parenting

FATHERS, FAMILIES & CLIMATE CHANGE

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By conference convener, Stephanie Mines PhD.

My father was not available to protect me from the dangers of life, nor show me how to navigate the world. He abandoned our family, returning periodically only to disappear again. We later discovered that he had other families and that I had siblings whom I’d never met. The situation was deeply disturbing and destabilizing. It caused me to feel that the world is unreliable and dangerous; that there is little protection from its vicissitudes, that there are no safe spaces. And the concept of the healthy masculine was foreign to me.

This aspect of my personal history now texturizes how I feel about the threat of climate change and how I respond to it. I imagine that others with similar or related trauma in their early histories, whose nervous systems are triggered by the threat that climate change poses, respond to it (consciously or subconsciously) as they did to threats experienced in their developmental years.

I sense a groundswell of varied fear responses to climate change all over the world. Denial is one way that fear is registered, along with despair and panic. I will explore the relationship between collective trauma and climate change in future blogs, but for this one I want to look at the vulnerability of the fatherless because that is particularly close to my heart.

As the convener of the conference, CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: Our Legacy for the Earth (CCC19) I am being rewarded regularly by meeting remarkable people who are magnetized to my vision. After years of teaching with groups dominated by women I find I am now actively dialoguing and collaborating with more and more inspired and inspiring men. I chose to interview two of these remarkable gentlemen about how their experience of fatherhood shapes their response to climate change.

Jarvis Smith is the founder of My Green Pod, the UK’s leading network and publication about ethical, green, climate change conscious businesses. Jarvis is also a father and a grandfather. My Green Pod is a vehicle for his passionate activism on behalf of the Earth. He wants people to know that they can make conscious choices about how they spend their money and use their energy.

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“I want to be a model of courageous and empowered change-making possibility for my children,” Jarvis told me. “Being a father is what really woke me up to this path. The birth of my first child made me realize that everything I do impacts the future. Having developed a vehicle for showing everyone that they can live an ethical lifestyle, I now realize that it is my job to encourage a movement of connectedness. I have to demonstrate the importance of relationship and how all of us have a responsibility for human evolution.”

Jarvis validates the sense I had when I envisioned CCC19 – that it is first and foremost about children, parents and families. “Parents are the leaders in this movement,” he states passionately. “We have to prepare all children for climate change. We can’t be lazy. We have to be inspiring examples. We need to show our children how to connect with Nature. I have conspired with the Earth to be her ambassador. And I have to join with other Earth Ambassadors to remind everyone to find their skill and give it to the Earth. This actually feels like my true calling in life. I see us all gathering at CCC19 to shine this bright light to the world.”

Robin Grille is an Australian psychologist and author of Parenting for a Peaceful World. He is also an avid and articulate environmental activist. He merges his understanding of natural parenting with his awareness of climate change and lives the two in seamless relationship. He is a father.

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Robin tells me with piercing honesty that he feels “despair and outrage when contemplating the reckless continuation of fossil fuel related profiteering. I consider this a genocidal industrial pursuit. Parenthood has sharpened these feelings for me and made them acute. Inaction feels intolerable to me.”

Robin’s protest comes from deep within the well of his profound and compassionate understanding of human development. “My research enables me to see that the economic rationale that dominates today is little more than the symptom of punished, shamed, abused and emotionally neglected childhoods – en masse. Eco-holocaust reveals the widespread frontal lobe damage and high cortisol caused by toxic authoritarian parenting and education.” Like Jarvis, Robin identifies Nature as a third parent who can open the collective heart and heal the collective brain, which is a central theme of CCC19. Jarvis and Robin echo the crucial importance of having parents attend CCC19.

While I am used to women speaking up for future generations, hearing men being outspoken about their devotion to children and their willingness to protect them, soothes my nervous system and makes my heart soar. I hope the same is  true for others reading this piece who have lived fatherless lives and who long for the healthy masculine. CCC19 is a place where dads like Jarvis and Robin can express their vibrant and daring fatherly love for their own children and the children of the world. These dads affirm each child’s sacred birthright – to be nurtured and protected and live in harmony with Nature.

If you are a parent or a grandparent, CCC19  offers you a space to bring your concerns for the future of humanity and your willingness to be part of a worldwide community of stewards for our children. It is from the base of our collective wisdom that the way forward will emerge. When you register for the conference, please consider sponsoring other parents so that they can attend, if this is within your scope of possibility.