Thursday, January 31, 2013

10 Surprising Ways to Raise a Future Activist

Act #31:  Pass it on.

1.  Take them to Wal-mart.

Yes, you heard that right.  While the thought of promoting such a conglomerate may seem contrary to this blog's title, my guess is that kids who think that everyone else in the country regularly shops at Whole Foods or the local farmer's market, may grow up just a little disconnected from the harsh realities of socio-economic privilege. 


2.  Buy them a Barbie Doll.

Find the pinkest, frilliest, most absurd doll ever (I'd get mine from a second-hand store), and then talk to your daughters AND sons about imaginative play.  Talk to them about the unrealistic dimensions of Barbie's body, the shade of her skin, the color of her hair.  Ask them how Barbie might grow up to contribute to the world beyond lounging around at the pool with her friends.  And then send Barbie back to her Goodwill home.  Or keep her around to demonstrate compassion, whichever.

3.  Skip Disney.

This may seem like the ultimate childhood betrayal, but instead of taking your child to "It's a Small World" consider spending your $2000-$5000 travel budget on showing them the real world.  Preferably a non-resort environment without princesses or castles.  Preferably a"third world" country to expose them to the way that others really live.

4.  Show them blood.

Not promoting self-inflicted violence here, but in the event that your child scrapes a knee, or you cut your finger slicing a banana, talk to your kid about blood, how we all have blood, how it's always red, regardless of what our skin color is on the outside.  Then you might want to put a band-aid on it.

5.  Follow the banana.

Speaking of bananas, the next time  you give your kid a banana, ask them where they think it came from.  Talk to him/her about where bananas are grown (probably Ecuador or Colombia), who the farmers are, how far it has traveled to get to your local store, what has been done to it to preserve it for the long travel (think pesticides).

6.  Fight in front of them.

If you live with a spouse or partner, don't take your disagreements to another room.  Model respectful, peaceful conflict resolution.

7.  Allow them to skip school.

While the perfect attendance record might seem like an admirable goal to strive for, if life presents itself with a weekday opportunity that might enrich your child's experiences, don't let him/her miss out!  Live telecast of the Final Four might be questionable.  But who am I to judge?

8.  Send them to grandma's.

Every activist should have an understanding for, and appreciation of his/her journey, respect for ancestors, the life stories of those that helped frame his/her very world.

9.  Let them draw on the walls.

To give your child a blank canvas on a space that's typically prohibited is sending the message that his/her world isn't limited, that possibilities are abundant, and that he/she has the freedom to create.  Not all the walls of course. There is still something to be said about respecting boundaries.  P.S. Make him/her help you re-paint the wall later.


10.  Ignore them every once in a while.

Can you imagine a future world made up of children who grow up thinking that they are always 100% the center of the universe?  Shudder.


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