Google the phrase Raising a sustainable baby and you come up with hundreds of entries, articles, and posts that deal with raising an organic baby. Check your search phrase again. You typed sustainable, right? How did organic pop up? Are the two synonymous?
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. Organic simply relates to an organism, a living entity. I was trying to search for raising a child that is guided with the capacity to endure. Perhaps what I was really looking for is how my wife and I will raise our soon-to-be-born daughter in a way that emulates sustainable economics involving ecological economics where social, cultural, health-related and monetary/financial aspects are integrated. And in extension of all that we want to raise a child who is willing to take on a world where she meets the challenge of international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. But how in the world do you do that? How can we expect to instill those sort of understandings in a child who will no doubt be more interested in her toes, followed by dirt and worms, shortly replaced by pre-teen heartthrobs, which precede fashion and TXT messaging?
In my post on Raising the Budget Conscious Baby I talked about ways in which to raise a child (or should I say ways in which we intend on parenting) in order to avoid the media madness that oftentimes takes our children hostage. My primary reason for writing that post was to allow myself to focus on how we can raise a child to be in the world but not of the world and furthermore how to endure or sustain.
What I have come to is that while organic foods, yoga, exercise, dye-free fibers, chemical-free beauty products, cloth diapers, and the like are all wonderful things and certainly have their place, they don’t speak to real sustainability. Our children will not be babies forever and at some point they will have the ability and the freedom to make their own decision. We, as parents, owe it to them to instill in them a greater sense of right and wrong, fairness, stewardship, and tolerance, than perhaps ever before. So again, I ask, how do we do this?
If I may quote Thomas J. Watson, Sr. – former president of IBM – who said, “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.”
We shall raise sustainable children (we will raise our sustainable daughter) by example and not by sermon. We will walk and not just talk. And furthermore, we will walk behind when needed, in front when required, and alongside when allowed. And it all started just last week.
I posted on Facebook the following status
“…but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.” What a quote. I am thinking of what I would do with just a dollar if I could. Or what if everyone who wanted to give us a baby gift instead gave a dollar to a cause we believed in. Would you plant a tree in the name of our daughter? Would you help end illiteracy? Would you build a well? What would you do with your dollar?”
And what response we received. Over 20 people answered and asked where they could send their dollar. My wife and I quickly talked. We are older parents and as such decided that to celebrate the birth of our first (and only, so far) child we would ask each of our Facebook friends (all 911 of them) to donate $1 to a cause to be named on the birthday of our daughter, Tilly Madison. We explained both by status update and through email that we wanted to start on Day 1 of Tilly Madison’s life living by example; showing her what kind of person we prayed she would be. And one week later we have raised $85 with more promised.
Sustainability is not just about how to take care of yourself. It is about how to endure in a world that is not all about you. It is about growing and adapting and leading and following and knowing when to say when. And for us it is about giving love – from day 1 – without expecting anything in return.