Why my kids never experience nature

hiking 2

Dear Evan and Lulu,

I’m so sorry you never got to experience nature growing up. You see, the fact is parents have to choose between technology and being outside. Clearly, we chose technology. It is the same grueling decision that parents make when they have to decide whether they want their children to learn reading or math. There can only be one!

There were those 4 times we went camping every summer. The weekends we took the canoe (that we own) out on lakes throughout our beautiful state of Idaho. Oh! The trip we take to the ocean every year. A few dozen hiking adventures each summer. Skiing, snowshoeing, staying in yurts and cabins in the winter. Fishing, biking, and swimming when we can fit it in (obviously your technology addiction takes up most of your time.)

I’ve heard from hundreds of concerned folks since I posted this blogΒ who seem to be experts on the nature deficiency I’m causing you. So I just wanted to write this quick apology letter to you, and of course to them.

Weird, isn’t it, that with a step father who teaches outdoor education and conservation that we never made it outdoors? (Almost as strange as it is that you have a mother who is a librarian but she still lets you use technology because she knows you don’t have to just read 24 hours a day to be proficient at it).

Many, many apologies.

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If only we didn’t have to choose.

Love,

Mom

46 comments

  • Your poor children!! πŸ˜‰

    I cannot imagine the pain I’m causing mine. We rarely do anything fun outside in the winter…since we live in Canada it’s winter for like 10 out of 12 months haha

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  • Oy. It’s so convenient for folks to create these false dichotomies, but “easy” surely does not lead to either correct analysis OR result.

    I agreed with your conclusions in the original post, before and after this morning’s hike with my son.

    Like

  • You are officially my new favorite person. Period.

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  • In all the time I have known you and your children…4 years? 5 years? I have never once seen them on your iphone or with an iPad; obviously the use is excessive. You take your children to more public places and nature adventures than ANY MOM I KNOW! I am guessing that the majority of negative feedback you got for your initial post was from people who don’t do even a fraction of what you do with your children. Let them judge away, those who know and admire you and your imaginative, capable, happy, adventurous, brilliant children would agree that you must not be doing it wrong. Love.

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    • Thank you my friend. I appreciate that so much. I also thing much of it, interestingly enough, is from people who don’t even have kids.

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      • …not disagreeing with your point, but I feel saying they don’t have kids isn’t always fair. As an early childhood professional for about 8 years, I know a lot about child development and their needs, but don’t have any children of my own. Granted it is not the same as parenting children, but it doesn’t mean I know nothing.

        However, thanks for posting your original article and responses to the comments. I thought all three were well-written and brought out many interesting points.

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      • Thank you Amber. I agree. Some of the best childhood educators I know don’t have children. So I don’t think it is necessary to be a parent to have a voice in the debate. However, I do notice a lot of finger pointing and parent shaming from non-parents about how other people are parenting. Brene Brown had a great quote, when talking about being vulnerable, and she said “If you aren’t also in the arena getting your butt kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” If non parents (such as yourself) are in the arena in another way (educating) I welcome all the feedback you have! Thanks for your response.

        Liked by 1 person

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  • I love your tongue in cheek response to judgemental ignorance. You make my heart smile – just like you make your girls smile! I, too, believe in moderation. It is unrealistic to negate technology, unless we as a collective want our kids to grow up missing out on opportunities and information that we now have at our fingertips! The key is moderation and safety. Good luck with your journey!

    Like

  • If you never take them outside, where on earth did you get so many cool pictures of children and nature. Fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Love it. Your sarcasm just earned you a new follower! πŸ˜‰

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  • Well, obviously their father photoshopped them into all of those outdoor pictures for you. Duh…

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  • Still laughing. So much. πŸ˜‰

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  • Oh, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! So glad to have found you hipmombrain!

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  • Ashleigh Egbert

    Love your tongue in cheek response. Also love that we share a last name! πŸ™‚ My husband’s family is from Idaho. Small world?

    Like

  • Pics or it didnt happen. Oh wait… lol

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  • Great post!!!

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  • Fantastic post – I got here via the post on use of technology…but I love your writing style! And your reminder that balance is key.

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  • I love love the picture of your girls walking hand in hand. And great post. Biggest key you hit is balance!!

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  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading your writing, though my children are grown I have granddaughters around the ages of your girls so I can relate. They are more adept at technology then I am and I’m no slouch at it. We live out in the woods of Vermont and when the girls visit they would much rather go on an adventure in the woods, climb trees and play in the brook than be inside but on those occasions when the weather does not cooperate they do play on electronic devices usually reading or problem solving but just as often it’s reading “real” books or dancing and singing, coloring etc. Every child learns in their own way and the so called “experts” need to take that in to consideration and parents should follow their instincts and teach their children in a way that allows them to learn, grow and think in a way that suits them.

    Like

  • You are funny. I like your style.

    Like

  • Your kids are so cute! And they’re so lucky you’re teaching them to ski! It’s an amazing sport and they’re lucky to have the skill!

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  • This is great–I just read your other post on technology and kids and agree 100%. I live in VT on a river. My child loves bugs and animals and we hunt mushrooms and pick edible plants and are outside as much as possible. But you know what? My kid seeks knowledge, and aside from his Minecraft fascination (that I do tolerate to a point), his mind is soaring w/technology. If you have a “what if” kind of kid and you can’t buy every book, your town library is great but small, and if you can’t answer every question and his teacher tells him “oh, you won’t learn that until you’re in 6th grade (and he’s in 3rd)”. What are you going to do? Stream some documentaries and consult the web….you need rules on how much they can use it (and this is hard to manage, I won’t deny it…), but holding them back from knowledge is damaging…

    Like

  • What a whirlwind week you’ve had, what with Freshly Pressed and the technology and the yurts. (I’ll admit, I was desperately hoping to see the yurt. My kids’ pre-school has a neshwetu, but no one’s ever slept in it.) I’m a bit of a screen-o-phobe when it comes to my kids. I had too too much TV growing up and it’s my sad place. And we had too many computers growing up. But your 10 reasons and your two follow-up posts were so good. You have me rethinking my own phobias. That living a balanced life could be the answer? Who would have thunk it? (Thanks for the reminder.)
    Blog on, brave libra-Mama-techno-yurter.

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  • And the haters had to read this on some form of technology πŸ˜†

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  • I’m totally with you on this. I also have a daughter and I want her to be comfortable with technology. If she is so inclined, I’d also like her to pursue a STEM path unabashedly. At the same time, we’ve engrained a love for books and music and art. We go outdoors when the weather permits…it’s all about balance. Thanks for your insightfulness.

    Like

  • Had to read this twice to “get” it, but now that I have, you are also officially one of my favourite people to connect with!

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  • Love the way you write and appreciate you sharing the positive side of technology! I am a mom that used to teach. A friend of mine and I were talking about something to do with early childhood development and she didn’t like what I said so she told me I studied years ago so I didn’t know what I was talking about. Because why on earth would I know anything when I taught for years and am still constantly continuing to learn about development…lol. Will definitely continue to follow you!

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  • Rock on! I seriously don’t at all that it’s a matter of choosing outdoors vs. technology. I’m a sys admin by trade, of COURSE my kids are going to have access to and proficiency with technology. But at the same time, nothing beats an appreciation for and exposure to the outside world.

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  • Great response. I’m sure you don’t have time to read this, since it is related to your “10 Reasons” post and I know you got bombarded with comments, but never-the-less, I wanted to share. I posted it a while ago, but I often feel like the only person talking about this stuff. (Then I discovered you, and danah boyd). So here’s a link.

    http://www.posnerlehnergroup.com/1/post/2013/12/social-media-technology-and-kids-chill-out-parents.html

    Like

  • Meg – I know I praise you A LOT… but seriously, every time I read your stuff, you bring a smile to my face. I love your sarcasm!

    Like

  • I really enjoyed this article. But for me as a parent to 3 lovely kids age ranges between 2 to 8 years old. I much more like them to stay at home rather than going outside and running around streets and meeting strangers that will cause dangers to them. Of course we admit that Tablets and smartphones can cause dangers too but is more far from getting abducted, raped and so on. I have introduced them to advance technology as this is a part of our society now and every kid as I believed should be entitled to know more about it since in this generation it is a big plus for kids now who knows technology and eventually use it for the future. All parent should do is know how to control and limit their playing time. And base on my research while struggling to limit my kids playing games on tablets and smartphones I have landed to a very helpful to all that limit what time they can use the tablet, control them and at the same time help them study mathematics. This Screenshot Ninja helps us parents to monitor them while we are busy working. So when their play time expires and they still want to play more they have to solve mathematics problem to gain more. Yeah its fantastic! As I have seen my daughters passionately solving it to gain more play time credits even my 3 year old daughter is asking me, “MOMMY what’s the answer to 2+7?” and I let her count and then all I know is that my daughter can solve math now. πŸ˜€

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  • Very nice post. I absolutely appreciate thijs site. Keep itt up!

    Like

  • Reblogged this on kids go wild and commented:
    Really lovely post from a mother to her children.

    Like

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  • I believe this post just made you my absolute favorite blogger! I can’t begin to tell you how fed up I am with people, especially other moms, thinking it is appropriate to judge and bash other’s decisions. My boys love being outside, and we go out as much as possible (which isn’t as much as I would like because of living in a town that averages 60-some days of sunshine per YEAR πŸ˜–). However, at 2 years old, my oldest knew his alphabet and could recognize almost every letter on sight (sometimes confusing G and C) plus colors, numbers, and had language skills way above his expected age development. I attribute 90% of this to learning from his iPad.
    I would beat myself up much of the time for letting him watch it so much, but A) I was pregnant and had his brother before he turned 2, so I needed it B) it is the only thing that has ever held his attention. Now, I am very thankful I thought of it because he has learned so much!

    As a side note, I am a developmental specialist for the Birth to Three program and strongly advocate use of technology for early intervention! Thank you for speaking out about such a controversial topic!

    Blessings πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like you are an amazing mom and provider and should keep doing what is working for you. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

      Like

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