January 8, 2018
Response to the post on the blog Sustainable Sunrise entitled "The Case (for/of) Children Part 1" from January 5, 2018.
Hi Sustainable Sunrise,
There is a new book out that you may find as insightful as your own observations from working as a children’s nature educator. The book is called Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matter.
While working with children as a physiologist, author Erica Komisar has noticed a growing trend of emotional and behavioral problems in children. She noted the dominant link between these cases was a lack of a present mother in the children’s earliest years. The book is controversial but may further explain the behaviors you are seeing in children.
It is an important point you bring up that the social fabric of American society has grown isolated and lacks communalism. The shift away from living communally within a village near extended family has a negative impact on our emotional development because it is contrary to our biological and evolutionary make-up.
The book Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici discusses the shift that took place in Europe over hundreds of years from a feudal to mercantile to a capitalist economy. She retells of a time when European societies were village-based and people worked collectively on communal lands. As the communal lands were possessed and privatized, the peasant classes moved into the cities to become wage earners and there enters in capitalism and the deterioration of the fabric of communal life.
Given this is the current social climate, a major point of your post is that most parents in America don’t have the resources (time, money, and otherwise) or the emotional capacity to raise children properly and to meet their most fundamental needs of love and attention. Those busy working, low-income families, foster children, and emotionally undeveloped children you mentioned are a product of the values of American society and the bi-products of US policies.
American society is heavily shaped by governmental policies and laws. When we lambast individual actions, we fail to see the larger picture that underlies all of our lives. In a society that values waged labor, privatized land and consumerism we get things like over worked parents, hyperconsumerism, neglected children and environmental degradation. Each is an externality of a dominant political system that holds it greatest value as financial wealth and accumulation.
Under the current rate of consumption, development and economic growth so true it is that every additional child living in the US adds to the burden of the planet. The ecological footprint - or rate of consumption of natural resources - of Americans is grossly out of proportion with the rate the planet can renew itself.
As environmentalists we know this so it is only prudent to limit the number of children we bring into this world. And for those children who have been brought forth and will be in the future, it is only wise to gift them new values centered around land stewardship. The work you do professionally as a children’s nature educator is so crucially important. Unfortunately, society relegates it to children’s leisure time and summer vacations and not to their primary education.
The value of your observation is that we are in fact failing our children. We are not giving them to the tools to succeed on a stressed planet. Too many children lack even their basic need for loving care and attention. And with constant financial pressures, lack of community, and our own failings as emotionally undeveloped adults, it is hard for parents to succeed at parenting.
The values that have shaped American society are failing us, our children and the planet. When will there be a shift to a new paradigm?
January 8, 2018
About the Author
Certified Yoga Instructor Stephanie Scavelli practices a plant-based diet and traditional herbal medicine. She laughs endlessly at the adventurous whit of the animation series Rick & Morty. She wears minimalist, barefoot-inspired shoes and her favorite dessert is her sister's Oatmeal Crusted Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Stephanie lives in Westchester County, NY with her daughter Juniper. For yoga classes and workshops near you visit www.yogaforager.com.