Thais Freitas

Storytelling & Communications Strategy

Observe and Interact: How I apply the first permaculture principle to raising my kids

Observe and interact.Permaculture principle 1.Thais Freitas

What I love about permaculture is that we can apply its concepts to every aspect of life — from growing edible gardens to nurturing relationships. So when I became a mom and had no clue of what to do, I decided to use the 12 permaculture principles as a guide to raise my boys to be good people.

Here’s how I’m following the first principle.

Permaculture Principle #1: Observe and Interact

Permaculture is all about understanding nature to work with it, not against it — and what better way than to take the time to observe it? This is so important that one of the first things we learn in the permaculture design course is that we should ideally observe the land for a full year before we start designing the landscape, to work with nature, not against it.

By observing the land, we can understand how the water flows, how the wind blows, how the sun moves through the seasons, what kinds of wildlife share this place with us, and so on. Only when you’ve observed enough to understand what’s happening on the land in front of you can you act to make the most of the benefits and mitigate the disadvantages to create an efficient, abundant ecosystem.

How I observe and interact in raising my children

As the saying goes, “each person is a universe unto themselves,” which is something I experienced every minute of my pregnancies. My sons were very different since the womb — their activity patterns, the songs they liked to listen and move to, and even the position they liked to be in.

The differences become even more apparent as they grow. While one is adventurous and fearless, the other is cautious with every move. While one is independent and always laughing, the other is affectionate and emotional. One is always climbing on things like a monkey, the other is always looking for things to fix and curious about understanding how they work.

The more I watch my boys experience life and develop their personalities, the more I understand that I need to give them different opportunities so they can thrive. My job as a parent is to intervene here and there to help, sometimes to correct course, but to let things go their natural way — each of them must be able to follow their curiosity, instincts and develop their own abilities.

While one tries to understand how the machine works and what it does, the other analyses how to climb and where to jump off

Work with nature, not against it

You cannot force someone to take up a certain profession, play an instrument or be something they aren’t and still expect the best results, because by doing so you’d be working against nature and wasting precious potential and resources on meagre results.

Only by understanding our children’s potential and responding to their individual needs and curiosity can we build a happy, efficient ecosystem in which we can all be our best.

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