Here are five relatively simple green parenting methods that will not only make your family (and the planet) healthier, they will also promote happiness in your home.
1. Eat Locally-Produced, Organically-Grown Food:
Pesticides and herbicides have been linked to many health problems, and food additives are equally as dangerous. There are 80,0000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, and it is impossible to completely study their long term effects and interactions on human health. Food additives, such as colorants, have been linked to hyperactivity.
The easiest way to protect your children from these chemicals is to chose local, organically-grown food. Better yet, plant a garden and let your children experience their food from seed to harvest.
Many families complain organically-grown food costs more; however, if you stop purchasing processed food and make the switch to whole foods, you will save money. Also, if you work towards eliminating food waste in your family, which amounts to 14 percent of what you purchase, you will have extra money to spend on better quality food.
Some children have a hard time switching from processed junk food to whole food, but once they make the change, they are healthier and happier. Their bodies no longer go through the physical and emotional swings associated with processed sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, and they have the energy to sustain themselves throughout the day.
2. Spend Time Outdoors:
My motto is “A family that hikes together, stays together”. Children today are actually suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder from not spending time outdoors. Pediatricians are even prescribing time outdoors for their patients!
If we want our children to care about the environment, we have to give them chances to experience it first hand and develop a relationship with the outdoors.
Today’s conservation professionals, and the many citizens who support environmental causes through their personal actions, contributions, and votes, tend to have one thing in common: as children we led “free-range” childhoods. We spent hours and hours of unstructured time outdoors, connected with nature…
As a result we developed an emotional connection with the natural world which led us to care about the environment as adults…
Family camping vacations not only cost less, but they provide bonding opportunities and quality time you simply cannot find at an amusement park.
3. Reduce Consumption:
These are tough economic times for most families. There are many ways we can reduce our consumption, including the food waste mentioned above. By rejecting the over-consuming culture marketed to families, we not only save money but will be happier and help our environment.
Two areas most families need to reduce their consumption in are clothing and toys. We love a bargain, and as a result end up with too many cheaply made products that are bad for our health and our environment. Clothing uses toxic dyes and pesticides in production, and plastic junk toys are equally as bad. Finding gently used items is a great economic solution.
Families that are worried about money are stressed families. Reducing consumption reduces stress, which leads to a happier, healthier home life.
4. Practice Attachment Parenting:
Attachment parenting “promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. For life. So they can take those bonds with them into their adult lives and share them with their children. And their children can do the same. A life cycle of compassion and connection.”
These natural parenting practices are integral to green family life, as they recognize a connection between our health, spirituality, and need for social and emotional strength and stability for happiness. When you think of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs, you can’t reach self-actualization until your basic physiological and safety needs are met.
There are eight principles of Attachment Parenting:
- Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
- Feed with Love and Respect
- Respond with Sensitivity
- Use Nurturing Touch
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
- Provide Consistent and Loving Care
- Practice Positive Discipline
- Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life
5. Simplify Your Life:
Some people view living a green lifestyle as a rejection of modern life, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to start an urban homestead to be a green parent, but all of the above suggestions have one thing in common: they simplify your life.
Modern families live an over-scheduled life. Some things can’t be avoided, like school and work, but we need downtime together to connect, be healthy, and be happy. Soccer, ballet, violin, etc. may be enjoyable, but examine your day and see how much time you actually spend at home together.
The busy schedules of modern families leave little time to learn practical life skills, such as baking a pie or sewing on a button. Parents are no longer the child’s primary teacher as they instead take on the role of chauffeur. Simplifying your family’s life leaves time to explore nature, cook with whole food ingredients, make conscious consumer choices, etc.