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We need, they say, the environment in which we developed as a species. A prominent defender of this hypothesis is the botanist, Hugh Iltis, who writes:. Let us try to define a human environment, one in which mankind could find maximal fulfillment. May we not say that the best environment is one in which the human animal can have maximum contact with the type of natural environment in which it evolved and for which it is genetically programmed without sacrificing the major advantages of civilization Iltis concludes that, "like the need for love, the need for nature, the need for its diversity and beauty, has a genetic basis.

We cannot reject nature from our lives because we cannot change our genes. Such destruction, writes Paul Shepard, is "an amputation of man. The sack of skin that encloses the human organism does not contain all of "human nature. The epidermis of the skin is ecologically like a pond surface or a forest soil, not a shell so much as a delicate interpenetration. It reveals the self ennobled and extended, as part of the landscape, because the beauty and complexity of nature are continuous with ourselves. In a significant sense, the human organism is the natural world which created it.

Nature, which nourished us as species, sustains us still. There may be more truth than poetry in the worn metaphor, "Mother Nature. Could we survive in an entirely artificial environment? Perhaps we could. However, the bio-humanist would argue, it would be a much diminished life. The bio-humanist hypothesis, while superficially plausible and persuasive, has not been conclusively demonstrated. In fact, beneath the surface lies controversy.

Cultural anthropologists, sociologists, and behavioral psychologists have long believed that homo sapiens is "plastic" in this sense. And yet, human beings are essentially alike in their genetic inheritance. The anthropologist, Clyde Kluckhohn, estimates that "probably more than 95 per cent of the biological equipment of any human being is shared with other human beings. Many celebrated studies of identical twins, separated in infancy and raised in contrasting households, substantiate the "plasticity theory.

Standing in stark contrast to this "plasticity theory" are the sociobiologists, who argue that patterns of human thought, habitat, and motivation, and even of moral belief and behavior, are of genetic origin. Such a view might appear to be supportive of the bio-humanist theory. However, in a recent book, Edward O. Wilson and Charles Lumsden argue that even cultural traits and variations among cultures might be genetically based. Bio-humanism will be difficult either to confirm or refute because of the recalcitrant difficulty in separating the respective roles of heredity and environment in determining behavior and taste.

But if we cannot conclude whether or not we have a fundamental constitutional need for wild nature, at least the plausibility and possibility of the bio-humanist hypothesis mandates cautious and conservative dealings with nature. If, at length, we conclude that mankind can manage quite well without wilderness, there will be time enough to dismantle it. However, if we should eventually discover that humans do indeed have a deep need to be in the presence of the kind of natural species, landscapes and ecosystems that produced them, we may arrive at that realization too late to reclaim our natural legacy.

If we do, in fact, have a genetically coded need for nature, then our encounters with nature should evoke feelings of unity, harmony, and affirmation. That it sometimes does, and profoundly so, is abundantly clear in the historical records of religion, art and literature. Was it not in the wilderness that Moses, Gautama Buddha, Jesus and other great prophets and teachers found their enlightenment and mission? Candor requires acknowledgment of a contrary trend. The early colonists in North America regarded the wilderness as dreadful, alien, satanic.

Granting that there are contrary responses to wilderness, let us focus on the affirmative response. The evocation of feelings of wonder, harmony, unity, and reverence might be available to most of us as we encounter nature. However, rather than illustrate this evocation with a quotation from a literary masterpiece, I will share the reflections of a student and friend of mine:. The place simply exists and I go when happy or sad. It is a steep climb up to a small pool where a creek flows year round. It is a place where opposites come together and inner conflict becomes unified.

For an afternoon, an evening and a dawn I live an effortless existence both empty and marvelous. The before and the after become one and it appears absurd to consider anything but moments. Twilight creeps slowly up and down the mountain. It is creeping slowly inside me and the heart and mind ebb into stillness with the silent rays. Duality is an absurd impossibility. I am no longer outside the circle but have blended with all and am humbled.

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An exhilaration burns within as the flow of the circle becomes my flow. Thoughts no longer are linked but become separate and tranquil. There is land, life and myself and all three create each other. I stumble in my search for words. Darkness releases me and I stumble no more.

The water whispers sleep and it is easy. A crack appears upon the horizon and dawn escapes. I wash and drink from the creek that has been my companion during the night. The clarity of its water imparts a mental and spiritual clarity. I am bold and refreshed and the mountain calls. The life of the mountain seems to have grown overnight. Could it be an inner growth? Again the mountain calls and I seek a spot where the whole valley may be absorbed at a glance. With simple effort I relocate and relax with the sunrise, Needs are no more than this.

Wants pass into absurdity. The sun proceeds with its artwork across the sky. I descend into the valley and approach what was left behind for a few brief moments. The peace lies in knowing I will soon return. Thank Nature that the call of the mountain is strong and sounds often in the lonely hidden regions of my heart and mind.

When we destroy wild species and wilderness areas, we diminish the opportunity for experiences such as this. Such a loss, I submit, is grievous and irredeemable. The essential message that the biologist and the ecologist have for the moral philosopher is that man evolved from, and remains a member of, the natural community. Man is a natural being and thus remains subject to nature's laws, whether or not we are aware of this dependence or desire it.

We have long believed that this was not so, that mankind was of a special order and separate from nature. Although the scientifically literate now acknowledge our natural origins, we still allow ourselves to believe that with our remarkable growth in scientific knowledge and technical power we might declare our independence from the life community. The hard facts seem to indicate that we cannot, and that we will continue to believe otherwise at our great peril.

While ecological science recommends the holistic point of view, the moral philosopher need not learn of this approach from the ecologist, since most moral philosophers have long recognized that morality makes no sense when viewed reductively. A rational code of morality, they acknowledge, is not to be comprehended simply by summing up the separate tastes, preferences, desires and wills of each member of the community. Morality is intelligible only when human conduct is viewed holistically, systemically, contextually, from the point of view of an integrated community of persons.

However, while articulating an ecological ethic may present little difficulty to the moral philosopher, he faces his greatest challenge as he attempts to justify such an ethic. Then he must take account of significant differences between social communities and life communities. We will return to this point near the close of the paper. Earlier in section III I described how, at certain pivotal moments in the history of science, radical reconstructions of theory and redefinitions of concepts have accomplished "cognitive breakthroughs" -- "paradigm shifts" which have resolved previously insoluble puzzles and contradictions, extended the range of prediction and explanation, and simplified the logical and conceptual structure of science.

Does moral understanding undergo similar transformations of structure and extension of scope in the course of its development? While the history of ethical thought seems to indicate that it does, even more startling are recent investigations by the psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg indicating that a series of cognitive transformations occur in the course of each person's moral development.

He then gropes for a new theoretical structure that will realign and thus resolve these puzzles and contradictions by assimilating them into a more coherent system of thought with a larger scope of application. Kohlberg's studies of the psychology of moral development suggest that the ecosystemic perspective might offer a better mode of viewing our moral responsibilities toward nature, "better," that is, than the traditional and prevalent anthropocentric view.

If, in fact, an ecologically oriented morality constitutes an advancement in moral thinking over the man-centered view, then previously insoluble puzzles and contradictions might "fall into place" in the new structure, thus "harmonizing" previous "cognitive dissonance. Anthropocentrism proclaims our capacity, even our "right," to manage the natural estate exclusively for human advantage. The ecological moralist denies both the capacity and the right to do this. Following Leopold, Joseph Wood Krutch warns:. The whole concept of exploitation is so false and so limited that in the end it will defeat itself and the earth will have been plundered no matter how scientifically and farseeingly the plundering has been done.

It is not a sentimental but a grimly literal fact that unless we share this terrestrial globe with creatures other than ourselves, we shall not be able to live on it for long. Support for this view is found in the accumulating, dreadful account of the cost of our careless exploitation of nature: uncontrolled population growth, resource depletion, species extinction, and a widespread poisoning of the biosphere through casual dumping of the refuse of our industrial civilization.

Awareness of all this should create a "dissonance" in the world view of the human chauvinist. If man is so wise, powerful and capable of managing his private planet, all this should not be happening. Anthropocentrism also creates a "moral dissonance" which might well be resolved through the ecosystemic view.

While massive exploitation of nature might seem to serve the interests of people we care about, such as our neighbors and children, even such "altruistic" solicitude for our contemporaries may be felt to be inconsistent with widespread, persistent and intuitive admiration for natural landscapes and species. Promptings, perhaps, of "bio-humanistic" impulses? Thus one may feel a measure of discomfort about the casual destruction in a few decades of species and habitats which have evolved and endured over millions of years.

But in what moral terms does the human chauvinist articulate, much more defend, a case for restraining such biotic destruction and exploitation? Moral concepts such as "rights," "duties," "justice," "responsibility," which emerge from the evaluation of persons and their communities, seem strained and inappropriate when applied to nature.

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There even appears to be some difficulty in extending the concept of "rights" to apply to future generations which, after all, do not exist now when we are making decisions that will significantly affect the quality of their lives in the future. Somehow these points in "defense" of wild creatures seem rather crass and morally irrelevant. Something essential seems to be missing from this "defense. It leaves too many puzzles and contradictions. To summarize: the scientific "ecosystemic view" informs even the anthropocentric approach to environmental ethics, for, when we talk of DDT in mothers' milk and strontium 90 from ocean dump sites appearing in our tuna salad, we are employing the concept of the "community of nature" specifically the concept of the "trophic pyramid" in a manner that even a human chauvinist might appreciate.

But an ecological moralist goes beyond this. He holds that the ecological point of view, as a methodology and perspective, need not and should not simply serve our purposes. It is arbitrary to utilize the ecologist's view of "the community of nature" just to secure mankind's short-term, immediate advantage. Instead, the ecological moralist draws out the moral implications of the ecological perspective, and thus he argues that man is not only a part of a "web of life," but further indicates that there is a deep and basic inconsistency in identifying oneself as a community member in fact, and as a master of, and ultimate justification for, that community in the moral sense.

Moving from summary to anticipation, I suggest that the basic inconsistency between factual membership and moral mastery cannot be psychologically sustained. Thus, the sort of anthropocentric arrogance that leads us casually to eradicate species of millions of years of development will "feed back" to affect our attitudes and behavior toward members of our own species and toward our own habitat.

The self-seeking frame of mind that leads to and manifests a willingness to shred and destroy ecosystems of countless ages of standing, and which even urges an active participation in such destruction, is not a frame of mind that is well designed to promote moral qualities that one might prefer to find in one's neighbors -- such qualities as mutual respect, restraint, humility, and loyalty to one's community. So far I have argued for the advantage of viewing our species and our responsibilities from an ecological perspective and against the anthropocentric point of view. I have also offered empirical indications as to why we should value natural areas and preserve biotic complexity and diversity.

The remainder of my remarks focus upon moral psychology. After a remarkably extended period of oversight and neglect, moral philosophers are once again adopting a psychological perspective and examining the perennial issues of good and bad, right and wrong, obligations and rights, etc. Many philosophers and I include myself believe that apart from these psychological considerations, attempts to solve ethical questions are pointless and unavailing.

And yet, by bringing these considerations into moral contemplation and controversy, we complicate these moral issues enormously. Be that as it may, this focus of attention on human sentiments, needs, motives, habits, capacities and fulfillment remains indispensable to moral philosophy. My discussion of the application of moral psychology to an ecological ethic focuses on basically two themes: first of all, the need for self-transcending concern, and second, what has been called "the moral paradox" -- an observation, reiterated throughout the history of religious and philosophical ethics, that one's self-interest is best served by not seeking one's self-interest.

Through these psychological considerations we may find that, viewed in the full systemic context, an operative, ecologically-oriented moral policy toward nature - a policy that regards the "interests of nature" in addition to, and perhaps even prior to, immediate human concerns -- is a policy that is ultimately most fulfilling of human aspiration and most deserving of human loyalty. The anthropocentrist asks: "Do we need to need species that we do not need?

It is a simple logical truth that we do not need what we do not need. End of question. But assign different senses to the word "need," as I believe we appropriately can and we might get this paraphrase: "Is human life enriched by caring for things that are of no apparent use to human beings. In another work I have presented the following characterization of "self transcendence":. By claiming that there is a basic human need for "self transcendence," I am proposing that as a result of the psycho-developmental sources of the self and the fundamental dynamics of social experience, well-functioning human beings identify with, and seek to further, the well-being, preservation, and endurance of communities, locations, causes, artifacts, institutions, ideals, etc.

Thus we cannot regard our decisions and the values which we hold to be restricted to and isolated within ourselves. This claim has a reverse side to it; namely that individuals who lack a sense of self-transcendence are acutely impoverished in that they lack significant, fundamental, and widespread capacities and features of human moral and social experience. Such individuals are said to be alienated, both from themselves and from their communities.

If such individuals lack concern for self-transcending projects and ideals because of a total absorption with themselves, they are said to be narcissistic personalities. It is no small ingredient in the production of great works of art and literature, in the choice of careers in public service, education and scientific research, and so forth. In all this variety, however, there is a central, generic motive; namely, for the self to be part of, to favorably affect, and to value for itself the well-being and endurance of something that is not oneself.

I have proposed three positive arguments in the defense of the claim that healthy human beings need self-transcending concerns. In the first, the argument of "import transference," I point out that if an institution, place, organization, person or principle is important to an certain individual, that individual will regard that thing as intrinsically valuable -- i. He will care for its fate an appropriate word for this caring may be "love" even beyond the term of his own lifetime.

My second argument for self transcendence focuses upon the universal human awareness of physical mortality -- the knowledge each of us has that some day we too shall die. This awareness is the necessary price we pay for our capacities for self- consciousness and abstract knowledge. The anguish of the awareness of our inevitable physical decline and annihilation is measurably eased as we come to cherish and value things that endure. And to cherish things that endure into the future is likewise to admire their history and evolution.

The third argument for self-transcending concern is derived from a long tradition of speculation in philosophical anthropology and a large body of empirical observation in the behavioral and social sciences. This argument contends that human cognitive life most fundamentally the awareness of self and the capacity for abstract reflective thought owes its development and sustenance to social life. We are able to internalize the concept of self as continuing entity only because we identify that self in a field of other selves.

Self awareness and thought are acquired by "drawing out," in the infant and child, an awareness of, and a concern for, things and persons around him. Indeed, this awareness of external persons and things would never develop without an interest in them. Thus the elements of knowledge and evaluation emerge concomitantly in the evolving mind and personality. If these reflections on the development of self-transcendent concern are essentially correct, then it follows that such concern is more than a moral desideratum; it is essential to the normal functioning of human personality.

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Self transcending concern may not be present in all human beings, for if this were the case, it would make no sense to claim that this trait is "morally desirable. In fact, adult human beings can be without self-transcending concern; they can, that is, be total egoists. These reflections suggest instead that total selfishness is neither functionally normal nor desirable. Such a mode of life exacts a high price in psychological stability and satisfaction.

We turn next to two negative arguments in support of the need for self-transcendent concern. If, as I have urged, self transcendence is vital to the human condition, then surely its absence should be seen to exact a high price in the life quality of those who are devoid of self-transcending interests and concerns. And here, I think, we find clear clinical evidence to support the claim that self- transcending concern is essential to psychological health and well-being.

In psychiatric and sociological literature a lack of active personal interest and involvement in external concerns and causes is called " alienation. When value is turned inward and focused directly and exclusively upon oneself and upon one's image of oneself, this is called narcissism. Narcissism is not only widespread in our present culture, it is even recommended and celebrated by such pop philosophers" as Ayn Rand, Robert Ringer, Richard Dyer and Werner Ehrhardt.

It has political expression in libertarianism and is reflected in that label often used to characterize the decade of the Seventies: "the me generation. The narcissist, he writes:. Although the narcissist can function in the everyday world and often charms other people. Erich Fromm adds that Narcissism is:.

The essence of all severe psychic pathology. For the narcissistically involved person, there is only one reality, that of his own thought processes, feelings and needs. The world outside is not experienced or perceived objectively, i. Narcissism is the opposite pole to objectivity, reason and love. The fact that utter failure to relate oneself to the world is insanity, points to the other fact: that some form of relatedness is the condition for any kind of sane living.

The narcissist is "looking out for number one.


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Neither mode of life is to be envied. Then what is the answer? How is one to find satisfaction in one's life? Paradoxically, one is to find it by renouncing the direct and deliberate search for personal satisfaction. Satisfaction and fulfillment are attained by valuing things other than oneself, not for the gratification that these others bring us, but for themselves. Happiness is found by reaching out, in admiration, reverence, and love, rather than through self-serving calculation.

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This is the paradox of morality. The paradox is expressed in religious literature, as when Jesus says: "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it" Matthew It then follows that deliberate attempts to maximize enjoyments directly, say through legislation, education, and policy- making, can not only be unavailing; even worse, they may be self-defeating. A clear example of such a policy paradox appears in attempts to manage natural landscapes and seascapes, or "useless" natural objects and species.

For example, when policy-makers or legislators ask, "Just what good are these wild creatures to us anyway? For it may be the case that, paradoxically, wild species are valuable "to us" precisely to the degree that they are valued and admired not for our sake and gratification but for themselves -- for what they are. It makes neither ecological nor moral sense to have regard and concern for the wild animals and not for the habitat and ecosystem in which they evolved and which sustains them.

As with wild species, we value the natural habitats and ecosystems for what they are: independent of us, complex, diverse, self- regulating, and with a long history of evolution and duration. To the degree that we "lose" our self-awareness in the contemplation of the wild -- and thus cast aside the impudent question, "But what good is all this to us? Many have charged that to love nature more one must love mankind less. To be sure, there are abundant examples of misanthropic nature lovers. But is a capacity for love some kind of depletable psychic resource?

Or is it, like musical talent or athletic skill, a capacity that is enhanced and strengthened through application? Perhaps a callous indifference to the value of the diverse and complex order of life forms in natural ecosystems, and to their long histories of evolution and maintenance, does not leave one with a greater capacity for love, altruistic solicitude, and moral responsibility toward humanity.

Even worse, perhaps such insensitivity to natural values is contagious and can spread to contaminate our moral stance toward fellow human beings. I suggest that rather than leaving a larger store of love available for humanity, an indifference to natural history, order and sustenance adversely affects our human relationships. Such self-regarding callousness, reflected in disregard and destruction of nature for immediate economic gain, sets a pattern of behavior that can contaminate the value and integrity of communal life.

Though I have been discussing the paradox of morality from the perspective of the individual, perhaps a stronger justification of altruism comes not from the point of view of the moral agent, but from the point of view of the system -- of the community. To "look out for number one" by calculating a maximization of "payoffs" for oneself, or, alternatively, to apply values exclusively in terms of one's own conduct, is to take what moral philosophers call the perspective of "the moral agent.

This conflict and the attempt to resolve it give immediate rise to the necessity for moral deliberation and to moral philosophy. Oh how I wish we could reclaim childhood for modern day kids. Thanks for lending your voice to the effort. Thank you for your lovely comment Tammie. And me too. There are a lot of passionate parents who agree so hopefully small changes will add up. Thanks again for visiting. Very inspiring. Oh thank you Miki. Sounds like we have a lot in common — I will visit your site. And what a wonderful service you are offering Dads.

Thanks so much for visiting and lovely to meet you. I just wanted to reach out and let you know that this is truly very close and dear to my heart. It is such a struggle to find this balance and the way you put the article together is simply beautiful. Hi Tracy, Great article! She is now 29 with a 3 yr old and 1 yr old. When she and her brother were about that age, my husband came home from a 1 month deployment and had read an article about children having 10 toys and no more! I was extremely hesitant, but tried it.

So true, less is more!! And, that was just with the toy issue. Love it Jeri! What a sign of the times when the old recommendation was 10 toys. Thanks so much for sharing. Thanks again for visiting and lovely to meet you! I came across this article and absolutely agree. For this same reason is why I am struggling on when to send our daughter to preschool.

She turns 4 in August. I hear from a lot of teachers that we need to send them to preschool for a good two years because they are required to know so much these days. Do you have any insight on this topic for me. Hi Jessica, I understand! He still seems so young so the thought of sending him essentially to school already seems so premature. My instinct it to tell you to follow yours and let your daughter be a kid as long as she can. Ask what exactly she would need to be able to know by the time she gets to school. My guess is one year would be plenty or as you say nothing and you could teach at home.

Kids have a healthy and natural love of learning and I fear forcing it too early can diminish it. Thanks again and lovely to meet you! Thank you for this! Although simple is my default, we have had to dramatically simplify due to some early childhood trauma in our family.

AND everyone of us is benefiting. Thank you so much for posting! I am looking forward to raising a wild, creative boy, but we all know that comes to an end, and soon he will be thrust into a world of bullies, student loan debt, homework, credit scores, and mortgages. So what is better? Welcome Scott! But in doing so they lose the opportunity for the joy of sleeping with their babies. It will build his confidence. It will shape him and give him resilience. And he will deal with the modern world when he has to. We live in North Vancouver which is on the edge of a city but also on the edge of wilderness.

We hope to build a cabin one day and immerse him even more in what nature has to offer. The unknown is scary but incredibly exciting. Welcome to the community and will be checking out your images on your website soon. We sure are — Vancouver, BC. We love Portland and Oregon — planning another trip down there this summer.

We rafted the Rogue a few years ago — just beautiful. Re the co sleeping thing, I co slept with all mine, it felt like it would go on forever, especially when the youngest got to around 5 years old and then just one day, they all decided that big boys sleep in their own bed. No pressure, no forcing and I am so glad we did that although I felt ashamed to tell the judgy parents who had their babies in cots on routines from a few weeks. Interestingly now some of the super strict, routine bound v judgy people are now having huge issues with their teenage children as they start to rebel HARD against the over authoritarian style of parenting.

I was given free reign to play and explore in the acres of wetland and forest behind my home growing up at the dead-end of a dirt road in the Hudson Valley of New York. But I was also raised by my grandmother and she was old-school. On my bike miles from home and did I fall off and come home covered in blood? Yup, at least twice. Great learning experience about how tough I was…. Kind of like, I think, kids who speak different languages. I travel quite a bit, and this is a useful thing when you are in different countries and cultures, or even dining in a formal restaurant or eating dumpstered food I have done both.

My particular childhood gave me many skills, but being comfortable in diverse environments is an awesome skill for a human being, period. You DO need real discipline to do that work though moreso than in many more structured jobs, actually. So well said Starre. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to write this heartfelt comment. We came across the idea of simple parenting about a year ago and continue to fight the urge to acquire more things, even if they were free.

Originally we gave away about 15 garbage bags of toys, clothes and household items but I think we are ready to do more. My oldest boy, 10, has high functioning autism and several months ago we simplified his bedroom. Here are a few of the things we have done so far: We took away his bed frame to keep items from hiding underneath. We limited his bookshelf to 12 books he picked 10 Garfield comics books.

He picked out just 7 outfits. He chose only 1 blanket, 1 pillow, 1 stuffed animal, 1 blankie and his very specialist toys are high on a shelf. He is a happier boy and is very proud of his clean, organized room. He loses fewer homework assignments and has been better behaved in school. Every week or so we have to go through his room again and take stuff out. More and more things work their way back in there.

There is a direct correlation of unwanted, negative behaviors and a congested room. When we moved to our community two years ago we saw no children. It appeared we lived in a neighborhood filled with retirees. They were all hiding away in their homes with parents too worried to send them outside. We have started to change the atmosphere, for what I believe, the better. The first time I sent my 7 year old on her bike down the street to see a friend I got a call from the neighbor telling me one of my children got out.

Yes, I know I explained to the stunned neighbor. It feels like how I grew up and I like it. Wow Elisabeth, what an inspiring story. Good on you for sending your 7 year old out on her bike. Keeping our kids safe is critically important but allowing them to thrive, develop confidence and their own decision making ability means we have to let them go a little.

Great to hear about what a positive impact minimizing toys and possessions has had. On one long trip my husband and I did in Mexico before my son was born I remember the sense of relief I found to only have two outfits to choose between, one hat, one pair of glasses. Thanks so much for visiting and lovely to meet you!

I just realised this has been great having people around but reading something struck a chord with me which was simplifying. We can do this with toys, possessions, daily practices such as food prep and eating and catching up with people!!! Overstimulating the kids and myself with visitors and too much food generosity of friends bringing something , I have brought upon myself!!!

Might try a few less people next time!! Thank you for sharing. Thank you Ruth — what a lovely comment. You are so right. I am thinking of taking it a lot further in my own life. Simplifying meals is a big one for me. I love being healthy but I find myself labouring over deciding what to make each night and then the time involved with cooking. I loved your ideas and simple really is best I think.

I think everyone is overwhelmed with modern life. A subject dear to my heart is bucking the norm and raising a child in a stress free atmosphere.

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We also lived in an urban environment, and our yard had a fort with a zip line, a monster sand box, and wading pool. In middle and high school years, a basement for networking computer games and sleepovers, and a kitchen for building your own pizza and cupcakes. Just be the house every kid wants to be at! He is very aware of persuasive advertising and is a minimalist. He has a huge network of friends and is an instigator of getting groups together to do activities. He tells me that if he ever has kids he will raise them the same even in this way more jazzed up world we live in.

We had many Family Only nights of board games or movies and we said no to unnecessary shopping. We certainly did things differently than our peers in our community. Our vacations were backpacking in national parks while our neighbors went to Hilton Head every year! Be bold and committed! Love it Lori! We have a LOT in common, and also with your son. Your vivid description had me imagining your home and it was absolutely wonderful. Good on you. It destroys our should otherwise. We just got back from a four hour hike with our son. We are all so much happier that way.

Thanks again for visiting and hope to hear from you again. Wow Lori. I wish I could be as bold as you. I grew up with lots of freedom on a farm miles out of any town and neighbours a few kms away at least but never chose that for my boys. It seems the peer pressure is sometimes greater than my parenting. We do limit screen time both computer and TV but get them outside to help me in my vege garden? No way. What a great article! This was obvious before he turned 2. I see a lot of the same struggles I had with social issues as a child, in my son, and I wonder if I may also be on the Autism Spectrum.

Having the two paragraphs at the beginning closely draw conclusions about too much stuff and children, and less stuff and ADHD, made it seem that children who have too much stuff may develop ADHD. This physical component is true with other spectrum disorders, too, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety disorders. Thus, children with this illness will definitely benefit from a simplified life, because their abilities to take in so much stimulus is limited! I think simplifying is a really good thing; it has been for us.

It allows him to process the more important things and not be distracted by the rest. They may have behavioral problems, neuroses, even, in very bad cases, show signs of traumatic disorders like PTSD. But things like ADHD are not caused by: bad parenting, bad nutrition, too much stuff, too much sugar, too many video games, not enough time outside. Sorry for the long post. And I do want people who have children with these disorders to know that what you state in the article DOES work! Even if you are neurotypical, having breathing room in your stuff and your life and your time creates peace.

Thank you for your comment AspieMom. This is a fantastic article. I grew up getting dirty, building forts, and playing outside all day. Thanks for the inspiration. Thank you Victoria — what lovely words! We have a lot in common. We just went for a four hour hike and he is napping next to me absolutely exhausted. So good! Thanks again for reading and welcome to Raised Good. Which is why it was worth it for us to leave everything behind and move to rural Missouri! Thank you for reading and good on you for making such a bold move.

I wrote a new post with some practical tips on simplifying which you can find here. Thanks again and lovely to meet you. There was little ADD in my day because we had little to do. Maybe you had one or two games or toys. The house had one TV with about five channels! Then we wonder why a certain number of kids seem to drop out mentally in middle school.

This is great! I have been trying to tell my friends this for years!


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Children in this day and age do not know what it means to be bored. So if it creates that much stress on an adult, think of what it does to a child! My youngest son who is 13, just yesterday, stated he was bored while we were out on a discovery mission that is what I call when I tell my husband to get in the car and just drive to see what area we can find to explore.

He asked how being bored is good. About a year ago, I got rid of cable. We now have 4 channels that we can get with the antenna. My kids no longer watch TV due to this. I have noticed a significant positive change in their school grades and my wallet since doing this. I am about to implement no screen phone or computer weekends. Good on you Bridget, that all sounds wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to comment and read. Lovely to meet you. This is a good read. We have a 6 years old whom we are trying to raise as well-rounded as she can be.

This is after noticing that she playing less with her toys and watching kids stuff on you tube and netflix. BUT, again, the academic was a surprise for us. I, believe, it may be because of the simplicity of her routine, despite her hectic activities. I also let her attend birthday parties she gets invited, because socially, she felt that acceptance from her peers, and it helps her a lot well-roundedly.

No pressure for academic. We read and we discuss math and science when she is curious. So, yes, simplicity, is the best way. My husbands brother was diagnosed with mental illness almost 10 years ago when he was around He lived a very simple childhood. He played outside until dark or dinner. He had very few toys because they were a family of 9, two adults plus seven children.

Scientifically a persons childhood has may have some impact if there is trauma but having to much or too much sensory processing does not cause most mental illness. Thank you for your comment and you raise an important point. Genetics, chemical imbalances and environmental influences obviously all play a role. For the vast majority of people however simplifying can help to mitigate the effects and in healthy but overwhelmed children can make them happier and calmer.

Thanks again for reading. I have two girls, 2 and 8. My 8 year old lives with her mother and is constantly busy going to dance, soccer, and is always around her mothers family, they go on vacation to the beach every year at the same time, travel together seems like always , and goes to the same school as her cousins. This drives me crazy, simply because my daughter is so hard to keep busy when I want down time during my visits. She easily gets bored and has to constantly be entertained by others.

My 2 year old lives with me, she had so many toys and refused to play with them simply because there were too many options. She prefers to play at a distance, and her favorite option is the crayons and a blank sheet of paper. She enjoys the company of others when they come to visit and seems to be a very happy child. I recently went through her toys and bagged up a large percentage of them and put them in storage, it seems that she plays in her room more often than before.

I encourage her to play creatively, and her TV time is limited only to relax before naps and bedtime. I live in an non fenced duplex in the city close to a busy road with very limited yardage, so it is crucial for me to provide activities inside the home that bring out creativity and fun. Thank you Nathan — thrilled to hear you enjoyed it! And sounds like you are creating such a healthy childhood for your young daughter. Appreciate your frustration with your older daughter — hopefully your ways may rub off on her mother.

Thanks again and welcome to RG. This is a brilliant article!! Thank you!! More peace, more organization, more time for laughter, hugs and kisses. More sanity for mom and a much better family dynamic. Their bedrooms have more space, more light. One thing we did this year that was life changing for us, was to not enrol our kids in any extracurricular lessons. No swimming, no ballet, no piano, no ice skating, no co-op — nothing! Instead, we go swimming as a family, we go to the library, we play the piano and sing together simply because we want to and we are all loving the freedom of more time in our schedule and saving a lot of money too.

I don;t want my children to be overworked, overscheduled and stressed out.

How To Have a Stress-Free Non-Commercialized Christmas Celebration

You know why? Because I was a workaholic, who suffered from chronic stress, adrenal fatigue and became very ill because of that. I was trying to have my kids living the crazy overschedule life just like mine! It was rush, rush, rush, every day. I finally woke up one day, decided to simplify my life and it changed my life! I totally agree with the comments about letting art, music and creativity flow inside the house.

Turn off the TV and read great books aloud instead! Do poetry tea time. Painting contests. Play board games. Take them for walks in nature trails. Make memories together. None of these came naturally to me. I want them to love nature, to play, to be kids and to be healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. Thank you again for this article Tracy! This sounds like a great book for a moms book club! Thanks so much Ana and what a brilliant comment, much appreciated. Thanks again and look forward to being in touch soon. Just what I needed thank you. Your post was a nice reminder that the free range play that my two are doing is just fine.

Thanks Kelly and good on you — sounds great! Will be nice to be downunder for a wee while. It sounds like you are scared to put your kids in sports. Sports are not bad in my opinion. But you as a parent should know best if you, your family and your child is ready for it. Ages 3,4 and 5 if your wondering what age they started. My kids love playing sports and they love playing with other kids. There is a great social aspect to playing sports too.

I played basketball growing up and had practice once a week and games on Saturdays. But times, for many have changed since then, with organized activities, school and homework dominating family life. This article seeks to give parents the courage to follow their own instincts, determine what works best for their kids and to not feel guilty when they say no. Thanks for your comment and for reading. I agree with you. School and homework is hard enough to deal with, then you have most parents both working now.

Then you have the mentality that everyone has to go to college now. I think one of the greatest things a parent can do for a child is to pass on their knowledge and passions to their children. Thank you for your comment. What a lovely reminder. After reading this today, we filled a large bin of toys that we will pop under the house for a while. Interesting to think about whether a toy evokes their imagination or not.

Welcome to the community. We live on a farm in rural Washington and my kids play for hours on end out in the pasture. My kids have daily chores including outdoor chores taking care of the chickens, feeding the dogs, feeding the horses, grooming and exercising the horses, cleaning up pens as well as indoor chores , then they do their homework, clean their room and then play until dinner.

All that being said my daughter was diagnosed with ADD in kindergarten and went from recommendations for special education to the top of her class after medication By the way Ritalin is rarely prescribed anymore. She is now in the third grade and continues to excel in school, while continuing to be her energetic loving charismatic self. Articles like this destroy parents who had to make the tough decision to put their children on a medication for something, some believe, is a fake disease.

It has to do with a chemical imbalance in her brain. The issues being stated above have more to do with kids with too much energy and no outlet, not actual ADHD. So I guess what I am getting at is that I think you need to take a closer look before posting things, purely for factual basis. Because of this they requested a follow up visit a few months later, in our home.

I literally had no words. Why was she even at my house? What a waste of NHS money! Thank you again for reading and really appreciate your comment. Can you provide a link to the study referenced in the article? Thank you! I have felt this for a long time…. Oh that we may listen and know how to balance and in wisdom do what is right for the soul. Thank you…. My pleasure Karen and thank you for your lovely and heartfelt comment. Much appreciated and thank you for reading. Also, you forgot to mention canoes. Paddling around in canoes, especially in Montana-will guarantee good kids?

Great article! I worry so much about being able to provide this type of childhood for my little girl. She is 9 months old, and my husband and I both work so she is in daycare. My mom stayed home with us and we just played all day every day all summer long. Thank you Betsy. You sound like a wonderful Mum. For some people making stuff could also be therapeutic. Starting early also means saving up incrementally during the entire year. Set aside some spending money throughout the year. Usually what stresses people out during Christmas season is the last-minute shopping.

If you plan it right, by the time Christmas comes you are already done shopping and you probably got the best deals too. Also, if you start early you will most likely have time to make your own gifts for your family and friends. One of the best free antidote to a stress-free Christmas holiday is the time you spend outside in a relaxing quiet of nature. Nature benefits us in so many ways. It has the ability to melt down our stress and worries when we truly connect with it.

As Dr. If you are not able to go out in nature, go to a quiet room and listen to some soothing sounds or look at some landscape and nature photos. These also have some benefits to the way your mind works and help reduce stress. Combines my passion for photography with my love of travel and nature to showcase the beautiful earth that God gifted us with.

View more posts. Very well said.