How parenting can help save the planet…
Incase you’ve not heard, our planet is in a real mess.
We are already witnessing the devastating impacts of climate change and there’s more to come.
At 3a.m this morning I sat feeding our wide-eyed 2 year old and I pondered his future (and the future of every other living thing on earth).
Despite our best zero-waste efforts…we still drive a car, eat meat occasionally and buy unseasonal fruit from abroad. I even support companies that I despise, because it’s convenient.
As a parent it is so easy to be consumed by guilt.
I’m not saying that we should ignore these feelings…we can always strive to do better.
But, I see a lot of people struggling to deal with the terrifying issues surrounding our planet.
I see friends feeling utterly helpless. They leave the room at the mere mention of anything “climate” related.
Other friends scramble to commit to every cause and initiative going. So desperate to do something…anything that they overstretch themselves and suffer mentally and physically because of this.
But…I can’t help but feel that we’re missing the bigger picture.
While we’re all buying our shampoo bars or turning to Facebook groups for advice on the most natural floor cleaner…we’ve forgotten where all this started…
…which is quite literally at the beginning.
Every single thing that happened to us during our childhood has made us who we are today…and made everyone else who they are too.
We learn how we should treat ourselves and each other by watching those around us.
In the same sense, we don’t instinctively love nature, we learn to love it.
We learn whether we should rescue a bug or stamp on it, if we sow seeds or chuck rubbish in the hedge.
I’m not saying that we should start pointing fingers and blaming parents whenever a child “steps out of line”.
Quite the opposite.
We need supportive communities, where everyone feels able to get things wrong and try again. To be themselves without cruel judgement.
Modern studies have shown that much of what we think of as personality or “instinct” is infact a reaction to our environment.
Our genes do play a part but they do not predetermine our future as much as scientists and psychologists once thought.
More than any other animals, we are shaped by circumstance and experience.
As a result, we are capable of an extremely broad range of behaviours.
We can display anything from unconditional love to pure evil.
When we feel nurtured and supported then we flourish.
However, if we’ve suffered a difficult childhood, our need for self-preservation will prevail.
If we want the human race to have any kind of future then we need more than self-preservation.
We need people who care about every other living thing. People who care that their actions impact upon everyone else.
We need people who will go above and beyond to help others before building a bunker in their back yard.
For this to happen then we need society to rethink how it treats children.
People may reminisce about “the good old days” and continue as “it’s always been done” because it’s easier than facing the reality that children have suffered hugely throughout our history.
The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused.
Psychologist, Lloyd deMause
Thankfully, there have been huge improvements over the centuries but we still have a way to go.
And, I’m not just talking about parents.
Health visitors are still advising parents to ignore their babies cry.
Parents are raising children, running homes and working while communities are almost non-existent.
Our education systems are outdated and built upon shame, reward, blind obedience and labeling young children.
Every one of us, has a role to play in this.
There isn’t a perfect way to raise kids…there doesn’t have to be.
We will no doubt always have varying ideas about what makes a “good” parent…about whether kids should be allowed to climb up slides or mix the playdough colours!
But, the details don’t matter so much if we can follow a basic set of principles: empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries.
Treating children like people not possessions.
Loving them for who they are rather than who we want them to become.
Everything we do to nurture a child’s wellbeing and to re-establish supportive communities will help to pull us back from the brink and save us from disaster.
Imagine a world full of resilient, grateful, level-headed people who truly care about others.
Imagine electing future leaders who are empathetic, who can talk about problems and see past their own ego!
That is what will make a difference.
That is what will move us off this path of destruction and chaos and towards more loving and peaceful communities.
Let’s make the world beautiful again!
I’d love to hear your views!
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley