As parents, one of our many jobs is to be a constant source of education and enlightenment for our children. As we continue to grow more and more aware of the self inflicted dangers that climate change presents to us, the need for parents to teach our children about stewardship of the environment has become increasingly more important. The challenge of course, is to figure out how best to do that.
One of the reasons why the task is so challenging is due to the fact that most of what is linked to climate change leads right back to the way we have lived our lives for the past six decades. If we as parents have been a big part of the problem, how then can we teach our children the right answers? While the complete solution to this dilemma involves many components, in my opinion a significant component involves both parents and kids together getting more involved with nature and all it has to offer.
Truth be told, there are countless ways that families can embrace nature, while at the same time serving as great learning platforms to teach our children about the significance of environmental stewardship. For example, this spring I will once again plant a vegetable garden in my backyard. While my grandparents used to grow tomatoes, rhubarb and a few other things when I was young, up until last spring I really had almost no knowledge of how to grow food at home. I actually decided to challenge a few other notable dads to do the same thing and on my website last year and we launched a celebrity gardening challenge as a platform to learn about gardening ourselves and to encourage other dads to follow suit.
The end result was surprising and far more satisfying than I originally had hoped. While my initial fears were that I’d grow sun-dried tomoatoes directly on the vine, in truth I wound up with a bountiful harvest and cucumbers so big they could likely hurt someone! My children genuinely enjoyed the experience as well and loved making fresh pesto with me by picking basil directly from the garden. Within days of the last harvest we were already picking what to grow this year.
Without realizing it, our food production and consumption practices over the past several decades has actually had a significant and negative impact on climate change. For example, we are currently about to see Strawberries become in season in many parts of North America, yet despite that many of us will still buy Strawberries from the grocery store that were trucked across the continent to get to our table. By teaching our children that they can also be bought locally – or better yet, grown in your own yard, we are teaching them that there are always better ways to do things. Ways that involve less carbon emissions, less usage of pesticides and better overall usage of our local arable lands.
If gardening really isn’t your thing though, there are so many other ways that education and the environment can go hand in hand. One of my absolute favourite things to do with my kids is to take nature walks and to see just what we can discover along the way. Even in urban settings there are parks and trails that likely are chalk full of entertainment and enlightenment for all. On top of that, the fresh exercise that the kids will get in the process will keep them active and even sleepy when bed time comes around!
Teaching kids about the need to preserve and protect our environment can be a process that is both fun and educational for everyone involved. With the great weather upon us I hope all of you will maximize the opportunities at hand and start teaching our children that we haven’t inherited this planet from our ancestors, but rather as parents we are only borrowing it from them and through proper education and experience they will become the stewards of the environment that we truly need them to be.