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Making a Difference

"Advocacy for Parents"
By: Darleth Romana-Bantiles, MDMaking a Difference

As a mother, I have always desired the best for my child. I would sacrifice and go great lengths to instill values that may help my daughter, even when I am not with her. I am certain that any mother or father would also go the extra mile, if they know what they will do may contribute to the better future for their children. Men and women choose concerns they feel relevant, promote them or encourage other people to make a stand and pursue an action. I am talking about an advocacy which is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. By supporting a worthy idea, individuals may encourage a positive course of action that benefits individuals, groups or the society in general.

An advocacy can be as personal as a woman pursuing the perpetrator of a crime, where she is the victim. It may also be a group advocacy, when a number of people come together to promote their welfare like in a Rare Disease Society. Some advocacies are said to be a peer-oriented, where people who have similar experiences support others on a one-on-one basis, the same with Sexual Harassment Helpline. There are also causes pursued by professional advocates, similar to issues being lobbied by non-government organizations. 

A number of parents today, in the midst of domestic and professional demands, manage to be involved in different advocacies.

Active parents call for action

Some mothers have become advocates of causes that they have personally encountered and have gained positive experiences. Some breastfeeding moms who have toddlers too, promote tandem feeding, for example. These moms have not only discovered that breast milk confers numerous health advantages for their babies, but also feeding time can be a bonding moment with their children. The moms are beaming from their experiences thus they encourage other mothers to follow as well.

Another advocacy of some breastfeeding moms goes beyond them and their babies. They push milk donation or sharing of breast milk to other mothers who would like to give the best nutrition for their babies but cannot express enough supply.

Volunteer work and organizing relief are one father’s way of teaching empathy to his children. Especially after notable calamities, like Typhoon Yolanda, it is good to activate the helping instinct from the family and the community. Sometimes a little help goes a long way; or what seems to be a small deed may make a big difference.

People of influence may also use their clout to promote noble ideas. When popular individuals show their support, it may be easier for others to get interested in what they are supporting. Christine Bersola-Babao is one such example for her YouTube channel, Parentin.tv. The channel is the celebrity’s platform to further her advocacy toward good parenting and literacy. Her husband, Julius, also pitches in by sharing his experiences as a father to help other heads of the family in their daily grind. 

Changing one’s self and the world

As a parent and advocate of a good cause, an individual is also becoming a role model for his/her offspring to imitate. Mothers and fathers who advocate sustainable lifestyles, for example, patronize eco-friendly goods and also ensure that there will be coming generations who will care for Mother Earth. Political clans, hopefully, do not just advocate dynasties but ensure the legacy of good governance and service for their constituents. “Children learn what they live”, the adage emphasizes that young people imbibe values that are displayed by their parents or that they often see at home.

As a teacher-volunteer for the World Wildlife Fund for nature, I have noticed that values are not only absorbed faster by children who see them. The learning is somewhat permanent. Another good thing is if you want to change the world, inspiring impressionable children is a good way to start. Primary school-age kids may also teach younger siblings and communicate with adult family members things that they learn as part of their formal and informal education.

Apart from contributing to a better environment for the next generations, advocacies may also promise fulfillment to people who are pursuing them. Actions against social ills bring about new challenges and a sense of achievement (as higher goals are met). Also, deprived, exploited and oppressed members of society are given due priority; their issues are addressed. It is definitely rewarding when values like peace, social justice, human rights are met via advocacies.

Making life-changing choices

However, in choosing an advocacy to pursue, one need not think far and wide. Issues that are personal or present in one's locality is the best place to start. After all, stuff that is close-to-home, while seemingly trivial to others, will also have the greatest impact on you and your child.

Here are some criteria in choosing your advocacy:

  • Consider something positive which will solve a problem and may continue as your legacy;
  • Consider a change that will make another person's life better (note though that spending a lot of money at the problem is rarely the solution);
  • Consider an action that will make the world a better place.

As a family is the basic unit of the society and parents are leaders in the family, mothers and fathers must initiate the answers to the following questions:

  • Will my action/s improve the quality of life in the world?
  • Will it reduce pain, suffering, and inconvenience?
  • Will it lead to the pursuit of dreams for others?

At the end of the day, whether your advocacy is personal, for a particular group, for peers, for the society-in-general, or you are advocating a cause professionally; the important thing is, it adds value to you as a human being and benefits relationships around you.

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