For roughly half of the nation, the morning after Election Day wasn't the what they'd envisioned for themselves or their families. But for parents, there's an obligation today, for the weeks to come, and for the next four years, to talk to their children about what lies ahead.
"Regardless of which box you checked on Election Day, facing the reality of a Trump presidency means taking a firm stance on respect," she tells POPSUGAR. "It will be more important than ever to step into the spotlight and demonstrate respectful behavior."
She urges parents, particularly those feeling defeated by a Trump victory, to choose respectful words and a dignified tone when sharing their thoughts. "Then, if and when your child hears disrespectful commentary, it will register as feeling wrong," she says. "It will feel inappropriate, and at the end of the day, that's exactly what you want as a parent."
It's unclear if Trump will depart from his unfiltered communication style when he takes office in January, so O'Leary looked back at Trump's heated campaign to deliver a handful of lessons impressionable children can actually learn from it.
1. It's not just what you say, but how you say it that matters.
Throughout this presidential race, Trump has come under fire for acting in an unpresidential manner. Meanwhile, parents try to send the message to their children that they'll get more of what they want if they speak respectfully (for example, "Ask nicely," and "What's the magic word?"). O'Leary's advice is to "point out to your child that even good ideas may be overlooked if they're delivered aggressively." She adds: "Remind kids that name-calling is never OK and that the best way to be heard is to listen first, then share your thoughts without being on the attack."
2. You're responsible for actions . . . even if you think no one is watching.
Both Trump and Hillary Clinton saw backlash for private exchanges made public. "You're responsible for your words no matter what, so choose them carefully," advises O'Leary on what parents should tell their kids. "This is critical in today's world of technology where texts written to one person can be shared at will and smartphones can record virtually anything, often without bystanders knowing. Saying, 'I didn't know you were going to hear that,' is not going to get you off the hook, so encourage your child not to say things they can't stand behind."
3. "I'm sorry" isn't a magic eraser.
Trump and Clinton have both had issues to own up to, but even when apologies have been made, kids are smart enough to recognize that those words don't necessarily wipe the slate clean. What we've seen in this campaign is that simply apologizing is not enough. "It takes far more effort to recover from an error than it does to make one," O'Leary says. "Remind your child that the only way to truly regain trust is to accept responsibility and change your behavior moving forward. Discussing this concept will teach your child to value their credibility and help guide their future decisions."
4. You can't make everyone happy all of the time.
At one point during election night result-tallying, O'Leary's own daughter asked her, "why are so many people against Hillary Clinton?" She used the question as an opportunity to talk about the unavoidable risks of taking a stand for things you believe in. "Say what you want about Trump and Clinton, they both have strong opinions and they're not afraid to share them," O'Leary adds. "It's important for kids to know that being brave enough to voice your ideas publicly means you will likely have to tolerate judgment and criticism from those who don't agree with you."
5. Just be honest!
Your child can learn a lot about what not to do by observing how Trump talked in circles and dodged questions during the debates. "Teach your kids the value of being direct, even if their answer is, 'I don't know,' or 'I'm not comfortable answering that question,'" O'Leary says.
6. We're all on the same team.
Everyone is sad when they lose, but following Trump's "let's work together" victory speech, the call to unify was a sentiment echoed today by Clinton in her concession speech and by President Barack Obama in his address to the nation. O'Leary agrees that, win or lose, we must all stay encouraged in the same way that we remind our kids to brush themselves off and keep trying when they lose a soccer game or perform poorly on a school test. And in the end, it's vital, O'Leary says, for parents to remember their position over the next four years: "You are your child's most important role model . . . you have a tremendous impact on them regardless of who lives in the White House."