Protest proudly, but leave your little ones at home
Saien Puelma, lower right, 5, reacts as her uncle Alex Puelma, right, of Chile, confronts an alt-right protester who was surrounded by police officers for his safety after getting into a scuffle with anti-racism protesters during rallies at City Hall in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday August 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
It wasn’t until the recent anti-racism rally in Vancouver that I more carefully considered how much I wanted to tell to my young children about all that is happening in the world, and whether or not it would be worthwhile to involve them in the events that ensue as a result.
As a parent, it can be challenging to find a balance between protecting our children from the world around us, and preparing them for it. We don’t want to blindfold them from all that is bad, but we also don’t want to tarnish their innocent outlook on life and dull all that is good.
I don’t want to conceal my children from the controversial issues that are happening in our world, but how much information is too much for little ones to comprehend?
Last Saturday, I watched on as some of my closest friends and family members marched to City Hall to join the over 4,000 people who showed up to protest against the group of far-right demonstrators who had planned a rally.
It was so uplifting to watch our city come together to spread messages of love and unity, silencing the messages of hatred and white supremacy that had been planned for that same afternoon.
But it was also scary to think of the devastation that resulted from the gathering in Charlottesville, Va. involving groups of far-right extremists and counter-protesters - a violent rally that inspired the gathering that had been scheduled to take place right here in our own city.
There is value in raising politically-aware children. We need to teach our kids to be compassionate citizens and critical thinkers, to share their voices and care about others and the environment in which they live. Children who are old enough to truly understand the dynamics can benefit from seeing the issues unfold before their eyes.
But there are risks to consider as well. While many argue that they want to instill their values and beliefs in their children by having them present at political protests - marching alongside their parents and peers to show support, it’s important to keep safety in mind as well.
Forcing them into a politically-motivated mob may not be the best way to pass your values on to your offspring - especially the younger children who don’t fully comprehend what is happening around them. If they’re old enough to understand the issues and stand their own ground, I say bring them along. But if your little one can barely stand on their own two feet or read the signs, it might be best to leave them at home.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at firstname.lastname@example.org.