These are tumultuous times for sure.
Naturally, as a dad, I’m most concerned about my kids’ physical and psychological welfare as well as their future in this country.
I suspect you are as well.
I also have no doubt in my mind that this Age of Darkness too shall pass.
The Progressive movement in America will march forward, championed by intelligent people of all faiths, backgrounds, affiliations and I dare say, a healthy dose of former Trump Supporters.
As a parent, amidst trying times, I get that it’s very easy to succumb to fear.
Tempting to disconnect, hunker down, and wait for the storm to pass. There are changes going on currently that may bring you and your kids some inconvenience, pain, hurt, or disappointment in the short term.
During the pandemic, you may find yourself more vulnerable to easy solutions, tempted by false panaceas, or worse, into scapegoating our fellow Americans taking to the streets, speaking out and exercising their first amendment rights.
Answer these questions as honestly as you can
- What kind of role model am I being for my children?
- What messages are my words, actions (or inaction), sending to them?
- Are they in line with the kind of person I want them to be?
When you tell your Grandkids the story of what you did during 2020?
“I refused to wear a mask to avoid exposing others, shouted at a minimum wage working mom and stormed out of the WALMART.
It trended on Twitter!”
Is hardly a “Profile In Courage.”
You want to shield your kids from anything that might hurt them. We all do.
But sometimes, the truth isn’t pleasant.
- Historical injustices of American society that brought us here.
- A White House desperately trying to distract attention from its abysmal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant economic devastation.
- Challenges to long-held personal belief systems, symbols of American identity and lies we like to tell ourselves about American policing and the criminal justice system.
- Our leaders pushing chaotic images of confrontations on the streets of Portland and elsewhere to whip up fears about a generalized breakdown of order — mainly in progressive, Democratic-run cities.
- As Trump tweets all-caps messages about law and order, it’s blatantly obvious it’s about stoking fear. Fear of his secret police being deployed snatching up Americans. Or, characterizing anyone unwilling to buy what they’re selling as Anarchists and not proud Americans.
You won’t be doing your kids any favors for succumbing to this desperate ploy for Trump to stay in power.
Do not be deceived. It’s what those in power are counting on.
My dad was an immigrant from Barbados. Grew up hardscrabble, from fisherfolk. He knew both bounty and want, which gave him a very practical take on hardship.
One lesson my old man taught me that stuck was —
Troubled times make tough individuals. You stop struggling, it makes you soft. Keep your head, watch for opportunities to understand the world and yourself, you’ll come out on top.
“Dadding Through The Revolution” is offered in the spirit of what my Dad tried to teach me.
Discussing your family values and Allyship with your kids and the important benefits of taking control of our response to uncertainty.
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
As men, we must learn to identify societal norms that are toxic. The pressure to suppress our feelings is a big one. Your kids and you have the right to feel what you’re feeling currently.
As a Dad, you can choose to help your kids harness their emotions positively. Nothing wrong with being passionate about injustice. Or angry about blatant abuses of power.
Encouraging empathy within ourselves and role modeling what that looks like daily has positive effects on your kids and can help them gain insights about themselves and the larger world they share with others.
Feelings aren’t ever “wrong”, or “bad”, unimportant or inconvenient. Feelings aren’t things to be avoided. Instead of brushing away tears, shushing angry outbursts and placating disappointments. We should validate them.
Your kids are going to need practice at dealing with losses. Perhaps you need to as well. But always remember, there are equal numbers of opportunities for growth with the positive feeling of moving toward a more just society. Exercising civic duty and engagement with people and ideas different than your family’s own.
Want to raise engaged citizens? It’s never too early to teach kids what it means to stand up for what’s right. This is a long-standing American tradition as well.
Clearly, today there are no sidelines. We are crew, not passengers. Children get sick too. They have voices. They have opinions just as valid as ours. We are all stakeholders in the successful navigation of our current national dilemma.
NEVER MAKE A SECOND VICTIM
We must all practice self-care today.
No matter how well off, we are all struggling with some aspect of life currently. Before you can help kids work through this you can’t practice good parenting anxious, fatigued, and depressed.
You may not be able to solve all the problems confronting you currently, but you can shelve it and give yourself a break.
I like whiskey.
Go take a walk. Swim. Write. Read, do whatever it is you need to do to restore some perspective before taking on dealing with your kid’s meshuggah.
GET INTO “GOOD TROUBLE”
If you’ve ever wondered, ”How would I have behaved during the Civil Rights Era?” You’re doing it right now…
The Late Rep. Lewis talked about “good trouble” he said to everyone, young people especially, “Get into good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.”
John Lewis made this statement on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 1, 2020, commemorating the tragic events of Bloody Sunday.
Director Dawn Porter’s timely documentary, “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” premiered in select theaters and on streaming platforms Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, and Google Play July 3.
My greatest fear is that one day we may wake up and our democracy is gone, — Lewis, 80, says in the film.
The prominent civil rights activist served 17 terms over 33 years in Congress. Rep. Lewis attended thousands of protests and has been arrested 45 times.
Ironic he went to his grave at 80 with the same social issues he battled his whole life more relevant now than ever.
We miss his person, but not his presence.
Today the New York Times published an essay Rep. Lewis wrote to be published today, the day of his funeral –
Can Redeem the Soul
of Our Nation
Though I am gone,
I urge you to answer the highest calling
of your heart and stand
up for what you truly believe.
A CHILD’S PLACE IS IN THE STRUGGLE
How do we change our views to challenge kid’s perceptions about those who are different than they are?
Chances are, your kids have noticed homeless people on the street and wondered what a “refugee” was.
Kids are very attuned to basic ideas of fairness, right and wrong, and the ideas of kindness.
These principles will serve them well and should be encouraged and built upon. And while you may want to shield them from poverty or social injustices, you must prepare them for life.
Teach them by example they can make a difference. The antidote to feeling helpless in stressful times is helping others. You’ll be surprised how different your perspective can change.
Activism—whether it’s through a demonstration or writing policymakers is empowering and helps kids feel like part of a global community.
Dadding Through The Revolution at its core is to arm ourselves and our kids with the necessary knowledge and tools to become active agents of change.
Children involved in civic engagement learn life skills, cooperation, and the importance of patience since change takes time. It’s up to us to empower children to make their voices heard.
“Ally is a verb, or it’s nothing.”
You can find many ways to show support. There are local grassroots movements like the New Georgia Project, Movement for Black Lives, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and numerous other grassroots initiatives committed to racial equality.
If you and your kids are planning to physically attend a rally or march, here are some basics to consider-
TALK –Why are you attending this March? Why is it important to show up? This means doing your homework and being clear as to the motivation to march in support of your cause.
PACK- basics like masks, hand sanitizer backpacks, filled them with essentials, snacks, phone, charger, change of clothes, emergency cash, ect.
WEAR- comfortable shoes.
PRINT- a map of the route and work with your family to decide where you might stop for rest and breaks.
AGREE- on a time and meeting place if you get separated and find out where the police, welcome stations and toilets are located.
IMPORTANT: Even if your kids have a phone or know your phone number by heart, I’m a swim dad. In the excitement, they may forget. I write it on their arms with a sharpie, just in case.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.
The historically marginalized in this country have ALWAYS had to be tough. We stuck together, leaned the system, gamed the system when we could, and bore the brunt of its headwind when we couldn’t.
It’s how we’ve survived.
Us and our allies have historically found intersectional common cause and moved the ball forward toward a more just society.
What unifies a white Brooklyn Quaker minister harboring escaped enslaved people in his church as a “stop” on the Underground Railroad?
Or a white male legislator in the NY Senate fighting to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment for women is the realization we all have skin in this game.
This is the heart of what I mean by intersection.
We recognize and acknowledge our shared humanity. Or we risk losing our grip on our own humanity.
Booker T. Washington said, “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.”
Your kids are smart enough to understand the concept of intersectionality. It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance.
We don’t need everyone, we only need enough.
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