A recent article in the Guardian, Children aren’t kidding when it comes to green issues, asks if your kids nag you to ‘go green’, and how you deal with it. In other words, are your kids bugging you about leaving the water running, or the lights on, causing you to rethink your actions?
As I read it, I realized that my kids probably have the opposite problem, with us always reminding them about using less, and about choosing a green alternative when they have a choice.
They’ve grown up in a green household, and we’ve been pretty darn crunchy in our parenting. Because we always go to thrift stores, our oldest just can’t wait to go to Old Navy or the like to buy new clothes. The kids always want ‘to go’ cups if we eat out, because we don’t ever have them at our house. They probably get really sick of hearing us say “You can’t eat that because it’s not organic (or not vegetarian, etc.)” and they would love to be able to eat whatever is offered to them.
We make these choices for our kids because we think it’s important. The mainstream will always be there if or when they choose to experience it, so we want to give them a good grounding in being environmentally responsible while they are young.
It’s difficult to always inspire them to make the most Eco-friendly decisions if they feel somehow deprived by our green lifestyle.
We’ve tried to go with the approach of leading our kids by example and then teaching them the reasons why we live the way we do. When our 3 year-old wants to play in the running water, I talk to her about all of the other critters that need fresh water (Save some for the fishies and the trees…) As my oldest gets her 3rd disposable cup at a friend’s house, I remind her of all of the energy and resources that go into something that is only intended for a single use.
But when I have to go through the house and turn off lights and close the outside door, I just end up nagging them. “Always turn off the lights when leaving a room. Always make sure the door is completely closed.”
I don’t want to be an eco-nag.
I want to teach them, not manage them.
So I take a deep breath and turn out the lights. I remind myself to explain to my kids about the process of burning fossil fuels in order to power a light in a room that’s empty. Again.