We’ve all become news junkies as we try to stay on top of the information being slung at us. How do we stay engaged and empowered to “be a part of the change we want to see in the world” without shutting down from over stimulation? How do we not allow it to consume our lives? How do we make sure we’re truly present and engaging with the people who matter to us most?

As a mom of two young men, ages 10 and 19, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Get clear on how you want to raise your 21st century family.
Who are you as a mom? Who are you as a family? What do you stand for? Do you talk to your children about your politics, your spirituality, your dreams? How do you want to incorporate your beliefs into the way you parent? How do you raise these young citizens to consciously contribute?

Pick YOUR top issues, and know why they fire you up. Have serious conversations as a family about what each person feels drawn to.
What motivates you to fight the good fight? You’ll be a much better spokesperson for your cause if you can relate to it personally. If your best friend’s environmental stance doesn’t turn you on the way human rights issues do, be aware. You’re doing no one a favor (especially yourself) by coming in half baked. When your passion gets triggered, there’s no stopping you. It will bleed into your family and everything you do. It’s your secret sauce!

Find ways to volunteer that make the kids feel like they are truly contributing as well.
Make sure what you’re doing is age appropriate. Filling toiletry bags for homeless people was always a fun one when my boys were young. During election season, teenage kids can be extremely helpful with phone banks and canvassing.

Get yourself on a schedule. Get your family on a schedule.
At our house, we’re all about breaking out of the box. It’s almost as though it’s a game we play with ourselves. How can we turn things on their head and look at them in different way? It’s fun- But, I have found, time and time again, that a schedule keeps us grounded. If you’re making calls to your congress person every week, put it on the calendar. Have a set day or days and times that stay the same. Schedule your volunteer days weeks in advance. This helps everyone (especially the organization you’re offering your services to) prepare. When it’s planned, it also makes it easier to invite friends to join you. Make sure everyone in your family has access to the schedule and work together choosing where you’ll spend your volunteer time.

Empowered Mama Empowered family
brothers an sisters together

Find ways to get involved that keep your family physically and creatively active.
Little bodies need to move and create. I’ve found it’s so much easier to keep my kiddos engaged when we’re out-door-do-gooders: beach clean ups, canvassing, neighborhood beautification, marches, sign making, and mural painting. Kids love that stuff!

Stay informed. Get your news from more than one source. Verify. Talk with your older children about what you learn. Listen to what they’ve learned.
Being aware of what the opposing side says, gives a broadened understanding. It also helps to show us where we may have differing “facts”. Inform you kids so they are armed with why they are participating in the cause. It wasn’t until after someone asked my youngest son in front of me why he was marching and he replied, “I’m marching for my mom,” that I realized I hadn’t fully talked with him about it.

Step away from your devices.
Check in with the news 1-3 times a day, if you must. In between those times, get back to work, get back to your family, get back to projects you’re involved in. Stop sneaking updates at the dinner table. Stop staying up late trolling the latest news. Work hard at staying present with the people around you. For Pete’s sake, go have some fun.

Be kind but not silent
Show your children how to stand up for what they believe in, and do it without belittling the opposing side. Nothing diffuses anger more than love and understanding. Peaceful demonstration and showing a willingness to truly listen to the other side without losing your self control or pounding your own ideas down the other person’s throat, makes it safe for them to hear you and open their hearts and minds in return. It’s a golden rule folks: Do unto others as you’d have done unto you.

 

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