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Welcome to Parenting for Social Justice

Will you Join the Parenting for Social Justice Monthly Challenge?

Parenting is hard, even as it is rewarding. Days in our house are filled with sword fights, whining about the food served for dinner, scrambling to get on coats and boots so we aren’t late to work and school, skirmishes over whose turn it is to pick the TV show for the day. There is sweetness and oh my, is there pain. There are kisses, and an exorbitant amount of tears (due to the sword fighting!). My kids are 4 and almost 7. While my “baby” still wears a diaper at night, his light saber already has a mighty swing. I’m strategizing for the teen years. I can hear the phone ringing, “Oh, hello, Officer…”

In each stage of parenting there are so many daily challenges to work through, making it overwhelming to also be addressing social justice issues like racism and poverty. Yet many parents don’t have the choice about whether or not to talk with their kids about racism and poverty – it is a daily reality in their lives. As a white, heterosexual, middle class, cis-female, able bodied, US citizen in a world full of oppression, the amount of unearned privilege my children were born with is astounding. Because of our privilege I have to be much more intentional about bringing social justice into the conversations in my house, and then taking it to the streets.

As a parent who cares about people and the planet how do I raise children who interact with the world in a way that is conscious, connected, and equipped to make change? I don’t have the answer to this question. But as the Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, “We make the road by walking.” So, I’m starting off 2016 with the intention to make social justice a central part of my parenting. I’m gonna mess up, it’s not gonna be easy, but I’m gonna make the road.

Over the next year I’m challenging myself to introduce seven social justice principles to my kids:

  • Meet everyone’s basic needs in a dignified way.

  • Treat people from every background with dignity and respect.

  • Guarantee equitable distribution of resources.

  • Support the development of all people to their full potential.

  • Make sure all people are physically and psychologically safe and secure.

  • Ensure everyone has a voice in the decisions that affect them.

To better understand each principle we’ll read books and then think about current events in our home, community, and world. We’ll choose actions we can take to make our world more socially just. I will write about it every month so that you can take the challenge too! My good friend Abigail is also going to take the challenge and will join me in writing for this blog.

I have to laugh – how is this actually going to happen?! My kids are rambunctious. If we are going to accomplish anything it must be brief, nonchalant, consensual, loving, fun & practical.

Brief – 10 minutes at a time. Nonchalant – I’m going to read a book that I’ve pre-chosen and suggest it in a nonchalant way. Consensual – After reading the book I’ll ask a few questions to get the conversation going, but I won’t force it if they aren’t interested. And we’ll probably read the book a few times, building on the conversation each time. Loving – we will talk about the people we love who are struggling for their rights. If we don’t know anyone we will think of ways to get to know people. Also, I will love my kids unconditionally, even if they say something that makes me feel disappointed. Fun – We’ll probably break out into spontaneous tickling. Practical – We will turn our conversation into action.

You know your kids better than anyone. How will this work in your house?

Come on this journey with us! We want to hear from you about what is working, what isn’t, and the resources and support you need. What are you learning? This is a community of practice. We are learning and growing together, and holding each other accountable.

Stay tuned for challenge #1 – Meet everyone’s basic needs in a dignified way: Food. Each month you will receive 3 posts – a How-to post with books, resources, and links, then a story from Angela’s house, and a story from Abi’s house.

Taking a snow break. Photo by Amber Paris.

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