Parenting Advice – Carnival of natural parenting
At that time I had nothing to ask, nothing I needed wisdom on. I’m quite a self contained person; tending to look to myself for answers that lie deep within.
However, something happened this morning and so now, a week after the carnival, I’m reaching out for help.
My daughter is 9. She is very sensitive, loving, wise beyond her years and a great thinker and questioner.
I’ve always prided myself on being honest with her. I share my truth, as does my husband and we like to share knowledge so that she can make empowered decisions in her own life.
She loves nature – she will rescue worms, woodlice and silver fish. She loves trees, plants and all animals.
Bees are one creature with which she has developed a particular affinity.
The other day we were talking about GM foods. We all signed a petition to try and ban them in the EU. We told her why GM foods were not a good thing for our planet or body, but shared that they MIGHT be the only way we can feed ourselves in the future which is why people are promoting them.
Today she read an article in the daily newspaper then ran upstairs. I just knew something was wrong. I gave her a couple of minutes alone with her feelings before going to find her. I found her sitting in her bedroom, staring out of the window with tears running down her face.
I asked her what was wrong. She said “Did you read the article in the paper about the hornets?” I hadn’t read it, so she went to get the paper and read it out to me.
It was a story about a ‘killer hornet‘
The article began “Giant hornets attacking Gloucestershire’s honeybees could be the final nail in its honey production industry”. Apparently these ‘deadly beasts’ attack bees flying out of the hives until the colony is exhausted, then move inside to eat the bee larvae.
The article finished with the fact that a few hornets could destroy 30,000 bees in a couple of hours.
I asked her why she was actually crying; I didn’t want to make an assumption. I didn’t know whether she felt sorry for the bees, was scared about being stung by a hornet or a myriad of other reasons. One thing I have learned as a parent is NEVER to make an assumption – adult perception and children’s perception are two totally different things.
Her fear was that without honeybees one third of our food would disappear and she would be hungry. Then she would be forced to eat GM foods which were bad and she might die from hunger because her body would reject this ‘bad’ food. She had worked out that honeybees dying out could happen during her lifetime and she was worried about the consequences to her health and future.
The curse of the empath is such that I felt her pain. My tears fell too, for her, for the realisations she had put together (and what a realisation!), for the fact that a nine year old child has to question and worry about things, for the fact that we are living in a world gone crazy …
I sat her on my lap and told her to remember that the media always paint the ‘worst case scenario’ picture. These are what sell the papers and sky rocket the tv ratings. We’ve been on the wrong end of the media, so was able to show her that from experience, we know they don’t always print the truth and they exaggerate.
We have three contacts she can get hold of for their side of the story. I reminded her that it’s not always positive to take the first story we read as factual information. Sure we sometimes get a hunch with something and know it to be true, but often we need to research and gather opinions from other experts before reaching our own conclusion.
I pointed out that we have seen stories about rubbish being left in streets. How people fear that they will get attacked by rats and foxes will be roaming around. Because we know about rubbish and are knowledgeable about these things, we are able to see these stories for what they are. Unfortunately we do not know much about bees (or hornets) so we have to find the opinions of people who do in order to amass their wisdom.
I suggested she take the article to someone she knows on Monday who knows all about wildlife and that we write to the bumblebee conservation trust for their opinion. After that we ask a lady who is coming to talk to us about bees in June what her opinion is.
I feel I dealt with this ok; my daughter is certainly much happier now and feels inspired to talk to other people.
But my question still lingers and troubles me somewhat:
How do we empower our kids with knowledge so that they can make decisions without frightening them? Or is being fear a motivator that ensures action?
How do we achieve the balance between allowing them to walk through life with their eyes open and not having them spend their life fearful and worried?
How do we protect their innocence or is this not our place to do that?
How do we gently tell them about things going on in the world without going overboard?
I say we should never pass a ten tonne truth over a one tonne bridge, but how do we achieve that? Is it a case of checking everything they read – should I stop her reading the newspaper?
I would love to know how you achieve this delicate balance with your children.
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