I usually don't take my kids anywhere they can't just be kids and I personally have a really tough time getting overstimulated and really cranky in crowds. Loud, lots of people? Oh man...we don't do those either. But I'm going to buck up and take them to this.
Why? It can't be that I look forward to screaming at them to go to the car after the caucus when they're wired on whatever other people handed them and overtired when it's past their bedtimes. Nope. It's because it's important.
6 Reasons to Bring Your Kids to Political Events
1. It spurs great substantive conversation.
I took my kids to protest the Muslim ban with a friend who is a lawyer. An immigration lawyer. They learned a lot that day about the people who care for their friends from other countries. They learned about people in their lives who are immigrants.
On the way to the Women's March, we had conversations about the wage gap and the lack of women in leadership. We talked about Black Lives Matter and the police violence problem in black communities they're familiar with like St. Louis.
They want to jump to how bad our president is, but I want them to understand our world in greater complexity. I want them to ask why black people get shot. And their response to these issues sometimes reminds me of what's right. Like when my son lead the crowds in Show me what democracy looks like chants at the Women's march and when my five year old said "what do you mean, the president thinks you can touch people's privates?" Their reaction was so simple and pure. It deepened my convictions.
2. They see me care deeply about something and DO something about it.
My kids know that I care about their education. I ask about what they're learning and support activities that teach things. I teach them math and piano. They see me do something about their education. But they're not the whole world.
They need to see that I care about other things too and that I DO something about the things that matter to me like gun control and police violence.
3. They see other people care and argue and participate in the process.
Ideas don't happen in a vacuum and they aren't just happening in our household. Sure we talk about all kinds of stuff at home, but so do other families. So do elderly people. So do 18-year-olds. And ocassionally, we get together in a building and have discussions with strangers about these things. Sometimes one of these strangers teaches me something new. Sometimes another person changes my mind. It's a valuable process and they get to see it and interact with it in person/
4. They, CHILDREN, are seen.
It's important that we not just stand at rallies and conventions with the idea of "the world our children will inherit" but to see them in the flesh before us. It's important as we talk about gun violence to see that there are children listening. We can communicate with our actions how important they are. We need to see them when we talk about the environment to be reminded of the repercussions of our actions and how those impacts last and WHO they last for.
5. They can be heard.
Most of my friends are other parents. They're used to talking with their own kids and hearing from kids about what matters to them and what they think and what they're learning and doing. But for other adults who no longer have kids in their home or never did, they need reminding and they often like to hear and think about things from a kids' perspective. This is a lovely chance for my kids to speak up about what matters to them.
6. They become Active Citizens.
They will learn to use their ears and their processes to form opinions and platforms. They will learn that other people care about what matters and have hope and take action. They will have the idea planted that you take information forth and VOTE and ACT as they become adults. I'm raising citizens and they'll actively participate.
And isn't that my job as a mom? I think so.