In 2012, I remember watching the US presidential debates while I was at home with our daughter. There was no problem with having them on in the same room as her. Why would there be? It was just a political debate, full of dry policy presented or repudiated with disingenuous skill.
But four years later, there was no way I was going to have these debates on in the same room as her.
Because there would be questions. Too many questions. Questions about sexual assault, objectification, male privilege, and fat shaming. And I would have to explain why a man as reprehensible as Donald Trump is in contention to becoming the most powerful elected leader on the planet.
My wife and I like to engage our daughter in politics and the political process in general. I have always taken her to vote with me (and we always vote). If this were a ‘normal’ US election, I would happily let her watch and listen to news reports and the like, and answer any questions she may have. But not this time. This is far from a normal US election.
We like to listen to BBC Radio 4 in the mornings. My daughter always requests we turn it to Radio 2. We usually compromise and I keep listening to Radio 4 for a while. Not anymore, the radio’s on the music filled Radio 2 before she’s in the room.
This should be a great time to engage her in politics. For the first time ever, a woman is the nominee for one of the main US parties. Our daughter could be in a time when the leaders of both the UK and the US are women. While I agree that this doesn’t necessarily mean great things for women on a policy level (our memory of Margaret Thatcher is enough to prevent us thinking like that), this is momentous.
But then, there is Donald Trump.
Ironically, as we’re talking about children and politics, Trump acts like a badly behaved kid. He’s petty, impatient, sees unfairness everywhere, and in the debates constantly complained to mum and dad (the moderators) about everything. He also gets frustrated at his inability to win arguments with valid reasoning, so resorts to lies, bluster, and bullying.
In answer to the question posed in this title – I simply can’t explain Donald Trump to my daughter. Or more to the point, I don’t want to just yet.
We don’t usually shy away from introducing challenging ideas to our daughter. We want her to have a happy childhood, but one that encourages resilience and empathy. But even then, the crimes of Donald Trump – even just the ones he has admitted to – are just too much.
There will be a time to talk to her about men like Trump, and the way they view women. But hopefully it will be in the context of how he failed to become US president. Because if not, that conversation is going to be a lot tougher.
This is an abridged version of an article previously posted on Man vs. Pink. Please join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.