Parenting Green: Facilitating the Climate Change Conversation

Kids and Climate

My kids are getting older and are more tuned into our conversations. Remember the days as a parent when you could talk ‘adult’ in the front seat about things that interested you and the kids paid no mind?  Now at age 6 and 10 our two oldest are more aware and have context for the information they are absorbing, coupled with the fact that they want to understand what the adults are talking about. There’s no changing it; we are in complex times and as parents we are facing the challenge of how to digest this information and create a productive environment for our kids to thrive in.

We knew as parents we’d be met in their adolescence with difficult conversations about sex, drugs, violence, mental illness, and death… Can we add climate change to that ‘complex’ list?   It is one of those things that deserves consideration in how we approach the topic. It’s something that will indeed impact our children’s lives as adults, and how they engage in the topic can affect their future. I feel like this message of global warming is often wrapped in avoidance because it’s far bigger than us, more complex, and often times leaves even the most avid activist feeling hopeless. It’s something they are hearing and are picking up impressions and other’s opinions about. So how do we approach it with our children with accuracy and delicacy so as not to impart a feeling of being victimized? Or do we just avoid the conversation altogether? (I think we’ve learned from drug use and sex that not talking to our kids about it means our opinion isn’t a factor when they are faced with a tough choice.) Any difficult situation that we ignore becomes more abstract and overwhelming to talk about when we do finally bring the elephant in the room. So, break it down, make it easier to get into, and in turn expand the time frame you have to talk about by seeing the small opportunities that we come into contact with all the time.

Inspire them to be a part of the solution!

  • Take the opportunity, even the small one to congratulate them on doing something honorable for the environment. Recycling, reusing something, picking up litter, or getting on their bikes.

Recognize that it’s OK to fail and to make mistakes.

  • Sometimes we don’t always meet our goals, or we do something that had ill effects. Every adversity presents an opportunity. We are creative creatures, so seek to find the silver lining.  The world will continue to present the opportunities we just need to be ready to turn it into fertile ground.

Instill and invite them to meet/face challenges with compassion and understanding.

  • Change the conversation from being one of conflict between those who care and those who don’t. There is information in the ‘why’s’ of people’s choices. Find out more about your adversary, seek understanding, and approach your solution with understanding. That’s a much easier principle to stand behind and typically far more productive.

Use the past to shape the future, by remembering what worked and what didn’t work.

  • Not all history needs to make your eyes glass over. Find the interesting and relevant themes that apply to what you are experiencing now with curiosity, and seek to understand.

Start at an early age developing environmental ethics.

  • Taking the time to plant pea seeds in the garden with them, grow flowers, and display stewardship in how we take care of nature through protecting and fostering.

Check out these online resources:

Photo credit: (c) Angie Gregory

Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture 
and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.

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