As many of you know, students have been protesting all around the country, in response to the tragic shooting that took place in Florida on February 14th. Thousands of students in the area have staged walk outs and have voiced their frustration at the lack of safety they feel they have in schools. Now that many students have shown their fear, dissatisfaction, and willingness to be a catalyst for change, as a parent – what now?
The past couple of months have shown that these young people mean business. Reminiscent of students in the 60s and 70s being activists for the end of racism, promoting women’s rights, advocating for gay rights, and joining forces to end the Vietnam War – students have spearheaded the crusade to have stricter gun laws. They have made national headlines due not only to their walking out, but their rallies, well-versed speeches and well-researched political demonstrations. As a parent, what do WE do during this time of unrest?
When our kids show they are interested in an extracurricular activity – we sign them up. When they show their desire to see a particular movie, concert or show – we take them. When they show they have a keen interest in a particular subject in school – we find ways to satisfy their curiosity and cultivate their talents.
So as a parent, what do we do when they show their determination on a political issue and their genuine desire to see change?
I’ve seen parents that couldn’t be prouder of their kids standing up for their principles. I’ve also seen parents that disagree with the movement, and let their children know it was unacceptable. As a mother, my goal is to provide my kids with all of the education and tools I can, to make informed decisions that they feel are best for them. Some parents make decisions for their children. Some allow their kids to make decisions for themselves. Regardless of your method, I think we can all agree that their lives are their own, and at the end of the day, they have to be able to live with their choices and consequences.
One thing I’ve learned as an adult, is that not everyone grew up in my home. I think this to myself often, when I don’t understand someone else’s perspective. We don’t all need to have the same beliefs, but we should all respect each other’s right to hold those beliefs. If my children feel strongly about something, even if I don’t agree, I want them to always feel comfortable coming to me to voice their frustrations, uncertainty and fears.
So again, what now? Are you the parent that’s going to cheer them on, help them make signs and give them a high-five when they come home from a rally? Are you the parent that is going to tell them to stay in their classroom, no matter how strongly they want to participate? Are you the parent that’s going to tell them that while you don’t agree, you respect the fervor they have on the issue, and you support them fully? Are you the parent that is going to attend the rallies with them? Are you the parent that is going to withhold your stance altogether, to ensure you don’t sway the views of your children? We must give our actions and reactions serious consideration, because this is a critical time in our young people’s lives.
They are watching us, just as much as we are watching them.
As our children become young adults, parenting is not so much about us being in control, but more about us providing direction. We can help encourage our young people in making sensible choices by establishing firm foundations. To do this, we must share our trust, values, experiences and most importantly – our love. Then, hopefully they can make decisions they can be proud of, and we can provide the support and encouragement that we can be proud of. One thing I always think is while I am always proud of my kids, I’d like to hope they will always be proud of me.
Are you talking to your child about their political views or interests? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We would love to hear and learn from you!