With the way we’ve abused and continue to abuse the Earth, the odds of our children growing up in a stable and prosperous future are just about nil. As responsible, loving parents how do we prepare our children to ideally help put humanity on a sustainable path, or more realistically to survive the collapse, and bring about a new system from the ashes of the old if we fail?
At the simplest, we must raise our children mindfully, pushing them to be ecowarriors (individuals truly committed to defending the Earth and thus humankind, which is dependent on the planet for its survival), even as nearly every cultural force pushes them to be unthinking, Earth-devouring consumers.
Here are principles I’m keeping in mind as I raise my son, to help get me through the challenges ahead:
- Provide children with key skills needed to prepare them to work both to create a sustainable future and, if that fails, to live through the ecological collapse;
- Establish rituals (daily, yearly, life-cycle) that reinforce their relationship with their community and with the Earth;
- Never lie—be honest about what’s coming, and how we’ve gotten here;
- Teach them to consume little and strive to be a restorative ecological force on the planet;
- Provide them with a sustainable and healthy diet, one that they help grow and prepare;
- Engage them politically and in service from an early age.
This is a working list that will surely change as I go from baby stage to the toddler stage to the child and teen stages. Right now the working principles are much simpler: keep his footprint small (cloth diapers, used clothes and toys, borrowed books), spend lots of time outside, raise him ourselves, breastfeed him, and cook him real, healthy food, and get him actively involved in household operations.