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Do show your children that you are concerned about the issues and questions raised in the statement. Express your opinions or beliefs about these issues, and share questions you have about issues or candidates. Look for opportunities to state where you stand on a certain issue or why you favor a certain candidate. Don't push your children to adopt your stance or to support your candidate. Don't preach or try to convert them.
Do ask for their opinions, questions, or concerns. Be genuine with your interest, and really listen to whatever they have to say. Don't worry if they don't agree with your position or even with all the positions expressed in Faithful Citizenship. (Most of the issues addressed in the statement are very complex, even for adults.) The most important thing is that your children are aware and concerned and that they are thinking about the issues in moral terms.
Do show that you truly respect different points of view on the issues or candidates—that good people can disagree on specific matters without rancor.
Do get involved yourself. If you believe strongly in an issue or candidate—and hopefully you do—take an active role. It's a cliche, but actions do speak much louder than words, especially to our children. Do look for activities that your children or your whole family could get involved in with you (e.g., pro-life marches, environmental cleanup projects, the design of posters for a campaign, canvassing or leafleting for a candidate, attendance at rallies, letter writing to elected officials). Don't coerce or shame them into involvement, but invite and encourage it, leaving them free to participate or not. Of course, promising a favorite treat to children at the end of an activity is an excellent means of encouragement! Social action and ice cream just seem to go together.
Do vote and let your children know that you see voting as a priority. Bring your children with you to the polls. Watch the election returns together and discuss their implications.
Using Faithful Citizenship with your family involves thinking creatively, planning interesting family activities, and taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Here are some suggestions:
The Kid's Guide to Social Action, by Barbara Lewis (Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing Co., 1991). This guide contains many suggestions and resources for getting young people involved in social issues. Available by calling 800-735-7323.
Angel in the Waters, written by Regina Doman and illustrated by Ben Hatke (Manchester: Sophia Institute Press, 2004).This children's picture book helps to give a baby's-eye view to the experience of pregnancy, reaffirming the dignity of the unborn child.
Just Family Nights, edited by Susan Vogt (Elgin, Ill.: Brethren Press, 1994). This resource contains sixty family night activities, including themes on justice/social action, the environment, global awareness, racism, media, and peacemaking. Available from the Institute for Peace and Justice, 314-533-4445.
Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference: Helping Your Family Live with Integrity, Value Simplicity, and Care for Others, by Susan Vogt (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002).This text serves as a guide to any parent hoping to raise their daughter or son to make a positive contribution to human life.Available from Loyola Press: 800-621-1008.
Kids Creating Circles of Peace, by Anne Marie Witchger Hansen and Susan Vogt (Parenting for Peace and Justice, 2000).This book uses story starters and cartoons to encourage young children to engage in dynamic and creative schoolyard peacemaking, laying the groundwork for future concern for social welfare.Available from the Institute for Peace and Justice, 314-533-4445.
Parenting for Peace and Justice Network, www.ipj-ppj.org. PPJ is an independent, interfaith, not-for-profit organization that creates resources and provides learning experiences, for families wishing to grow in their social awareness.
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