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(7) Parents & Kids

Improving Cooperation Between the Child and Parents


Explore for Yourself

How might you be leaving out the co-in your household operations? If you are leaving the co-out of your operations, what are the consequences of your actions?



List at least one thing you can do to contribute to co-operation in your home.

 Co-operation Is a Survival Skill

Co-operation is a goal for parents-something they would like more of, more often. It’s also a skill to develop. In order to sustain itself and thrive, every species on the planet has to learn this skill. Our ability as humans to survive and thrive in an increasingly interconnected global society depends more and more upon learning and practicing the fine points of co-operation.

Human beings have been operating in a fiercely competitive mode for over ten thousand years-exerting power over others to gain tribal, national, or personal advantage. Power imbalances and disregard for the basic needs of millions of people, as well as the needs of nonhuman species and the earth itself, have resulted in ongoing conflicts, wars, and devastation. There are many economic, social, and ecological indicators that the way our species has been operating is unsustainable and a new mode of co-operating, or sharing power, is needed. As parents learn to foster co-operation in families, they become models of change for their children, for other parents, and for community members. They also become active participants in creating an evolutionary shift toward global peace and sustainability.

 Co-operation-A Skill for Sustainability

According to evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris, co-operation is the only way toward sustainability. Mature ecosystems such as prairies and rainforests evolve when there is more co-operation than there is hostile competition. The highly complex ecosystem of the rainforest is a particularly vivid example of a mature system that has survived through millions of years because species learned to co-operate with each other. In the rainforest, “every species is fully employed; all work cooperatively while recycling all of their resources, and all products and services are distributed in such a way that every species remains healthy. That is sustainability.”


People who live on family farms and in small communities need no reminder of the necessity for co-operation. Barn raisings, potlucks, and community harvests have been the norm for hundreds of years. However, those of us who live in more isolated family units are apt to forget that we all walk on the ground of interconnectedness. We can forget, that is, as long as things go smoothly-until something happens that affects the whole.

When a major employer closes down business in a community, everyone feels the economic, social, and personal impact. In 2004, when a mountain slid down and covered several homes in the small town of La Conchita, California, those of us in neighboring towns felt the impact and got involved, rallying around families who lost homes and loved ones. And one year later when hurricanes Katrina and Rita brought floods that destroyed thousands of lives in New Orleans and other cities and towns in the southern United States, the whole country saw itself as one interconnected net of pain and personal, social, economic, and environmental concerns. When the flow of community life is interrupted by natural or manmade crises-when survival is clearly at stake-something deep in us is touched, and we are made aware of the ground of interconnectedness that supports us as a community and as a species. This recognition of our interdependence-that we are each a part of a vast web of life, and our well-being is intimately linked to the well-being of others-shows us why co-operation is a skill to develop, not only for harmony at home, but also for our survival as a human family.

Families are core units in our net of interdependence, and the impact of the relationships in your family will be felt for generations to come through the lives of your children and grandchildren. The way that you parent will affect not only your child, but the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of people in your child’s future. You don’t have a choice

about whether or not to affect the net of interdependence; however, you do have a choice about how you affect it.




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