How to Introduce Kids to Political Activism

Text: "How to Introduce Kids to Political Activism / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Photo: Two children from the back, one that has a sign on her back that says "We March for Our Wild and Wonderful World"

“Mommy is going to let the people in charge know that we need to respect all people,” I told my son on the morning of the Women’s March. While I’ve been politically active for a long time, he never really knew about it. Because I so rarely miss weekend time with the kids, I wanted to let him know what I was doing and why it was important. As I and two of friends gathered snacks and pinned posters on our jackets, seeing my kids reminded me why we were doing this in the first place.

Explaining what’s going on is even more important if you’re bringing your kids along to a political event. In the case of the People’s Climate March, I knew that I had a responsibility to explain to Sprout why he was there.

From explaining why I’ve missed dinner to testify to our City Council to marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, here’s what I’ve learned about introducing kids to activism:

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Green Moms Profile: Julie on Veganism

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Welcome to Earth Month! This month, I’m profiling a number of “green moms” who purposely live in a sustainable way.

For our third Green Mom Profile, welcome Julie. She’s in Germantown, MD, a suburb of Washington D.C. just north of where I am. She has two kids, who are one and five years old. She’s a mentor for Vegan Outreach, a group who is dedicated to reducing suffering through the promotion of a vegan diet.

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Guest Post: This is the Least I Can Do

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Privilege is a word tossed around a lot these days, often in the phrase “Check your…” But even though the words are new, the idea is something I’ve known about for a long time. My mom emphasized how I was lucky to have what I had. Sure, my parents and I worked hard, but what we had wasn’t through hard work alone. I hope to pass that knowledge onto my kids.

Knowing how damn lucky and I my kids are motivates so much of my activism. I got the chance to write about it for Mamalode recently, in a piece called My Privilege Protects Me and My Sons From So Much – This is the Least I Can Do.

Here’s the first two paragraphs:

“President Obama, I know you have two daughters. I know you love them. But I want you to know that I don’t know if I’ll have kids. That’s because I don’t know if they’ll have clean water to drink,” said Eryn Wise, a 26-year-old organizer of the movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. As she stared out at the crowd gathered in front of the White House, I gasped just a little. Of course, I know this is a calculation women make every day – whether the world they would bring their child into is good enough. And too often, that answer is no. But to hear a young woman say it in person made me breathe in just a little more sharply.

That’s because it’s a question I’ve never had to face.

Read the rest at Mamalode!

Seven Ways I’m Teaching My Young Sons to be Feminists

Photo: Toy kitchen from Little Tikes with a stove, cutting board, microwave and knife block. Text: "7 Ways I'm Teaching My Young Sons to be Feminists / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

When I was pregnant, I imagined what life might be like if I had a little girl. I envisioned teaching her to stand up for herself, buying her dresses with science symbols, letting her get dirty, and being an example of a strong woman for her. I wasn’t going to stereotype her or allow anyone else to, thank you very much. In short, I considered how to teach her to be a feminist.

But I turned out to have two sons.

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When Dancing with Toddlers is a Political Act

Photo:  Man with a guitar in front of a mural and a kid behind him dancing. Text: "When Dancing with Toddlers is a Political Act / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

In these troubled times, it’s easy to ask, “What can I possibly do as a mom / dad?” This past weekend, my family attended one rocking answer to that question.

Welcoming immigrants and refugees to America is one of my core political values. More than one of my family stories revolves around immigration and I’m a better person for knowing the many immigrants in my life. I strongly believe in providing opportunities for people who just want to build a better life for their children.

So when I saw that the Takoma Parents Action Coalition  was putting on a “Toddler Dance Party” to benefit the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, I knew this event was our jam.

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Want to Help Refugees? Win a Picture Book and Donation in Your Name!

It’s often hard to know what we can do in response to national policy, like the recent ban on immigration and refugees from several predominantly Muslim countries. Between the seemingly prejudiced way those countries were chosen, the terrible implementation, and the many people suffering as a result, it’s easy to feel helpless.

But I hope to make helping a little easier. While I almost never run giveaways, I want to raise awareness on this issue. To help parents talk to kids about refugees, I’m giving away one book from this list of picture books about refugees. The specific book will be the winner’s choice, depending on their child’s age and interests. I’ll also make a donation of school supplies to the International Rescue Committee in the winner’s name.

To win, you just need to like my Facebook page as well as “like” the specific Facebook post about the contest. Next Friday, February 10, I’ll randomly select one person to receive the package.

This is not a sponsored giveaway – I’m just doing it because I think it’s important. Immigration is a huge part of my family story. I want other families to have the same opportunities that my ancestors did. Teaching our children how refugees are like them and providing refugee kids with tools to help them heal is one small way to do so. Resistance takes a lot of forms, but I want all of mine to be driven by love.

For more on my thoughts on refugees and immigrants, read my post Refugees and Other Families Looking for a Better Life

Marching for the Future: The Women’s March on Washington

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“Tell us what democracy looks like – this is what democracy looks like!” chanted by countless voices rang through the National Mall. I and two of my friends were in the middle of the Women’s March on Washington yesterday, along with about a million other people. From creative signs to the chants, the crowd was seriously pissed off. At the same time, there was a serious sense of solidarity and dare I say – hope.

As Dave Engledow, the photographer of the World’s Best Father set of photos, says, it felt like the scene in The Grinch Stole Christmas when all of the Whos in Whoville sing together despite the Grinch trying to ruin everything.

Maybe democracy doesn’t come from a store – perhaps democracy means just a little bit more!

A few of my highlights from the day:

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The Challenge and Beauty of Being an Activist Mom

Photo: Photo of a husband and wife dressed in winter clothes hugging with the wife holding a Forward on Climate sign; Text: "The Challenges and Beauty of Being an Activist Mom / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

Standing on the National Mall in the  February cold, I stomped my feet and tried to ignore how sore my lower back felt. Watching the stage, I strained to listen to the speakers, from Silicon Valley billionaires to Native American activists. I was at one of the biggest climate change protests ever, focused on defeating the Keystone XL oil pipeline. While it attracted 12,000 people, it’s unlikely that many were in the same situation as I was: five months pregnant.

Despite the cold and a serious lack of bathrooms, I marched in hopes of shifting the tide against climate change. Now, with the election of Donald Trump for president and the Republican domination of Congress, I find it more important than ever before to be an activist mom.

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What Elmo Can Teach Us About Dealing with Donald Trump

Photo: Photos of Donald Trump and Elmo side-by-side; text: What Elmo Can Teach Us About Dealing with Donald Trump

Of all of the think pieces I’ve read on dealing with Donald Trump’s presidency, there is one small, furry voice that we haven’t heard from: Elmo.

What on earth would innocent Elmo have anything to do with our soon-to-be President, who brags about groping women and lies through his teeth? He’s actually dealt with Trump before – or at least a puppet version of him. In a Sesame Street parody of the Apprentice back in 2005, Elmo is a contestant in a contest to be Donald Grump’s assistant. As the other Grouches (including Oscar) say, “Donald Grump has all the garbage!”

All of us looking to get through the next four years with our sanity intact can learn from what Elmo does in the sketch:

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Green Kids: Building a Lasagna Garden

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Most people aren’t thinking about prepping their garden at Thanksgiving. But due to a delay known as “having small children,” that’s what we were doing on Sunday, prepping the layers of our inedible lasagna garden. Lasagna gardening, also called sheet mulching or sheet composting, is a permaculture method of gardening that’s easy, cheap, and fun to do with kids.

Lasagna gardening mimics the natural process of leaf litter and other organic matter building up on the forest floor. In the forest, the dead leaves and other plants slowly accumulate and then decompose into soil. Lasagna gardening speeds up this process. Because the organic matter you layer is largely cheap or free, you save quite a bit of money. This technique also doesn’t leave any disturbed soil for weeds to root in. Even though it takes some serious prep time in the fall, it makes for a nearly maintenance-free garden in the spring and summer.

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