Raising kids in politics
Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a mom – unless of course you count my two fur-babies.
That said, I do want to shed some light on raising kids on the political front lines. I can’t speak from the experience of a parent, but I can speak from the experience of a child. One raised by a single mom with a loud voice and unshakable values. A child who managed to survive unscathed into her mid-20’s despite the picket lines, protests, marches and campaigns that filled my childhood.
At the October Pints and Politics, the meet-up that laid some important foundations for the launch of this group, we had a great discussion about the barriers that women face in participating in and engaging with politics. One of the biggest barriers our conversation focussed on was family responsibilities.
A big question of the night was “how can I find supports for child-care while I’m off helping with a campaign or running for office?”
Many answers turned to the rallying of community support. Having friends and neighbours to step in and lend a hand. While of course this is important, my answer was a bit different. Bring your kids with you and give them the education and experience of a lifetime.
I remember when my teachers went on strike in 1997 – I was 9. Bundled in the cold fall weather, sitting in camping chairs on the picket lines between my mom and my phys-ed teacher, my mom taught me about picket lines, the history of unions and what it was my teachers were standing up for.
I remember later that year when there was snow on the ground, picketing in front of our MPPs office and proudly waving my sign that read “education is a right.” Not only did my mom teach me how to carry a sign post tucked into my coat pocket so my arms wouldn’t get tired, but also about what it meant to be an MPP and what their responsibilities to their constituents where.
I remember in my teenage years, marching with my hand drum learning to make noise; speaking at rallies and turning that noise into a powerful message; collecting petition signatures and learning how to take that voice and add it to a powerful chorus with others.
All of these memories and lessons have stuck with me in way that 90 per cent of my formal education hasn’t.
Engage your kids in the process, teach them how to think critically about issues that affect them, and show them first-hand that they can change the world.