As parents, we’re all about advocating for our child. We want to fight for them to have the best experiences and upbringing that they can have. Separately, you probably have other issues that you advocate for—maybe you advocate for better programs in your community, civil rights, religious liberties. Whatever it may be, do you also include your child in those activities?
We spoke to Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas—a nonpartisan organization that promotes informed involvement in government—about how you can advocate with your child.
Consider your child’s interests.
Not sure your child will be that interested in the issues you advocate for? Chimene suggests listening to what issues your child cares about. For example, what is your child complaining about? “Instead of looking at their parents to stand up for them, parents can encourage their children to take part in the process to make changes happen,” says Chimene. “Have your child think about the following: 1) What is the issue? 2) Who are the leaders responsible for this issue, and how do I contact them? 3) What does the data tell us? 4) What are the pros and cons? 5) How does this issue impact me? and 6.) How can I share my thoughts on the issue?”
Practice, practice, practice.
Once your child has picked an issue to focus on, have them practice advocating at home. “What changes would he or she like to see at the home?” asks Chimene. “This comes naturally to some children. Let them write up a proposal with pros and cons, or draw a picture of what they would like to see changed. Set aside some time to listen to their ideas, then make a decision and explain your reasoning.”
Get them writing.
Chimene also suggests writing activities to get the kiddos involved.
One activity is to have your child write their story. “Stories, whether written or drawn, help bring empathy and understanding,” she says.
Kids can also write a letter or draw a picture to different groups or people around your city who are issue stakeholders. For example, they can write to your city council, mayor or county commissioner in support of parks, sidewalks and other areas your kid uses frequently. “Last legislative session, a bill came up which would take away local authority over removal of trees by developers,” she recalls. “Children drew pictures of their favorite trees and sent them to their legislator.”
They may also explore an issue that prompts them to contact their schoolboard, work with a local organization or write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.
Writing to these individuals or groups gives your kiddos the satisfaction of taking direct action. And it doesn’t have to stop at the local level; take it to the state or national levels too.
How do you engage your child in advocating for important issues? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of iStock.