Parenting isn’t simple and straight forward anymore. How you raise your children may not be the ONLY factor in how they behave and develop! It isn’t simply a matter of thinking about strong boundaries and good morals, of teaching manners, going to bed on time and limiting junk food. It is much more complicated than that! And it may be that you might spend your child’s whole childhood figuring out what makes them tick, only to work out that it could be something that you can do nothing about.
What an exhausting thought. There are just too many things to consider now.
Food – even if you feed your child good nutritious food, and very little unhealthy snacks or sweets, your child could still have an allergy or a sensitivity to food. These days children are developing reactions to wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, nightshades, salicylates, and other chemicals that are found naturally in fruit and vegetables! And even though we may make the choice to eat healthy foods, our foods have still be grown in soils that are so depleted in nutrients that very little is transferred to benefit the food, and to top it all off it is protected by pesticides, herbicides, growth treatments, preservatives and then stored for months on end before it even hits the shelves in our supermarkets, looking as if they were picked this morning. …. and don’t get me started on food additives!
All these things DO have an effect on children’s behaviour, their growth, their ability to think clearly and rationally, their emotional development and ability to socialise. Even if it is a flow-on effect from reactions to one of the things listed above, or from having a depleted immune system because of toxic over load.
And then there are environmental considerations – step outside in the morning and suck in the fumes of your own and your neighbours cars as we all head off to work and school. I don’t even want to know what kind of nasties are in the air I breathe. I hear people talk all the time about how different and relaxing it feels in the country, or at the beach, or in the mountains …. that will be the lack of air pollution!
Then there are the chemicals in our drinking water, the chemicals on our clothes (ever wondered why some new clothes have a distinctive smell?) , the chemicals in our rivers and creeks that run off from businesses and homes (the very same water that gets used to water crops for food that we eat), chemicals in the plastic we use every day, chemicals we clean our homes with … and what about electromagnetic radiation? THAT is everywhere!
I heard recently that the stamps you use for your creative stamping and scrap booking should not be cleaned with baby wipes because it deteriorates the rubber. If it deteriorates the rubber what is it doing to the delicate skin of our babies’ bottoms? (I have always preferred to use wet washers instead of wipes).
We live in a polluted world, and yet we live in a society that freaks about germs and won’t let children hurt themselves! We are happy to breathe toxic fumes but we hothouse our kids and sterilize our homes with bleaches and god forbid we pick up a cracker that has fallen on the floor and give it back to our baby. I don’t get it. I’m ok about germs, because I can make a choice about that, and some exposure to germs is actually a good thing in supporting our health! But I can’t make a choice about my greater environment and that is so frustrating. There is very little we can do about it except make conscious and well researched decisions for our own family so that our children can grow up to reach the potential they are entitled to.
Within my abilities, my budget and my energy levels I try to make choices for myself and my family that will give the greatest support for our immune systems, and our development. Sure there are still lots of things I do that contribute to pollution – I use energy and drive a car, I have plastics in my kitchen. Some chemicals in my garage. But even these I try to reduce where I can – it saves money too! I am not perfect, but I do try. I clean my home with vinegar. I love my new soap nuts! I buy organic when I can afford it. I see health practitioners who know our bodies and can give us the advice and support that is right for us. I don’t knowingly support companies that are involved in unethical practices and pollution. Where I can I support my local community. I hold myself responsible for my decisions and my contribution to the health of the world.
I’m sure it never used to be this complicated! It gets overwhelming when you think about all the things that affect us – but I read this morning about a scientific researcher who discovered that many of the receipts we are given after our purchases are coated in BPA – a highly toxic chemical. His research organization “is dedicated to not preaching about the bad but about diligently trying to invent the good,” he says. I like that attitude.
I am trying to invent the good in my own family. My children are lovely children. They are kind and creative, respectful (within the boundaries of their development!) and they are friendly and polite. They generally have good control over their own actions, and are considerate of others and these days they rarely get sick. Ok yes – they kids and still have their tantrums, still are learning about social niceties and caring, they are experimenting with rudeness and they do annoy each other from time to time … but overall they are pretty darn good. A lot of this has had to do with our parenting (which has been influenced by our own wonderful parents as well as our own research and intuition) but I am pretty sure a lot of what makes our family so happy and healthy is the awareness we carry about what makes us healthy human beings, and striving to do our best to support that. I know I sound a bit magnanimous … but yes! … I am giving myself a pat on the back!
There is too much to worry about, so I’m concerning myself with what makes us healthy and happy instead.