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For most of us co-parents, ensuring that our values are clear to our kids even when we aren’t with them is a real concern. When it comes to sustainability, we want to show our children that a fulfilling and convenient lifestyle can still be lived while protecting the environment for every living thing within it. But how do you raise sustainably-minded children when they have other influences?
Maybe you’re in a situation in which the other parent doesn’t recognize the importance of sustainable living like you do. Maybe you’re lucky and they are on the same page. Whatever the case, there are co-parenting strategies you can employ to raise kids that truly care about sustainable living and all its benefits.
Here, we explore these strategies and how you can make the most of your situation to instill considerate, green values in your children from early on.
Lead by Example
Leading by example is one of the best ways to teach life-long lessons to your child regardless of the subject. When it comes to sustainability, there is nothing better than being a green role model. This entails talking your children through your sustainable choices as you make them and practicing what you preach.
By explaining why gardening, taking green transportation, or using eco-friendly cleaning products is better for everything around you as you use them, your children gain an object lesson. This will plant the seeds for sustainable thinking that will flourish over a lifetime and lead your children to make better choices for themselves and the environment.
You can even showcase the practical side of sustainability to your kids during everyday moments like navigating your daily errands. There are plenty of sustainable tricks that help you save money on gas. These include practices like avoiding rush hour driving and combining errands into a single trip.
By applying these life hacks, you create a more sustainable lifestyle. This means money saved while living healthier. These are benefits your children will see in you, helping them establish similar healthy behavior patterns for themselves. Then, regardless of other examples, they will have a framework for making sustainable decisions that benefit a person’s environment, finances, and personal health.
Communicate the Importance of Sustainability Across Households
If you’re worried about discrepancies in importance that you and your co-parent place on sustainability, there are little things you can do to communicate the value of sustainability across households. These are strategies that won’t put your child in a messenger role and shouldn’t prompt any kind of conflict between you and the co-parent.
Co-parenting can be especially challenging if you have different views than the other parent. However, you can overcome many of these challenges through a respectful and active approach to communication and listening. For example, if the other parent comes to you with questions or concerns about sustainable practices a child may want to bring across households, you can listen empathetically then answer with a positive tone and a clear explanation. From here, you will be better positioned to reach an understanding of any discrepancies you see in acceptable behavior.
Informing a co-parent that you demonstrate sustainable behavior as a means to save money can also be a useful approach. Sustainable practices like setting your thermostat at a higher temperature during warm weather are great ways to cut down on utility costs. Through sustainable living, you are trying to model financial responsibility as well as environmental responsibility.
Then, even if your co-parent has no interest in adopting these choices for themselves, they will likely be more understanding — if not supportive — when children want to pursue these choices on their own. Remember though, you should never position your child as a spokesperson meant to relay messages to the other parent.
Instead, offer sustainability suggestions yourself, if they seem appropriate. Just remember to set the right tone with active listening and speak with requests rather than demands or criticism.
Often enough, co-parents will be supportive of sustainable living. Especially for the responsibility it can instill in children.
Promote Individual Responsibility
Finally, co-parenting sustainable children is easiest if those children learn about individual responsibility from a young age. Taking a personal initiative is part of a sustainable lifestyle, and showing your child how to do that early on can impart bigger life lessons. As you teach your kids about green living throughout their lives, make individual responsibility a pillar of that education.
This entails playing a role in community health and cleanliness. Engage in roadside or park clean-up activities. Plant trees. Work in community gardens. And most importantly, lower your carbon footprint however you can. Most people can engage in some form of recycling with relative ease. Additionally, something as simple as ensuring that electronics are turned off when not in use can make a difference.
Promote individual responsibility by example, leaving every environment you pass through in a better condition than you found it. Then, be sure to explain how sustainable actions help everyone. Your children will internalize this responsibility and will be more likely to act on it throughout their lives.
Co-Parenting Sustainably-Minded Children
From here, co-parents can enjoy the benefits that come with raising sustainably-minded children. This means less waste, lower energy costs, and a healthier world for your children to grow up in.
Every co-parenting situation is different, but often the best strategies you can use when raising sustainable children together are to lead by example, communicate with logical explanations and suggestions, and promote individual responsibility for the world around them. Through these strategies, we can look forward to generations of more conscientious leaders.