...As a citizen
1. Learn. And spread the word.
You can start learning about family-friendly issues here, check out our links on our home page, or delve into some books on our reading list. Once you understand the changes families need, you can share this information with others, whether that's your family and friends or a wider circle.
2. Write a letter.
Here are some ways you can wield your pen:
a) The media. Most local newspapers accept letters to the editor where you can state your opinion about certain issues. You can also write letters to the editors of magazines, web sites, television stations, and others. If you're a victim of or hear about an outrageous policy, you can spread the word. Companies care a lot about their public image.
b) Businesses. If you hear about an issue and you're either happy or upset about how a company handled it, why not let them know? If your local diner decides to allow all its employees to earn paid sick days, for example, let them know that you as a customer appreciate their flu-infected employees staying home.
c) Your local politicians. You can write to your council member, mayor, or school board. In most cases, their meetings are open to the public, so you can listen in and make comments as they vote. Some cities create their own ordinances enforcing family-friendly policies--or they might, if enough people requested them.
d) Your state and national representatives. You can also email, call, or visit them in person. Find information on your state legislators here. You can find your senators here, and your members of Congress here.
3. Join an organization. There is power in numbers, and organizations that already exist may have access to resources that can help you. Familyfriendlywork.org is raising awareness of these issues. Some national organizations have local chapters, and some states have their own organizations (this site's home page contains links to other organizations).
4. Organize a protest. Recent events in the Middle East show how people can have power, if enough of them are committed to a cause. Social media has made it easier to spread the word about when and where meetings are to take place. The more organized you are, the easier it is to establish credibility. First, you need to make sure your protest complies with local rules about permits, roadblocks, etc. Second, choose a highly visible location. Third, publicize it well. And fourth, get as much help as possible. Can you get groups, organizations, or businesses to support your cause? What about influential people such as politicians, celebrities, or community leaders? Can you get any of them to speak at your event?
5. Sign (or start) a petition. Legislators are busy people. They simply don't have time to read every letter and answer every phone call and email they receive. If you want your issue to get extra attention, you have to show that you really care about it, and that lots of other voters do, too. If you send one signed letter to a politician, it has a much smaller effect than if you send a petition signed by thousands of people, or if thousands of people send letters about the same issue.
“We call upon government and political leaders to put the needs of children and parents first and to think in terms of family impact in all legislation and policy making.”
M. Russell Ballard