For the Love of Nature
Our house is filled with leaves, twigs, rocks, feathers, acorns…if it has to do with nature, it is probably in our house. One of my sons has even asked to keep a little mouse skull that he found so that he can study it and learn from it!!!
As you have probably guessed, my boys are nature enthusiasts. Ask them what they want to do on a Saturday for a family activity and it will be something outside guaranteed.
If you peek into my sons’ room you will see more sticks and stones than plastic.
This picture was taken just the other day when one of my boys asked me to help him arrange his room (not clean, but arrange, he wanted important things in important places). He had a mess of sticks and feathers and wanted to get it organized. We ended up placing all of the feathers into a glass jar which he proudly declared, “Mom, isn’t that beautiful!”
Out of curiosity, I peeked into the cupboard of his brother… Yep, just what I thought. The top most important shelf wasn’t filled with legos or trophy’s (even though he LOVES legos), but rocks. His most prized possessions.
How did the boys fall in love with nature?
Well perhaps it started when they were about 3 months old and I started explaining the difference between a deciduous and coniferous tree to them when we were outside and held each one of them up to the tree to feel the difference between leaves and needles.
My mom laughed and said, “Do you really think they are getting that info?” My response was, “I don’t know exactly when kids start learning and remembering things so I might as well tell them about it. It surely doesn’t hurt to start early.” My mom gave me a big smile. I knew then my parenting plan was right on course with how I was raised. I spent most of my childhood outside and came to see nature as God’s gift to us.
It makes me smile to know my boys carry that same spirit.
Look at the slips of paper from our gratitude jar or listen to my boys as they are singing as they play and you will hear them talk about God and nature. The songs go something like this….“I love you God, thank you for the trees and the birds…thank you for juicy apples and everything green.”
They love God (and angels) with all their little hearts and love anything to do with nature, for they know that God created nature. This is probably why the glass nature jars that I designated all of their twigs and rocks to (after I was tired of tripping on them) is overflowing. :)
There might be people that think all the nature stuff is a mess or something to leave behind, but I see how much joy it brings to them and how delicate they are to nature, as if they are handling God himself.
When I observe their actions, the prized possessions in their room, the choices they make, it is clear that nature is on top of the list. My mom always says, “honor the child.” Meaning, think from the child’s perspective. See what they like, take a moment to think about how they feel about something.
Because raising kids is not about you. It is not about pushing your kids into things because you think it is right for them or because everyone else is doing it. It is about observing and leading.
Obverse first and then you will know how and which direction to lead your kids. So many parents lead without observing. They end up pushing kids into things that the kids don’t really care about or missing the things their kids do care about. This leads to a disconnect down the road. There will be a time when your teenagers will want you to be there for them, but if they don’t feel like you understand them( if you have not observed, but only lead) they will not be as willing to share and be vulnerable.
Observe your kids for the next few days. Reflect on their choices. If they are making good choices and the direction they are going is good, foster that, encourage them and provide more opportunities. If the choices and direction they are going is not helping them to grow and be better humans, then be a leader and lead them in a direction that will bring out the best in them.
I love this definition of parenting from Wikipedia because of how it includes the word supporting…Parenting -the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood.
As always, share your stories in the comments. What have you learned from observing your kids?