Should You Bring Your Kid to a Rally?

Long story short: You should try. And you get to define what try means for you.

You know your kid and you know yourself. If there’s a real reason why you choose to stay home, stay home and don’t apologize. Crowds overwhelm you. Bathroom issues. Mobility concerns. Work. All reasons why a person might choose to stay home.

But if the reason you’re skipping is because your favorite tv show is on or it’s pizza night, you should suck it up. (Scandal is Thursday so I’m good.)

If you’re afraid, you should suck that up too. (So harsh. Bear with me. This is Jersey. It’s how we talk here.)

We have to do things we’re afraid of when we’re parents because we want to raise children who care about humanity and the direction of the planet. That doesn’t mean we have to teach them all the nuances of all the laws, or explain fascism, or use the phrase “alternative facts” in any way. They can’t digest that. (None of us can, but some of us are adults and our brains are fully formed. Or as formed as they’re going to be.)

And we have to do this particular thing that we’re afraid of because we have to teach our children the difference between fear and danger.

Fear is an emotion. We can feel fear and still do a thing. It doesn’t have to stop or silence us. Allowing fear to exist in your body and then still doing the scary thing is a valuable skill to have. It’s a life lesson. A big one.

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Danger, on the other hand, is the real possibility of harm or injury. Here’s why rallies and marches are not dangerous: You can approach the rally from a distance and observe without actually entering. You can show up and stay on the edges, even a block away – as far away as you want – and not get any closer than you feel comfortable getting.

You can buy a hot chocolate and stand near enough that you can see people gathering and you can say:

“Hey Amazing Little Person In My Life – you see all those people over there? You know what that is? It’s called a rally – have you ever heard of a rally? A rally is where people meet outside to share a message. That’s something we do in this country when we have something to say. We get together and say it all at once. It’s part of what America is.”

And then you get to choose. You can stay where you are. You can go home. You can go to Two Boots. You can get closer to the march. You can talk about love, and fear, and how mommies and daddies get angry sometimes too, and sometimes this is how they express it. You can use whatever language you want. You can say some people are mean – our kids know that already. You can say there’s a lot of really nice people in Jersey City. You can use Disney villains as examples, or leave the villains out entirely.

Or you can sit this one out, and try again next time. There are no rules.

My goal is to raise compassionate, curious and thoughtful children. As a parent, I am creating their normal by modeling activities and behaviors. When I demonstrate that I speak up when I’m angry, or I do things that are scary, that informs their worldview.

I don’t know what tonight’s rally will look or feel like, but I’m gonna bring my kids. I’m gonna give it a try.

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Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

2 thoughts on “Should You Bring Your Kid to a Rally?

  1. Thanks for your wise piece about parents and children sharing in our democratic freedom of speech and assembly. So glad to see you there, and so your children and their friends and so many caring people on short notice.

  2. I agree! Our children are growing up in a world where they have made friends and have teachers that are different from them. And they love them! I explained to my kids that we were walking in Charlotte, NC because we want to be friends with everyone. I debating taking them but was really glad that I did!

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