March On! Texas

Author: Simone Laurent

5 Tips for Raising Empathetic Children in 2017

5 Tips for Raising Empathetic Children in 2017

The morning after the 2016 presidential election a friend sent me a message telling me she had to explain to her five-year-old twins why a bully won.  I can’t imagine how hard that conversation must have been for her. Or for the millions of parents around the country and the world.

As Hillary Rodham Clinton said during the campaign “Kids hear a lot more than we think.” Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama both made multiple speeches in 2016 about the dangerous effects a trump presidency could have on our children. From his hateful speeches, to his shocking policies, and the appalling appointment of Betsy Devos, there is no doubt that the trump administration is already taking a toll on our children from all directions.

Then the ICE raids and the discriminatory laws coming out of the Texas Leg, such as SB4 and the “bathroom bill” have many of our Texas children feeling directly threatened. The parents I know have been working overtime to counteract these attacks of hate.

I am not a parent but I am a firm believer in the idea that “it takes a village” and we are all responsible for teaching and nurturing the next generation. I built this list of tips based on my studies of child development, my experience as a childcare professional, and techniques I have watched some awesome parents practice with their kids.

These are things you can do as a parent, childcare professional, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor, or community member to help nurture our little Texans…

 

Read to them – You might be surprised how much reading a book to a child will influence them. Children’s books are typically designed to teach children a life lesson and those stories may stick with them for years and years to come. Not to mention it will foster a love for reading and learning. One book that always stuck with me was “The Big Fish” in which a big fish takes a couple around the world to find a child to adopt. The couple starts out wanting a child whose skin matches their own but at the end they learn that people do not have to match to be a family.

Here are a few books to get you started!

 

 

Volunteer with them – Taking your kids to volunteer will teach them to be contributing members of society and the importance of giving back. Picking up trash at a local park or putting a fresh coat of paint on the neighborhood playscape will teach them that the community must all pitch in to take care of the places we share. Volunteering to serve meals at the homeless shelter, delivering food for meals on wheels, or reading to the elderly at a nursing home will help teach your kids empathy for people that don’t have all of the same privileges and abilities as they do.

Here are some volunteer activities to do with your kids!

 

 

Listen to them and talk with them – Parents hear it all the time, “talk to your kids about _________” drugs, sex, bullying. Well the same goes for politics and current events. Kids really do pay attention more than we think and they need help processing the world around them. If your child is in the room or the car when a story comes on the news that provokes hate or discrimination, talk to them about it. But before you talk, listen. Ask them what they think. Find out what they know or what they’ve heard at school or from their friends. Then help them work through that information and guide them in the right direction. Don’t lecture them on shoulds and shouldn’ts. Instead, have a conversation with them. Trust me, not only will they appreciate you treating them as an equal, but it will also help teach them to have productive conversations about tough issues.

Here are a couple links to help you get started:

How to talk to your kids about racism

How to talk to your kids about gender and sexuality

 

 

Teach through example – Show children how to be compassionate and empathetic through being those things yourself. Show them your compassion by being sensitive to their feelings and reminding them that they are cared for. Show them your empathy by listening to their problems and concerns, no matter how small they may seem to you, and reacting appropriately. These small things go a long way. When they feel safe and cared for they will feel more comfortable extending that same compassion to others and you will help model ways they can express their empathy to others.

 

VOTE! – You can play a huge role in your child’s future by VOTING. Your local and state representatives will have a direct effect on your child’s education and opportunities. School board is one of the most important offices to keep any eye on. Voting in progressive and empathetic candidates will help promote diversity, compassion, and empathy in your child’s school and those influences will have a lasting impact on their life.

The next school board elections in Texas are on November 7th in these areas: 

Planning The Women’s March – A Silver Lining

Planning The Women’s March – A Silver Lining

I want to tell y’all about my mom. Like most women I know, the older I get the more I appreciate her and everything she has done to help me become the woman I am. Now, I don’t know if she directly set out to raise a feminist or activist, but she most definitely played an invaluable role in helping me become the person I am today.

 

 

My mom taught me what it meant for a woman to be an equal in the home and also run her own business. She taught me the importance of being aware of politics. She taught me the importance of voting. She taught me the importance of giving back and being a productive and active member of your community. I don’t remember her directly talking to me about any of these things, she always taught me through example.

On November 8th, there was no one I would have rather spent election day with than my mom. Before the results came in we sat around the kitchen table talking about how far women have come just from her generation to mine and what it would mean for us to have a woman president.

 

 

I don’t have to tell y’all what happened next. We were devastated, to say the least.

 

The day after the election I was having a hard time finding a reason to get out of bed and go to school. My mom reminded me that if I stop trying, that’s when they truly win. I had to keep learning, working, and doing all of the things I wanted to do, to show them I couldn’t be stopped.

In a clip from Late Night with Seth Myers, Amber Ruffin beautifully summed up this concept when she said –

“By doing what you do every day you prove to them that you are unstoppable. They can spend their time trying to pass laws to take way your rights and silence your voice but all you have to do is live your lives right in their faces and it proves to them that we simply cannot be stopped.”

When I heard about the Women’s March on Washington I wanted more than anything to be there, but knew it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to make the trip. I have a fair amount of activist experience and had organized rallies and marches in the past, so I started making a list of people to contact to start planning a Women’s March on Austin.

Later that very day I got on Facebook and saw I was not the first with this idea, an event page had been created. Shortly after I had a conversation with Melissa Fiero and joined the planning committee.

We were a group of strangers and in less than 50 days we organized what ended up being the largest protest in Texas history. We hoped for a few thousand marchers and final estimates reached 100,000. We could have never predicted such an amazing, warm, peaceful, and uplifting turn out. It was everything we dreamed of and so so much more. Thank you, to all who marched, for far beyond exceeding our expectations.

The day of the March, once again, there was one person I wanted by my side. My mom. She was so excited to be there. But the night before she called to tell me she had to go in for emergency eye surgery for a detached retina. As soon as it occurred to me that this meant she couldn’t march with me, my heart was broken. No matter how she tried to find a way around it, she was on specific doctor’s orders NOT to attend the march under any circumstances. Since we weren’t going to be able to take a photo together at the march, we took a picture together with signs the night before and she made me promise to still enjoy the march as if she was there.

View of the “March to the March” behind me.

 

The day of the march I was in the front with the banner and the dignitaries welcoming and directing marchers as they arrived. I had been focusing my attention towards the capitol and when I turned around to look down congress, I was completely blown away by what I saw. There was a flood of people filling the street walking north, towards the capitol. I immediately started jumping up and down, hugging my fellow organizers, and yelling, “there’s a march TO The March!!”

Then I looked to the east on 11th street and saw another flood of people. I looked west on 11th street, and it was the same scene. That was when it hit me how amazing and monumental this things we were doing was. We were truly making history. It was the happiest and most proud moment of my life.

 

 

 

Photo By Kristi Wright

 

For a moment I stood there, watching the wave of people walking towards me, and I shed a few tears. Overwhelmed by the love, support, and hope I felt from the people surrounding me and wishing my mom was there to see this absolutely majestic sight. Before that moment, I had many reasons for marching, from justice for sexual assault survivors, to my future children. But in that moment, I decided that above all, I was marching for my mom, and everything she taught me.

 

 

Since the Women’s March I have loved hearing stories of people’s experiences at the March. I can’t tell you how many women have told me “that march brought me back to life.” One woman told me that she hadn’t left her house since the election because she was so scared and depressed and when she went to the march she saw that she was not alone. That is what we at March On keep hearing over and over – “I thought I was the only one.”

                You are not alone.

Photo By Mike Holp Photography

 

After the election it would have been too easy for me, or any of us, to fall into a deep depression. And don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard, very hard, but my mom’s advice to keep working and keep doing what I do, no matter what, has kept me going. Planning the Women’s March gave me something positive to focus my energy into. It showed me the good in people, instead of being sucked into the bad.

 

The satisfaction you get from being involved in an issue you are passionate about is not something I currently have the words to describe.

 

So, I challenge you – decide what you are most passionate about. Is it women’s reproductive rights? Is it immigration rights? Is it electing progressive candidates to public office? Whatever it is, find a way to get involved. See for yourself just how satisfying, uplifting, and empowering it can be.

My mom has always taught me to find the bright side or the silver lining in bad situations. Without a doubt, my silver lining of the unexpected results of the 2016 presidential election is the number of everyday people it has motivated into political action.

Now is your time. Now is our time. To have a say in what happens next. To be the change. Don’t miss your chance, get involved, in whatever way that means for you.

March On! Texas!

 

 

Run Beto Run!

Run Beto Run!

In the midst of his tour around Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced that he is running for Ted Cruz’s spot in the U.S. Senate. He kicked off his campaign on April 1st in Austin. We went to his meet and greet at Scholz Garten with the same question everyone had, can he do it?

The outdoor beer garten at Scholz was absolutely packed on Saturday afternoon with energetic  Texans, still fired up from the Women’s March and eager to hear what Beto had to offer for the future of our state and our country. I personally left with three take aways about Beto:

  1. He will make immigration a priority.
  2. He could be a uniting force in a very divided political climate.
  3. He is listening to the people.

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