My 15 year old nephew recently had the opportunity to meet Dick Smith. He enlightened me with all he had learnt about overpopulation. Did you know it’s irresponsibile and environmentally unsustainable to have 4 children Aunty Tara? Mmm. I wonder whether my nephew will heed the advice to only have one child or ideally none when he grows up. Australia is already overcrowded you know.
I’ve heard the argument. I’ve been told that my passion for sustainability and living an organic, eco-friendly life is in complete contradiction to the fact I have four children.
So, as the mother of a large family here is my response.
I am raising my kids to be mindful of their eco-footprint. I am raising them to value simplicity.I am teaching them not to give into the mindless consumerism our popular culture promotes.
I do not turn a blind eye to the impact our lives have on the earths resources. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Not only do I choose to live an eco-friendly (ish) life, these are also values that I am instilling in my children. We talk about water. We talk about waste and landfill and recycling. We talk about advertising and popular culture and consumerism. My children see me use cloth nappies and I tell them why I made that choice. We buy recycled clothes and I tell my children why. We talk about protecting the environment and we live it. Do we still consume resources? Of course we do. But it’s not something we do carelessly.
When I look at my children I see what they can contribute to the world – not what they will take
When I decided to have 1, 2, 3 and then 4 children, I only considered what they could give to the world – not what they would take. I never planned to raise children who would drain the earths resources with their mindless consumerism or careless living. I knew I would raise givers not takers. In fact, I’m very strong in teaching my children that they are here on this earth because they have something to give. Life isn’t just about success and making lots of money so that you can take, take, take. Life is about what you can give.
Our children’s lives have meaning and purpose beyond what we can understand
If I had used my head I may not have had a large family. Afterall, kids are expensive, loud and messy. They often sap my strength and send me teetering on the edge of insanity. But I know that I have been entrusted with their precious lives for a reason. My role as a parent is to build and shape their character as I instill values that will enable them to make good choices with their lives. I know there is a power at work that is greater than me and that their lives have intention, meaning and purpose beyond what I can understand.
What if my son grows up to be a doctor that finds the cure for cancer? What if my daughter grows to be an environmental activist that challenges people to live greener lives? The world may have missed out if they had never been born. I may be naive and a little idealistic but I see that my children have the potential to do something great. They are meant to be here.
So, I won’t apologise for my large family (and yes, my family is complete) and neither should you. If we teach our children to be mindful of their eco-footprint and to understand that their life is about giving then the world will be better off for having them!