### Mother Nature’s Parenting Tips: Wisdom from the Ultimate Mother

By Deborah Holmén, M.Ed., NBCT

Balancing the fine line between safeguarding our children and allowing them the freedom to explore and develop autonomously is a common challenge for parents. In the pursuit of nurturing successful and contented children, we have experimented with various parenting approaches, some more effective than others. Yet, when it comes to imparting invaluable life lessons, perhaps we can glean insights from the natural world and its most adept educator: Mother Nature herself. Emulating her ways can equip parents with the means to instill essential life skills in their children, nurturing their social and emotional well-being.

In the contemporary landscape of parenting, a spectrum of styles exists, ranging from authoritative to permissive. Amidst this diversity, authoritative parenting emerges as a beacon of hope for raising resilient, compassionate, and competent children. Rooted in love, empathy, and reasonable boundaries, this approach has been proven to foster positive social and emotional growth in children.

The correlation between authoritative parenting and nature may not be immediately evident. However, the profound benefits children reap from nature immersion underscore its significance. Research underscores nature as an unparalleled classroom, offering a plethora of experiences that enrich a child’s emotional intelligence, resilience, and social acumen.

In my publication, “It Takes A Lot of Sh*t to Grow Beautiful Flowers: A Gardener’s Guide to Life,” I recount a poignant narrative featuring a viral video that exemplifies an extraordinary parenting style.

The video captures a wise mother mare guiding her foal towards an electric fence. Observing the subtle tremors on her withers, signaling her discomfort with the unfamiliar wire, the foal mirrors her unease by nervously flicking its tail. Trusting its mother’s guidance, the foal accompanies her towards the fence. Encouraging her offspring to approach, the mother then steps back, patiently awaiting the moment the foal’s tender muzzle touches the fence.

As the foal’s nose encounters the sharp shock, prompting a startled leap and retreat, the mother swiftly reassures her young one with a comforting nuzzle. Together, they depart from the fence unscathed yet imprinted with a vital lesson that the foal would not soon forget.

Similarly, as parents, we are tasked with introducing our children to challenging situations that necessitate guidance to avert harm. Whether it be the fireplace, the sharp edges of furniture, or the stovetop, our intent is to shield our children from harm. However, shielding them entirely from discomfort under the guise of protection would be a disservice. At times, inducing discomfort is imperative to impart essential survival skills. The seasoned mare understood the importance of proactive teaching over reactive learning.

According to an insightful article by the Child Mind Institute, children immersed in nature exhibit enhanced stress management, emotional regulation, and empathy towards others. Nature cultivates virtues of patience, adaptability, and perseverance. It encourages risk-taking, problem-solving, and instills a sense of responsibility. Nature serves as the canvas upon which children paint their experiences, nurturing their creativity, imagination, and inquisitiveness.

But how does nature-based learning bridge the social and emotional chasm exacerbated by prevalent mental health challenges, especially in the context of the ongoing pandemic? The answer lies in experiential learning. When children engage in tactile exploration, immersing themselves in nature’s wonders, they forge a profound connection with the natural world. This connection acts as a soothing salve for their troubled hearts and anxious minds, offering solace and a sense of belonging.

Nature provides a sanctuary from the rigors of virtual learning and the isolation enforced by lockdowns. It enables children to partake in unstructured play, unleashing their creativity and fostering camaraderie. Freed from digital constraints, they cultivate friendships, learn conflict resolution, and grasp the value of teamwork.

The teachings of nature transcend outdoor escapades, permeating into the realm of parenting, influencing practices in remarkable ways. Drawing inspiration from nature, parents can emulate its authoritative yet nurturing demeanor. By creating a secure environment where children are encouraged to explore, express themselves, and learn from missteps, parents empower their children to make informed choices within defined boundaries. This empowerment cultivates decision-making skills, nurturing independence and self-assurance.

In a world fraught with uncertainty and complexity, the wisdom of Mother Nature serves as a guiding light. She reminds us that life unfolds in cycles of growth and transformation, with resilience interwoven into the very fabric of existence. By embracing her teachings, parents equip their children with the resilience and adaptability necessary not only to endure but to flourish in the face of adversity.

Let us, therefore, retreat from the digital glare and venture into the embrace of nature with our children. Let us afford them the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature’s marvels, imbibing its teachings as they navigate its myriad wonders. In doing so, we draw from the ultimate source of parental wisdom — Mother Nature.

This piece was originally featured on medium.com.


From The Good Men Project on Medium


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Photo credit: 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash