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Published on July 29th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor


Los Angeles’ Michael Amin: Green Parenting Begins with Green Living

There’s a trend happening in many areas of North America and in some ways it’s proving to be a double-edged sword. After decades of suburban sprawl and many years of families around North America moving away from the city to the suburbs, the trend is reversing.

People are now re-embracing city centers and returning to live in downtown core areas. Last year, The Wire published an in-depth piece on the trend, citing that more than 269.9 million people now live in cities and surrounding areas, and highlighting that this population shift began roughly around 2010, or when North American economies began recovering from the Great Recession.

In many ways, people returning to live, work and play in cities is good news for environmental causes. After all, more people living in city centers means more people living closer to work, which cuts down on commute times, greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the negative impact of suburban development.

On the other hand, there are certain consequences to residents returning to urban living, consequences that are sometimes not as readily apparent. Opportunities for our children to experience nature and outdoor living may be one of these consequences.

It’s been well-documented that children who live in major urban areas on average spend less time and have less exposure to natural environments. Over the years, much has been written about the negative impact this lack of exposure has to a child’s development and to the development of their “ecopsychological self”.

Michael Amin is the founder of Primex World Inc. He also leads The Maximum Difference Foundation, or MDF, a Los Angeles charitable organization that he founded and that works toward helping men and women become better parents and role models for their children.

As Michael Amin comments, developing an appreciation and respect for the earth and instilling eco-friendly habits in young children should plays a large role in good parenting.

“At The Maximum Difference Foundation, we do a lot of work in motivating parents to educate themselves in the art and science of good parenting through reading books on the subject, watching videos, going to seminars, and talking to child therapists,” Michael Amin says. “However, what should also be realized is that parents who instill in their sons and daughters eco-friendly, forward-thinking habits will also develop happier, better adjusted children. In the end, both the environment and our children stand to benefit.”

In 2014, an interesting paper by White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group explored in-depth the impact children’s lack of exposure to the natural world has both on children themselves and to environmental causes. As the paper communicates, the amount of time children have to play has decreased over the years; their experiences are also now dominated by media and written language. Simultaneously, the amount of time children now play in the natural world has also decreased.

As a result, children’s motor skills, their coordination and balance and agility have all been negatively impacted. Worse, children who are unexposed to nature never get a chance to develop their sense of themselves in relation to the natural world, leading them to be less likely to consider the environment once they reach adulthood.

As Los Angeles’ Michael Amin adds, the responsibility of developing a healthy appreciation for the earth in children falls ultimately on the parents.

By valuing time spent in nature and by encouraging eco-friendly habits in their children, parents can make a positive impact – even in families who live in highly urban areas.

There are plenty of articles on the topic of how to positively influence your child as a parent, articles that are worth checking out. Perhaps the first and best way to develop more eco-conscious children is to prioritize regularly going on nature trips as a family and spending time outside of the city and in nature.

Still, there are other opportunities to develop green habits in urban children. Parents can make a priority of going to inner-city farmer’s markets with their children or introducing them to hydroponics and composting.

In today’s media-driven world, it’s true that raising well-adjusted children has never been more difficult. With that said, parents need to make their children aware that they are a product and a part of a natural environment – the environment and future generations are counting on it.

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