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Kids Can See Through A Bully, Even When He’s A Candidate

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Mar 11, 2016

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Normally an American presidential election would be far afield for a discussion of parenting — except that these days, I usually have something related to the US presidential election on the TV when the kids are home. So, while I was making my older daughter a quick dinner the other day, we watched as Donald Trump, the current frontrunner of the Republican party, held one of his now-famous news conferences.

Trump preened and strutted around the stage riling up his supporters and soaking in the chants of, “USA! USA!” It was all pretty disturbing. But my daughter stared intently as he insulted and mocked his opponents, imbibing it all.

As she watched Trump say curse words, scowl and generally yell at the crowd, she paused for a moment and made one simple observation:

“He’s a bully. I don’t like him.”

Our children see adults acting in a manner that wouldn’t be acceptable inside of their school. This presents the gravest condemnation of the Republican contest to date: Adult candidates are acting worse than children. We don’t allow our children to taunt, insult, and mock other children in order to make an argument — but we then show them by our own actions that, really, it’s the bullies who get the attention.

There have been a lot of bizarre aspects of this election in the US: One US Republican candidate, Ted Cruz, cooked food on the barrel of a gun he had just fired in order to celebrate his love of weapons; another candidate smashed his own cell phone with a hammer; yet another took a chainsaw and cut through a stack of government regulations.

It’s been… pretty odd.

But the most troubling part of the Republican campaigns thus far is that candidates have finally become un-moored from behaving in a manner befitting a president — or even in a manner befitting a normal adult. Humor is one thing, but the deranged behavior on display should give everyone in the world pause.

Yet, our leaders reflect the sentiments of their nation; Donald Trump didn’t create his voters through magic. Rather, his childish voters created his candidacy. Clearly this means a large segment of American adults are failing the test of adulthood if this is who they think should lead our nation.

At my daughter’s school they have a program called “Stand Up to Bullying.” It’s designed to teach kids to help their peers when they are bullied by other students. Likewise, the program is designed to teach children the value of respecting one another, being kind and helpful, and generally working through negative feelings without lashing out at others. The school kids learn that bullying is wrong.

The leading candidate — who may be one of the final two contestants for the US presidency — can be seen for who he is by an 8-year-old child.

Too bad it’s not a required program for people who can actually vote.

(Full disclosure: My daughter, at the ripe age of 8, is a Hillary Clinton supporter because she thinks a woman would make a great president. I don’t disagree.)

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Written By Rajat Soni

Rajat is an Indian-American stay-at-home father of two girls, aged 7 and 3, one of whom was born in India. After working as a lawyer and raising his girls for several years in Mumbai, he moved to the U.S., where he became the primary caretaker for his daughters while his wife started a new job. He’s interested in exploring the role modern fathers play in the lives of their young children.

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