By Jennifer Silverstein, LCSW, jennisilverstein.com, Blog 2021.
“Every time I rescue a bee, it matters. If I didn’t rescue it, the hive may not have enough bees, and then there’d be less honey, and less flowers, and less fruit, and when people go shopping there would not be enough for them to eat.” – Dani, 7 years old
I have spent 7 years teaching her about the interdependence of all life, and our place in the web of living beings. Yet upon hearing her articulate the values I so carefully instilled, I am filled with a range of contradicting emotions. Wonder at her growing capacity to understand the world she sees, delight and pride in her thoughtfulness and compassion, concern about the (developmentally normal) level of responsibility she believes she holds, and a piercing sadness at the truth she has yet to know: That bees are dying at an alarming rate; their disappearance has already begun to impact food production, and there are no current solutions. Her individual efforts to save each bee she sees, precious as they are, will do nothing to change this devastating fact. I am afraid of what will happen to her when she finds that out.
How, as parents, do we navigate the dual responsibilities to teach and inform our children of the world they will be inheriting, while also protecting them from undo suffering? When and how do we introduce them to the changes the climate crisis is imposing upon their home and the world? How do we hold space for the anxiety and despair that accompanies their growing realization of the climate crisis? How do we model right action for them when our own stress reactivity is so triggered?
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