Call to Action
By Isabel Kallman
Parenting is important, work is important and support for children is important.
—Marian Wright Edelman.
I’ve had that quote pinned to my bulletin board for some time now, for inspiration and strength. Because, as I’m sure you’ve read, there’s a revolution brewing. I’m not going to start writing about any so-called “Mommy Wars.” I know all too well that the idea of the “Mommy Wars” is a media-inspired ploy to increase ratings and circulation for the outlets that perpetuate this myth. Moreover, coverage of it takes precious screen time and ink away from the real issues parents face and care about: paid family leave, affordable group health insurance, universal access to affordable and high-quality childcare, to name a few.
Everywhere it seems, in the blogosphere, on internet discussion boards, parents are starting to recognize how collectively they can influence their communities and the nation. They’re looking for ways to get involved and enact social change on issues that matter most to them. The stumbling blocks always seem to be figuring out where to start and finding time to do it. Miriam Peskowitz, author of “The Truth behind the Mommy Wars,” and keeper of the weblog PlaygroundRevolution.com, recommends picking up the phone and calling your elected representative. I like that idea. It sounds nice and simple. But have I done it yet? Nooo. Life always seems to get in the way. By the time I have a moment, I look up and it’s 10 p.m. Congress is closed for the evening.
So the other night as I was going through my inbox, I stumbled across an email from Parents’ Action for Children. It’s a non-partisan organization founded by actor/director Rob Reiner, and its mission is to mobilize parents to stand up for policies that put children and families first. Clicking through to their website led me to a “Take Action Now” button on their home page. Get this: if you click on that button, Parents’ Action for Children will send letters to your elected officials FOR YOU! There are form letters written for you, but you can edit them, if you wish.
By 11 p.m. that night, with just a few clicks of the mouse, Parent’s Action for Children sent letters to Congressional representatives, on my behalf, on the issues of affordable health insurance for children, getting junk food out of schools, high-quality visitation programs for new parents, and stopping the marketing of violent video games to kids. And an additional one was sent to President Bush urging that the Federal Budget prioritize children’s health — all from my computer.
This reminded me of the new organization MomsRising, which is working to build a massive grassroots online resource to move motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country’s awareness. Within the past two months, MomsRising has already launched two electronic petition campaigns. I clicked on over to MomsRising and signed two petitions, which are able to be forwarded to everyone in your address book. One of the petitions I electronically signed called for a cease-fire to the media-fuelled “Mommy Wars”; the other was a petition to support a new bill that includes paid leave for all parents. I like to think of myself as an overachiever, but this was a truly productive TEN MINUTES.
So parents, whether you are interested in leading the “revolution” or currently only have the time to make your voice heard with a letter or petition, I think you may find many of the resources you need at your fingertips here: http://www.parentsaction.org/take-action/ and http://www.momsrising.org. Now, don’t you have something important to do? Glare. Wink.
Isabel Kallman is the co-Founder and CEO of Alpha Mom.