Teach Your Children Well

Sometimes things have a way of sneaking up on you. This is what happened to me with Blog Action Day this year. I signed up to participate ages ago, but it was only this afternoon when I finally checked my inbox and saw the subject line Blog Action Day is today. that I realized I pretty much missed the boat. Partly it’s because I just plain forgot. However, there’s more to it than that.

This year’s Blog Action Day theme is Human Rights, which is something I don’t exactly feel super-qualified to write about. I am a suburban mom of two, living a pretty comfortable life. I hear news reports and see snippets of stories that make me feel sad, alarmed and outraged, but the truth is I don’t know a whole lot about most of the issues raised. I’m concerned about human trafficking, about the plight of women and girls in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, about the conditions many First Nations people live under here in Canada, about war crimes and rights denied. However, I wouldn’t say that I’m an activist or expert in any of these areas.

I was reading through the live Twitter stream of Blog Action Day posts, and I came across this one at Raising a Revolution. It discussed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That got me thinking, because children’s rights are human rights, and I know more about parenting than about creating political change. As I considered that, I started to think that while I am not marching in the streets every day, I am raising children. In many ways, my kids are my biggest legacy. I’m helping to teach two people concepts like fairness, respect, tolerance and kindness. It is important to me that my children honour – and speak out for – the rights of others.

Blog Action Day Human Rights Children ParentingThere are a lot of things that I tell my kids every day, but the truth is that my biggest lessons are unspoken. My children learn how to treat others by how I treat them. They learn how to behave in the world by watching how I behave. They learn to speak up when they see me speaking up. When I treat my children fairly, when I talk to them about issues that are important to me and when I empower them to take action on issues that are important to them, I’m working to raise people who will honour the human rights of others. Hopefully, I’m also raising people who will advocate for others, donate their time and resources to help others and not stand silently by while someone else’s rights are violated.

Now that my kids are getting older, they’re getting better at understanding abstract concepts and comprehending events that are happening far away from them. I’d like to do a better job of working together, as a family, to effect positive change in the world, so that everyone’s human rights are respected. Today, on Blog Action Day, my commitment is to look into actions that we can take together. We’re heading into the holiday season. A good project for our family would be to make a commitment to a project or cause in the New Year.

It might seem like a small step, but even small steps make a big difference when we add them all up. I may not be a human rights activist, and I may not know much about all of the abuses taking place all over the world. That doesn’t mean that I’m powerless, though. I’m raising two people who will go out into the world one day. Teaching them well is one of the best things I can do to create a world where everyone is treated fairly and justly, at home and around the world.

How are you teaching your kids about human rights and taking action? Do you participate in charitable or political causes as a family? I’d love to hear your stories and ideas!

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  1. I grew up in a house of service. My dad was activley involved in the Kiwanis Club and by default, so was I. I spent so many of my weekends helping out that leading a life of service just seemed natural as I got older. I currently sit on 3 boards and donate a lot of my ‘spare’ time – but I bring my kids along. For the past 2 years I have incorporated a Mitten Drive to my annual Christmas party. For 8 years I have been hosting a Christmas party prior to CHristmas. Santa shows up. It’s always a lot of fun. And every year for the past 8 years it has grown. Now I ask each family who is invited to bring mittens and scarves and hats for kids. The following Monday after our party the girls and I head the womens shelter in Camrose and drop off our donations. Winter is cold and long here and often the kids and moms who are in the shelter leave their homes without thinking of packing their warm wear. This past spring a friend and her children were residents of this shelter for 2 weeks. For my kids, thinking about other people and how to make a positive change for them is important to me.
    This year Emma participated in a Shimymob. She traveld around to 13 different spots in 2 towns and participated in bellydance to raise money for the Camrose Women’s shelter. This was just after our friends were there. For Emma it was very important and she really understood.
    Heather’s last post … Catches My BreathMy Profile

  2. Before the end of the year, I recommend that you find a local charity that will set you up to “adopt a family” and buy gifts for each family member. If you get to meet the family, that will help to make it more real to your kids, but even if it’s anonymous, thinking about people whose ONLY gifts will be the ones they choose will be a great experience for them.

    Another option is to serve a meal to the needy. Our church does this once a month at a homeless men’s shelter, and I’ve never been able actually to serve the food with my son because they eat so late and it’s a school night–but we have often made food that will be part of the meal and talked about how the men need good food after a day on the streets. Last month we transported the donated food from our church to the shelter (because the people who were going to serve that night needed to get there on public transit) so we got to see their dining room and a glimpse of the room full of bunk beds, and we briefly interacted with a few of the men who were already waiting outside. At bedtime that night, my son said he was thinking of the men lying in their bunk beds who were maybe a little happier because of the apple crisp we made.

    Here’s how we started talking about civil rights when he had just turned 3.
    ‘Becca’s last post … A Laundry Line-Drying System that Will Work for YOU!My Profile

    • Adopting a family is a great suggestion, thanks so much. I hadn’t thought of it myself, but it really would bring it home for my kids.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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