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For progressive parents, the 2016 election was devastating, especially for those of us whose kids had gotten involved in the election process. While raising kids under a Trump regime is less than pleasant, the next four years will certainly offer up many opportunities for teaching moments with our kids.
This is how nine real parents plan to teach their kids kindness, acceptance and yes, resistance moving forward.
1. “They will continue to rally, protest, march, hold candles, attend events, donate time and energy alongside their father and me.”
We are a mixed-race family in a predominately white area.
I’m very involved in activism on a local level and my kids have been to meetings, vigils, days of service, cultural events, etc, since they were babies. That has only intensified since the election.
Because of our rather “conservative” community, it’s important for my younger kids in particular to see news from around the country and world of other people protesting so they know it’s not just their nutty Mom that’s upset.
I plan on continuing to find ways to tell them what is happening in our country both nationally and locally, trying to temper some good in with the bad so as to not render them hopeless. They will continue to rally, protest, march, hold candles, attend events, donate time and energy alongside their father and me. I will continue to point out marginalized people that are doing GOOD for the community to combat any stereotypes they may hear.
― Gina Sampaio, mother to a 16-year-old, 15-year-old, 10-year-old, 8-year-old, and 6-year-old
My husband and I vowed the morning after the election that we would raise our daughters to make a difference. We would get involved and help protect the groups that we feel are in the most danger under Trump’s administration. We have begun making contributions to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Coalition. I have joined a small grass roots group that is active in our area.
After I give birth, I hope to be able to take both of my girls to marches with me, like my mother did for me when I was younger. I learned more about how to be a good person by watching her lead. A lot of that has stayed with me my entire life, and I hope to do the same for my daughters.
Our daughters will grow up watching us work and fight for the most vulnerable among us, and hopefully join alongside of us when they are old enough. I want them to grow up in a world where they not only care about the wellbeing of others, but make a contribution as well. I want them to help create a place where love always trumps hate. Most of all I want them to be uplifted by the good that is in the world and not cowed by the bad. The only way that I know to do that is to show them how to be the good.
― Lauren Wellbank, mother of a 2-year-old and pregnant
3. “We are quick to answer our kids’ questions about our same sex marriage, gender roles and other sometimes tricky topics.”
My husband and I are raising our kids in a very conservative area and our girls have already come home with questions regarding our family dynamic because of other students and even sometimes parents of students asking why they’ve got two dads.
For us as parents, it’s vital that we show our kids that our household is first and foremost about love. We’re combating negative thinking that our girls will without question face in the world, by instilling values of tolerance and respect. We are quick to answer our kids’ questions about our same sex marriage, gender roles and other sometimes tricky topics that most folks would tiptoe around. It’s never too early to address issues of bigotry and intolerance that your little ones might have been exposed to at school, etc.
― Corbin Chamberlin-Randall, father to a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old
4. “As children of color, they must also speak out for themselves, to define themselves and stand strong in their truth.”
One of my goals as a parent is to raise my children with a sense of justice. In order to do that, they have to have a certain level of understanding when it comes to injustice. Whose stories are missing? Who is overrepresented? Who is underrepresented? We read books and enjoy the stories, but also think about them critically, asking questions and thinking about the patterns we see in the underrepresentation of stories.
We also talk about power and privilege. As self-identified boys, they have the privilege of seeing themselves reflected in the world around them. With that power comes the responsibility to speak out for others. Recently we had a conversation about the complexities of gender. To be non-binary, to be feminine, or to be masculine. Through that language they found ways to identify themselves. They also found that they can identify with different words at different times. They can feel masculine and feminine and still identify as boys.
As children of color, they must also speak out for themselves, to define themselves and stand strong in their truth. Cornel West says “Justice is what love looks like in public.” By fighting for justice, they demonstrate a love for their community, their family and themselves.
― Ana, mother to a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old
5. “My plan is to teach him about our heritage.”
I happen to be lucky enough to be raising a child who is thoughtful, kind, introspective, and what other people would call “sensitive.” Some people would say he is too sensitive, or that he needs to “man up.” Besides the obvious gender stereotype issues with telling him to “man up,” I happen to think that his sensitivity is a gift.
With all the hate and negativity and bigotry happening, I try to keep him at a distance from all of it. It is hard for him to understand why people would want to be so mean and non-inclusive. He really can take on the feeling of hurt from other people very easily.
With all that being said, my plan is to teach him about our heritage, show him how we all come from many different countries. I began to show him all the places my ancestors came from, and am beginning to teach him how this country became what it is today. I believe that if he understands that we are all immigrants to a degree, that it is only natural to have compassion for those of all races, nationalities, religions and countries. As for teaching him about women rights….he is being raised by a strong single mom, so he sees it on a daily basis.
― Mari-Elaina Garcia, mother to a 6-year-old
6. “We do tell him that 45 is unkind, and in no way, shape, or form should he behave as he does.”
As a multiethnic individual (Ecuadorian mother and Jewish-American father), I was raised to question and challenge the status quo and knew from an early age that activism and social change were integral to my very existence. I was raised bilingually and with a strong moral compass. I was taught to be empathic, aware and unafraid to speak my mind.
My husband is also deeply committed to social justice. Our son, also bilingual, but blond, green-eyed and light-skinned, is being taught to exhibit empathy and to understand that his actions tell others who he is. As we enter this new administration, which defies every aspect of our moral fiber, we are even more emphatic about the importance of our son’s capacity for empathy, compassion, respect and open-mindedness.
We do not discuss a lot of details about 45 with him, mainly because we fear our own anger and upset could contradict the message we wish to relay, but we do tell him that 45 is unkind, and in no way, shape, or form should he behave as he does.
The above image bears a phrase I grew up hearing ― El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido (The People United Will Never Be Defeated) and though my son does not yet know that phrase, he understands its meaning. My son understands that he is part of a human family and that it is his duty to embody the values we are raising him with.
― Naomi, mother to a 6-year-old
7. “If they learn about what ails the world early on, they can be the kind of kids who work to change it.”
It’s helped me to realize that I shouldn’t keep my daughters in the dark just because I want them to believe the world is a perfect place. It’s not a perfect place. There is unfairness and inequality and the good guy (person!) does not always win. If they learn about what ails the world early on, they can be the kind of kids who work to change it and not the kind of kids who are in for a rude awakening when they are out on their own. I call it “raising the change.”
We’ve just started reading “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.” The concepts are too advanced for my 4-year-old but my 7-year-old loves it. When I first brought it home, I had to explain what a “Rebel Girl” was and she said, “Like Rosa Parks?” “Exactly.” Then she looked through the chapters to make sure Rosa Parks was included. (She was.)
My daughter asks to read more chapters every night and it has started so many new discussions. The biggest one is about how girls weren’t always allowed to do the same things as boys. It’s also brought up discussions about arranged marriage, fighting the ideal beauty standard, what it’s like to live in a dictatorship and having heroines in movies who save the world instead of princesses who need to be saved.
I also have been thinking about when I will share our family history with her. We are Jewish and my mother was born in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany right after World War II. I wrote about our family’s immigration story on my blog a couple of weeks ago because it is now the grandchildren’s responsibility to keep the stories of Holocaust survivors alive. Obviously, in the current the political climate, it is more important than ever for people to understand what atrocities can arise from hatred.”
― Ilana Wiles, mother to a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old
8. “We read books about different cultures, different people, different family units and different ideas.”
We teach tolerance in our house by exposure. Exposure to different ideas and people. Our favorite thing to do together is read. We read books about different cultures, different people, different family units and different ideas. We discuss what is happening in our world. We don’t watch the news yet because it is not kid friendly, but we break down the concepts to our children’s level and then discuss how we feel about it. We are currently reading Worm Loves Worm by J. J Austrian, which discusses same sex marriage.
We also travel to gain exposure. We travel to big cities and small cities. We talk about the people we see and differences and similarities. We discuss how to treat others with respect. Specifically we discuss not making fun of others for being different. We teach empathy.
My children have been asked what would it feel like if you came across someone that had less money than you? That was in a wheelchair? That spoke with an accent? My children have been asked to put themselves in the shoes of others. We discuss ways we can help people in the community.
Lastly, we try to lead by example. After all if we are teaching, but not doing none of the above matters.
― Julie Kull, mother to a 9-month-old and a 3.5-year-old
9. “We have been talking about standing up for what is right and stepping up.”
For Black History Month this year, we are learning about a freedom fighter every day. In years past I’ve used Black History Month to celebrate being black and learn about black people who did amazing things in all kinds of forms. Of course that doesn’t start and end in February but I commit extra time in February so we have richer conversations all year.
This year I’m focusing on freedom fighters both current and past. And when we talk about freedom fighters, we’re talking about getting into good trouble like John Lewis encourages us to do. We have been talking about standing up for what is right and stepping up. Again, we’ve always done this, but this year our focus is much more active. I think it’s partly due to their age and partly the political climate.
― Nancy Landua-Gahres, mother to two 6-year-olds and a 2-year-old
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