Dear Mr. Trump,
I’m writing to you today not as a Democrat or a Republican, but as a mother to 9 and 12-year-old kids. I realize you’ve got a lot going on right now and that you’re very busy thinking about Russians and Muslims and Meryl Streep and Democrats and CNN and Mexico — but as you prepare for your inauguration, I hope you’ll pause for a moment and think about those whose voices are getting drowned out in the cacophony of reaction to your upcoming presidency — our nation’s children.
Our kids haven’t been the focus of any of your speeches or your Tweets, but make no mistake, Mr. Trump: You are at the center of their attention. I hear the stories that have been floating around the playground rumor mill — Will you save the nation or start the Hunger Games? None of the juice box set seems to know for sure, but you can bet they’re all watching to see what you do next.
You can’t blame them for their confusion — You don’t look or act like any of the presidents they’ve learned about at school. Several months ago, I let my kids watch one of the presidential debates, telling them I wanted them to make up their own minds about the candidates. Twenty minutes in, my son produced this:
I think it’s clear that when it comes to our kids, Mr. Trump, you could use an image overhaul– and as a mom, I’m uniquely prepared to help you out. Simply follow the same code of conduct our kids do at school and I can guarantee you’ll be on the right track, not just with the children, but also with the adults — After all, we learned this stuff once, too. Here’s a blueprint to help you out:
You are becoming president at a time of deep division in our nation, Mr. Trump, and like nearly every president who has come before you, you have a whole lot of critics out there. Be respectful of others, regardless of their race, religion, gender, beliefs or political leanings, and others will learn to respect you. And if they don’t, then at least you have the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing.
You’re the new guy in Washington and you haven’t established many relationships with the people who live and work there. Try doing what we tell our kids to do when they start a new school — Make new friends. Make friends with Senators! Congressmen! Security guards! Custodians! Republicans! Democrats! You don’t have to talk about politics– You can talk about golf or gold bricks or pro wrestling. Just make some friends, Mr. soon-to-be-President. You’ll be a much happier man — and you’ll get a whole lot more accomplished than if you make new enemies.
“But Mrs. Ferrier,” I can hear you saying right now. “How do I make new friends?”
Kindness is something we try to drill into our kids from the very beginning, so as a mom, I have to be honest with you — I cringe thinking about my kids seeing and hearing some of the things you’ve said and written in the not-so-distant past. Could you do us parents a solid when you’re president and put a stop to all those insults and nasty retorts directed at those who’ve offended you? They’re beneath you as our president, they’re not doing your public image any favors, and they’re certainly not a good example for our kids. I mean, seriously, I’ve got enough to deal with without hearing one of my kids use “But the president said it!” as an excuse.
Be a good listener.
You’ve been so busy trying to make yourself heard that I wonder sometimes if you’ve actually forgotten how to listen to others. This chart is a great reminder.
Is it really a good idea to mouth off about that world leader with a nuclear arsenal? Eviscerate a television comedy show on Twitter? Antagonize a beloved civil rights leader? C’mon now. Do like the kids do and make smart choices. Save your sharp words for the stuff that really deserves it. Like discrimination. And poverty.
Look for ways to help others.
I hope you’ll really take this one to heart, Mr. Trump, and constantly look for ways to help your fellow Americans. Everyone likes a helper.
You’ve made it clear that you’re angry at the way you’ve been treated by the media and the many Americans out there who oppose you. I think the Golden Rule will serve you well when it comes to those you believe have wronged you — Treat others the way you want to be treated, Mr. Trump. You’d be amazed at the difference it could make.
I realize that some will say there’s no way you would ever follow any of this advice in a million years. But on the night you won the election, you had this to say:
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; we have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.”
Mr. Trump, it’s time to make good on that promise.
Header image via kconnors/Morguefile