Monday, June 8, 2020

Making positive family hiking narratives

Beyond the constraints of obligations, electronic devices and large social networks that pull families apart in different directions, hiking and spending time on the trails provide families with the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time together and to create positive and lifelong memories.  

Hiking with children allows parents the opportunity to pass on experiences that capture central values for family life and well-being, which can be realized by their children as they grow older and can pass to future generations.

Positive shared memories and important family narratives of belonging and are instilled during the hiking trip. The shared experiences of sunrises, views from the top of mountains, taking shelter in rainstorms, traveling to new hiking trails, learning about animals and following tracks, and spending time together in real-time will have lasting effects long after you have reached your destination for that specific journey. 

Families can lose their bearings, especially when children spend too much time in structures activities, in their rooms, on their phones, tuned out of the family and when parents become too busy in the daily activities that they end up ignoring the importance of spending time with their children in unstructured and spontaneous fun. 

Hiking and spending time outdoors provides families with the unstructured opportunity to connect without the distractions of daily life.  

While on the trail, families can experience a sense of presence, even though each family may have different patterns of hiking (children sometimes run in front eager to get there, sometimes slowly follow their parents, or each parent walks with one child, or they all walk as a unit holding hands).  Hiking is so much more than just walking.  Its also stopping for breaks, taking family pictures, talking on the trail, having lunch together, enjoying the view, playing games, singing, bird watching, etc.

Remembring and talking about the events provides another opportunity to strengthen the family narrative and to benefit from these experiences.  Watching a slideshow of the pictures of a trip or talking about the points to remember can help to concretize these experiences deep in the memory bank and provide children with deep feelings of connections and positive sense of self and family, which will help to create strong, resilient and passionate young adults.  

When parents and the children communicate about their travels and time spent together by asking each other questions about the experiences on hiking trips (e.g. do you remember when we saw the moose?), we create shared narratives, shared stories, and an overall sense of belonging and connection. 

To recount stories that occurred on the trail is about creating a shared family narrative and a sense of family identity.

As families tell their stories to each other,  the use of the "we" can connect the family as active participants in the storyline.  As family members talk about the family as a unite, the family begins to talk with a shared understanding, a common experience, and a joint sense of connection and meaning that gives a sense of closeness. 

By sharing experiences of their existence, the parents believe that they are giving their children a lifelong gift. Through this gift the parents implant their experiences into their children’s memory, thus creating continuity based on their belief that the children will evoke these memories later in life.