Let’s make a better world without leaving out the mamas (and papas, partners, child-care providers) and children this time! Here are some concrete things you can do to support parents and children in your scene.
1- Give children attention. Say something to them: just be your true self, whatever you are thinking, they are open to that. Children act better when they get attention. In the beginning of a meeting if a group gives the children some attention, they are often happier and better behaved for the rest of the meeting.
2- Develop childcare as an ongoing relationship with a child – it takes some time to get to know a child before they are comfortable with doing stuff with you away from their parents.
3- Offer a slot of time, to spend time with a child on a weekly basis
4- Integrate children and adults: it’s more pleasant to watch children with other adults to talk to; it’s more pleasant for the children to see adults enjoying each other and not feel a burden to them.
5- Include children in the planning of any activity, like a sewing workshop for instance.
6- Doing something child-friendly? Ask a kid if they want to come along. (Lizxnn has been taking Siu Loong for critical mass rides for three years and she loves it.) Children can benefit from activities their parents don’t do and parents can benefit from the time to themselves.
7- If a baby is crying because it needs to be held and the parent has their hands busy and cannot hold it; offer to hold the baby.
8- If a child is making a disturbance in an area, offer to go outside with the kid so the parent doesn’t have to leave the event.
9- Meet parents at their level: come visit them at home or where ever their spaces are. Let parents talk about being parents: realize having a child is like having the most intense love affair you have ever known (says one parent. Another says – not.)
10- Acknowledge children: don’t treat them like they are invisible
11- To announce that we are OK with children making noise (at meetings we wish to make parent-w/small children-friendly), we can talk over them, and value mothers and children sticking around. The announcement can help put mothers at ease.
12- Give us a smile!
ALSO – When providing child care at political events (and every event should have child care!)
13- Visit the children and childcare providers in daycare – and say “Hi!” Childcare providers can feel isolated from others at the event. Have a cup of tea with them! (suggested by Siu Loong, age 5)
14- Parents with different aged children have different needs. Parents with younger children or children who aren’t comfortable leaving their side yet would benefit from childcare that was off to a side of the same room or more central to the main events. Parents with older and more independent children benefit from having them in a different room or floor. Either way, childcare must be assessable.
15- Parents need to give more input to the day-care providers, about their and their children’s needs during the planning of the event, in order for the childcare provider to better assist them. At least tell them you are coming and the age of your children.
16- It’s comforting for parents to know childcare is available, even if they don’t use it
AND – Contemplate
17- How much work/consuming being a parent is: 24/7; in the beginning years it’s hard to even think straight: one is still adjusting to being a parent and young children’s needs are very intensive
18- That radical parents don’t fit in at mainstream places, like their children’s schools – so when they go to an anarchist gathering and don’t feel supported by their own culture – how bad that feels.
These suggestions are from the “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Anarcha-feminism & Supporting Mothers and Children” workshop at La Revolta! To get a copy of the 22 page workshop handout: you can download it from: http://bengal.missouri.edu/%7Emaxwellr/DontLeaveYourFriendsBehind.pdf or send a dollar to Vikki Law P.O. Box 20388 NY NY 10009 or China Martens P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore MD 21211 USA