Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

WHEN YOUR DAUGHTER WANTS TO PROTEST: Parenting Children in the Trump Era Is Complex on Many Levels

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

WHEN YOUR DAUGHTER WANTS TO PROTEST: Parenting Children in the Trump Era Is Complex on Many Levels

Article excerpt

"JUST WANT TO let you know so you don't freak out later, Mom," my 20-yearold daughter said on the phone, "I might get arrested tomorrow."

I suppose I should have expected a call like this. She organized her first protest at 8 years old, petitioning my neighbors to boycott products from Sudan over the genocide in Darfur. (No one had the heart to tell her the U.S. doesn't import a lot of Sudanese products.) Now, she's learned of an elderly couple facing deportation after 24 years of living peaceably in her community, and she joined a group planning to block the entrance to the relevant ICE building. I guess she decided rallies, petitions, angry Facebook posts, and righteous tweets aren't getting the job done.

But was this a parenting decision? Was she asking for me to give or deny permission? Can I even do that with a college junior?

On one hand: I want her to follow her head and heart, and pursue that which she thinks is right. I gotta say that I share her beliefs. But should I egg her on?

On the other hand: I've nurtured her through schooling, moving mindfully toward a successful career. How would an arrest impact her future? Is it selfish to care about her shining future in the face of that couples' dark one?

On another hand: She's white. What about the people of color, often arrested for, well, existing?

On another other hand: These rallies can spiral way out of control.

On the final hand: Picturing my daughter in jail is terrifying. You never know how an irate cop might treat someone once they're in the system, or what charges they might ultimately face. So, I tried to walk the line between supporting her as an adult considering a risky action I basically admire, versus my maternal obligation as a behavioral gatekeeper. Here's how our conversation went down:

"OK," I started slowly. "Do you know what you're doing?"

"Yes," she responded. "We talked through what constitutes resisting arrest. I need to bring an ID. The police are supposed to give us three warnings to leave and I'm not supposed to go limp if they come for me."

"Hmmm. Sounds like you've looked into this," I said reluctantly. "But how can you be sure your protest won't injure innocent bystanders? Someone died from Chris Christie's idiotic highway block--not that that was a protest. But what if you're blocking an immigrant from a vital transaction?"

"We thought of that. There's a back door people can use if they need to. …

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