A Father’s Letter to His Little Ones (In the Wee Hours of the Election)

Dear Little Ones,

You are already asleep in your beds. It’s late, and I’m going to bed. It’s been a long election day.

election results

When this day began, I woke up, and I walked to the corner coffee shop in the dim, predawn light, down streets already aglow with Christmas lights. Ordinarily, I would have been cynical about the early start to the holiday season. This morning, I was grateful for the reminder that there is light in the world and, soon, we will be celebrating it. I arrived at the coffee shop. It was more crowded than normal. Almost certainly, these were voters who had awoken earlier than usual. But for a moment, just one blessed moment, I didn’t see voters. I didn’t see politics; I saw people. Just human beings, trying to wake up to yet another day, trying in some more profound way to wake up to this one life. They weren’t, at that moment, casting votes; they were just breathing. Eating. Drinking.

Little Ones, we have far more in common than in conflict, and we would know this if, instead of seeing fear and anger and ideology, we could see beneath the surface: our beating hearts, the blood pulsing through our veins, lungs filling and emptying, joints aging and aching. This morning, for one peaceful moment, I saw all these people this way, and in that moment, the lights on the trees outside weren’t the only lights I could see in the world.

It is late, and I’m going to bed, and it’s not clear how this whole disgraceful American season is going to end. I don’t know who will be the leader of our land. I don’t know how that leader will influence the laws of our land. These are things we cannot control. But as I turn in, I can tell you what we can control: the law of our family’s land—the law of this land inside our four walls.

We will love everyone who crosses our path.

Those who are most in need, are those who are most in need of us.

Fear is fired. It doesn’t get to call the shots for us.

Anger is okay. But not when it harms, only when it redeems.

Arrogance is natural, but we will call upon something supernatural within us to put it down.

Grace is a way of seeing. It is Love seeing the beauty at the center of everything. We will see to the center.

All those things your kindergarten teacher told you to do? Be kind. Share. Include. Create……Do them. Be laughed at for doing them all the way into adulthood. Keep doing them.

Remember, each of you play an indispensable role in this family of ours. Remember, everyone plays an indispensable role in this great big family of ours called humanity.

Little Ones, like those lights on the trees of the street, and like those lights in the people in the coffee shop, there is a light inside each of you. Here is the most important law of our little land:

Let it shine.



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Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

46 thoughts on “A Father’s Letter to His Little Ones (In the Wee Hours of the Election)

  1. Thank you, Dr. Kelly. As I toss and turn after the sad turn of events that have transpired in the past 24 hours, I needed your calm voice to help me heal. It will be a process for me but you have set me back on the right track. God bless us, every one.

  2. I am heart broken for this election’s result. I am not american, but it affects the whole world. And I can only imagine how many Americans are feeling this morning… Your words were a balm to my heart…
    I respect democracy, I respect what the American people have chosen, and it means they are hurting very badly and we should listen to it and work with it…And maybe communicate and act in a way they can understand that fear, violence is notthe answer. That human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and migrants rights are not a threat to them or the world…on the contrary… only Love can heal and save, only Love will triumph at the end. We need to be this light… and we have to do it in a way that all can relate and belong…
    Praying for America and us all…

    • I hope you don’t mind but I copied your comment and posted as quoted from you
      on my fb status. The tears are forming as I type. I am one of those heartbroken Americans today but have survived for 56 years on the faith of the light of love and will soldier on. Thank you for your words.
      Julie Daly

  3. Thank you. Thank you. I have been formulating my response to my children in my head most of the night. Now I know. Your rules are our rules too. They always have been. So today, like every day, my kids, my husband, and I will put on our love vests and go be the good in the world. And you know what? Love might be quieter than hate. But it wins.

  4. I needed this today.

    Yesterday, at the elementary school I work at, there were tears on the playground. Children being bullies and repeating hateful words they probably don’t understand. There was talk of a wall, and all the brown kids having to leave…and those precious brown kids…one looked at me and said, “But this is my home.”

    Praying for peace today, and the right words that will calm all of us.

    • That is the result of poor parenting in their homes. Seriously?! Unbelievable how you try to twist this garbage and expect it to fly. I cannot wait for Trump to make America great again…even for you.

  5. As usual Dr Mr Kelly….well done! You express soooo well! AGREE…live, love ,laugh & pray for the sorry souls who will attempt to lead our government! We must ALL take responsibility! & control/ only what WE can! Hugs to Dr. Mrs. Kelly, & kiddos, also! Momma K.( nana Rita)

  6. Thank you so much for this. I also didn’t get much sleep last night after the results of the election. I needed the encouraging words to help calm my sad and broken heart.
    I did think that there must be a lot of fear in the people who voted for him and I think their needs do need to be heard and listened to. However, I fear that he will not be the one that will work for unity, but rather more divisiveness. Therefore, I stand with you and your family laws : LOVE. Thank you again.

    • Hopefully, the fear of those whose candidate lost will be a source of empathy for understanding the fear of those whose candidate won. I’m not sure there is any other way forward.

  7. Thank you Dr. Kelly. I/we needed your perspective and words of humanity/hope/encouragement this morning. May God guide us all.

  8. Absolutely the words we all need, Kelly. I went to bed confused and upset. My stomach hurt from the stories I started to create for things not yet happened. I worried, like many, what will be my child’s future now. And you said it most poignantly…in the face of it all…what matters is to love those who cross our path, show grace, be compassionate…even to our “foes,” and most of all…be fearless warriors for this path as guardians for our families…and this community you’ve helped create is our family too. We will survive. We will allow love to triumph. Thank you for that reminder. Peace, my friend.

  9. Thank you Kelley. As a Canadian, I have been paying close attention to the election and our children have been watching it as part of their social studies lessons in school. I am very disheartened by the results. I realize that I am not alone in my disappointment. My 10 year old daughter asked me this morning if the results of the election means that bullies always win. Your blog post was just what I needed to help ease her fear. Thank you and God bless.

      • Thank you. She definitely is. I draw on your wise words for comfort often. Today, many of us are drawing on your wisdom. Thank you for your gifts.

  10. I’ve been up all night feeling so terribly disheartened and trying to understand how we keep getting more and more disconnected. Thank you again for your hope and perspective!

  11. I am choosing to be one of the “little ones” today. To hear that what’s important, and, like we were all admonished in kindergarten, to hold hands and walk together.
    Thank you for giving me something else to hopefully encourage my own discouraged grown “littles” today.

  12. Thank you for this insightful and meaningful message at a time of uncertainty. Indeed let us together be light for others and love shared and given to everyone. Blessings and Peace

  13. Beautiful words, doctor. I want to believe them with all my heart but I just cannot. Not yet if ever again. As an immigrant who chose this country for all it represented and stood for… I see now what it really was all along.

  14. A
    beautiful reminder of what matters most – our family. Not only the one
    we were born into – but the one(s) we have adopted. We must take care
    of each other now and always. The reality tv nature of this election
    process has left all of us wondering just
    how to go forward. As Dr Kelly so eloquently stated – we start by
    remembering who WE are as a mother, father, brother, sister, son,
    daughter, aunt,uncle,citizen, humanitarian and fellow traveler in this
    precious life. We must be kind, loving and do our best to help each
    other and remember we are all the same – underneath our outer layer – we
    are all the same.

  15. Thank you, Kelly.
    I truly am your target audience on this one, as I was sleeping long before election results came in and woke to the news on a national scene that clashes with my local realities. And then the sun rose. And we began the work of the day. And so it will go.
    We will keep doing the things we do. We will strive to be our better selves, to help those who need us, to hold those we love close and hold our tongues when that it the right thing and use our voices when that is the right thing, and to grow in the wisdom about when those times arise by using our listening ears, our thinking minds, and our loving hearts always. There will be hard days, and this is one. But my goodness—how much good fits into a hard day! It leaves me breathless.

  16. THANKS Kelly!
    And this was my written offering this morning, :), based on our three youngest children’s response to a dinner guest (and for clarification, they are 8,8 and 9, Black, Hispanic and Black, boy, boy, and girl, homeschooled and love History):

    Good morning! Last night it was Ezra who stayed up with me to hear the final results of our election. This was after several hours of the three Littles asking continually, what’s the score?

    So now, how about a good story to encourage us. 🙂

    We had guests at the dinner table talking politics a while ago. One woman spoke of conspiracies in History stating that we’d had a black president as well as a female one pre-George Washington. Emmaus, Zion and Ezra kept watching me for my response. I disagreed lightly seeking not to embarrass her and changed the subject. They kept quiet. After the friends left the Littles compared notes.

    Emmaus said, “Wow, that’s impossible since there was no unified country before George Washington!”
    Zion said, “And slavery was still going! No black people could vote!”
    Then Ezra added, “And women couldn’t even vote yet either! They couldn’t vote till after all the men could!”
    They were surprised by the whole conversation and asked if she really believed everything she said.

    I was amazed at their poignant statements. Their collective discussion as 9, 8 and 8 year olds was truth based and the essential element is that they neither disrespected nor made our guest feel embarrassed about her opinion. Yet, they knew the facts! They were clearly correct, based on their knowledge of History.

    This is a good reminder today. As we engage, there is almost always a way to speak life in every situation. If we can’t find one, more silence is seldom regretted amidst emotionally charged, differing opinions.
    Our children are watching us. May they always see dignity and graciousness as their guide. And at the end of the day, God is good and in charge. 🙂

    • You certainly have at the right name, GRACE, as you parent and lead your beautiful international family in the ways of love. Loved this story, their response and their willingness to wait to open up to truth. And it is amazing how many “opinions” get passed around for truth. There are some historical facts which are fairly certain, and that George W was the first president here, would be one! 🙂 Thanks again for sharing. And may this beautiful family of yours continue to grow and mature and become more able even to live love!

      • Oh my, what lovely words to me and our household. Thank you so much Brian! These three are the youngest of eight, I receive your thoughts as a blessing over all. You made my day. 🙂

  17. So you’re just going to straddle the fence and not call out right or wrong because your too emotional. Well get some sleep little guy and maybe one day you’ll grow a pair and be a real man. And please, please block me and unsuscribe me from your continuous cry baby drivel. I hear Yale University is passing out pacifiers for the devastated Clinton losers. You’re all so weak it makes me sick.

  18. These are beautiful thoughts! I have often thought that all honest, good people have the same ultimate goal in mind…It is just the way of achieving that goal that may be different. We truly must try to see the light within one another…look for that light in each other instead of the darkness (disagreements!)

  19. I have an idea. Why not explain to all the children that the results of this election means the following:

    Cheaters never prosper.
    God pays debts without money.
    What goes around comes around.
    You reap what you sow.
    etc etc….


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