“Mom, you have to be my role model.”
Angra dos Reis, Brazil 2008
Habits, Expectations...Happiness & Sustainability
When I first heard this phrase, my son Lorenzo was very little. I immediately got lost in translation, thinking ‘superhero/ine’ and getting ready to dress up in my Wonder Woman costume. My little boy taught me both the proper definition of the phrase and, more importantly, its essential position in his life and my own. From that day on, I learned that our daily life lessons raising our little ones have deeper impacts than any academic guidebooks could offer.
My aim telling my silly story, and the next one, is to try to inspire a group of enthusiastic parents who could share with me the passion for being a parent, and trying to make our journey as positive and fun as possible.
Over the years, I have noticed that many complaints we have about raising our children have a lot of to do with the way that we communicate with our children. That relationship is essential to cultivate. Our daily actions reflect on them permanently. We are clearly their mirrors.
On my “Green Advice Notes” prepared for the “Sustainability and Wellbeing Committee” at Lorenzo’s school, I started mentioning that we needed to talk less and do more, because we are lecturing too much, about everything, and this is not engaging anyone. In fact, it has quite an opposite effect.
To talk about the environment education, David T. Sobel MD – Director of the of the Center for Place-based Education at Antioch New England Graduate School, came up with the term: ECOPHOBIA, a fear of ecological deterioration, because of a rigid environmentally correct curriculum, that sometimes ends up distancing children, from rather connecting then with the natural world. As Sobel notes,
“In our zest for making them aware of and responsible for the world’s problems, we cut our children off from their roots.”
The solution, in fact, that I came up with was: Let’s try to watch our own habits at home and shape them up for the changes we would like to see in the world, starting in our own children. Because, remember, THEY are watching us, all the time!
There’s been a lot of research over the past several years about how our habits shape us, and in his book The Power of Habit, Charle Duhigg shows us that 40% of our daily actions are reflections of our habits, not fact-based decisions, impacting our health, productivity and happiness. Every small habit has a huge effect in a long term, such as, our choices of food, what we say to our children every night, how we save and spend money, how we interact with others, the polite and all too impolite ways.
Having more good people around transmitting positive vibes and being inspirational models would benefit more individuals and groups. Their creative choices could be for a more balanced, full of virtues, life style.
This is not a dream, my own dream or our dream, it is scientifically proven!
According to Dr. Miller, A.C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University:
“Our world needs more people willing to take the first step, so others may follow.”
Indeed, role models can help us see the world in a new way. They can be some of the people closest to us - my role models include my parents and my college roommate. Role models reshape our imagination, serve a great source of wisdom and advice, and perhaps most important, inspire us to change our lives and becomes better people.”
Reflections about being Role Models & Tackling Anxiety in our Families (in our children and in ourselves!)
The following anecdote is true—an enthusiastic exchange among friends in New York City— and contains no adult-laced fabrications:
“Let’s take our Children next vacation to this beautiful Peninsula I visited in Mozambique? It is an unspoiled African wilderness...an unique combination between a marine and safari experience, where you have The Indian Ocean on one side and a Safari Reserve on the other.”
“Oh, when I take the kids to Africa, it has to be one of those “Super Safaris”, or they wont’ have enough things to do, and they will die”. This was basically, what I heard from most of them, except from one New Yorker friend, who had grown up traveling with her family through Africa.
Why do we think our children are so bored? Is it just Steve Jobs’ fault?
I could not hide my jaw-dropped face and I was breathless for a second or so. I had just returned from this astonishing place where I had experienced a deep contact with Nature, where there was endless options of new things to see, smell, try, and specially be surprised with, and still could feel the thrilled for all of that in my veins. I was dying to tell my friends all about it and encourage them to bring their families to take a break from our programmed lives and preconceived notions about vacations and travel.
But listening to their immediate response, describing a “Perfect Safari”— in other words, a less spontaneous experience, before even listening to my details—made me wonder how this new generation of parents could ever be joyfully surprised and emotionally fulfilled.
Immediately, a vivid memory of my “Perfect Vacation,” without a conventional touristic agenda and with TIME to enjoy the moment came to mind:
It was a bright orange afternoon at the Dunes of Machangulo, where I witnessed my friends, parents and their children, beautifully bonding with each other, while sliding body boards and hard paper boxes through the sand until the Blue of the Indian Ocean.
The children waited through a long “adult lunch,” peacefully quiet. Then I volunteered, to take them down to the beach.
We had a tremendous time of enjoying recreation as adults and children, unregulated and delighted, finding joy—and ourselves—by demonstrating that unstructured play in various vacation environments can be done imaginatively and with gusto!
Of course, tastes and preferences vary from person to person, families to families. It is not about being “green” or not (although this is my own passion…Ha!) No, it is about sharing your own passions with your kids and cultivating more meaning in life constantly, regardless the theme, mode, or preferred child-rearing practices. Having contact with Nature should always be a given as children thrive in green environments—so too their parents in their company.
My Role Model: My mother!
Vacation Brazil 2008
P.S. I will tell you all about my First "Perfect Safari" Next