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Writer Nicole Chung has been having a lot of conversations about Donald Trump with her children, two girls ages 6 and 9. In a poignant contribution to the collection How Do I Explain This To My Kids? Parenting In The Age Of Trump, Maryland-based Chung, also the managing editor of publishing company Catapult, describes trying to help her children make sense of Trump's victory.

It's a sentiment shared by many parents faced with questions and concerns about the U.S President's behaviour from their offspring. The Globe and Mail spoke to Chung about how the conversation has changed in the months since the election and the book's release in June, what subjects are hardest to discuss with kids and why these conversations are an opportunity to impart important values.

It sounded like your daughter was very excited by Hillary's candidacy. Did you both have a strong sense of optimism in the lead-up to the election?

I did. I suppose it was cautious optimism. I never really felt that the election was for sure in the bag. I was still shocked on election night, of course. My daughter is bright and curious. We had talked a lot about the election. It did mean a lot to her that Hillary was a woman. The election result hurt for many reasons, but certainly I dreaded telling her the next day.

How did you explain Trump's win to her?

We wanted to avoid the temptation to try and make it better or to minimize the importance, because it was obviously extremely important and it was going to have these far-reaching, terrible effects. There's that tendency as a parent to say, "Everything is going to be fine." And this is one of those instances when we really could not say that.

Has the Trump presidency continued to be a topic of conversation with your oldest daughter?

We've talked about the scapegoating of immigrants and the Muslim ban. We talked with her about Charlottesville and Trump's comments after Charlottesville and how harmful they were. We talked with her about that pretty frankly.

What sort of questions has she come to you with?

Sometimes she'll just ask, "What is Trump doing?" She's asked specific questions about immigration policies – she doesn't phrase it like that. She asks, "Did Trump do that bad thing he said he was going to do?" She's asked us about the U.S.-Mexico border wall. And she did have questions about Charlottesville. And I also wanted to talk to her about it in an intentional way and let her know why we were paying attention to the news that weekend and what was going on.

You write in your essay how important it is for you to talk honestly with your kids. I struggle with this because I want my kids to still believe that the world is a good place with lots of good people in it. Is that a tension for you?

Of course. There are times when I worry that maybe I am laying too much on her. Part of you as a parent, you just want to protect your kids. But at the same time, my reasons for talking with her so much during the election were [that] she was coming home from school with questions, too. She heard kids talking about it at school. And I have no idea where all of them got the information. But it wasn't just always my husband and me bringing this up with her. Once your kid comes to you with actual questions, I think it's especially hard to turn those away, even if you're tempted to shelter them.

For sure. You don't know what they're hearing or how they are processing it, so you want to help them make sense of it.

It can feel scary passing this on to them, but ultimately in a way what you're giving them is some kind of power. We want her to see herself as part of her school and community and our general movement of people who care about justice and want to work for it and fight for it. I want them to understand and feel solidarity with everyone else who is scared right now or angry or hoping for change.

What has been the hardest subject for you to talk to your children about?

It's always hard to talk about racist violence. I didn't really want to talk to my daughter about Charlottesville, specifically the white supremacist rally there, in the town where her grandparents live, in the town where we have friends. I know I had to talk to her about it, but it was hard. It's painful.


The day after the election, I told my daughter the truth

We tried to explain why this happened. A lot of men do not respect girls and women, whatever they might say. A lot of white people in this country are afraid of those who don't look like them or believe all the things they believe. They feel left behind; they are looking for people to blame. They have a vision of how this country should be that is, was always, false. Our child nodded along as we told her this; she's heard it from us before. Yes, people are angry, we said, and some of them have cause. But it doesn't matter how justified your frustration is – you do not take what power you do have and use it to hurt others or make them feel less safe.

Our daughter, who is a lot like me and therefore always wants to know The Plan, asked what she could do. Well, we said, you're already doing something. You can try to be an especially good friend. Be compassionate. Be angry when your friends are angry for a good reason. Be the kind of person someone might reach out to if they are sad, or scared, or lonely, or being bullied. Look out for everyone – especially the kids who seem a little out of place, who might not have many friends.

This election, we told her, proves that you can't listen only to the things people say about who they are and what they believe. You have to watch them and see what they do. Respect has to be earned; not everyone in possession of authority deserves it – and that includes our new president-elect. The day after we elected Donald Trump, I told my daughter the truth: This was the wrong choice. I am devastated. I am furious. And I am sorry, because you deserve better.

Excerpted from The Day After The Election, I Told My Daughter The Truth, originally published on BuzzFeed and reprinted in How Do I Explain This to My Kids? Parenting in the Age of Trump. Copyright 2016 BuzzFeed.