The past few months have made painfully clear that the United States has many systems in place that aren’t running as efficiently as they should. It may seem as if the country is falling apart before our eyes, but the truth of the matter is that systems like education, healthcare, and law have been neglected for years and current events have helped to show how much. We can wait for some great leader to come and rescue us from these inefficient systems but there’s actually a powerful tool at our disposal that may take a little longer but potentially could be more impactful and long lasting in guaranteeing change. As parents, we have the ability to shape and influence the way our children think and more importantly, act. By making these 4 actions a part of our daily lives and lessons that we impart to our children we can make them more aware of important social issues and that will hopefully help them to grow up to fix the damage that has been caused.
Don’t bury your head in the sand – It may seem like the easiest thing to do but if you really want to raise children that are aware of the social issues surrounding them, including race, teach them about it in a very age appropriate way. Don’t just teach them about it one time and let it go, make it a consistent message in your house so that they retain it and it becomes ingrained in them. There are so many people who don’t get the choice of teaching their children about such matters and deciding to bury your head in the sand or expecting your kids to learn from someone else is not the way to go. This is the easiest way to ensure that it’s a topic that they have very little interest in as their grow older and their lives become more complex.
Make it your problem – You don’t have to protest in the streets or donate your entire paycheck to a cause but having apathy about a certain topic can contribute just as much to that problem not being solved as if you were a main offender. Doing nothing is a vote for doing the wrong thing. We are all humans and we are all Americans and if any of our systems are broken, it’s our job to fix them. We’ve become a society of people who are just waiting for someone else to come in and fix everything instead of a society that realizes that the sum of all parts can make a whole. If everyone contributed just a little bit then that change would be just as impactful as if someone super famous or incredibly rich made a huge contribution. As long as we all live on this earth, any problem that affects a large subset of our population is all of our problems. If we raise our kids to believe the same, the future of the country will be bright!
Lead by example – Kids watch what we do more than what we say. If your kids hear you complain about a particular issue but see you do nothing to work towards fixing that particular issue, they’ll walk away with the lesson that its okay to be more talk than action. They will grow up to be activists in theory but not in reality. If you really feel passionately about something then you’ll make time for it. Kids parrot everything that their parents do, including their actions and the more your kids see you actively working towards making changes, the more likely they are to pick up those habits and do the same.
Involve them – Kids, just like adults learn by doing. Many of us stop giving to causes we love when we become parents for many reasons. We may stop giving monetary donations because our budgets are stretched and we stop giving time, because we don’t really have any to spare. This is understandable when your kids are young, but when they get older, the best lesson you can give them in giving back is involving them in the giving process. If you always gave to the homeless before having children, find a way for your child to rummage through donations with you, drop the donations off or help out at a local homeless shelter. You may think that going somewhere like this will be traumatizing to a child but it’s a reality of our world. Introducing it to them gives you the opportunity to not only let them know it exists but take control of the conversation.