As a primary care physician with strong public health and clinical research roots, and as a politically engaged mom with serious concerns about our kids' futures, it made perfect sense to take our kids to the March 24th March for Our Lives Boston.
One complication: Hubby and I have been shielding them from the news, especially school shootings news. Babyboy is extremely sensitive to the topic of death, dying, and violence. He'll have "bad memories" for weeks after hearing or witnessing something along gun violence lines. This may be a normal little kid thing rather than an autism thing; they're only seven and six years old, after all.
Given all of this, it was actually very difficult to explain why were marching.
The Women's March and the March for Science were so, so much easier! Yesterday, Hubby and I found ourselves searching for explanatory phrases that didn't include references to school shooting deaths or the words "being shot" or "being killed". We ended up stammering, stumbling, and not successfully conveying the point.
Many organizations have offered guidance on how to talk to little kids about tragic events and disasters, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Institution. Major news outlets regularly publish advice about talking to children specifically about school shootings (which is definitely a statement about the states of affairs in this country). Two recent articles on TODAY.com and Cnn.com are actually pretty helpful.
So, this is something we clearly need to work on, as the kids' school runs lockdown drills and the #GunControlNow, #Enough, #Gunsense, and #MomsDemandAction movements spur debate and action.
Regardless, their taking part in a massive live social change movement is a powerful lesson. We emphasized that in many other countries, citizens aren't allowed to gather and protest, that we are very lucky to have this privilege, and we have to use it.
Overall, I'm glad that we took them and that they got to see freedom of speech, political activism, public health awareness, and social altruism, all at once and in person.