MKE Moms Blog and Exploit No More are partnering this summer to bring you more education and parenting resources as it relates to the city of Milwaukee and human trafficking. We are excited to announce that our partnership will continue into the school year with a fundraising campaign launching this fall to raise awareness and represent our support for our community and our kids.
Human Trafficking is a thriving industry in Milwaukee. The statistics don’t lie and we know that right where we live, kids of all ages are being targeted by traffickers. So, what do we do about it? If you are the parent of a child under the age of 10, here’s where to start.
(P.S. Parents of older kids, we’ve got a post just for you coming up next month! Stay tuned.)
Life moves quickly and families spend time together differently. We don’t have as much face-to-face time because of technology and schedules and that way of life changes the investment we give to our kids. Working a highly emotional job and being a single mom, I’m acutely aware of my role as a mother, and more specifically, intentionally being a parent.
Intentional Parenting [verb]; thoughtful, wise, (pro)active parenting designed to respond and engage children. Learning from parenting mistakes and correcting accordingly. Extending a supportive and graceful hand to both parents and children.
“Intentional parenting” is a term that we use a lot around the office, in our personal lives, and when we are speaking to groups, but the action of it is something that I’ve practiced since my daughter was born. Let’s say, I had a busy day at work so before heading home, I take a walk around the block to clear my head and heart, so when I do get home, I am able to focus on my daughter’s day. Or, I know that my daughter doesn’t react well when I raise my voice at her, so I intentionally make sure to sit down and talk with her at her level when she does something wrong. These seemingly small additions to pattern help create a balanced life and a healthy relationship between us.
Why do I bring this up in a post about human trafficking prevention? One of the main connections that we see in children who have been exploited, is that there was a lack of investment into their lives by their parents. The missing investment isn’t something that happens overnight. For the majority of these minors, they have been feeling alone in a crowded room for quite some time, far before a trafficker ever exploits their vulnerabilities. So, when a parent asks, “what can I do to protect my child from this?” the first thing we say is, be intentional with your children; that is the biggest way to reduce vulnerabilities.
Becoming an Intentional Parent
This isn’t meant as a “step-by-step how-to” guide on bonding with your children, but rather guidelines that offer different perspectives on how to be intentional. As parents, we have to know ourselves so we can be present with our kids; intentional parenting starts with us.
- Know your parenting style :: the pros, the cons, how you react or don’t react
- Have a mentor or a support group :: talk about parenting wins and fails, get advice, give advice
- Learn how to communicate – be on the same page – with the other parent or parental figures in your child’s life
Being Intentional = Being Preventative
Being preventive is a byproduct of being intentional. It helps to build a stronger bond with our kids, no matter what age or what they need protecting from. By building bonds with your kids through activities as small as singing to them at night, they are learning to trust in you and come to you when they are struggling. They are understanding that they aren’t alone in a crowded room. They know, beyond a doubt, that they have you in their corner. Below is a list of age appropriate activities that encouraging bonding and being intentional:
Birth to Three
- Read aloud
- Have a dance party
- Give praises and compliments
- Begin a bedtime routine
- Play peek-a-boo after diaper changes
- Create songs with your child’s name in it
Ages Four to Seven
- Teach them to help others and volunteer
- Be a model for self-love and positive body image
- Encourage what they have an interest in
- Allow room for mistakes and independent problem solving
- Compliment your kids
- Be consistent and stick to standards
- Make chores fun – give them a timer…aaaaand GO!
- Have an in home “art gallery”
- Have a sticker reward board
- Send your kiddo snail mail (a personal favorite around my house)
- Learn their love language
Ages Eight to Ten
- Support them in investing in friendships
- Have an “I’m Bored” jar: including quiet time activities and things to do together
- Develop a healthy balance between school, sports, and free time
- Make meal times a work free and screen free zone
- Encourage their dreams of “growing up” – have them keep a dream journal
- Teach online safety and be in the know about what apps and games your kids use
What steps do you take to be self-aware? How are you intentional with your kids? What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
Connect with ENM
For more human trafficking resources and education and becoming a Freedom Fighter, find us across the socials (@exploitnomore on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and our website (exploitnomore.org). Contact us via email ([email protected]) with any specific questions/comments or want to chat further about volunteer opportunities.