Since I’ve been working on my book (oh, did I already mention I’m writing a book, I forget?*) I’ve realised that some aspects of parenting are a bit like one of the most important rules in creative writing – show not tell – certainly when it comes to raising a “green” child.
The other day for the two seconds my back was turned Freya managed to breach our defences on the glass-fronted case where my husband and I keep our books and I found her happily paging through A Rough Guide to Climate Change.
“That’s my girl” I thought; all those mini lectures when she wastes water, refuses the food I’ve cooked for her or we take out the recycling (it’s fun at our house!) are paying off.
But are they, really?
I mean, she’s not yet two, clearly I realise her selection of book was purely random – although she did take great interest in a pie chart… – but it was a bit of a wake up call.
What if me wittering on about things such as the little girl I met in Tanzania who had to get up at dawn and walk two hours to collect water for her family before going to school eventually just becomes noise she has no interest in listening to? Or worse turns her off to the subject completely?
I have some experience of this (see also music). My lovely dad knew he had a captive audience when we all sat down at the dinner table and used it as a forum to “discuss” his own rather radical political views.
While I’m fairly liberal, I don’t share my dad’s world view and I’ve never uttered the words “when the revolution comes” so I wonder has all his chatter, while great for teaching us to debate, for respecting others opinions – although with the occasional eye roll (we were teenagers after all) -and foster our own opinions, actually done more harm to the cause?
Just like my dad, I’m passionate about my cause and it’s important to me that Freya is aware of her footprint on the world and that others leave a much smaller imprint and the reasons why.
I know they teach them far more about that in school nowadays and I want to reinforce that at home – but I realise now, probably just in time, that I should be showing her not telling.
Normally I would turn to the Internet for help with the best way to do that but in this case I have my very own expert to hand.
My friend Kate Blincoe has written a book, The No Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting: How to Raise Your Child, Help Save The Planet and Not Go Mad, which is coming out in October.
I’ve been lucky enough to read it online pre-release and it is brilliant.
I knew Kate could write but I didn’t know just how good it would be. I soon realised that I would need an actual copy to bookmark pages to go back to (and I have it on pre-order).
Here’s a little bit of blurb: “Aimed at parents of zero to ten year olds, this book takes a humorous and light-hearted look at all things green and nature inspired.”
It includes advice on: food and eating, eco-buying: a practical approach, learning and playing, family-friendly foraging, growing plants and food with your family, green days out, activities and parties, green parenting in the city and balancing your green ideals in a busy life – without feeling guilty.
Kate has two children so well understands that balance – and that’s what I love most about the book. She doesn’t preach about cloth nappies and breastfeeding (although there is information about both) but is aware that while those things might be the preferred option for an eco-conscious parent, it’s not always that simple so gives the best alternatives. I wish I’d had this when Freya was born, I really do.
What’s more, she makes living a greener lifestyle sound not just easy but lots of fun too – with many practical tips to try out.
For more info about Kate’s book, please click here or follow her on Twitter @kateblincoe.
* I will try not to mention my book in every post from now on. Promise.