At any age, you can tell your child that you don’t care whether they feel more like a boy or a girl, you just want them to be happy.
After that, there are lots more conversations you can have with your kids about these tweets.
You might start the conversation with your older child by asking a question: “What do you think? Should transgender people continue to serve in the military?” Your teen will be happy to share their opinion. You can bring the conversation around to what qualities make a good soldier or leader, and that conversation is always a valuable one.
Maybe you’d like to use this opportunity to talk about social media. Military policy isn’t dictated by what Trump tweets, even though he is Commander in Chief. His personal social media account is not the proper channel for a policy change, but it does create a lot of discussion, or in this case, outrage. This is a great example of how valuable it is to pause and consider whether you really want to hit “tweet” or “post”, because we’ve all made the mistake of saying something we wish we could take back, and Trump can’t easily do that here.
Perhaps you’d like to talk about leadership. Rather than leading the nation with calm clear direction, using the systems we’ve built to ensure consideration from every angle, Trump throws us into chaos and uproar. Trump’s not winning friendship or admiration from the military commanders who are scrambling to react. He didn’t communicate with them, checking for consent before making his announcements. Dismissing the needs of your underlings does not inspire trust or loyalty. Failing to consider the impact of your actions is not good leadership.
We’re wired to pay attention to emotions; our brains have evolved to attune and respond to another human’s feelings. As social creatures, we’re “infected” by other’s emotions, picking up their anger or sadness or joy. This is old programing, and unfortunately, when our emotions go high, our logic goes low. They’re different parts of the brain, and only one is usually in charge at a time. That’s worth explaining to your kids, not just so that they understand test anxiety better, but so that they can look at this whole circus from another angle.
My opinion is that Trump knew his statements would be inflammatory, and was absolutely sure that they would not affect military policy. Then why write those tweets? To manipulate. To distract. To create an uproar about something else, because he doesn’t like where our attention is right now. It’s a great way to deal with scandal: create a new one.
Whenever it doesn’t feel quite real – too good to be true, or too ridiculous – step back and ask, what does this person or institution really want from me? To buy their product? To watch their show? To talk about this not that? This skepticism about media is a healthy one to cultivate in our kids. Help them be critical thinkers about media messages.
I hope you’re already having deep conversations with your kids about sexual identity, social media, leadership, and media messages…but if not, let’s turn that train around. These discussions are critical – life saving! – and will bring you and your child closer. If you’re ready to be having these conversations, but not sure how to go about it, grab a spot on my calendar for a free consultation. Let’s move your family forward.
In support of you,