On Friday, thousands of students across Australia participated in a massive nationwide protest against government inaction on climate change. If you’re a parent of one of those protesters, you may be wondering what your role should be.
Start the dialogue
If your child has heard about the protests at school, or about climate change in general, they are likely going to have some questions. If you’ve been wondering how or when to start talking with your kids about climate change, now is the perfect time to have that conversation.
Of all the tough conversations we should be having with our kids as they grow up, I’ll admit that educating my son about climate change has not exactly been a priority. We’ve had conversations about death, disability, mental illness, racism, sexism, poverty and gun violence. All of those felt like important, pressing matters that he already has seen or experienced or could be exposed to at any point.
Ask them if they’ve heard about climate change or what they know about it. Answer any questions they have about the issue itself or the protests. Tell them this is something that will directly impact their generation but that even though they’re still kids now, their voices carry weight and those in office are taking notice.
Help them get information
Kids may be wondering about the consequences of being involved in such protests, such as whether they’ll get in trouble with you, disciplined at school, or whether this will negatively affect their permanent school record.
You can let them know that while you would never support them skipping school for most reasons, you are supportive of their right to protest this issue and they won’t be “in trouble” with you. You can also inform them of their rights, as well as some protest safety tips.
Give your support
Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, encourage them. Tell them you’re proud to see them using their voice and their actions for positive change. Buy them some sign-making supplies and ask them if there is anything else you can do to help.