Parenting Lessons In Nature
Attentive Parenting is a Priority
When I look around my world, and the places I go, I watch parents and children. I watch them interact, I watch them act and react to each other. I often wonder what will become of many children as I witness the interactions. So many parents are simply not focused on parenting.
Have you ever been in the grocery store and watched parents and kids as they get their weekly needs? My favorite is the child that screams and runs around out of control. I'm sure it is everyone's favorite co-shopper. The parent is trying to get their groceries, and seems oblivious to the child's antics, that is until the child does something to bother them. Usually at that point, there is an angry outburst, with empty threats that the child knows will not likely be acted on. And so, the child stops for a moment, and begins the cycle again in short order.
Parenting should be a priority, it should be your number one job in the world. If you have chosen to bring children into your life, then they should be your focus. You are responsible for the people they become, you are the one to teach them how to be productive, respectful, and happy adults when they grow up. They need you to be paying attention to your job.
You may think this is a funny title for a capsule on parenting, but oddly, it isn't. My husband and I like to sit out on our deck and watch the birds in the morning while we drink our coffee. Not too long ago, a baby robin fell from the nest before it could fly. We saw him fall, and thought " poor little fellow probably won't last very long". To our surprise, the parents came swooping down to it, and took turns staying with it. They fed it, guarded it, and started teaching it with so much effort we were impressed.
They each followed the same tactics with the baby bird. They would bring it food, and hop away from it. Not far, but the baby would follow. They did this over and over until the baby started to follow them to the food . Then they began flying to the food and letting the little one try to catch it himself, and if he didn't the parent got it and gave it to him. Eventually the baby got so he could get the worm or bug pretty good without the parent's help. At the same time, they were encouraging him to fly a little everyday, moving to the top of the fence, and waiting for the little one to try to hop and flutter to get to them. They never seemed rushed, just kept going and going until the little one finally caught on, and learned a new step of what he needed to know.
At one point, a cat came into the yard, and after days of watching this process, we worried that the baby would be in trouble, as he could hop well but not quite fly. To our amazement, a cry went out from the parent on the ground with the little one, and every robin in the area was suddenly in our yard, swooping and bombarding the cat in a community response to a young one in danger. The cat was sorely out numbered and gave up the battle. He didn't return.
After more than a week of watching this process of shared parenting and intense intervention to save their young one, the little robin began to fly. We were delighted!!! He had finally made his first flight to the top of a brush pile in our yard. The parents continued to take turns staying with him, and in the matter of a few days he was able to fly back up to the nest.
What Can The Robins Teach Us?
In short order, there are at least four things that we can learn about parenting from the robins we watched.
1) They worked as a team. They shared the job and the time and the responsibility of the care for their fallen baby.
2) They used the same tactics. They were on the same page. They did not send different messages to the little one, they taught the same lessons with the same practice. They were patient and tolerant. They knew the baby would learn, they just needed to keep teaching until he did. They were consistent, doing the same things over and over until it was learned. They followed through on each step the baby bird needed to know.
3) They made the little fallen bird a priority, but did not forget their other babies. They took turns on the ground with the fallen one, and also in the nest with the others. They rose to the increase in demand as a team, and instead of taking turns in the nest, as they usually would, they doubled up their efforts and split it between the ground and the nest. Now, I'm sure they didn't get to go out with the other robins for their free time during this ordeal, but you do what you have to do, right? I don't think Daddy robin has a poker night, or Mommy robin has a girls night out, but I am sure they do take some down time to just fly around and get a break. They gave that up with out a thought, and threw themselves completely into what their young one needed.
4) When the baby was in danger from the cat, the entire group of robins in the area responded to the cry for help from the parent. As a group, they were able to protect the baby, and drive away a natural enemy. Giving credence to the old saying "It takes a community to raise a child."
The baby bird is now, I'm happy to say doing well. His down is almost off, and he is safe and sound to venture on to his own future.
I think we have moved too far in society from natural parenting. The instinctive parenting we witness in nature, was, I believe, once very dominant in humans. Unfortunately, it seems to have been weakened. We have become caught up in other demands, other interests, other distractions. It is sad really, because the less we teach our children, the less they will know to teach their's.