The New York Times recently reported about a 7-year-old girl — Maaria, the daughter of Nayla Elhamoui and Bilal Elcharfa. She had a nightmare after the second presidential debate. She dreamt that Donald Trump was a monster-like-Zombie and was coming to their home to jail them for being Muslim. In her dream, there were other Muslims being taken to jail as well.
It’s unfortunate that young children are affected so negatively by the rhetoric of this election. At such a young and tender age, Maaria doesn’t realize that Trump is running his campaign for reality TV ratings — for shock value — and for crazy airtime that seems to attract the uneducated voters (who may have never considered voting in the past.) What she sees is a country gone openly hateful. And that is a scary thing — not just for children — but for adults as well.
The children of Nayla and Bilal are scared of the idea of Trump becoming president. Most of their kids have been bullied for their religion and Lebanese heritage, even though all of them were born in the United States. Nine-year-old daughter, Zaynub, was told by classmates, “If Donald Trump becomes president, he’s going to kick you out of the country.”
Parents want to protect their children. They want to guide their kids and inform them on what is right and wrong. For Nayla and Bilal (and their five children), they differ on how to handle this particular situation. While the mother encourages her children to continue to embrace and stand proud of their faith, it may be a bit different for the father. According to Nayla, Bilal takes a laid back approach. He wants to protect his kids by letting his children blend in, even if it is ridding themselves of Islam in the public world, if it makes things easier.
We need to teach our children that being different is a good thing. It’s never too late to learn about social justice and the stories of how our prophet (PBUH) handled himself in times of struggle.
Although I don’t have children yet, I do plan on it one day, God willing. My hope is that I will be in a position where I can provide them with an opportunity to attend schools rich in diversity. I would encourage them to be proud of their faith, and not hide who they are. Hopefully, they will live in a world where people like Trump are not leading the country we live in.
What approach would you take with your children?