Multicultural Vida

Marching With Kids: 7 Things to Consider

On June 30th my seven-year-old son and I joined thousands of people all over the country who marched in support of immigrant families. It was his first march (thought he will tell you it was his second because ” I marched for women’s rights at school.”) Marching with kids isn’t for everyone. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit apprehensive. There are a lot of things to take into consideration. For me, these were the things I was thinking about: What will the ambiance be like? How will he handle the crowd? What if he has to be while we are in the middle of so many people?
But ultimately, this was something that is important to me as a daughter of immigrants and as someone who has the privilege to not have to worry about her legal status, as a mom and more plainly as a human being, I wanted to march to support immigrant families. Women and children should not be separated. People seeking asylum should not be separated from their children.
I want my son to understand that as well. I wanted him to understand that when we are given privilege we must use it to raise our voices to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. And that when a law is unjust and the government is doing unjust things, it is our duty as citizens to stand up and resist. It may sound cliché to some of you but that is what our country is founded on. Our country was founded by dissenters- by people who had enough courage and vision to believe that they were in the right by rebelling against an unjust ruler, the King of England. The United States was founded on the principles of free assembly, a free press, and freedom of speech- all which today are being attacked on a daily basis by the person in the White House and his administration.
 
We are living in critical times when many of us feel the urgency to speak up. I know this is especially true for mothers, for immigrants, and for those of us who are bloggers, who have a platform. Frances from Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes, took her son to a #KeepFamiliesTogether march on June 30th.  I asked Frances to share why she decided to take her son,
My child and I have discussed current political events since he was 8 years old. He’s 10 years old now, and we’ve talked about the importance of exercising our vote. In recent months, I’ve been very vocal about the separation of families, and although, I had never been to a rally or protest before I wanted him to understand his 1st Amendment right by actually exercising it. The 1st Amendment guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government. With posters in hand, I was leading by example and protesting together as a family. Knowledge is power, and we’re protected by our constitutional right to protest.
Frances is an inspiration. She is truly practicing what she preaches. (Check out her blog too!)
Marching with Kids
 
So, just like Frances (who was marching in South Carolina) and thousands of other moms, dads, grandparents, I too joined the 30,000 other people in NYC who decided to exercise the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment on June 30th.  On that hot and humid Saturday (it was about 90 degrees in NYC) my son and I dressed in white, packed our signs and headed downtown. There we were joined by thousands of other families – – literally, people of all ages! There were babies, grandparents and everyone in between! They were people of every shades, of many religions, of all genders.
Marching with Kids-Things to Consider
It was an event full of hope. There were people chanting, waving signs. My seven year old chanted and waved his sign too. (and later on at home, I heard him singing in the bath “No ban, No wall! – parenting win).

If you’re thinking about taking your child to a march/ protest, here are 7 things to think about when marching with kids:

1. Consider whether the march is appropriate for your child.
Questions to ask:
  • Who is the organizer?
  • Is it labeled a family-friendly event?
  • Is there a potential for violence?
  • How does your child handle crowds?
  • What does the march route look like?
2. Prepare your child and discuss why you are going. Talk to your child (in age-appropriate terms) what is happening, what you are supporting (or raising your voice against) and why it is important that you go.
3. Have a plan if you get separated. Talk to your child about what to do in the situation that s/he doesn’t see you. Even if they know their phone numbers by heart, make sure it is attached to them. Lina Acosta Sandaal, childhood development expert and founder of Stop Parenting Alone, says to make sure your phone number is written somewhere on the child. “If a child is scared and lost he won’t remember a phone number especially if they’re under 10.” Writing it down an putting it somewhere on their body (I’m thinking like what our kids wear when they go on trips!) Discuss what s/he should do if they don’t see you. Wear something that would make it easy to identify you (and them) in a crowd.
4. Be prepared: bring water and snacks (and a plan for boredom).
I would also recommend a hat for the heat, or a small battery powered fan, or a spray bottle with water to refresh if it is too hot.
A warning: your kid might say s/he is bored. When my son was bored, or tired, I let him take some pics with my camera. I also was curious to see what captured his eye. Below are some of his shots. 
Taken by E. Gabriele, age 7.

5. Invite friends and make it fun! You can make signs before you go as well!
6. It is OK if you don’t finish. Some marches can take a really long time, and you may feel like you need to go until the end. But consider your child’s state- is s/he tired? Hot? Whining? Done? The important thing is that you shared this experience together and that you were there. It is OK if you don’t finish. Lina Acosta Sandaal recommends having a special word that your child can use to let you know that s/he is ready to go home. This is important because children may be embarrassed to tell you that they don’t want to keep marching. This way, Lina says, “your child will be able to communicate with you and not feel guilty that they’re taking you away from something that’s important to you.”marching with kids
7. Have a plan for after the march: Discuss what you saw at the march (warning, if your child can read, s/he may read some signs with um, let’s say inappropriate language), ask what were their favorite parts, least favorite, ask if there was anything that scared them, or made them happy. Make it an opportunity for dialogue!
 
Finally, think about what else you can do! Maybe you want to write letters to Congress members, or hold a fundraiser or make a donation to the organization who organized the march, or another organization.

On a final note, I have to give a shout out to an awesome little girl who chanted this:
“We need a leader not a creepy tweeter.”
 

Have you marched with your kids? Share your experiences below!

Marching With Kids-7 things to consider

All images copyright Diana Limongi, may not be used without permission.
Tags : activism
Diana Limongi
welcome! I'm a Latina working mom from Astoria, NY, mom to a trilingual four-year old. I blog about motherhood, Latino issues, women's issues, work/life balance, food, parenting and raising my multilingual and multicultural son!

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