What I know: Parenting – Exposure

paddleboat3For the last few days of spring break I took my girls out to the Lake Livingston National Park in Livingston Texas to go camping.  Yes camping, in tents in the woods with dirt and campfires and all of that. We had a pretty great time. We hiked on a little trail, and got up early and went fishing. My youngest daughter touched her first worms. It was beautiful, relaxing and cheap.

I realize that dirt is not for everyone, but dirt and worms aside; I know that my daughters will remember that experience for the rest of their lives. They also learned that if they can put up a tent, and bait a hook, then they can probably do anything if they put their mind to it.

I believe that the limitations we put on ourselves are purely mental. When I told my friends what I was doing, a few of them said “Whaaat, black people don’t camp!”

Who makes these rules? The same people who say

  • Black people don’t swim
  • Black people don’t go to college
  • Black people can’t be president

fishing1 I think your expectations for yourself begin with your parents and what you are exposed to as a child. If you are exposed to things beyond your everyday world, you tend to see beyond your limits. If you take your children with you on that journey, you stop the cycle of limited expectations and give them a vision of a bigger world. When I was a kid, like it or not my parents made us do these things. We piled in that cramped station wagon and went camping, out to the country, boating, to state parks, museums, even Washington DC. Who’d have thunk it… my parents are genius-es.

I have already seen a change in my children. My youngest child is 6. She generally does not like to try new foods. We went out to dinner last week and my older daughter ordered a seafood dish with mussels.  She offered one to her and at first she did not want to try it. My older daughter said “remember camping, you did not want to try that either, just try it!” She did, and now I have a 6 year old who likes mussels.

I try to expose my children as often as possible to the possibilities of the world. I think because of this they do not generally see limits on their lives. They still truly believe that they can do anything, and be successful at it.

Ideas for exposure (on the cheap)

learning1Explore agriculture – Take them apple picking, or to pick out pumpkins in the fall
Encourage left brain activity – Go to the local art museum and take a sketch book and pencil with you
History is everywhere – Visit local or regional tourist attractions, like historical homes and take the tour
Try a cultural exchange – Spend the day at a community street festival they often feature local cultural dancing or music
Explore the local wilderness – There are places to go camping, hiking, biking or fishing in every town. Admission to state and national parks is usually very inexpensive (Texas, California, Massachusetts)


8 thoughts on “What I know: Parenting – Exposure”

  1. Love this! It is so true. It’s all about what you make it to be! Everyone laughed when we went to Brockton, but we weren’t home and they felt like we had gone around the world and back. Hopefully this month’s road trip will be to DC, but if not, we’ll find someplace down at the Cape.

    Love the “black people don’t…” That is such limited thinking in this day and age.

  2. I love this article. I am also a believer that the only limitations we have are, ones we put on ourselves. Often there is a neigh sayer. However thats limited thinking on their behalf. Life is to short to sit around and not take advantage of everything you can. Of course, not everything is for everybody but how will you know unless you try.

  3. Great post!!! You are totally right. It’s great for kids to experience new things, and I love that you exposed the girls to camping. That’s fun, adventurous and a real self-esteem builder because there aren’t the usual modern-day conveniences to rely on in the wilderness!

    I went camping growing up (as a Girl Scout), and it was awesome. But it has been so long since then that I probably would be a little insecure about going. Thanks for the reminder to let go of self-imposed limits and to “just do it.” In the process we can give our kids (and ourselves, as parents) a bigger world and greater sense of self.

    It never occurred to me that people think “black people don’t camp.”

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