Sometimes a parent’s ‘the-arts-just-aren’t-necessary’ attitude can tragically squelch a young person’s creative aspirations, and a parent who is too gung-ho about a child’s talents may not realize that hijacking dreams robs a child of healthy feelings of ownership and independence. Fortunately, many parents find the balanced middle. They figure out how to quietly stand behind a young person’s aspirations without taking over, and they find ways to supportively usher their child toward creating a colorful future for themselves.
There are a lot of clichés about fathers. Commercials often portray us as the ‘bumbling parent’ who gets lost trying to change a diaper and instantly panics as soon as mom isn’t around. We’re routinely characterized as the rock in the family that never cries, the parent who tells our son to always be tough and never show their emotions, and threatens our daughter’s dates at the front door with a shotgun or pitch fork. We’re supposed to go to work and be the breadwinner, drink beer, and enjoy spending our time on the couch watching sports more than spending time with our kids.
By now, most of us know that we need to limit screen time for our kids and get them moving, but we know less about what kind of movement our kids need and why it is so critical for their overall development. We want opportunities for our kids to be ready to learn and to be successful in school. For instance, we might worry that our three-year-old can’t write their name yet, or we might brag about our four-year-old’s good reading ability. But I’ll let you in on a secret: The easiest, most affordable, and powerful developmental opportunity you can provide for your child is to allow them the space and time for unstructured, active, outdoor play in nature. Here’s why.
Carpool? (Check.) Work? (Check.) Lunch break? No. Pay bills and schedule doctor visits? (Check.) Pick up kids? (Check.) Homework? (Check.) Worry about bullying? (Check.) Made dinner? (Check.) Referee sibling squabbles and then collapse on the couch? (Check.) Single parents have important (and seemingly endless) responsibilities. Unless you have super powers, the stress of doing it all yourself can be overwhelming. But asking for assistance isn’t easy.
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