OUTDOOR PARENTING 101 - WITH JOHN E. PHILLIPS, JR.
Make the Most of Your Time
NOTE: All of us want the best for our children and want
to spend as much time as possible with them. My now-grown
son, John, has written his thoughts about the importance
of outdoor parenting, and I wanted to share them with
you. After hearing John’s recollections about
our time spent outdoors, I realize that sometimes we
don’t recognize the value of an outdoor heritage
or understand what time outdoors means to the young
people involved or how it impacts our children.
The only sound you can hear is the constant humming
of the tires as they glide across the uneven pavement
on the rural highway. The older man in the passenger
seat snores softly as he drifts off to dream after a
long weekend outdoors. He's tired from trying to keep
up with his son. They've had another successful hunt
- not in the amount or the size of the game taken, but
in the fellowship shared and the life lessons learned
and taught. As I glance over at my father, I think back
to the times
we've spent together in the outdoors, and the lessons
I've learned while afield and the stories we've told.
The older I get, the more I realize the underlying genius
of the outdoor parenting my father has done in a subtle,
non-threatening way. Dad has used key conversations
and special outdoor experiences to teach me about life
and navigate me through some of life’s biggest
pitfalls. I've spent most of my 31 years in the woods
or on the water, often with my dad. But I've received
much more than an outdoor education. My father has used
these adventures to guarantee time with me to talk about
life, love and morality. Here are some of his strategies
that have helped shape me.
In today's society, parents and children often have
a hard time connecting and finding time for each other.
Tied down by stressful jobs with bills to pay and extra-curricular
activities, parents and children often spend little
quality time together. If time is fleeting, why
don't we take advantage of it when we can? For me, that
extra time meant hunting or fishing with my father.
I always knew a hunting or fishing trip in my youth
would involve two things: lots of fun in the outdoors
and extended time in the car, the woods, or on a boat
to talk about the issues in my life with my dad. I knew
we'd be headed out on an adventure when he sent me to
school with an excuse explaining what a "Phillips'
Family Enrichment" day was. This excuse was to
inform my teachers that I'd be absent from school for
a few days to pursue an outdoor education. This occurrence
didn't happen too frequently, but sometimes my father
thought I’d learn more from him in the outdoors
than in a classroom, as long as I kept my grades up.
He knew an outdoor outing gave him guaranteed time to
talk to me about my life and future. Too, I could open
up to him, knowing what we talked about would be kept
outdoor adventures taught me about having self-discipline,
respecting nature, selecting the right college and making
a good career choice. My dad shared with me his views
on marriage, sex, and the attributes of being a good
parent. These conversations were vital to my development
as an adult and helped me form my own ideas for one-day
parenting and the outdoors. To get the chance to talk
and discuss all these important things, we simply had
to sacrifice some time.
TOMORROW: RESPECT NATURE BY
NOT WASTING ANYTHING MEANT FOR DINNER