• Akila Venkatesh

Let's protect our planet for our kids: environmental parenting

Updated: Jul 14

How to develop environmental awareness with your kids--simple, lifelong ideas.

I took the photo above in Alberta, Canada. How stunning and magical is our planet?!!

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Native American proverb.

This is the first of 9 weekly posts guiding parents along with the In Good Hands weekly summer empowerment challenge--a series of simple yet powerful challenges to keep your children engaged this summer in ideas that matter. If you'd like to know more about the program, click here. If you'd like the workbook, sign up to join the tribe and it will be emailed to you. You certainly do not need to participate in the summer challenge in order to benefit from the ideas in this blog post--they are lifelong tips to help anyone!

As we being the summer, we are jumping into the first E.M.P.O.W.E.R.E.D challenge by caring for that which sustains us: our Earth. A reminder that each challenge focuses on foundational learning; because when we focus on building foundational knowledge, skills and attitudes withing ourselves and our children, the rest will follow. I've come up with a simple mantra that I feel expresses the power and simplicity of this idea: focus on foundations, and the rest will follow. This week's challenge is to do one thing to care for the environment, such as picking up garbage in your neighbourhood, or turning up the AC by 1 degree etc. In today's post, we'll show you how to connect these tasks to the deeper environmental issues.

While picking up garbage, using less electricity and other such conservation acts are helpful and good starting points, our ideologies and mental maps allow us to link our micro tasks to larger systemic change, which is what empowerment is all about. One of the most important takeaways of caring for our earth is this: our earth does not have a limitless supply of resources for us to use. If leaders and systems continue to operate under an economic and ideological model of endless growth and unending profit, then we will exhaust and damage the earth's capacity. So what does this mean for our daily actions, especially for young people who are engaging in the IGH weekly challenge? The main idea is to impart an understanding in them that the earth is not something separate from us, for us to use, but we are of it and its boundaries must be honoured through responsibility and duty, on individual and systemic levels, and through personal and societal leadership. Indigenous ways of knowing honour this. Over time, as we guide them in understanding this, we will begin to cultivate a renewed mental, moral, spiritual and physical relationship to the earth. This is our goal as torchbearers for young people.

Many people view 'the environment' as a topic or an area of interest, which they may choose to participate in or identify with. Caring for the earth must be embedded as a responsibility and a duty, not a hobby. Many people reading this post lead busy working lives in cities and are part of capitalist structures which emphasize wealth over wellness. These structures, over recent centuries and to no fault of our own, have slowly deprogrammed our innate level of connection with the earth. By bringing our awareness to our place within the earth, to humbly recognize the futility of our systems which promote success as heightened individualism and wealth, we can begin to slow down and care for the earth as a mandatory part of living an empowered life. We can instill this in our children and change the way we work and live, and elect collective leaders. By doing this, we would acknowledge on a deeply connected level, that without a balanced earth and the collective cooperation among all levels of society, humans will cease to exist. Just as we must care for our physical body to live, we must care for the earth to live. As your child does this week's task, simply talk to them about this and ask them some questions that point to these broader ideas. Remember, it doesn't need to be complicated or take long (I completely understand and relate personally to how overwhelmed and busy parents feel right now); a little bit of the right guidance, repeated consistently, goes a long way!

So when you and your young ones notice garbage on the road (or are cleaning it up, as part of this week's challenge), ask whether the systems in place will keep producing more garbage. If so, what kind of leaders and systems can we elect or build, instead? This is how we link the micro to the macro. The next time you see a beautiful blooming flower, ask what success and a good life truly is: is it defined as gaining wealth and power, or is it the realization of the flourishing of all living forms, within the inexplicable wonder of the earth? It all comes back to connection. I love Eckhart Tolle's practice of being with nature without having any mental dialogue or labels about it--just be with it. Try this with yourself and your kids.

I hope you can use these thoughts as a guiding light, as you work on instilling some environmental awareness in your child. Please comment below and let me know your thoughts and IGH success stories or challenges. Let's get empowered together!

#empowerment #earth #environment #sustainability #preservation #climatejustice #righttoafuture #parenting #education #environmentaleducation

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