Raising Boys in Aotearoa New Zealand

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This is my first effort at expressing my thoughts as a Dad and as somebody who is trying to embrace the idea of an organic lifestyle. We are a family of five and three of those are boys aged 9, 7 and 4. Several years ago we decided that we would cut as many additives from our life as we could. Determining what was a must-have-additive and which was an additive that was dispensable was the challenge. The first additive in our life to be removed was the remote control unit for the TV.

Ben-Tim-Will3

Having lived in many parts of the world we judged that our ideals for bringing up boys in New Zealand weren't too different from our parents. We feed them well, we exercise them (and ourselves) and we get them to bed early. Simple as it seems, it actually turns them into manageable beasts that only require the cage periodically. We recently let loose our eldest son at a friends birthday party and after the required amount of sugar, additive, and exuberance, he needed caging. Until that time he was a well adjusted and healthy young boy. What do they put in mass produced lemonade these days?

The New Zealand Government has decided in all its wisdom to ban unhealthy food from schools. In New Zealand schools we generally don't have a canteen or cafeteria, lunch comes from home. The schools run a small shop which sells ice creams, drinks, pies, chips and sweets. Anything to make a buck to fund school operations. Banning the sale of undesirable food at the school shop has driven the sweet and the trans-fat chip underground. Soon we'll see kids lurking in the hallway with racks of food in their lockers and offering a black market alternative. It's human nature to get around a system. The reality is that kids are stopping at shops on their way to school and filling up on junk. How do you convince your children that their is a better way.

As a family we are fortunate in where we live. Our house sits on two acres of forest covered land to the west of Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. We are developing an orchard on the sunny slopes and 'decontaminating' the house by trying to source our paint, insulation, and timber requirements from sympathetic manufacturers. They do exist if you take the time to look. The kids see us doing this and they see us actively trying to make the property a better place. We belong to an organic co-operative and source and vegetables and fruit from there. We have cut out packaging, recycle and shop at another organic co-op for our detergents, and other household items. Sounds a little like an organic Polly-Anna dream and I must admit to gazing longingly at the Supermarket as I drive by.

There is an outcome to all of this and it does have to do with raising boys here in New Zealand. We are trying to show by action rather than by word. A quick central Government edict is soon overcome, but hopefully a life surrounded by organic ideals, learning to live with the land and helping in that process, should (hopefully-fingers crossed) turn out three fine young men.

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