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The beauty and the jumps

Hiking seems to be a pretty straightforward activity, except if you are with a teenager.

This summer my son and I went for a hike on the Mushroom Rock trail outside of Carbondale, and I was in for a lesson. My son is 17 and is an avid outdoorsman; I am 45 and an avid mom. We began the hike from that perspective, and eventually I had an ah-ha moment.

As I was hiking, I would only break from my focused heart rate to enjoy the view. My comments on the beauty of our surroundings were met with a grunt from my son.



However, two minutes later, he was commenting on how awesome flying over the boulders would be on a mountain bike. His comment was met by a grunt from me.

We continued this back-and-forth grunting until I finally realized there was a profound life lesson here ” my ah-ha moment. Our actual experience of the hike was the same, the same trail, boulders and view. However, our perception of the experience was entirely different.



A perception is actually the meaning we attach to experiences we have. Perception is the key to our attitudes, motivations and behaviors. My perception of hiking was that it was important to get exercise and to be thankful for the beauty which surrounds me.

Because of that perception, I was motivated to not only get up the mountain quickly, but to enjoy the view, too.

Since I come at life as a mom first, I was not going to let this opportunity slip past me to teach. Yes, there was a life lesson here on different perceptions. You guessed it ” my son was not interested in the lesson. He was still intent on the future thrill of the mountain-bike session he was planning. Yet again, we had attached two different meanings to this experience.

What I realized in that moment is I was trying desperately to change my son’s perceptions, while I was not in the least bit interested in changing mine. I even took it a step further and wanted him to value, with enthusiasm, the life lesson I had learned.

Now I have heard this all before, as I am sure you have. This is not a new lesson and yet for me, this was one of the times it actually made an impact on my behavior towards my kids.

I ended the hike laughing at my foolish belief the best or only reason to hike is to get exercise and enjoy the view; how silly it was not to see the awesome jumps along the way. Our kids see life sometimes (usually) very differently than we do. I have spent many hours, days and years, trying to get them to see things my way. Now it’s my turn to stop looking at the view and start seeing the jumps.

Lori Mueller is the program director at YouthZone and has worked with parents and families for more than 20 years. If you want to find support in your parenting, please call YouthZone at 945-9300 or 625-3141.


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