Raising my daughter in Trump’s America
Saturday, I watched the Women’s March from my couch while feeding my constantly awake two-month old daughter. I’ll never forget watching so many people marching together, standing against the indignity and inequality women constantly deal with in America.
Despite such an overwhelming show of support, I’m still horrified as a new parent facing a world that is hostile to my child in so many ways. For the next four years (or more) I’ll be living at the intersection of my parental and political anxiety, where the uncertainty of first time parenthood meets the thought of raising my little girl at a time when misogyny, xenophobia, racism and dishonesty are acceptable qualities for our leaders.
Setting bad examples, creating bad policies and eliminating good ones trickles down to the way ordinary people act
President Trump’s campaign and first few days of his administration divided America along huge fault lines of race, gender and class. The President’s budget proposes massive cuts to basically everything great, including proposed cuts to several critical social programs, like the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, among others programs critical to everyday life for a lot of people. Education policies will regress even further and affordable health care will be difficult or impossible to come by for a lot of Americans.
Sure, my daughter is just a tiny, screaming poop machine for now. But, at some point, she is going to go to school, find a job and interact with the world around her. She’s going to have to go to the doctor. She’ll make friends and fall in love. There is not a single point in her life where she will be unaffected by a piece of bad policy, the lack of a good one or someone treating her differently because of who she is.
This administration’s divisiveness extends far beyond policy. When leaders set bad examples or allow things like racism and sexism to go unchallenged, it empowers people who are wrong to think they’re right. My daughter will encounter people who will treat her badly, pay her less and deny her opportunities because she is a woman. Many will justify these actions by looking to our president and his administration as an example. It’s just as heartbreaking and frustrating now as it was when I was a single dude who would have never imagined he’d be a dad, let alone to a little girl who screams at 3 a.m. sometimes for no apparent reason.
Raising a daughter in this crazy, mixed-up world is difficult, but not impossible
I have thought a lot about what changes in my approach to parenthood now that the institutions and policies that I have known for so long are dramatically changing in a way that I wasn’t expecting and don’t agree with.
There are some things that won’t change. I am going to love my daughter unconditionally. I am going be present and enjoy every opportunity I have to spend time with her. I am going try to set a good example for her by loving her mom like I want someone to love her. I am going to stand up for and help causes and people who need it because that’s what I want her to do. Hopefully, if my wife and I totally nail this whole parenting thing (which I think we can), she will grow up to be an awesome, caring and optimistic member of society. Something we will always need.
Sadly, no matter what she does in life or who she grows up to be, my daughter will pay for President Trump’s bad policies and divisive nature. Those same flaws will also have an affect on the people around her as she navigates this crazy, mixed up world. They will empower people to divide and hurt others and feel like that’s right. My hope is that folks at the march, and those who wanted to but couldn’t, work hard to improve their communities, get involved in politics or non-profits and shield the tinier part of the world around them from the negativity and divisiveness yet to come. Maybe, one day, this two-month old burp enthusiast will appreciate that.