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This article touches on some of my anxiety about the future. I wished for a bit more from the author. She seems not to really commit to the idea that we have an uncertain future and global warming will play a huge role in that. As a mother, how do we cope with the fact that our children (and grandchildren, etc.) are most likely going live in a climate-dangerous world?How, as a parent, can I cope with such overwhelming anxiety? And it is, at times, overwhelming.The books recommended by the article sound interesting, and I have library-requested/bought some from Amazon.I wish the author had been more committed to seriously addressing these issues rather than taking a more "light-hearted" and "let's laugh at myself" type approach.In my mind (and I'm not the stockpiling sort), the trashing of the planet is about to come to a head, and I am terrified about what will happen in my lifetime, doubly so because I now have young children.
Definitely one to make you think. We are becoming more self-sufficient, but any crash would still be a hard shock.
Excellent essay. I have been thinking along these same lines ever since this summer. I run a green B&B and one guest, an environmentalist, told me she intends to teach her niece survival skills ...
This essay expanded, more articulately than I could, on a growing sense I've had that it's time our family learned to fend for itself a bit more. I'm not sure how that is impacting our parenting, but it's probably high time I learned how to sew a button back on my own damn self.
I loved this essay. My husband and I talk about these things and try to balance living in the current state of affairs while making sure we are flexible and have real life skills for anything that might happen. This did inspire me to create a better emergency kit and I liked her take on it. Well written.
Thank you for bringing this issue out into the open... Sometimes I felt like I was the only young mother aware of these issues and how potentially serious they could be.Climate change is only one possible danger to our economic and personal well-being. Please take a look at Robert Hirsch's new book, "The Impending World Energy Mess."Being self-sufficient is only one point to take away from this, however. This article's best point is that our community is our best investment.
Just so it's known McKibben has his heart in the right place but he is a complete idiot with his remark on biofuels. That is a myth that should be put to bed immediately. American doesn't export corn, as it is mostly GMO and other countries won't take it. The food riots were caused by oil companies and profit takers gaming the market causing the price of corn to rise. Let's not let McKibben's over simplistic view of how the market works color the potential for huge benefits from using biofuels. See alcoholcanbeagas.com
Insomnia has its benefits; in the middle of the night I finally put my finger on what's wrong with this silly piece. Americans have been living with the looming threat of catastrophe at least since 1945, and generations of kids have grown up with the ideas that total annihilation is around the corner and that we are rapidly destroying the environment. I was born in the 60s and I read Jonathan Schell's "The Fate of the Earth," monitored the Doomsday Clock, and marched for nuclear disarmament before I went to college. Likewise, the generation before mine was motivated by "Silent Spring" to establish the EPA, pass the Clean Air Act, and ban at least some of the more deadly chemicals in the environment.The answer to this anxiety as a parent is to raise kids to be politically active and socially conscious, and to teach them useful skills--not privy-building or beer-brewing, but critical thinking, clear writing, and persuasive argument--the kinds of skills you get from a good old liberal education.
I have long wanted a return in the schools to more practical skills. In the Detroit Public Schools, my alma mater once was a sewing and cooking mecca. Everybody in school wanted to eat in the commercial foods cafeteria where students served what they were learning to cook, instead of the regular cafeteria where the special often was mystery meat.I learned to sew in high school. And now I know when a garment is quality as in worth the money. As a result I get good clothes cheap and not cheap clothes dear. The upshot is that students need food and clothes and it is an elite view indeed to think that each one is going to have a cook and a valet at their service. Even without disaster it comes down to students being able to make the most of their resources, and to instill confidence about their basic necessities of life.The other point about getting along with others goes with the point about confidence. That confidence comes from something real and not the idea that the confidence arise solely in those who can outmaneuver their fellow human being. thanks for this article.
Our kids have lived in a tent for 6 months (one as a newborn), they have gone 6 weeks without seeing another living soul except family. They know most of the wild edible plants in our area and are learning to garden and make fires, weave grasses and roots, hunt and fish, and importantly go to the bathroom sans toilet paper in a sanitary manner (far more sanitary than with T.P.. We have lived this way because it is an essential part of our education and preparation for everything life has to throw at us. I think people are starting to see that (at least those who are "awake.")Kudos for encouraging others to learn these vital skills, to gain the associated confidence and optimism, and to thusly be better able to avoid needing to use the skills (anybody who ever made their own bow/drill fire remembers to bring a lighter).
As another Renee, who was also born in the 60's, I completely agree with renee's comment.
Two years ago I wrote the first draft of a non-fiction book tentatively titled "Big Picture Parenting: The A-Z of Raising Resilient Capable Kids". Your article has energised me to push on with publishing it as it answers so many questions for parents wondering what they can do now to help their children become resourceful and resilient and part of the solution in their community...disasters or no disasters, prosperity or paucity. Thanks for the inspiration!
Mayor observes the compulsion parents feel to enroll their kids in anything they show the slightest interest or ability in. I constantly resist this myself. But I disagree that it is specifically about anxiety over their kids futures, as Margaret Nelson posits. I think it is further evidence of our culture of instant gratification, instant fulfillment and outsourcing services. There are so many options available for these enrichment classes and parents have so little time to teach themselves. Parents are used to ordering whatever they need instantly online, so if their kid seems drawn to African drumming, that need can be met and we've done our job as parents quickly and efficiently, without committing any real time ourselves. I'm often struck by my own desire to put my kids in some kind of cool class, when in fact the would probably get more out of just sitting around with me and listening to stories, or baking banana bread, or some expertise I already possess and can pass on to them.
I live off the grid, homeschool, raise animals and vegetables for our consumption, and utilize a lot of old timer skills on a regular basis. My husband and I have four sons, and we are very concerned that knowledge workers will be of far less value when our sons are old enough to support themselves. Ironically, my husband is programmer, but that is just the day job. Eventhough our income relies on an incredibly Western/Upper class job, neither of us believe that college is a required stop on the journey of life. We have both taken classes, but neither of us has a degree. For us in particular, going to college would have been a financial set back. School is a great place for learning skills to better yourself. I don't see a point in learning antiquated ideas about the way people would like things to be. This article was a good jumping off point. However, I would like to see more parents talk about teaching real skills and resiliency to their children.
It is not easy to raise our kids nowadays.
This is one of those articles that voices some of the nagging concerns of all the individuals who are at least partially aware of the world around them. It's a case of "if I don't laugh, I'll cry..."
It touches my concerns and hopes for the future. The best thing reading it was, I have a choice to connect with them now, guide them now and love them now. Sometimes it gets so caught up in the worry. Thank you for a great article.
I think this article distracts from the reality of emergencies. We're all more likely to be in a car accident or outdoor/sporting injury than a global disaster. Do you know how to remain calm and practice basic first aid? Everything after that is an extra. Sewing is a great skill, I do it myself as a hobby. But no emergencies are going to require you to make a ball gown out of the curtains, a la Scarlet O'Hara. You can wrap the curtain around you and figure out the sewing part later when you have some down time.I think kids should be allowed to do classes that they're interested in even if they don't seem practical. You don't have to give in to every whim, but letting them make some of their own decisions will give them confidence and let them know you trust them. Those are going to be good survival skills.For more physical skills, send your kids to camp, sign up for Habitat for Humanity builds as a family, or join those programs that send you to work in developing countries. It's one thing to be prepared, but it's another to let that obsession with preparedness run your life and prevent you from actually enjoying life while it's remaining disaster-free.
The power went out for a few million people in California yesterday. How did we respond to our suddenly "unplugged" lives? Neighbors met and shared resources, often for the first time. Spontaneous house and block parties erupted, so people could share food, beer and melting ice cream. Most of us felt a sense of ease and relief at the simplicity we had been reduced to, and instead of passively disappearing into a video screen in our homes, we got out the guitars and drums and entertained each other. We saw more stars than possible at any other time in the city. While our family considered ourselves pretty well prepared (we had propane, camp stove, candles, dry goods, water, and lots of skills), we were grateful to find a few glaring holes in our preparedness (notably a set-aside supply of cash and batteries) that we can now attend to in the event of a true disaster.While it was wonderful that neighbors spontaneously helped one another yesterday, we could have all done more for each other and for ourselves if we had ALL been better prepared. Not knowing when the power would be restored, I couldn't help but think we would have been better off if a few of us had a big garden and few chickens. Kids make great chicken-keepers, and even a toddler can help in the garden!Thanks for this timely article.
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