What the presidential election can teach our kids about losing

My family loves board games. My husband, myself and my oldest particularly enjoy playing Monopoly and often get lost in intense, days long battles for money and property.

Much like his parents, my son is very competitive and questions every action taken during the game and cries foul when something seems unfair. He gets angry when he finds himself losing and livid if he loses the game altogether.

As someone, who isn’t always the picture of grace when I lose a game, I get my son’s passion, but I also know it is important to teach kids how to handle losing with dignity.

On a national level, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has just been elected as President of the United States of America after a grueling election, which took days to resolve, and, in many ways, is still being carried out as President Donald Trump insists the election wasn’t run fairly and refuses to accept defeat.

As someone who reads the rules for every game, and makes sure my fellow players follow them to the letter, I can understand Trump’s desire to scrutinize the election and go after what he perceives were unfair practices. I believe we should discuss these allegations with our kids, and even use it as a lesson on whether voter fraud happens, and even take the opportunity to pivot to voter suppression and how many groups of Americans, particularly Black Americans have been denied or limited in their ability to vote.

Critical review of this election has shown that nothing unsavory took place, and Biden earned his votes fairly and legally, Trump, like anyone else who loses a hard-fought battle, needs to do the noble thing and acknowledge his loss with dignity.

How someone handles losing often shows more about their character than how they win. We encourage our kids to congratulate the winning team and to be “good sports,” even when they are angry and feel like they deserved to win. We tell them, “it’s just a game,” and that it’s “not how you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

I believe these standards of sportsmanship and respect of one’s opponent are important values to teach our children, and important values for our leaders to emulate.

The other night my husband and I showed our eight-year-old the late U.S. Senator John McCain’s concession speech after he lost the Presidential election to former U.S. President Barack Obama. We talked about how, even though his supporters were angry and even booed Obama’s name, McCain never fed into or encouraged their jeers. Instead he acknowledged Obama’s accomplishment and congratulated him on his victory. He called on the audience to do the same, and in doing so, elicited cheers and applauses.

Recently, I rewatched former Vice President’s Al Gore’s concession speech, which occured after months of scrutiny over whether he or George W. Bush had won the state of Florida, and thus the necessary electoral votes to secure the presidency. For those who are too young to remember, that 2000 presidential election was tumultous and fueled a lot of partisan division. Al Gore used his speech in attempt to heal that division and help the nation move forward.

Though Gore and McCain represented different political parties, ideologies and views, they understood the value in losing graciously and respecting the winner. They did not demean their opponents, and encouraged others to find the good in their “enemies.”

As the dust settles on the current presidential election, and all questions of fairness are resolved, if indeed Joe Biden remains the President elect, I hope Donald Trump will take a cue from former political leaders who have humbly accepted defeat and urged Americans to come together for the greater good of our nation.

Though, I may not be a fan of Trump, if he delivered a gracious concession speech that congratulated Joe Biden and encouraged his supporters to do the same, I would be honored to show that to my children.

I hope I get that chance.

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