Joshua Tree & Parenting

by jpserrano on August 15, 2010 · 1 comment


Ben, Levi, & Caedmon summating a rock formation in Joshua Tree

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This past weekend my family joined our extended family in a trip to Joshua Tree to watch the Perseus Meteor Shower. This gave us the chance to do some hiking/light bouldering with the children and work on some values that I’m trying to instill in them–namely bravery and an attitude of adventuring.

There is a rule one must learn quickly when parenting children. They are sponges and mirrors. Meaning that they pick up information and words very quickly and they also mimic the attitude of the adults around them.

Two Stories:
When walking up the side of a rock pile, I called out to the children to be careful because the path was getting a little “Sketchy.” Immediately Caedmon (my 5 yr. old daughter) looked behind to Levi (my 3 yr. old son) and said, “Be careful, it is getting a little catchy up here.” Very Cute.

The whole time we were on the hike/bouldering expeditions, I tried to touch and help the children as little as possible. I did this mainly in order to help them feel confident in their ability to climb and give them a sense of accomplishment at the end of it. I think it worked because of what I saw and heard from Caedmon the next day.

We were in the middle of a rock formation with towering sides about four feet apart and a narrow walkway that we had to use both our hands to balance on. It was a steep climb that required everyone to have full awareness of their bodies. I stood under my daughter, arms out in case she fell, as she was climbing up. Her legs began to shake and I told her “you can do this.” Her legs began to shake even more and then she started to repeat “You can do this, you can do this, you can do this.” Just at the point where I thought she was going to give up, her knees were knocking, she took a big risk and used one foot to push herself up to the next hand hold. Inside I was exuberant. She pushed through the shaking and didn’t let it stop her. She used the adrenaline rush as a tool to move herself forward. She could have easily let the fear and shaking stop her, but she didn’t….she used it. This is exactly what I want for my children to push forward despite their fear.

I want my children to get scrapes, bruises, and scuffs while doing these types of things. I wouldn’t even mind if they broke an arm or something (I’m always mindful of their head and core though). I would be more unhappy with the inconvenience it would cause than the break. Because for me……They are adventuring and exploring and this is an important trait I want them to have. I want them to be self-sufficient with the firm belief that they can push through anything. I want them to look at problems and say I can solve them. These traits all start now with the kind of adventures we take them on.

I am so happy to have a brother in-law that feels the same way. I heard him impart some good wisdom to Caedmon who wanted to take the same route over and over. He said, “Here’s something I want you to learn, when you are on an adventure never take the same way twice.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rico Ludocici August 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I love it. You are doing the absolute best thing for your kids and at the perfect time. This way they learn that pleasure and satisfaction are combined with a challenge and a little bit of exertion. Plus, and that is so obvious from the photo, YOU enjoy it and share your pleasure. Now it will be their pleasure too. If you get them to carry a little bit of the food or the gear, they also have an essential job in connection with the project. Water is good because the burden gets lighter as the hike proceeds and they tire.

Joshua Tree is the BEST place to take kids because they can run and climb and yell and get stuck by cacti and scramble up and down over boulders and see the marvelous vastness of nature and rugged beauty. Both of my sons think of it as ‘their special place’; a spiritual place if you will (where some of them enjoy a little more nature than I would). They have been camping out there since they were little Scouts.

One of the things we did with our kids is to point to where we were going first and ask them if they thought it would be hard. Naturally they always did. Then when we got back down, we would point back to where we had been and marvel at what we had done. “Look. We were alllll the way up there!” That really increases the feeling of what is possible.

AND you foster the idea that bumps, scrapes and scratches are normal by showing how we also take a first aid kit along with everything else. “We’re not going to quit having fun just because someone needs a band-aid, right?”

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