Harmonious relationships in nature

Getting into nature

Explore some symbiotic, mutualistic and parasitic relationships among animals.

Discussion point: Disharmony is harmful to others, just like a parasitic relationship.

Spend some time exploring a fascinating aspect of nature called symbiosis. Search the Internet or the library to familiarize yourself with the basics. Then, explain to your children that there are special friendships (symbiotic mutualistic) in nature which are helping and harmonious relationships. Symbiotic mutualistic relationships occur when two different organisms (plant or animal species) live together and help each other survive. (For contrast, you may also want to familiarize your children with parasitic relationships where one organism benefits, while the other is harmed.)

An example of mutualistic relationships includes the crocodile and the thick knee (bird). The bird feeds on the food left between the crocodile’s teeth, and the crocodile benefits by having its teeth cleaned.

After learning about these kinds of relationships in nature, you can ask your children to identify helping and harmonious relationships in your home. Explain that God designed people within a family unit to have “special friendships” like the animals living in mutualistic symbiosis. It is God’s plan that family members love and care for and help each other. However, when there is discord, unkindness, lack of respect, and/or selfishness within a family, individual members are harmed by others. Living with continual conflict within a family can be considered parasitic and detrimental to relationships. End the discussion by praying together asking God to help you to be a family that lives together peacefully.