I truly believe we need to instil in our children that if they want to change something, they can’t hold back and not get involved – we need to avoid a slide into passivity and ambivalence. That for me is an important message for any child, whether it’s politics or not.
Hello – I’m Greig Sharman. I’m a Green Party member and have recently been appointed as the Parliamentary Candidate for Harrogate and District. What does this mean? Well it means I’ll be the public face of the local Green Party in any future General Election, representing the policies and concerns of our local and national membership with a view to challenging for the position as Member of Parliament in my local constituency.
I’m also a Dad. That’s Dad with a capital ‘D’ because for me it was a life changing moment and remains a hugely important part of my life. It has its ups and it has its downs. It’s really not easy and I never did track down that elusive Haynes manual that tells you what to do. For the majority of my time as a father I feel like I’m winging it, and to be honest I probably will continue to feel like that as they grow up.
Fundamentally though I attempt and don’t always succeed in trying to be a role model for my three young kids – and that for me is the driving force behind what I do and how I behave, every day.
I have real concerns over the state of the world we will be handing over to our children, be it our nation, society and planet we are bequeathing to the future generation. It was only after I became a parent I really started to understand the true importance and responsibility of that.
Putting party politics aside, the reason I became a member of a political party in the first place was because I believe in a different future to the one I saw developing in front of me on the TV screens, news broadcasts and papers. More specifically, I have real concerns over the state of the world we will be handing over to our children, be it our nation, society and planet we are bequeathing to the future generation. It was only after I became a parent I really started to understand the true importance and responsibility of that.
I joined the Green Party in 2014 as I believed they had the core principles and vision for the fair and sustainable society I believe we need, but joined with no intention other than contributing to what I could locally. However, when you feel passionate about something it is hard to hold back, and I found myself increasingly engaged in wanting to make a difference.
For me then, the challenge became one of balance. How do I act as a role model, be there to support the family, engage in making a change to local and national politics and hold down a busy full time job?
I’ve attempted to bring them together as best I can. Politics and a belief in a sustainable future is no different to sharing your passion of design, literature or sports. At the age of four, seven and 10, there is only so far that you can take this! But I’ve attempted to engage all three of them as much as I can.
I’ve explained some of the basics of how our country is governed, what laws are, what tax is and how it pays for things. I’ve also explained as basically as possible the main differences in the Yellow, Blue, Red, Purple and Green parties, and how that really we’re all people who have a different approach to solving our common problems. A life lesson we should engage all children in is awareness of our planet, the climate and what practical changes we can make to protect our environment. From litter, walking and not taking the car, appreciation of wildlife, to different forms of electricity generation, there is so much that surrounds us every day that can be used to start a conversation about their local environment. But going beyond just basic conversations, I believe that kids need to be involved in politics and need to grow up believing that they should take an active interest and participate.
I’ve got a great system going with the three kids when it comes to helping our members leafletting. It always makes me smile to see one child running ahead to open the next gate, whilst another closes the gate behind me and the third hands me a leaflet to post. I like to think I’ve got a smooth operation going, but with a four year old it doesn’t always go to plan, and it sometimes becomes a little bit of a hindrance! But I don’t mind, it’s great to see them working together and wanting to help out.
…they get a sense of what life is for, and what it means to stand up for something – that there is a world outside of school and their immediate family life.
I’ve also taken them to local demonstrations, introduced them to other party members, held up placards and explained what we’re protesting about, whether it be saving our NHS or highlighting the issues with Fracking. They get to see other people, and often other children involved in these activities and they get a sense of what life is for, and what it means to stand up for something – that there is a world outside of school and their immediate family life.
So, I’m really excited that I’ve been invited to participate and write a regular column for D.A.D. Don’t worry, I’m not always going to talk policies or focus on particular party politics. I will though, keep you abreast of my trials and tribulations in attempting to involve the kids in the political process, whilst also trying to act as a role model and a father.
Let me know if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to consider in my next column. I’d love to hear how you feel about parenting and politics.
Greig, or Dr Sharman, works as an IT Executive at the University of Leeds as well as being the face of the Green Party for Harrogate and District