I’ve been meaning to write about protests for the longest time and now that TIME Magazine has announced that its person of the year is “The Protester”, I think today is the right day.
Not just protests in general, but kids at protests. Babies at protests.
Would you take your child to a protest? Is that bad parenting or good parenting? Does it depend on the protest? As Maggie Wells questions over on ParentingSquad:
“The gut reaction of many is to say no, they shouldn’t. In the age of helicopter parenting when junior’s every move is scripted into carefully chosen play dates and the perfect preschool, it makes sense that we would want to shield children from anything messy, organic, and not quite scripted with a start and end time with ‘appropriate’ people. But considering that in this day and age, Americans rarely voice their opinion face to face in public or protest anything, isn’t it almost mandatory that we expose children to recent cases when Americans do show their discontent? Should we be worried about potential violence from police? Protesters themselves?”
Although the folks over at The Record would call my parenting into question because “it’s terrible how these protesters are dragging their these little kids through this whole thing they are going through. They don’t understand what’s going on so why not leave them home,” my daughter isn’t even three and she began attending protests before she was born. Exhibit A: A gay rights protest in Salt Lake City.
There have been many protests since then. I don’t know that I’d camp out on Wall Street with a kid, but I’d definitely attend any event that I felt was an important cause, baby strapped firmly to chest. I, along with my daughter, can be seen here mixing it up with hateful anti-gay protesters in downtown Salt Lake City. Perhaps you think it’s a bit much with a baby. I don’t. I hope someday Violet looks back and is proud to have been a part of such an important civil rights movement.
Strollerderby’s Carolyn Castiglia took her 9-year-old daughter to the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City. She encountered other parents with children, babies even, and says the environment was safe and family-friendly. “If you’ve been thinking about supporting Occupy Wall Street but have been worried about bringing your children, don’t be.”
While not all protests are safe places for children I think attending protests with our children, even when they aren’t old enough to understand, is important. It teaches them that this is what America is about. To not just follow blindly, to use your voice to make a change. Your voice counts. Use it and use it often.
Here are more parents with children that share that sentiment.
What do you think about young children at protests? Does it depend on the protest? Also, what if it’s a protest for a cause you think is a terrible thing to teach a child, like a protest supporting anti-gay sentiments or a rally to ban certain books from the library?