Families have always been attracted to pro-life events. For a variety of reasons, parents choose to bring their children along to abortuaries, prisons and government centers to challenge to so-called right to abortion.
Perhaps it is because parents are very aware of both the joys and difficulties of bringing a new life into this world. Perhaps it is because of their desire to “rescue the future” for their children. Perhaps, it is simply because babysitting cannot always be arranged. Whatever the reasons, children are a staple at pro-life events.
Parents and experts agree the best way to transmit values to children is through example. Raising children provides parents with a special challenge to be consistent in their beliefs and actions. It is an important opportunity to renew one’s faith and rediscover God through a child’s view. It is consistent with this view of child rearing that parents encourage their children in pro-life endeavours.
It is good for everyone when children participate in pro-life events. Learning by example and experience to be active in creating positive social change, children witness to the beauty of the gift of life.
I remember the pride I felt as I walked in a Women’s March for Life in Montreal, my mother and sisters alongside, and my baby daughter tucked in front of me in her ‘snuggly’ pouch. “What a great start for her young life,” I thought. “What a commitment to her future.” (Of course, raging hormones will do that to a mother’s brain – the baby slept peacefully throughout, unaware of the momentous occasion).
Young children, thankfully, are unaware of what abortion is. As they grow, many parents try to preserve their children’s innocence as long as possible. “We don’t use the word. We say ‘A.B.’ here,” we were cautioned when visiting friends recently. Their children range from one to thirteen years old. Although both parents are involved in pro-life activities, they prefer to shield their children from the cruelty of abortion.
Other parents see it differently. One mother says that she is frank in her discussions with her children because “I want to talk to them while they’re still listening.” She contends that they hear all sorts of things, whether in the classroom or the schoolyard, and they want to know more. She believes kids from pro-life homes probably learn more about abortion because they are more likely to be told the truth. The other side is built on deception and distortion.
At the other end of the spectrum, a ten-year-old boy was repeatedly removed by police from the front of a Wichita abortion clinic when he participated in an Operation Rescue blockade with his family last summer.
“If we let them, they are going to slaughter those babies,” he is quoted as saying. “I’m here because I want to rescue babies,” said another ten-year-old.
Although pro-abortionists’ accusations of throwing two-year-old children in front of moving vehicles are certainly spurious, the presence of children in a potentially confrontational situation such as Operation Rescue raises questions whether that type of participation is appropriate for children. Instilling a strong respect for life in a child is important, but surely there are limits to the burden we ask our children to bear for the sins of our own generation.
Personally, I was very disturbed by a photo of a ten-year-old boy being carried off by police by the seat of his pants. In a way, I admire him for his courage, as I do the other rescuers. But as a mother, I wonder about a child’s ability to comprehend what abortion really is, even when he seems to understand.
Abortion is not a ‘complex’ issue, as its advocates frequently assert. Nonetheless, a reasonably mature understanding of the forces which cause abortions to be committed and the possible consequences of standing up against them seems to be a prerequisite to such active participation.
Children may feel the need to express their outrage at this crime against their brothers and sisters, as many adults do. Parents must help them cope in as positive a way as possible. Like just about every other difficult subject, parents have to decide when to talk to their children about abortion and how much information they feel is appropriate. Some will choose to be more open than others, and many will continue to quietly teach through example.
Readers are invited to share their experiences and ideas on this subject as well as on other issues of interest to parents.