Are you raising civic-minded children?

by Laurel Pretorius
As a citizen of democratic South Africa, I believe it’s my parental duty to raise civic-minded children
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Teach your kid’s that their voice counts! As a citizen of democratic South Africa, I believe it’s my parental duty to raise civic-minded children, writes Laurel Pretorius.

My white South African parents’ generation was all about excluding the children from politics and using hush-hush tones to discuss who they were voting for at the next election. I remember only ever having my first open discussion about South African politics with my mother when I was in my teens, and I was shocked to learn about the apartheid government we were living under and the truth about our country.

Thankfully, I was raised by liberals, especially my mom, who wanted to see the then ruling party come to an end. She reiterated on a frequent basis that I must vote because every vote counts. I listened intently and have since taken this civic duty very seriously. I vote at every election, and I openly discuss politics with my kids.

I believe, as parents, we bear the responsibility of not only nurturing our children’s academic and personal growth but also instilling in them a sense of civic duty and social responsibility.

In South Africa, where democracy is cherished and celebrated, raising civic-minded children is crucial for our nation to thrive now and in the future.

I have taught my kids – 2 daughters, now aged 16 and 20 – that as citizens of South Africa they have a responsibility to be actively engaged. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from the perspective of being a young woman fighting for her rights or an animal lover fighting for the rights of our wildlife, it’s simply about getting involved to make our country a better place for every living being.

Also read: 10 ways to help your kid be successful in the future

5 things I have talked to them about in the hopes of raising them as civic-minded young women: 

  1. Volunteering their time to the community

By encouraging my kids to give back to their community they have become more empathetic and compassionate and have developed a sense of belonging.

Whether it’s been about handing out food and blankets to the less advantaged or assisting at local animal shelters, this has helped them learn about the value of giving back and making a positive impact on the society they live in.

  1. Being environmentally aware

We recycle in our home. We also conserve electricity and water where we can, and I have always picked up litter when walking in our neighbourhood or local parks. We talk a lot about beautiful Mother Nature. By listening to me and witnessing my eco-conscious actions, my girls are now instinctively doing the same. I believe that by teaching them to respect and care for the environment they have developed a healthy sense of environmental citizenship.

Read: Teaching your kids to care for the environment

  1. Discussing democracy and debating politics

We talk about democracy a lot as a family. We also discuss the ways in which other countries are run under their own governments. We discuss the flaws and strengths in our system as well as other systems.

I have taught my girls all about human rights and social justice over and above what they learn at school. Through discussions, and even debates, I believe our children gain an understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

  1. Standing up for social causes they believe in

This has always been an important one for me. I have encouraged my daughters to become advocates for social causes that resonate with them. Whether raising awareness about gender equality, promoting diversity and inclusion, or advocating for the rights of marginalised communities or animals that need our voice, my kids have learnt the importance of standing up for what they believe in and effecting positive change in society.

Check out: Teaching your kids the attitude of gratitude

  1. Participating in the democratic process of voting

In a democratic country like South Africa, voting is both a right and a civic duty. I want my kids to have a deep understanding of this and so I have discussed with them the importance of voting and the role it plays in shaping the future of our nation.

I have taken them with me to the polling station during elections as I think it has helped to demystify the voting process as well as instil a sense of civic pride and responsibility them.

Raising civic-minded children is essential for nurturing a vibrant and participatory democracy in South Africa.

By instilling values of compassion, responsibility, and social justice, we equip our youth with the tools they need to become active and engaged citizens. And what better country could we hope for than one where our democratically raised kids are all about a thriving environment for every living creature.

Also read: Voting tips for parents and pregnant women

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