I’m a parent, so I know. There is a deep-seated desire in each of us to protect our kids from all the scary things that await them out in the world.
We Want to Protect our Children
We want to protect them from bullies and mean girls. We want to protect them from failing exams and losing soccer games. And then there are the bigger things.
I will never forget the feeling I had the morning of September 11, 2001, knowing my children were innocently at work in their elementary school classrooms while the World Trade Center towers were crashing down. My thoughts: What would their teachers say to them? What would I say to them? How could we protect them?
Today’s parents and children face the same kind of harrowing moments. Bomb explosions, shootings. Emotionally bruising taunts based on race, religion, sexuality. How do we protect our children?
The Question is How?
To start, we must face the fact that children are aware of what’s going on around them. We cannot protect them by acting as though it doesn’t exist. Instead we must empower them, make them feel that they can do something about it.
Empower Them to Act
Last week I went to the Women’s March in NY. There were groups of young adults. There were oldies like me. And there were families, parents with children sitting high on their shoulders. Some wore pink knit caps. Some held up signs. I later saw a photo of a very young boy, too young to write, who had scrawled squiggly lines across his own homemade sign. These children were actively engaged. Feeling that they could make a difference.
There are so many ways for kids to take action. Sign a petition. Volunteer at a local food pantry or other social justice group. Research and present a report on an issue that is challenging them. Our job as parents? Help them face the world head on. Draw them into a conversation exploring what they can do to shape answers.
When we arm our kids with the tools to combat their problems – large and small – we make them feel they are not helpless. We protect them.
Share your stories of empowering children!