Raising Adventurous Kids

June 23, 2014

Bike-racingin5 Elwoodsoccer13 Jacob-riding Bike-Races8

I was not an adventurous kid. I wanted to be, I really did, but it never happened. I wasn’t a wall flower, per se, but I also wasn’t the cool girl with the snowboard on the roof of her car. To be honest, I was jealous of that girl. The idea of being bold and brave enough to climb a mountain, snowboard down it, or climb it’s rocks. To bike a big trail, or surf a great wave, those are all things I wish I had done young. When I look back on my life as a young adult, I realize I didn’t take enough risks. I don’t mean being reckless, I just mean letting go and jumping in with both feet (or harness). Being adventurous was something I missed out on, it is really that simple. I spent most of my early life being afraid of falling, of failing, of being hurt or not being good enough. It was a bit of a curse, and one that I would love to go back and redo.

When I had kids I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t let them be raised with fear. Looking at life as an adventure to be lived fully each day was a goal that I had from the day they were each born, and it continues to be something that I push for. Living where we do helps, as everyone here seems to hike a mountain or ski a basin with incredible frequency. For me, as an almost 40 year old woman, I am just now getting up the courage to do a few of the things that my boys have been doing since they were in diapers. I rock climbed for the first time this year, which felt like an incredible challenge. I had to tell myself all kinds of things to get up that darn wall, but one thing that helped was knowing how proud my boys would be of me when I told them. Funny, isn’t it, when the mother becomes the child, even if just for a few seconds?

To me, being adventurous isn’t just about the moment you are in an adrenaline pumping activity, it is a mind set, a way to look at your life and really live it. I see my kids go after everything, from soccer to history with that adventurous spirit, and I never want them to lose it. They look at everything as a challenge, a new run to conquer, a new trail to blaze, and oh my I think that is such an awesome part of being a kid. They don’t fear anything, but they have a very healthy sense of self-preservation (thank goodness) that moves them in a safe direction.

As their mama, it is certainly a balancing act between letting their lives unfold in a way that opens up many new adventures, while also teaching them what it means to be safe in any activity they are in. Teaching them the skills that they need for each new activity they choose to take on is not just important when they are young, but will hopefully set the stage for them choosing to do the same as adults. Giving them the right skills, equipment, and guidance is essential to feeling as though I have done my part to ensure they are safe and smart.

We all have visions for who we want our kids to be, how we hope their lives unfold. It is a natural part of parenting to do so. Sometimes we call it right, and the lives we see become reality. Sometimes our kids blaze a trail we never thought that they would walk. Either way, for most of us their happiness is all that matters. When I think of my kids, especially my two older boys whose lives have been lived a bit longer, and who I know a bit deeper, I see the boys pulling up to the house, snowboards on the roof, bikes on the back, smiles on their faces. I see them coming in and telling their dad and I all about their adventurers, what they saw, the fears that they conquered, the challenges that they set for themselves and met. I see kids who will look in the mirror and see someone staring back who can do what their mind wants to do, who says yes to the challenges that life puts forth, and who choose the road that builds their character, rather than simply gets them to where they need to go. Yes, I do in fact know that this sounds a little bit too dreamy and wide eyed, but why not put it out there and then see where they take it? I could never be disappointed in my kids, but I could certainly risk being disappointed in myself if I didn’t set the stage for them to be the type of kids who could live a life like that. I want them to get to the end of their adventure and say, “I did it all. I really lived.” That would be a truly epic parenting success if ever there was one.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Brooke June 23, 2014 at 6:56 am

I can so relate to this! I must admit to a terror of animals. My children handle them with ease, easing me into what comes natural to them.


Heather June 24, 2014 at 9:43 am

Yes, animals are a big one too! I remember when I had to hold my first tarantula, to show my oldest son it wasn’t scary. I was dying inside.


Kim June 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Your last two lines…YES!! I love this post, and as someone who only starting taking risks later in life, I do hope I am setting an example for my little man to get out there and go for it. No regrets!

Great photos ­čÖé


Heather June 24, 2014 at 9:44 am

Sometimes I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who took risks late in life. It is fun to start living adventurously, not matter at what age you begin.


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