Parenting Versus Protesting

Are they mutually exclusive?


| February 12, 2004


Many would argue that political activism is the badge of responsible citizenship; and many hope to plant the seeds of dissent in their children. But parents who march, organize, demonstrate and resist must decide for themselves whether to let the little ones tag along, or keep them home and out of potential danger.

This is the topic of the first in an ongoing series of essays that addresses issues of parenting and protest by Kirsten Anderberg on the one-stop anarchist information site, infoshop.org. 'As an activist single mother,' Anderberg writes, 'I could not just sit home, and not protest wars, simply because I had a child... it seems essential to include them in our political struggles.'

Some of the mom-and-dad-dissenters Anderberg includes in her ad hoc survey believe that children can be especially useful at protests that directly affect them, 'such as funding cuts at hospitals that treat children, or midwifery rights protests.' She also cites the FTAA protests in Miami last November, where mothers and children marched together in what was dubbed a 'Baby Bloc.'

Anderberg recognizes that 'protests are not your typical family event,' but determines that they are no more dangerous than any other large gathering where children might be present. And indeed, if more parents brought the kids along regularly, notes one respondent, 'then the response from police might change.' Protestors with children, Anderberg suggests, must first address their responsibility as parents: bringing necessary supplies and weather protection, good planning, and an acute awareness of the mood of the crowd and the mood of the kids. Beyond that, protesting is largely the same with or without children.
-- Eric Larson



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