Spy Kids vs. the Eco-Slackers

When my parents grew up in the 50s, they were met with the frightening opportunity to serve their country by turning in their parents for being communist or, in the least, socialist sympathizers. When I grew up in the 70s and 80s, the patriotic bait was to turn your parents in because they were recreational drug users and refused to say “no” to drugs. Today’s equivalent (although not nearly as punitive) would have to be what the New York Times deemed as the “eco-kids” chastising (not jailing) their parents for not being ecologically conscientious and environmentally accountable.

In an article published last week, Pint-Size Eco-Police, Making Parents Proud and Sometimes Crazy, author Lisa W. Foderaro investigates the recent trend of children taking up the environmental cause and urging (sometimes with significant condemnation) parents to be responsible for something more than just being parents.

Children, in an apparent about-face from the conventional paradigm, have become the conscience of the household. This is undoubtedly encouraging parents to set an example, or at least curb their wasteful habits, and to earn the respect, as well as buffer the disrespect, of their own children. It only makes sense that children, who are just beginning to establish relationships to the ideas of consumption and preservation, are much more flexible and less entrenched in bad habits than their parents, who are still nursing consumption hangovers from the 80s and 90s.

But of course, once children become the effective conscience of the household, problems, as well as tensions, arise. As sited in the article, New Jersey parent Doug Distefano contends, “For us, Earth Day is a reason to go outside–but for them it’s a religious holiday.” In addition, many parents complain that their children, whose demands have become greater and more costly over time, hold them under tremendous scrutiny.

Now, I cannot say from experience that this is a significant issue, but maybe some readers out there would like to chime in on the pervasiveness, and difficulty, of this phenomenon? Are children well suited to promote environmental causes at home (seeing as the future, what is left of it, is rightfully theirs to inherit)? Or is their limited grasp of economics and pragmatic concerns clouding their judgment and making them into a formidable and sanctimonious nuisance?

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appťtit among other publications.


Abbe A.
Azaima A6 years ago

Nice idea, but let's be protected from the eco-nazis.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Sylvia B.
Sylvia B8 years ago

If parents take the time to educate their kids instead of expecting the media or the schools to be their "back-up" babysitters, I believe a lot of conflicts would be resolved quickly. My mother is always ready to blame the government or the schools for her problems and not take personal responsibility. It starts at home, regardless of whether the issue is environmental awareness or anything else.

Teresa T.
Teresa T9 years ago

It has nothing to do with respecting parents, or the "Global Elite" (who IS that anyway) as mentioned here. It has to do with kids being educated, seeing their parents doing something wrong, and calling their attention to it. It is THEIR future. We need to change some of our habits, we need to develop althernative power, and alternative philosophies. As a parent, ask yourself what wouldn't you sacrifice for your children's future?? I have four kids and three grandkids. Of course I'm looking towards their future.

Edwin Krkljus
Ed K9 years ago

And how did these children get this magical drive of eco philosophy? The media. Parents are reaping what they have sown, or allowed to grow. Everything has consequences. They should have thought of this long ago. A home is built, trees don't just grow into a house shape. Respecting and honoring ones parents is no longer expected or taught, we are even afraid of children now. Shame on us!

Benjamin Gamble
Benjamin Gamble9 years ago

Being a young adult growing up in the 21st century, I believe that it is very important to arm people (wether it be parents or children) with knowledge. Give them the chance to decide. And to say things like "recycling is good for the environment" and other nonsense is just diluting the truth. We need to be aware of what actually helps and harms, by listening to others, but also by seeking truth for ourself. In fact, if you actually wanted to "go green," you wouldnt recycle anything but aluminium. TRUTH

Elizabeth Abbott
Liz Abbott9 years ago

For more info regarding my previous comment, watch the film "Endgame: Blueprint For Global Enslavement". You can start w/ the trailer on youtube, by typing in "Endgame Trailer" once yer there. Also, watch the film 1984 w/ Richard Burton, & see how errily close we are to 1984 right now.
infowarsDOTcom ( 4 TRUTH in the news)
freedomforceinternationalDOTorg ( excellent info on the Federal Reserve & more)

Elizabeth Abbott
Liz Abbott9 years ago

Hmmm... This is a tricky issue indeed. 1st I will say that I have always recycled, am all for conservation, & I have a low carbon footprint because I don't drive. We all have a natural concern for our planet's well being. That said, I heard on the Alex Jones Show ( listen Mon-Fri as it streams all day at infowarsDOTcom) from his British correspondant, that there is a website in England for kids to sign up at, & snitch on their parents for committing "Climate Crimes". Doesn't this sound like the Orwellian, Big Brother Is Watching world described in Orwell's book 1984? Orwell was NOT simply writing from his imagination here. He worked 4 the British Gov't during WW2 as a propaganda writer, & was stunned to gain inside info RE the British Elite's plans 4 the future. The Global Elite wants to break up the Family & turn family members against each other, so it's easier to disempower the masses & enslave them. In 1984, children turned in their parents for being "Thought Criminals". Again, I am all for a healthy ecological balance on Earth. But the Elite is pushing this "Green" agenda, funding it w/ billions of dollars, as a way to justify wasting money on it that will keep the masses poor & the elite rich ( an Oligarchy, which has been so far maintained by the wasteful spending on Wars), & impose a carbon tax on us all, using the money to fund their impending Global Gov't. They even say that Global Warming knows no boundaries, so a Global Gov't is needed

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah R9 years ago

I found using the comparison disturbing--kids urged to turn their parents in for being"communists" (which could mean prison sometimes without a fair trial)compared to kids getting after their parents to not use up the planet's resoources or leave it too polluted for the kids? If it gets the parents to be more consious it is a very good thing. In our household it is the other way around--I have always been eco-consious and have taught my kids how to be responsible.

Sylvia S.
Past Member 9 years ago

our children are the future! (and we have three of them) we must listen to their wisdoms just as we expect them to listen to ours. we must always be conscious of our actions and their impact on future generations. appreciate your children and appreciate the vital truths they seek to remind you of.

love is always the answer.

a global mother with a glowing heart.