Raising The Next Generation of Parrot Lovers

Children today are so very different from the child that I was while growing up. You hear people say that all the time, and it’s true: children are different. Today, being an adult is not a guarantee that you will win an argument with an 8 year old. Children are sophisticated and experienced and they come armed with knowledge.

On one hand, there is sadness to the idea that children no longer exist in a world of make believe and fantasy. Controversy for a child used to be over their willingness to abandon the idea of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Today, 12 years olds are incorporated for business and are aware of many of the issues that plague adult life.

Because children have changed, the role of the adults around them has changed as well. Subjects that were once considered too adult in nature to be suitable for children are now the focal points in a lot of their entertainment. The movie Rio, was directed at young children while sporting very adult ideas about cruelty and greed, and driving home important messages about conservation. Wall-E showed us an ugly place in the future that was the result of a very wrong turn taken in our culture.

On the bright side, children get a look at the adult world from a child’s perspective – a view that is uncluttered by life’s experiences and maybe this will allow their generation to avoid the mistakes the current adult generation has made and continues to make.

When I was a young mother, I wanted my daughter to be tech savvy and had her working independently on a computer by the age of four. This practice was mostly frowned upon by the teachers at the Waldorf School that she attended. Their ideals were very earthy and grounded, which is why I sent her there – but I wanted her to have access to both worlds.

Even though we are somewhat enslaved to it, I don’t want to live without technology. But I also think it’s really important that the newest generation of children get to experience nature first-hand. However, the odds are against that happening – not only are the opportunities to really mingle with nature vanishing for the average family, but trees don’t stand a chance when pitted against a video game.

As parrot lovers, you are no doubt aware of the seriousness of their endangerment in the wild. Most of us reading this will not be around for long enough to see any conservation program through to its conclusion. This means that we have to pass the torch onto today’s children. This is no easy task.

So I ask you, parrot people, what can we do to inspire our children to become the next generation of parrot lovers? Perhaps a generation that feels less inclined to keep parrots as pets and more interested in seeing that they can survive in the wild. Imagine a generation of parrot conservationists!

The only way I see this happening is if we get them personally involved with nature to such a degree that they can’t imagine a world without creatures like parrots…or rhinos…or the prairie mole cricket.

Today’s parents are busy people, and in many families, both parents are working out of necessity. I hope that you will find time to take your children camping where you can cook over an open fire, or on a canoeing trip where your children can learn about the local flora and fauna.

If such outings are not possible, try a home garden. Even in an apartment, container gardening can be done on the patio or balcony, or an indoor herb garden can be started on a window sill.  Let your child plant a seed that will become a plant, a flower, food.

When you do this, it is not only planting a seed in the earth, it is planting a seed in your child that might one day grow to be a powerful passion for nature and all the things that live in it.

 Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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