Growing up outside – Passing it down

Yesterday I wrote about growing up in Michigan and how we spent most of our time outside.

I also mentioned because of that experience, I wanted to be sure my kids had the same opportunity.

When I got pregnant with our first son, my husband was still in school. We lived in a townhouse near campus and it was fine. By the time our boy was six months old, we’d moved back to Oregon and found a rental in town.

It wasn’t until after our second son was born that I started to remember my own childhood, and what it was like to grow up on a farm. I had married a city boy, and I wasn’t sure he would want to move into the country.

But by the time our youngest was five and we were living on a golf course, I knew something had to change. The winters weren’t so bad there, because the boys could sled down a gentle slope out our back yard down on the 9th tee.

But as soon as the snow melted and golfers were back in our space spewing expletives each time they shanked a ball, I knew I wanted out.

Those two boys were wide-eyed and ready to explore as soon as we moved to a little 20-acre farmhouse out in the country.

They would be gone for hours only coming back to the kitchen door to show me a bullfrog they caught, or to get a sandwich to take up to the tree fort.

They spent their youth figuring out important things like how to rig a pulley to be able to create a makeshift elevator up to that tree house. And they  learned pretty quickly that if they weren’t paying attention, fingers got caught in said pulley.

These are important lessons in life, even if we didn’t recognize it at the time.

They learned how to problem solve. On their own. Without parents or other adults interfering. And that’s a wonderful thing.

They also learned about situational awareness. Those two are actually the ones who taught me that term.

I remember when my youngest was helping me move a table and we started out with him going backwards towards the door. Before I knew it, I was the one going backwards and asked, “Hey, how did I wind up being the one going backwards?”

To which he replied, “Because I have excellent situational awareness.

They have both grown up to be very aware of the world around them and can quickly assess problems or issues that need to be dealt with. I’m proud of both of them.

And I know it’s in part because they had a chance to be outside exploring and figuring life out.

My youngest is a Dad now and I can tell some of the things he experienced as a child he is passing on to his kids. Both he and my daughter-in-law were raised the same, and they take great care to make sure their daughters get to have practical, hands on experiences.

Photo by Amy Madson, Photographer



Reader Comments

  1. Rosie Bermudez

    Dear Loretta:

    This post helps me reflect as a mother. I was a hands on parent and very involved meaning that I showed my son how to be a responsible young man. Often times, my hubby and I restricted our son from doing fun events with other friends until homework was completed. I don’t think that was always the best approach. Honestly, every parent struggles with the demands and balancing free time as we prepare our children to college life and/or to become successful young adult (s). Now my 20 yo, I see using skills I taught him to problem solved, being proactive in his studies and managing his time as these are my strengths…lol Love your posts as it helps me reflect my strengths and letting go of some things and allowing my 20 to become a more independent adult.

    Kind regards,


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