It’s never easy being an adult—and it’s been especially difficult since the shocking election of Donald Trump.
Indeed, the Trump presidency is a potentially upsetting topic for grown-ups of all ages. During this difficult time, it’s common for adults to become anxious, fearful, even angry.
But there’s good news: Children, there are steps you can take to calm and reassure your adults. Just follow these 10 simple guidelines for how to talk to your grown-up about Donald Trump:
1. Watch for warning signs. It’s important to be on constant lookout for indications that your adult is troubled by Trump’s actions as president. Telltale warning signs include: chronic insomnia, increased irritability and unexplained 40-minute crying jags in the supermarket produce section. Factoid: An almost constant shaking of one’s head in disbelief is now estimated to afflict one in every four adults, and three out of every three Clintons.
2. Pick the right moment. There are subtle signs that can help you determine when your adult may be “ready” to have a calm conversation about Donald Trump. Should you strike up a dialogue during the 20 minutes they spend each night staring blankly into the middle distance and muttering about “goddamn Bannon?” That’s a tough call. On the other hand, you should clearly back off when you find Daddy screaming at the loud, sweaty man on television: “Oh, cram it in your LYING PIE HOLE, Spicer!”
3. Ask questions. The best way to get a conversation going is to open with a clear and straightforward question—something like, “Mommy, why are you swearing at the newspaper?”
4. Create opportunities for dialogue. A well-timed query can also provide the entry point to a shared activity—which will give you a chance to be alone with your adult. Here’s a line that has hardly ever failed since Trump’s election: “Hey, Dad, can I help you take all your empty vodka bottles to the recycling?”
5. Keep some things off limits. Your adult is talking with you about Trump—that’s great! But it’s important to establish boundaries. Even as you bond, you’re going to want to keep your adult away from your school work. Sure, under normal circumstances it’s great when Mom lends a hand with your science fair project. But you can’t risk Dad turning your geography project into a 3,000-word conspiracy polemic that includes several graphic paragraphs about Russian hookers.
6. Delicately interrupt a rant. If you sense that your adult is getting hysterical, try changing the topic—but don’t be too obvious about it! Make it seem natural by building on something they say. Here’s an example: “Hey, Mommy, do you know who else is a ‘megalomaniacal orange ignoramus’? Garfield! Look at this cartoon where he eats some lasagna while also hating Mondays…”
7. Understand how the grown-up mind works. Your adult probably doesn’t want to obsess over Trump’s presidency—but he or she may not be able to help it. News feeds and social media can be addictive. You can help by deleting the Twitter app on your adult’s phone. While you’re in there, you may also want to change the photo on their home screen to a picture of a dog’s butt. This will not help with the Trump thing but it is hilarious.
8. Let your adult feel sorry for you. Your adult may become emotional and offer profuse apologies for “screwing up the world for you.” It is not important that you understand what they mean. Just know that you can now probably get away with describing a poor report card as “fake news.”
9. Try to give them some space. Support is important, but ultimately your adult will need to figure things out for themselves. Adults can do more than we give them credit for! But let’s not sugarcoat it: They’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to say the wrong thing about Trump at U.S. customs. They’re going to compound that error by calling the guard a “fascist pawn.” They’re definitely going to get strip-searched. Point is: Make sure your iPhone is fully charged—you’re going to be at the border for a while.
10. Tell them that everything is going to be okay. It’s probably a lie but it’s the only way to get them to focus for long enough to make dinner for you. False hope is better than no hope at all.