Kids and the Circle of Life: How To Teach Them

Chelsea Hansler // August 16

The basic instinct of a mother is to protect her children from all that makes them sad or uncomfortable. For me, this stands true in almost every regard but when it comes to shielding them from such a primal instinct as the killing of an animal, I choose and will always choose to let them see and expose them to the circle of life.

It is a normal human reaction to feel remorse after we have taken a life, but gratitude far outweighs those feelings in every regard. Pride for feeding my family, satisfaction knowing we will have the most nutritious meal, and relief to know we will have meat for many months to come. I can honestly say I have never thought twice about letting my children be present as I shoot an animal or as we butcher it to fill our freezer. On the contrary, I find it of the utmost importance to include them in the entire process.

Kids and the Circle of Life

I know for many, even those who are pro-hunting, aren’t sure where they stand on this topic.

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Is it wrong for a child to watch as we take an animal's life or for them to watch as we clean them? 

Many believe yes, but to me it is a huge part of who we are as humans. Life and death are both a beautiful, natural occurrence that can be appreciated in their own ways. Generally, Disney movies aren’t helpful for hunters, however this quote from The Lion King said it best, 

Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope. … When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

The Lion King

I truly believe that how we approach these moments, will dictate our children’s reactions. If we approach it from a place of educating and appreciation and at the same time normalizing it then they will view it in a respectful and meaningful way. For us, harvesting an animal is the same as a trip to the grocery store and it has always been their norm. 

Read More: When Your Daughter's Hunt Alone

I want my children to see that taking an animal's life is no small feat but one that takes selection, planning, preparation, and most importantly, hard work. We respect the animals and their lives, but at the end of the day, what it comes down to, is we are meat-eaters. We can choose to purchase our meat from a farmer, a grocer or obtain it ourselves as our ancestors have done for centuries. My kids will grow to know where their food has come from, how to handle it properly, and sustain themselves from the land. Whether they choose to carry on these traditions is up to them, but I hold great value knowing that as a mother I taught them how.

From the garden to the woods, they will know how to sustain themselves.

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About the Author

Chelsea Hansler

Hunter, mother, wife, artist, gardener, homesteader; these are a few of the titles that best describe Chelsea. She is a wife and a mother to two beautiful 4- and 5-year-old “babies”. After serving time in the Canadian Armed Forces, she moved to a tiny home in Northern Ontario, Canada. They are surrounded by thousands of acres of crown land and closer to home you will find her abundance of chickens, a mini horse, 2 cows, and their hounds. They strive to live a simple country life, hunting, gathering, and growing their own food. Everything her family does revolves around the outdoors and living this lifestyle. Chelsea is an artist, creating one-of-a-kind pieces focused mainly on this lifestyle.