Should I bring my children to a pro-life rally?

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Millie Jee at the pro-life rally at NSW Parliament House on 1 August 2019. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

As thousands of people prepare to attend the Stand 4 Life rally in Sydney tonight to protest NSW’s extreme abortion bill, team leader of the Life, Family Outreach Office Steven Buhagiar answers the question on many parents’ minds – should I let my children go?

Give your children a lived experience of the truth

One thing that we know about young children is that they are to a great extent formed by ‘impressions’. By impressions I am talking about the experiences of life and especially those which have the capacity to act on our emotions, enrich our imagination, and most importantly, move our hearts. This moment in our State’s history certainly presents much in the way of lived experience if we are actively involved in defending the unborn child in the face of the recently tabled NSW Abortion Bill.

Specifically, in light of tonight’s Stand 4 Life rally in Martin Place, many parents are asking the question “should I bring my children to the rally tonight or should I leave them ‘safe’ at home?” They are primarily concerned about what impression this experience will have on their children and rightly so.

I’ll set out my own advice and experience in what follows and present my case for giving it. What I have said to those who have asked this question of me is this:

“If you are in a position to do so and can ensure that your children are adequately supervised and at your side, definitely do so.”

I’ll start with a short anecdote. My wife related to me just this week that our son who recently started a new job, had told her that he had instinctively started praying the three Hail Marys she had taught him to pray whenever they passed a local abortion centre. It had come back to him as he used this same route on the way to his new place of employment. This is an example of an impression which had worked its way into his heart. Personally, as a parent, I was over the moon to hear this. These are the experiences we want for our children as they impart a certain moral code without the overt use of words or pressure. Lived experience.

Tonight’s rally has the capacity to do the same. As parents we have a responsibility to form our children to know the difference between right and wrong… we know this. This is especially true in an age which continuously bombards us with the false value that we should “choose our own truth”. I really believe that this ever-growing attitude is the root cause of today’s cultural and moral malaise. This is ideological relativism… that my truth is as good as your truth” At its heart this value states that there is no such thing as an objective truth.

Expand your child’s heart and mind

Tonight’s rally presents a critical opportunity to impress on our children THE fundamental truth that the unborn child is a living human person who has a right to life which must be defended! This truth impresses upon our children the value, that as a society, whenever this fundamental right is threatened, we need to stand up and defend it whatever the personal cost.

Steven Buhagiar

That as a family, this defence of the weak and vulnerable, is at the core of our moral code. Despite the cold, despite the difficulty in getting into the city, and despite the possibility of being labelled as weird or even worse, a bigot, this is what we are called to do and this is in fact what we WILL do.

Ultimately, to answer the question as to whether or not bring children to the rally, comes down to the decision you will choose for your children as an ‘informed’ parent.

As a parent who has been involved in pro-life advocacy for many years, I can only encourage parents to take up this opportunity with courage and use their parental discretion to ensure the safety and supervision of their children whilst at the rally. As a parent, inform your children beforehand why you are going to this rally and why it is important that as a family we are do this.

What I can promise concerned parents, is that the experience of being in tonight’s Stand 4 Life rally will never leave your children.

It will work its way into their heart and bear testament to what ‘our family’ does when the right to life of the most vulnerable is threatened. “We always stand for life”.

Steven Buhagiar is the team leader of Archdiocese of Sydney’s Life, Family and Outreach Office and father of nine.