Jason Dias: Can I Teach My Kids American Values in a Country Without Any?

American Values Raising Kids Under Trump

How do you teach values to your child in a country without any? Here’s existential psychologist Jason Dias …

aNewDomainjason-dias-a-cure-for-wellness — My kid cheated yesterday.

I won’t say exactly how or in what context because he’ll be a man soon and this stuff is public.

But he cheated. And I had to make a decision about what to do about it.

I want to raise my son to have values like mine. I want him to be honest and upstanding. I want him to get what he wants through hard work.

I want him to know that he can help other people: extend hand, feed the hungry, console the wounded, and protect the innocent.

But we don’t live in a country that has those values anymore. Maybe we never really did, but at least we could lie to ourselves and pretend it was true.

I might ask my son not to lie, but he sees the news. He sees our president and his cadre of propagandists lie about everything from the utterly trivial (how big was the crowd) to matters of existential importance (global warming). They lie about what they said one minute ago in the conversation they’re having now.

raising kids under trump American values They lie about things that are on film that we can look at.

I might say, “Don’t cheat. Cheaters never win.”

But what country do we live in? Republicans and Democrats both gerrymander states to give themselves advantages but Republicans are especially bold about it. They put people in jail to keep them from voting, enforce unfair voter ID laws, refuse to vote on a Democrat’s nominations to the Supreme Court.

Our whole political system has been very un-democratic for a long time. But when Russian intelligence gets involved, the stakes go a little higher. FBI director James Comey was the same side as Vladimir Putin on this one, or so it seemed.

Nobody seems very worried about it, though.

I’m very worried about it.

I want to tell my son to work hard for what he wants but why should he? He sees Betsy Devos confirmed to lead our education department. He’s an intelligent kid. He can read and listen to interviews. Here’s a woman who bribed her way into power.

My son wasn’t born rich. He can’t buy the postings he wants. He’s going to have to earn his keep. But how, in a country that has voted for billionaire populist?

I want to teach him to argue in a reasonable manner. I want him to engage in civil dialogue. But that’s not the country we live in. Where we live now, arguments are shouting matches, uncomfortable questions are diverted, and all the shit your mother wouldn’t put up with is back on the table to substitute for reason.

Allege sexual misconduct and they point at Bill Clinton. But does what Slick Willy did or didn’t do have anything with what Trump is doing? Allege corruption and they just point at Hillary.

Does Hillary’s wealth make Trump not responsible for his professional conduct?

I don’t want my son to learn how to use blame to avoid taking responsibility.

What if I tell my son not to cheat and he just goes through a list of other people who have cheated, including the President of the United States?

What shall I tell him?

He watches his highly educated parents work hard every day for next to nothing. He watches liars and cheats spew propaganda on TV.

Am I holding him back?

Are American values a hindrance to American life?

For aNewDomain, I am Jason Dias.

Cover art: MotherJones.com, All Rights Reserved.

 

About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He's a senior columnist at aNewDomain.

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