For a number of reasons that are right for my family and me, I’m staying local and marching in Philadelphia and am bringing my 11-year-old daughter with me. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to make sure that this experience is a positive one.
As Jan. 21 approaches, many parents whom I know are discussing: Are you going to the Women’s March in D.C. — or staying in Philly? Are you going alone — or as a family?
For a number of reasons that are right for my family and me, I’m staying local and marching in Philadelphia and am bringing my 11-year-old daughter with me. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to make sure that this experience — her first march of this kind — is a positive one. Please be sure to share any suggestions you have in the comments below!
Preview: Many of us have participated in marches or protests over the years, but for our children, this may be the first time they’re experiencing a march of this scale. It’s important to give them a sense of what will be happening — from how you will get to and from the march, how long you’ll be there, and who you’ll be marching with. Invite any questions that they have. Get them involved ahead of time making signs to carry. Listen to any anxieties that they may have. For some children and teens (and adults!), large crowds and lots of noise are overwhelming and joining the march may not be the best choice. Remember — there are plenty of ways for kids to express their voices from home — whether it’s letter writing or making signs for you to carry.
While everyone anticipates the march in Philadelphia being peaceful, it’s also important to explain to children that there may be people who disagree with the march and may be out yelling mean things. Encourage them to ignore them and to let you know if they’re feeling scared in anyway.
Prepare your Route: Septa trains will naturally be extra busy — whether you’re driving or taking public transportation, get your transportation plan together ahead of time and share it with your child. Make sure everyone gets to bed at a decent hour Friday night and wakes up in plenty of time so your morning routine isn’t rushed. A cranky, hectic morning does not lead to a great march start for you or your kids!
Snacks and Drinks: Fill a backpack for you and your kids with plenty of high protein snacks and of course water to stay hydrated. The march itself begins at 10am with a rally at noon — if you know your child will be hungry for lunch around then, pack a few sandwiches and pieces of fruit.
Layers, Layers, Layers: The weather has been on the unpredictable side this month and while the forecast looks mild for January 21st, be prepared for that to change. Make sure your child has layers that he/she can shed as you march, has got a hat and gloves and for sure has on comfortable shoes. Prepare every way that you can to decrease the whining factor!
Expectations: Finally, make sure that you keep your expectations for marching with your child realistic. While you may hold a historical perspective about this moment, your child may or may not match your spirit entirely. It’s different marching with adults friends than it is having the responsibility of having your child with you and as prepared as you may be, sometimes kids just get cranky in these situations. Stay open to it being an experience that you can share and remember together — rather than imagining it to be a “perfect” event.
Whether joining the Women’s March — or another political march, rally or event — you are creating an opportunity for your child to express one of our freedoms as Americans — and that in itself is an awesome gift.