How do we get people to pay attention to and then to ACT on the climate crisis? This is a question that those of us in the climate movement struggle with daily. At Climate Mama, we feel that we can get people to pay attention and be moved to action, when they hear and see people around them acting, caring and taking a stand; particularly when it come to their children’s future and now. We are honored to share a special post with you, by Climate Mama Kathy Mohr-Almeida. Kathy speaks to us from her heart and her head.
As the mother of a 12 year old climate activist and as a child and family psychotherapist, Kathy asks and answers some important questions. How much do we tell our children about the crisis at hand? Should they or should they not be involved – along side us or in the lead – as we fight for change, for our human species and to protect the world they are growing up in? How do we show them we support their activism?
Empowering our Children
by Kathy Mohr-Almeida
When Regan turned the bulls loose, greed eclipsed everything.
At that time, I was close to my daughter’s age, and I remember discussing seemingly alarmist predictions about environmental degradation. I felt sad about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and couldn’t imagine the ecological impact of the population explosion. What could I do about these problems? I told myself that world leaders would address these issues when they became critical, that my tiny voice wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and that finding people to collaborate with would prove too difficult. I had no outlet for action, my life went on as usual, and our collective resources continued to be exploited and ruined.Fast-forward 30 years, and the climate crisis has emerged as the single greatest threat to humanity, and it looms ominously close to our immediate lives in the forms of extreme weather and loss of biodiversity. I have a 12 year old daughter living in the midst of these harrowing circumstances. My daughter understands that world leaders have done a very poor job of caring for our planet, and in response, she has chosen to address the problems herself. She participates in climate activism with multiple communities around the world, protests, demonstrates, speaks, and makes art about the climate crisis. She is making an impact on the problem.
As a child and family psychotherapist, I frequently ponder the merits of a carefree childhood, compared to my daughter’s activism-filled experience. I have concluded that my daughter’s way of being is preferential in many ways because she is living in alignment with her passions. She is learning that her voice is powerful, that people recognize her talents, and they support her mission. Further, my daughter directly benefits from her efforts. The skills of collaboration, public speaking, research, writing, and advocacy my daughter is gaining through her activism will serve her throughout her life. Most important, my daughter is learning that she holds power and personal accountability for her life, our democracy, and the well-being of those with whom we share our planetary home.
Like many parents, I believe it is my moral obligation to be the best parent I can be for my daughter. For me this means supporting my daughter’s work on a very human problem, the spiritual illness of unchecked greed. My daughter’s work, along with other outspoken youth, is helping to stabilize the climate and engender social justice. These are not easy tasks to contend with, and our kids are up for the challenge.
Kathy Mohr-Almeida Ph.D.is a child and family phsychotherapist, an author, educator and journalist.