How do you explain to your child that America’s next president is someone who has mocked a person with a disability, made lewd and sexist comments about women, proposed to ban an entire religion from the country, insulted people of color and incited violence?
That was the question on Molly Spence Sahebjami’s mind after Donald Trump was elected to the White House and the reason she launched the private Facebook group, “Dear President Trump: Letters From Kids About Kindness” in the wake of the election.
“I talked to many of my friends with kids, and we all shared the same question: What do we tell our kids about why the mean man won?” Sahebjami, a mother and Hillary Clinton supporter from Seattle, Washington, told The Huffington Post.
Sahebjami’s plan was simple: She would invite parents to join her Facebook group and have their kids write positive, non-partisan letters to the president-elect, explaining the importance of being kind to others. It was an experiment she took up with her 5-year-old son to help make sense of the election.
Within days, thousands of people joined the private group, posting photos of their children’s letters and sharing them on social media with the hashtag #KidsLettersToTrump. By Tuesday, more than 12,000 people had requested to join Sahebjami’s group.
The handwritten notes range from cards covered in block letters and misspelled words, to drawings of rainbows and kids of all colors, to thoughtful essays penned neatly on lined paper.
The words are different, but the messages to the president-elect resonate the same: Be kind. Show compassion. Don’t call people mean names.
Young kids “may have varying levels of knowledge about the key issues in the election, but there is one thing they know for sure,” Sahebjami told HuffPost. “Trump said some really unkind things about certain groups of people.”
That’s why, Sahebjami said, the letter-writing campaign gained steam so quickly. Parents of young kids needed a positive way to react to the election results.
“It’s a patriotic thing, and such an American thing, for kids to write letters to their president, expressing their hopes for the nation,” she told HuffPost. “These are our future voters.”
The letters to Trump, written by kids from ages 4 to 18, are overwhelmingly positive, but there are a few that convey undeniable frustration and fear over the president-elect’s rhetoric and some of the policies he promised to implement, which, Sahebjami says, are “inconsistent with what we teach our children about kindness.”
“Kids in my class are very scared, please don’t kick them out,” reads a note from Abby, 6. “In my school, we get sent to the wall when we’re in trouble. My friends did not do anything wrong.”
“I hope that during your presidency, you can defy my expectations,” reads another note, written on the back of a postcard by Hadley, 13. “I hope you can help everyone of every race, not just white men with the same beliefs.”
Sahebjami hopes that these letters inspire young people to take an interest in democracy and understand their role in it. She also hopes it will remind parents of the “simple, pure way” that children think about being kind.
But most of all, she hopes that the president-elect listens to the kids and takes the movement to heart.
“It would be great if we can catch the attention of Donald Trump,” Sahebjami said. “He’s a father and a grandfather, and he’s human.”
It’s not currently clear if the president-elect reads these letters, but for now, we can continue to share the words of the littlest voices in our country, in hopes that their message will be heard.
“Dear Mr. Trump, Be kind please.” a note signed “Little Boy Tommy”
“Please tell your supporters to stop saying and doing mean things to other people.” Sam, age 8
“Let the love shine through.” Avery, age 6