How to Raise Adventurous Kids for Fearful Mums
The thought of my kids doing some of the things I did when I was younger makes me shudder.
Hitch-hiking, being flashed at or moving to the other side of the world where they don’t know anyone or speak the language for starters. I can’t even mention half the things I did in case they read this. It’s so tempting to wrap our kids in cotton wool, refuse to buy skateboards because they might fall off and groom them for regular jobs so they don’t move too far from home when they fly the nest.
But at the same time I’d prefer my children to be penniless bohemians than middle-class financial advisers. I’d prefer them to climb mountains rather than stay home watching television. I’d prefer them to take risks rather than play it safe, as scary as that is.
I was raised in the countryside falling in streams, climbing trees and riding horses bareback and I’m working hard to keep that adventurous spirit alive because being set in my ways scares me more than getting old.
My kids madden me because they never want to wear shoes. When we were in England a few years ago my mum took them to the Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory in Birmingham and Max had to take the tour with no shoes because he’d forgotten them.
Luckily the security guard didn’t notice until the tour was over because it’s probably not the kind of problem they normally have. I bet it’s the first time anyone has ever wanted to walk round Birmingham with no shoes on.
My kids are a bit wild; some might say feral.
I bite my lip and try not to say anything when my beautiful daughter goes out with tangled hair and worn out clothes. There are pretty dresses hanging in her cupboard but she refuses to wear them because shorts or jeans are much better attire when you might come across a good climbing tree at any moment.
“Have you seen Kiara?” other mums will ask. So I’ll go outside to find her swaying on a branch that’s ten times higher than her.
I roll my eyes and cover them then call out: “Great climbing Kiara, why don’t you come down for a snack now?”
I try not to feel envious of the mothers whose daughters are standing round in turquoise frills with silver shoes and bows in their hair. Seriously, that’s what some little girls wear to barbecues.
Max is the best climber. When we take him down by the Noosa River he shimmies up palm trees. People stop to point and take photos as if they’ve never seen a kid climb a tree before. Maybe they haven’t, because tree climbing is banned at school and most parents discourage it because it wrecks clothes and frightens us.
A few years ago I sent my 13 year old on holiday to New Zealand by himself. I holidayed with other families as a child from the age of two and carried on doing that into my teenage years staying with a series of different families in France. I remember being shocked when a girl came to stay with me once and had to go home because she was homesick. It wasn’t a concept I’d ever heard of.
Just before we flew to Guatemala when we lived our dream and moved to Central America, a friend asked if I knew it was the child-kidnapping centre of the world. I did not and it terrified me.
Many times as we travelled round Panama and Nicaragua and lived in Costa Rica I felt physically ill wondering if I was doing the right thing for my kids; sending them to an archaic school so they could learn spanish, living in a place where, when they had an accident we’d drive to hospital on roads that were constantly closed by landslides and massive falling boulders, or sleeping in a house which was also home to bats, scorpions and tarantulas. But these experiences help you overcome your travel fears.
Some might call me adventurous but I still feel nervous a lot of the time. I’ve just trained myself to do things anyway.
I can’t guarantee my kids will be adventurers or explorers and I’ll try to be happy if they end up leading a more conventional lifestyle. I know they’ll never do what I want them to do anyway, so all I can do is give them the chance to be adventurous if they choose, and make sure they don’t think theme parks offer real adventures.
So I’ve got to keep my mouth shut when they roll around in mud, dangle from trees or swim in rough seas and let them set their own limits. I can’t guarantee they’ll end up being adventurous but I’m trying to foster the spirit of adventure in them.
I’m working at stopping myself from setting limits on my children when it comes to outdoor adventures because I want their taste for adventure to be unlimited.
How do you foster the spirit of adventure in your children?
Are you a travel lover and adventure seeker?
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You’ve had so many adventures, and it’s fun to hear about how you’re fostering that spirit in your children. I was always scared when my kids scrambled up rocks on hikes or stood near an edge, but my fears don’t seem to have rubbed off onto them at all.
Kids are so adventurous naturally so glad to hear neither of us have managed to put our own fears on our kids :)
Breath of fresh air to read about kids climbing trees. My wee ones are both monkeys but I wish they were all a bit more adventurous in their thinking. Having suburban mum regret here today.
Kudos to you and allowing your kids these freedoms that we took for granted in our own youth. I too bite back my fears over my adventurous kids. I grew up climbing trees and crawling through caves, but seeing them do it–whew, makes me a bundle of nerves (now I know how my own mom felt!) Alas, too many unnecessary rules and safety regulations are laying waste to our own children’s lives. Let’s take back real childhood- outdoors, messy, muddy and barefoot as it was intended to be! Happy Mother’s Day, Annabel!