How I'm Parenting in a Divided Country

Updated: Nov 7

As parents, I think we should teach our children there is more to diversity than the way you look, the religion you practice, and the person you choose to love. There is also diversity in political and social views.

We need to show our children that it's possible to disagree and remain friends. I want my kids to know how to have healthy conversations with opposing opinions. I want them to listen with the intent to understand, not insult.


Diversity and adversity make us more compassionate and resilient. I know I’ve grown personally from learning about different religions, traditions from other cultures, and viewpoints that do not match my own. Reading books is one of the easiest ways to add diversity into your life, and it saddens me that so many of our children today tune into social media more than books.


The foundation of freedom in America enables parents to choose what they teach their children. Here’s what my husband and I are striving to teach our boys ages 20 and 16.


  1. Check your judgement. Everyone is fighting a different battle.

  2. Choose your actions. Choose to be kind and practice empathy. Acting with the intent to destroy and bully is wrong. Hate and violence don't generate positive change.

  3. Listen to understand, not attack. Different opinions are not absolutes. Change is challenging; it requires negotiation and compromise.

  4. Accept consequences. How you treat someone, what you say, and what you post on social media can’t be undone—even if you apologize and feel regret. Hurtful words can last a lifetime. What you post on social media might deny you access to a job you want or admittance to the college you want to attend. How you act can create or break a friendship.

  5. Honor your freedoms. Our right to vote is one of the most effective ways to give voice to your beliefs. Respect it by doing your own research. There will never be a candidate who completely aligns with your beliefs and opinions, but you have a responsibility to make an educated decision. People have died for your right to do that.

  6. Validate your sources. Don’t allow media to shape your values. There are always different sides to the same story. Investigate, be curious, consider the source. Research and verify stories on social media before sharing them. False accusations and stories ruin people’s lives. What if it was you?

  7. Learn from history. Study other times when our country was divided. What lessons can be learned and used to guide us today? What actions have historically healed the country and what decisions have caused harm and division?

  8. Educate yourself. Learn about how our government works and what it means to be a democracy. Read the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Discuss them as a family and with your friends, not to argue your opinion but to appreciate the foundation of our country’s freedoms and laws. Study governments in other countries and how they compare to ours.

  9. Be resilient. Success is earned when you get back up after multiple failures. Mental strength is developed from experience. A good life is not built on immediate gratification.

  10. Be a leader. Build the confidence and courage to stand up for what is right, even when no one else will. Believe in yourself before expecting others to believe in you.


I think we should understand the source when it comes to anything written today. Authors have a responsibility to be transparent. So, here's some information about me.


I was raised in a one-bathroom farmhouse in rural America by young, blue-collar parents. I grew up with the love and support of all four of my grandparents, one who is still alive today. I worked my way through community college and felt the wage disparity of being a professional woman. I’ve been married for 23 years to a husband who has worked as hard as me to provide for our family.


I’m the Mom of a medically-complex child who lives with the social stigma of facial difference. I’ve fought insurance companies and schools for access to medical care and special education resources. My boys have attended both private and public schools. I’ve dealt with infertility and multiple miscarriages. I lost my only sibling nearly 19 years ago. I’ve experienced grief, depression, and anxiety.


I’m an avid reader and seek out books that give me perspective on different opinions, cultures, and beliefs. I believe in the freedom of religion and exercise that right on my own terms. I think everyone should experience the unconditional love of a pet, preferably a dog. I believe that laughter and music are universal connectors that unite humanity.


I volunteer my time and skills to serve on two non-profit Board of Directors: Children's Craniofacial Association and Harmony 4 Hope. I've also advocated in Washington D.C. on behalf of Children's Hospital Association and served on a Family Advisory Board in Michigan for Children's Special Healthcare Services. I do my best to make the world a better place.


I write to empower others to be their own hero, and I own a company that envisions a world where everyone has the courage to live a life they love. I believe that anything is possible with passion and a positive attitude.


Dede Dankelson

Pete's Diary


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