A couple of weeks ago I was on a plane to New York, two days after election day. I was about to send out a reminder email for our latest installment of this series and nothing seemed more relevant than the conversations that were happening around the outcome of the election. It seemed hard to write (or think) about anything else. Not politics exactly, but what it looks like to fight injustice. What it looks like to teach the next generation to advocate for their own rights, to be world's biggest proponent of kindness, and to exude empathy. So with that, I asked if the other mamas would mind if we went a bit off script. Not everyone wanted to participate, and that is totally fine. Not everyone will want to read this, and that's fine, too. While this has always been a destinations for style-- tips for putting together outfits, holiday tabletops, inviting living rooms--I hope that it can also be a place where we can have authentic conversations about things that are important to us. I would love to hear from you. I have this probably too idealistic view of what it would look like if we could all sit around a table with our differing opinions based in truth, not fake news, and hear each other out with open minds instead of rebuttals. What would it look like if we tried to meet the needs and ease the fears of the people in our communities closest to us? I feel awake to many things and I feel now more than ever that we have this ability, this responsibility as mothers to these children that we are raising to change the conversation and to teach and instill the types of changes we want to see. EMPATHY. Open-mindedness. EMPATHY. Kindness. Strength. Did I mention empathy already? The ability to teach them to raise their voices when necessary and the beauty of being an activist for the things that you believe in. So with that, below are some thoughts. Some things I am trying to do consciously as a mother and some things I am trying to do consciously as a human.
- Thinking about what it means to teach Parker to be kind to her friends. Look for the person who is sad, who is having a bad day and be a good friend to them. If a new kid joins her class we talk about at home how she felt when she was the new kid and what she can do to be a good friend to them.
- Develop empathy. I thought this article did a good job of simplifying the process and I love the idea of creating a framework for showing empathy to others. (If someone is hurt, what can we do? Can we get them ice? Give them a hug? Sit quietly next to them in solidarity.) As I have been more intentional about creating this value in her, it's made me more sensitive to exuding this characteristic with her. Being patient and hearing her two year old feelings out.
- I fear that this is going to seem trite, but I replaced the facebook app with the CNN app on my phone. (I'm not sure that CNN is my favorite news source, though. If you have one you prefer, leave it in the comments below, pretty please.) It's a small effort to stay more informed. If I'm waiting in line or at the car wash or killing a couple of minutes for some other reason, it's super easy for me to click through and read a couple of articles.
- I used the below links to program my congressman and senator's names and numbers into my phone for regular calls. I hope that when I feel strongly about something I will pick up the phone and voice my concern or support. Imagine if we all did? In the past few weeks I have called Paul Ryan's office, Marco Rubio's office, The Kellogg's advertising hotline and so many, many more. How to find your state reps?
state-legislature-websites How to contact your governor? https://www.usa.gov/state- governor How to find your Congressman? http://www.house.gov/ representatives/find/ How to contact your Senator? http://www.senate.gov/general/ contact_information/senators_ cfm.cfm
- Being an active part of the 2018 mid-term election campaign when it rolls around. There is a key senator seat here in Texas that is up for re-election.
I'm not sure what affect my phone calls or activism or new compost pile will have on our future. I will never forget what it felt like, though, to wake up the morning after election day and wish that I had done more. I won't let the unknown effects of my actions stop me from being an active part of my government going forward. What I do know, is that the two-and-a-half-year-old sponge in the above picture is soaking up my every word and action. I know that what we say and do with her is informing her view of the world and the person that she will become. So with that, we will continue to write a narrative in her life that says we stand up for what we believe in and we aren't afraid to let our voice be heard. A narrative that says love is love and all humans deserve equal rights. A narrative that says we value all people and kindness matters.
Be sure to check out the other posts from my fellow mamas:
Design for Mankind || Aves Styles || Apartment 34 || The Life Styled
And on another subject - your daughter's eyes are beautiful! Love her expressions.
Katie H. says
I don’t know how I missed this post as it really resonates with how I’m feeling after this election. I appreciate you sharing your views and ways that we can all be more empathetic or get involved. I find myself really wanting to be the activist right now, and although I don’t yet have children, I want this world to be better for them. I also want these future children to be good humans, so I’ll be bookmarking these tips for a later day.
I'm a big fan of NPR news and the fact that there seem to be less "clickbait" headlines - maybe due to the fact that it's mostly member-supported? They also tend to report on breaking news later than most outlets, in an attempt to prevent releasing false information. I've been disappointed with CNN's choice of headlines on more than a few issues lately.
While I agree with the comment about broadening our news sources outside of "liberal bubbles," and the need to expose ourselves to other points of view, I would also encourage people to look into how factual their news source is. Politifact's PunditFact rates statements on CNN as "true" 17% of the time, while Fox news statements are also true 17% of the time. To me, neither of these statistics are even close to acceptable. I'm looking elsewhere.
Along those lines, I cannot and will not accept headlines and news stories designed to 1. generate clicks and/or 2. normalize racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, a dismissal of science, etc. I'm looking for news reporters who will hold our incoming administration accountable. This is what freedom of the press is intended to do - protect us, the citizens, from propaganda/misinformation, and to inform the people in order to keep government powers in check. Obviously, with the advent of social media, click-based advertising, and fake news, these ideals have been seriously compromised. Not to mention a PEOTUS who is openly hostile to reporters.
Thanks so much for this post, for taking action, and for "going off-script" to talk about critical issues. As a soon-to-be mom I've been really stressed out about just about everything...and the more I see these conversations happening, the more hope I have that there's enough will out there to fight for truth, equity and the environment.
Jen Pinkston says
Hey Leah, I seriously can't thank you enough for you comment. What a crazy, staggering statistic. I'm searching to find an NPR News app now. It makes sense why it would be the most unbiased since they aren't dependent upon advertiser dollars.
As for your impending motherhood, I'm so hopeful that this next generation of boys and girls that we have the privilege of raising up will surpass even our greatest expectations for the kind of world they will be able to create. If Standing Rock has taught us anything, it's that a small, determined group of people can have a great affect on the issues that are most important to us. You're going to be such a great mom and I am so excited for your impending journey. It is the greatest thing that gets better and better every single day. Xo
bri towne says
i love that you mentioned looking forward to the midterm elections in 2018. i hear so many people chanting 2020 2020 2020, and no one talking about how incredibly important midterm elections are. i'll certainly be standing up and being more vocal about things that matter most to me in the wake of this election result. i too, woke the following day feeling like i could have and should have done more. xo
Jen Pinkston says
That is a sentiment that I keep hearing over and over-- that people will do more next time. I sure hope it's true! It feels like the one bright spot to come out of such a negative election cycle.
Just wanted to mention that the BBC news app is pretty good. I find they cover a much wider range of international news than US sources. There's an "international" view in the app so you don't have to see all the UK local news (and I think also an option to customise so that you can get, say, more US news on your main page).
Jen Pinkston says
That's awesome, Jenna. Thanks for the rec-- I'm going to download now. Xo
I would suggest another news source over CNN. I can't seem to find one with an App, but if staying informed is important to you, I hope you will consider other outlets for news. Or if you choose to use CNN (as a Liberal choice), also tune in to Fox News (as a biased Conservative choice). In my view, one of our biggest issues is never hearing the other side of the story. We surround ourselves with people that agree with our views, and news channels that demonize our opponents and wash over the discrepancies in our own leaders. Wikinews is my new go to. I find the more I understand both sides of an issue the easier it is to articulate and confirm my own beliefs. And almost all issues are more grey than black and white. Understanding this makes it easier to befriend and remain friends with people that share very different points of view. I linked some related articles. Love your blog and appreciate you sharing more of your personal self!
Jen Pinkston says
I wholeheartedly agree. I think 99% of people from both sides have really good intentions and that there is good to be found on both sides of the argument. SO MUCH GREY AND SO LITTLE BLACK AND WHITE. I will check out Wikinews today-- thank you so much for the recommendation and for the thoughtful comment. Xo
Alex Evjen says
I love these words. I think empathy is so important too.