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Be the Change


The Novak Family, - Thanksgiving 2015
  • The Novak Family, Thanksgiving 2015

My son and daughter are 6 and 9 now — big kids who strap on their backpacks and walk into the school building on their own. I can no longer rock them to sleep or scoop them up in my arms when they scrape their knees. I feel sad sometimes, watching them grow up and realizing that they'll never need me in quite the same way they did when they were little.

But, I also take great joy in seeing them mature. They've reached that stage of development where they understand that they're not the center of the universe, and that other people have wants and needs just as they do. I've had many conversations this past year with my fourth grader, Mira, about the fact that not everyone has a home or gets paid a decent wage. I believe it's important to talk openly with kids about injustice and inequalities. We can also teach them that they can be the change they wish to see in the world.

That was the inspiration for this month's feature "Do Good, Feel Good," where we asked local nonprofits and readers for ways in which families can give back during the holiday season. Their suggestions ranged from preparing a meal for a local shelter to collecting canned goods, diapers or old coats. We hope you'll find a few things on the list to do with your family.

If you're looking for a role model to show your kids what young people are capable of, look no further than Kiran Waqar, profiled in this month's "One to Watch." The South Burlington 16-year-old has collected blankets for Syrian refugees, made activity bags for hospitalized children and helped kids in Pakistan learn English. She also promotes social change through her slam poetry group, Muslim Girls Making Change.

In addition to being the giving season, these next two months are typically filled with family celebrations. For parents going through separation or divorce, it can be a tough time of year. Contributor Jess Wisloski, who separated from her toddler's father last year, writes about navigating schedules, living arrangements and communication post-split — and gives advice about what not to say to parents who are breaking up — in "Parting Ways."

On a lighter note, if you're looking for a yummy addition to your Thanksgiving table, try Astrid Lague's recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie.

And, because the holidays are fast approaching, we've also put together a fun gift guide. It's composed exclusively of goods from Vermont-based companies, because it feels good to support local businesses. Check it out. We assure you there's something for everyone — little kids and big ones.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.