As I watch my boys grow before me, I’ve adopted – in my mind, anyway – a more hands-off approach to parenting. Not to be mistaken for lack of care or concern, but instead intentional space made available for my boys to interact with the world on their own terms.
More and more, we’ve been spending our afternoons at a creek, river, beach, open field, or desert. It’s important, for me, that my boys build a relationship with nature, use their imagination, and play – more or less – independently.
Time carved out of our busy everyday lives, intentionally, to let them be kids; to encourage dirty clothes and soggy shoes. Because sometimes saying “no, don’t throw that rock” or “no, don’t get your clothes wet” gets tiresome and feels wrong as it rolls off my tongue. There’s a time and a place and I want them to know that.
And when they fall in the water or scrape their knees on the rocks, I don’t come running. I watch. And if I need to, I encourage them to work through it. More than that, I trust that they will get back up and when they do, I remind myself that a little coin just got added to their confidence jar.
We spent a few days at the Salt River during our stay in Arizona. The boys embraced the water, played with another couple’s dogs, threw rocks, looked at dead fish on the shore, fished with a stick and some string found on the bank, watched a wild horse graze in the field, and splashed around until the water practically turned to glass and the sun set over the cactus sprinkled mountains.
Where are some of your favorite places to take your kids exploring?
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