One afternoon, my 8-year-old son came home from school and informed me that Hillary Clinton is going to ban cheeseburgers.

At least, that's what a kid at school told him. He wanted to know if it was true.

I know I'm not the only parent who's found talking to their kids about this election a little bit more "challenging" than anticipated. I presume that you, like me, are probably ready for this election to be over.


After the whole Hillary-banning-delicious-cow-sandwiches incident, I decided to let my son watch the beginning of the first debate with me so he could hear what Clinton really thinks. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump made a bit of a bigger impression on him and didn't exactly set a shining example of what being presidential looks like. Trump spent the last hour of the debate attacking his opponent's health and threatening to say "really tough things" about her, which meant he was gonna say mean things about her husband (who isn't running for president right now).

She sat through three debates with him. That takes stamina. GIF via CBS News.

I worried what Trump would do to kick it up a notch in the second debate and what kind of example this was setting for my son and daughter.

Then some news broke about an old tape of Trump and a bus and Billy Bush and bragging about doing not OK things to women, and it was announced that those comments would be addressed in the first question at the second debate. I didn't feel confident that the conversation that ensued would handle the topic of consent responsibly.

Regretfully, I told my son he couldn't watch the second debate with me...

No. No it's not. GIF via NBC News.

...which turned out to be the right call.

It seems weird that I'd have to shield my children from what should be a very informative example of our democracy in action. Yet there I was, doing just that. The problem is, like many parents, I really want my kids to learn about the democratic process.

So what's a parent to do?

Here are six not horrifying conversations I had with my kids about democracy this election season. I hope you find them useful and/or adorable.

1. On fact-checking:

When your kid's primary source of gossip is other kids, it's important to make yourself accessible to answering any questions they might have. Here, something clearly got lost in translation on the playground.

8yo: Daddy, is it true Hillary Clinton is gonna ban cheeseburgers?
Me: Where did you hear that?
8yo: At school, Teddy said she was gonna ban all cheeseburgers and candy and guns and stuff.
Me: Ah, no. She’s not going to ban any of those things. She does want to fix the rules to make buying guns safer for everyone.  Teddy is confused.
8yo: Then why did Teddy say she was going to?
Me: Well, sometimes people get incorrect information. If you ever want to know if something's true, just ask me, we can look it up together.
8yo: Fine, can I punch you in the stomach now?
Me: No, that's only for before dinner.






For the record, a good punch in the stomach has provided me more thoughtful introspection than watching the debates.

You'll see on Election Day, Trump. SPOILER: It's not. GIF via CBS News.

2. On temperament:

As if it isn't hard enough teaching your kids about appropriate and inappropriate behavior, doing it while one presidential candidate is demonstrating all of the "don't" behavior is even harder.

4yo: Daddy, why is Donald Trump yelling at Hillary?
Me: Well, some people aren’t good at controlling their tempers and listening. You know how when you are upset, sometimes I have to get you to calm down before we talk?
4yo: Yeah?
Me: Well, Donald Trump isn’t good at calming down or listening. He wants to boss people around and make them do what he wants, even if it isn’t a good choice.
4yo: He should calm down and listen more.
Me: Yeah, he’s just not very good at that.




On the other hand, Trump has been a delightful role model of how not to behave, and my 4-year-old could really use that right now, what with how she responds to criticism like he does. 4-year-olds: Earth's adorable defensive irrational narcissists.  

Trump doing his best toddler impression.

3. On building walls:

Honestly, I'm starting to think my 8-year-old would've been a great debate moderator. He asks the obvious questions that a 70-year-old belligerent uninformed presidential candidate refuses to think about or answer.

8yo: Daddy, why does Donald Trump keep talking about a huge wall? Wouldn’t he have to build it into space? Otherwise people could climb or fly over it.
Me: Um … OK. Yeah, making a bigger wall is silly. But the more important thing to ask is why it’s there? Do you know what immigrants are?
8yo: They’re people who come to live here from other countries.
Me: Correct. So some of those immigrants come here from other countries like Mexico. And sometimes they come here without permission because they need to make money to send home to their families or want to feel safer than they did in their country or it's sometimes hard to find work where they live. And Donald Trump says that they want to come here to hurt people and steal things.
8yo: Do they?
Me: Nope. They actually pay $11 billion into the economy each year, and then they can’t use any of the stuff that they pay for because then they’d get in trouble.
8yo: What’s the economy?
Me: Um…






We'll talk about the economy when he's older. But at least he's thinking things through logistically, unlike some people we know.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox explains a big hole in Trump's wall plan. (The current president of Mexico later seconded that motion.) GIF via Fusion.

4. On campaign ads:

I don't know about you, but here in Colorado, the commercials that run when we watch the nightly news lately have been not what I would call "family friendly."

If you believe the local attack ads, my congresswoman wants to protect child predators (she doesn't). Also apparently there's a ballot measure that will pressure people to end their life if they are terminally ill, even if they don't want to (it won't).

Neither of those things are true, but try explaining that to a kid.

8yo: Daddy, is this commercial talking about how Hillary is bad?
Me: Yes, but here's the thing: Never believe anything you see in commercials.
8yo: Why?
Me: Well, the folks who make political commercials like to only tell one side of the story and sometimes don't tell you what you really need to know.
8yo: Even Hillary commercials?
Me: Yes. They're probably telling stories a little better than Trump commercials, but they still will skip over important details. If you see it on a commercial, you should probably google it too and get the whole story.
[Commercial comes on about how my Democratic congresswoman is super stoked to let all the child murderers out of jail.]
Me (loudly, to drown out audio): HEY, KIDS! WHAT DID YOU DO AT SCHOOL TODAY, I WAS JUST WONDERING! WAS IT SUPER FUN?! DID YOU STEAL A CAR OR LIGHT THE BUILDING ON FIRE?! (Continues this charade for 30 seconds until awful ad goes away.)
Kids: DADDY, WHY DO YOU KEEP YELLING AT US?! USE YOUR INDOOR VOICE! WE DON'T STEAL!







Make the horrible stop! GIF from "Friends."

Obviously, the smart choice here is to just turn off the news until 2017, but where's the fun in that? Either way, my kids just learned a great lesson in doing their own research. And I learned that they don't steal or set things on fire. Maybe I am actually OK at this parenting thing?

5. On breaking glass ceilings and good role models:

This conversation just gave me all the feels. I don't know how my daughter was aware of the gender of all our previous presidents (although she does love the musical "Hamilton"). But she did the math. And then asked this:

4yo: Daddy, Hillary will be the first girl president?
Me: Yup.
4yo: I want a girl president for once. It’s about time. Also, Donald Trump keeps yelling and being mean.
Me: Yeah, he’s been making some bad choices lately.
4yo: Can you talk to him, please?
Me: Um….




I could try talking to him, but he doesn't seem to listen. Maybe he needs a time-out? GIF via NBC News.

She thinks politics are boring and is adamant that she won't run for president herself one day. I can't decide if I'm relieved about that or not.

6. On voting:

The most clutch part of being a citizen is the whole voting thing. So I sat down with my kids and went through the ballot section by section. (We have mail-in balloting in Colorado, which is so much more convenient). We have like 473,023 things on the ballot, including nine state ballot issues, a ton of judges, and 22 different presidential candidates. I walked the kids through the major initiatives, and then we got to president.

Me: OK. So for president, should I vote for Jim Hedges from the Prohibition Party?
Kids: WHO IS THAT?! NO!
Me: OK, what about Roque De La Fuente from the American Delta Party?
Kids: NOOOOO!
Me: What about Ron Silva from the Nutrition Party?
Kids: NOOOOO!
Me: What about Donald Trump?
Kids: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! He's MEAN!
Me: So Hillary Clinton, then?
Kids: YES!!
Me: Why?
4yo: Because she's a girl!
Me: Do you have a better reason?
4yo: She's cute! And I want a girl president!
8yo: She's not cute! She's a grandma!
Me: Have any better reasons?
8yo: I just want her because you want her. I don't really know enough stuff about what she believes and stuff.
Me: That, sir, is an astute observation. When you get to vote for president, I hope you learn all the stuff first. Don't take my word for it.
8yo: OK, can I go play now?

















Full disclosure here: I have no idea if I'm doing any of this right.

Kids are impressionable. I don't want to turn them into little robots who spout talking points from political parties on the playground. I want them to be exposed to lots of different ideas. But I'd prefer if their beliefs come from an empathetic place that considers the greater good for all (I'm zany like that). Which is why I believe Trump is a poor choice for me personally. I'm planning on sending a clear goodbye message to him this year with my vote.

This is a metaphor for the message I hope all Americans send to Donald Trump on election day. GIF via Time/YouTube.

Obviously, like all parents, I'm making this up as I go. What about you? How have you handled it? Let me know. And please vote. That way we won't spend four years having to explain horrifying things to our children about topics they will have plenty of time to learn about when they are at the actual appropriate age to actually talk about them.

I'm gonna go let my kid punch me in the stomach now instead of reading what Trump said today on Twitter. If you were looking for something to do, this nonpartisan site will tell you where and how to vote. Please? And while you're at it, ask your friends how they handle these conversations.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Peter Dinklage in 2013.

Disney has taken another step toward diversifying its iconic princesses by casting Rachel Zegler to play Snow White in its upcoming live-action version of the Grimms’ fairy tale. Zegler’s mother is of Colombian descent and her father has Polish roots. The 20-year-old actress recently wowed audiences in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”

Disney has also announced that Halle Bailey, a Black actress, will play Ariel in its upcoming live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.”

Disney’s big push toward inclusivity in the casting of its princesses is definitely a welcome move, but according to actor Peter Dinklage, the Mouse may be missing the forest for the trees.

Dinklage, who was born with a form of dwarfism named achondroplasia, criticized Disney on the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast for being hypocritical for focusing on race while completely missing the ball when it comes to people with disabilities.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Maron.

"Really? Like what?" Maron asked. "What do you see?"


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Metallica live in London in 2017 and Sheriff Drumman.

Anthony Eugene Sheriff, known to people across the Los Angeles area as Sheriff Drumman, had his life turned upside down last December when his truck and drum set were stolen at 4:30 a.m. outside his apartment in Hawthorne, California.

“When I got outside, I had a total panic attack,” Sheriff, 34, told the Los Angeles Times. “I fainted in front of my neighbors. I started screaming, I was calling for help like someone had shot me. It felt like the devastating news of a loved one being murdered.

“It means the world to me,” he said about his music. “Without drums, my life would have went a completely different way. There’s no other way to say it. It’s my therapy, it’s my fun, it’s my life.”

After his truck was stolen, Sheriff immediately took to social media to tell his followers to be on the lookout.

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Emily Vondy's mom fail.

Sometimes, we have to just laugh at our failures.

“Here’s a little story to allow all the moms of littles out there to maybe feel a little better about yourself,” Emily Vondy told her 1.3 million TikTok followers.

In a TikTok video that has now garnered more than 500,000 views, Vondy shared perhaps one of the most hilarious “mom fail” stories of all time: forgetting her son’s actual birthdate.
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