Occupy the Kids?

Should I or shouldn’t I get the kids involved with the Occupy movement?

We visited Occupy Detroit in early November with the kids and mother-in-law.

This is a question I have been grappling with since the Occupy Toledo encampment set up shop downtown. My immediate reaction was, of course I’ll take the twins down there to see what it’s all about. But this was before the movement sparked police violence and protesters in larger cities were getting pepper sprayed, cracked on the head and dragged off to jail.

I grew up in a politically active family. My dad was a labor union organizer for 25 years and spent a lot of his time on picket lines in candlelight vigils. He marched against the Gulf War in the early 1990s and brought my brother and me along. In San Diego, where buildings were wrapped in yellow ribbons to support the troops, protesting the war was not a popular act. As a girl coming of age there, I just wanted to fit in, and I did not appreciate the exposure he was giving to me.

Until I grew up.

I feel such solidarity with the Occupiers across the country and the world, though I have not physically participated in much of the goings on. Most of my decision to refrain from joining the movement with my presence at the camp in downtown Toledo has to do with my kids. While I would like to expose them to the issues Occupy raise and show them first-hand this amazing show of democracy, kinship and protest against the raging inequities among the classes, I don’t want to inadvertently expose them to any voilence that could erupt.

Granted, Occupy Toledo has been small and peaceful, and the police presence minimal–especially compared with what is going on elsewhere where police have donned riot gear and clashed with protesters with grisly outcomes. But mostly, I have preferred to stay on the sidelines of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, sharing information and keeping up with the news.

I have friends in Oakland, where we once lived, who took their kids to the Occupy encampment, and they had no problem with violence. We also visited the Occupy Detroit encampment earlier in the month and enjoyed talking with people and feeling the good energy there.

I have driven past the Occupy Toledo space a few times with the kids. They tell me they don’t want to “go to the protest.” I won’t push them. But I do want to expose them somehow.

I read this article today asking readers if they would take their kids to any Occupy protests. It raises some good points about indoctrinating kids on the parents’ principles.

So, I’ll do what I can, and expose where I can, but I also know that pushing the kids too far in one direction can often backfire.

 

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3 Comments

  1. It is interesting this comment of yours whether we should influence our children towards our own ideals. It is hard not to i would think. But trying to allow them an open mind is a very proactive way of looking at things. It would mean not only taking them to a protest but educating them in the joys of avoiding loop holes and making lots of money in tax free hedge fund management? I don’t know, life is not always that cut and dry.. but an interesting thought that will hover about in my head for a while! thank you. c

    Reply
  2. Thanks. My husband always says, whenever I get on my “I want to change the world” tirade, that you have the most control over yourself and how you raise your family. So I feel like we inadvertently influence the kids by how we behave and treat the world around us. But it doesn’t hurt to expose them to all kinds of stuff.

    Reply
  3. Kim

     /  January 19, 2012

    I think it’s great to give your kids a well-rounded view of the world. However, make sure you show them the contrast between the folks who have been camping out for months sipping Starbucks and attracting rats to the parks they inhabit with the citizens who are contributing to society and earning money for their families by going to work everyday.

    Reply

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