Parenthood is a source of tremendous joy, but it also carries many challenges. Parents have many obligations to their children. They must feed and protect them. They must also teach them to be upstanding citizens.
As a father, one of the lessons that you must instill upon your children is the importance of being good stewards to the environment. Climate change is a devastating problem that is slowly wreaking havoc upon the entire world. Scientists project that humanity must make drastic changes before the year 2030 to avoid irreversible, catastrophic climate problems that will plague our children and other species for years to come.
My friend John, the editor of TheHolisticMillennial.com, writes regularly about the growing concerns of climate change. He said that parents need to do their part before we reach our breaking point.
“Climate change is hitting us faster than any of us expected,” John said. “We thought that we might have a lot more time to make these changes, but the clock is running out. Parents must teach their kids that it is crucial to win this battle and the clock is ticking to do so.”
Fathers Must Be Vocal Role Models in the Battle Against Climate Change
Parents must teach their children to do their part. As a father, it might be tempting to leave these lessons to your significant other. For centuries, mothers have traditionally invested a lot more time raising children. The gap between the time mothers and fathers spend with their children has dropped in recent years, but a nagging difference still remains. The average father spent seven hours with their children in 2011, while the average mother spent 14.
As you can imagine, many important life lessons and values are handed down from mothers. It is not that fathers don’t also teach their children valuable skills or play a role in molding them to be kind, altruistic and thoughtful. They just don’t have as many opportunities, since they don’t spend as much time with them. They often delegate certain parenting experiences to their wives, while selectively pursuing other priorities when they do bond with their children.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t do their children or society as many favors. They need to hear the same messages brought up consistently by both parents before the lesson can truly resonate.
This is especially important if you are trying to teach your children about the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle. You and your spouse or girlfriend both need to be on the same page to get the message across.
Here are some tips for fathers that want to help their children embrace eco-friendly lifestyles.
Show Your Children the Benefits of Eating Less Meat
A lot of the blame for climate change is placed on the oil industry. However, our diet has a tremendous negative impact on the planet as well.
The Western diet is highly dependent on meat, which has a much higher carbon footprint than foods derived from plants. Experts have found that following a vegan or vegetarian diet would reduce the average family’s carbon footprint by at least 30%.
Of course, you may have a hard time convincing your children to go completely vegan, but you can lower your carbon footprint considerably by teaching your kids to eat less meat. Even one or two meatless dinners a week can reduce your carbon footprint by 5 to 15%.
Your kids might be resistant to this change if they are used to eating meat every day. You and your spouse need to be on the same page and help encourage them to try a diet that has less meat and more plant-based foods. If your spouse is the one preparing the meals, then you might want to help out if she is struggling to come up with enough new ideas for dishes on her own.
Push Back Against Fad Fashion
Most kids want to have the latest and coolest clothes. As a parent, this can be a major source of financial stress, but the problems go deeper than that. The heavy emphasis on “fad fashion” is also bad for the environment.
You need to educate your children about the carbon footprint of unnecessary consumerism. You should avoid buying new clothes when their old clothes fit just fine and are in good shape.
You can also lower your carbon footprint by purchasing clothes for your children at a local thrift store. Unfortunately, this might be something that will create too much of a social stigma if you live in a community with huge social expectations. This is an unfortunate reality that you have to weigh against concerns about your carbon footprint. However, you might be able to compromise and find decent looking clothes from a local thrift store that your children might not mind wearing to school. This will lower the carbon footprint associated with buying newly manufactured clothes for them every year.
Find Fun Ways to Encourage Them to Use Less Energy
Your kids are less likely to embrace sustainable living habits if you are too preachy about it. A better approach is to make these practices as fun as possible.
There are a lot of games that you can come up with to make sustainable living fun. If your children are still young, you might want to give them rewards for turning their lights off and meeting other sustainability targets. Some eco-friendly parents give their younger children a sticker if they use less energy.
You should also try coming up with family activities that don’t require much energy. You can play board games once a week to get your kids away from their electronics. Admittedly, encouraging them to use their electronics less won’t make the biggest impact, but you will at least encourage eco-friendly mindsets.
Discourage Wasting Water
Most kids don’t think much about wasting water. They often keep the faucet on the entire time that they are brushing their teeth. Make a point to remind them to turn it off when it isn’t necessary.
Start Teaching Them Adult Green Living Habits for When They Are Older
You need to start teaching your children the importance of sound, sustainable living habits before they need to start using them. This includes teaching them the importance of eco-friendly driving practices before they start driving themselves.
Your children might be five or more years away from getting their driver’s licenses, but you should still tell them the importance of conserving gas. Let them know that it is not good to take unnecessary trips or take inefficient routes, due to the environmental impact of driving. If you are consistent about practicing what you preach and driving conservatively, they will remember these lessons when they get older and become more environmentally friendly drivers.
Fathers Have an Obligation to Teach Green Living Practices as Well
As a father, you need to be a good role model on sustainable living. You must teach your children how to lower their carbon footprint. You have just as much of a responsibility to teach these habits to them as your wife or girlfriend does, so it is important to educate them on the best green living practices.
This content is sponsored by Ryan Kh.