A childfree birder’s guide to good parenting

Parenting in our species is a tough nut to crack. As a child-free adult, I can’t even begin to fathom the stress involved. The lack of sleep. The pressures of safety. Financial pressures. I don’t get how they do it, but I just know it’s hard. It is no excuse though some parents make for such terrible role models. Children can learn so much from them on how not to behave, and what not to do with their lives.

Birds aren’t ‘parents of the year‘ either. Many adults teach the offspring to survive in the wild by any means necessary. They let the weaker ones die through insensitive feeding practices. Some take off immediately after childbirth, leaving the chicks to fend for themselves. Still I think that birds make for more responsible parents than a lot of human beings.

Indian Shikra - juvenile
Indian Shikra – juvenile

Birds impart knowledge instinctively because it has helped their species survive over centuries. Several sub-species of Pelicans, Cranes and Owls idly bear witness to siblicide without interrupting ghastly duels. The Asian Koel is a brood parasite that lays her egg in other birds’ nests, and takes off without a care in the world. They do so because they need to. It isn’t a matter of choice. Their children will do the same when they grow up too. Not because their parents didn’t care enough to be good role models, but rather because it is the only way they know to survive and sustain their genes.

Our children sometimes grow up to be unkind, miserable or hateful simply because we just weren’t paying attention. Even if we may not encourage racial segregation, domestic abuse or anything else unbecoming of a decent human being. Or insist that they lead sedentary lives by ignoring their natural abilities. We can still turn them into monsters.

Asian Koel
Asian Koel

What some of us miss out on is that children watch us all the time. They keep their eyes and ears open, listening in to our conversations. Watching us react to situations. We don’t need to teach children to become elitists or sexists. How we behave when we think they aren’t paying attention does that. The way we interact, without respect, those close to us. How we treat those who work for us. Our pettiness. Lack of self-respect. Work-related stress. Gluttony. Laziness.

Even locked doors and loud music aren’t enough to keep them away from such truths. And when they grew up, whether they want to or not, children unwittingly start mimicking these habits.

After all children aren’t teacups. We, as parents or just adults, can’t control the flow of information. We should realize that our responsibilities stretch beyond our convenience. And behave, with kindness and confidence, around them as much as we can. We may even better ourselves in the process.

Spotted Owlet
Spotted Owlet

Please do not interrupt birds feeding their young ones. They can be very intolerant to any disruption in and around their nesting areas. They may flee the scene, when interrupted while feeding, thereby dooming the offspring. 

I have made this mistake before.

A few months ago, I shot the below video of a family of adult wild boars (far more used to human presence) at the Periyar National Park. It started out with the adults helping the litter cross the road. Then, one of the piglets decided to take the lead. It ended without any animals or humans being injured. Just a little freaked out. 

16 thoughts on “A childfree birder’s guide to good parenting

Add yours

  1. Oh I’ve seen little piglets cross roads in a line following a parent. Despite their dirty exterior, they’re so cute 🙂

    And I completely agree with your opinion on children learning discriminatory behaviour from subtle actions of their parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We parents have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. Just sayin.’ I think I’m going to start calling my kids ‘cutlets’ now. We often look a lot like that pig family there, just chaos and no directional sense whatsoever. I love your posts, Christy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Shannon. Cutlets (giggles), you may know them as patties but you are right, they make for ridiculously awesome nicknames!

      And I don’t say this to toot your horn but you qualify for parent of the year in any list I am asked to come up with. Bringing kids closer to the soil and the skies is such a beautiful and enriching thing to do.


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