Taking Responsibility for Our Food

Welcome to April edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month’s topic is “Celebrating Our Earth – Green Living”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!

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Eggs

Photo by Gisela Francisco

For a long time, we have done our little parts to help the Earth. We reduce our consumption by not buying a lot of stuff. We reuse whatever we can or pass items to others who can use the items. We recycle as much of what is leftover that is possible. Right now those things tend to be rather trendy. More people are becoming aware of mass consumerisum (at least I hope). Everywhere you go, someone wants to hand you a reusable grocery bag (sorry, we have plenty of reusable bags).  Recycling bins are popping up in more and more businesses (a good thing). However, there is still a lack of connection for most people between doing these things and the Earth.

It became clear to us a couple of years ago that we needed to change that for our family. We were ordering a side of beef, mainly free ranged, antibiotic and growth hormone free, from a local farmer to stock our deep freezer. It felt like a very grown up thing to do at the time, buying a cow. We were discussing some things at lunch one day when something my then 7 1/2 year old son said gave me pause. He didn’t equate eating animals with killing those animals. I have to admit it shocked me a bit. I grew up on a farm. We raised and grew our own food. I have always been upfront with our children about where our food comes from. Yet, somehow, my son didn’t feel a connection from his actions of eating the food to that of an animal giving its life. Something needed to change.

Since that time, we have increased our efforts to make that connection to the Earth. We continue to look for ways to live our lives in a more sustainable manner. As we prepare to move, some ideas are on hold and we look for our food from local sources. However, we are making plans for our new place – ones which include chickens for our own eggs, a worm compost bin, a large garden, and if we have space, some other animals so that not only do we know exactly where our food is coming from, but so that we can take reponsibility for the food we eat.

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Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Stepping Back

Photo by Katie W

Earlier this week I asked my children to pick up the bathroom so that I could clean it. Our main bathroom is the only one with a bathtub, and it is mainly used as the kids’ bathroom, along with guests who come to our home. With four young kids, it gets a bit messy. I reminded them a couple of times as I was passing through that I needed it picked up before I could clean it. I cleaned the master bath, even mopping the floor by hand, and then proceeded to the kids’ bathroom.

Much to my dismay, there were still items on the floor, toothpaste was left uncapped, there were glasses from bedtime drinks,…It wasn’t as though my children had ignored me completely each time I had asked them to pick up. Their definition just happens to be different than mine.

I felt the exhaustion and frustration well inside of me. I began a small diatribe about how I was feeling sad and frustrated by what I saw. And then, I stopped. It wasn’t helpful. It was bordering on lecture mode. Instead, I told my three older children, ages 8, 6, and 3 1/2, that they were now in charge of cleaning their bathroom. I expected to be met with exclaimed “Ewwwwwws!” Instead, they looked at one another and cried, “Let’s do it!”

My daughter asked me to get various supplies for them, and I went about the house doing something else. The three of them went in the bathroom and got to work, chattering away. At one point when I looked in, I was met by the sight of my 3 1/2 year old gleefully scrubbing the toilet bowl. I wish I had had my camera.

When they finished, they let me know that they had enjoyed the experience and requested that they now be in charge of cleaning their bathroom. Later when I checked the bathroom, I was met with my own surprise. While there were some little pieces of paper around the edges of the floor and I doubt the bathtub was scrubbed out, the rest of the bathroom was clean. The mirror was spotless. The sink and counter were clean and clear. Trash had been emptied. The toilet was freshly scrubbed, and bathmats had been placed in the laundry while the floor had been wiped by hand.

It was a reminder to me to step back, out of the way…both from my expectations of myself when it comes to asking for help and from those times I feel frustrated in life. One could also say that it is a reminder to watch as our children come into their own.

voice and choice…

Allowing children a voice and choice in matters that affect them fosters responsibility. There will be some times when a parent needs to step in, having more experience or knowledge about a topic. You wouldn’t let your child learn about cars by running out in the road and being hit by one. However, children are quite capable of making many choices and often have great insight. A choice should be given regarding matters which are within the child’s realm of responsibility. A voice should be given in matters which are within the parent’s realm of responsibility. When children have a say in matters, they have control. Children learn about responsibility by being involved in the decision making process.

developing responsibility…

Responsibility isn’t something we can impose on our children. There isn’t a formula on how to explain responsibility to them and suddenly have them be the compassionate, caring, committed individuals we hope they will be. Responsibility is something that has to grow from within the child. It finds direction in the values absorbed from the child’s home and community, but the child is ultimately the one who develops it.

That isn’t to say that parents can’t help with this aspect of life. On the contrary, children absorb the values they witness. Through modeling, we can show them what responsibility looks like. Since children’s inner emotional reactions to us and our understanding and treatment of them are decisive elements in how much they learn from us, we can treat them as individual people, worthy of respect. Ultimately though, the greatest way we can help children to develop responsibility is to let them practice it by making decisions on their own rather than merely expecting them to do what we tell them.