“God has given me this child…and she is in God’s hands!”
I have had many folks question how we could consider taking our young teen on a long distance, multi-week backpacking trip. Although I usually just smile and make some inane comment about how much she enjoyed the trip, my thoughts scream out “I had no other choice! This is exactly what she NEEDED!”
We have tended to be “outside-the-box” parents, homeschooling our kids, letting them explore interests, and helping them pursue passions. This one, our youngest, has extra challenges. She is very smart and learns some things quickly. At the same time, most “book-learning” takes extraordinary amounts of work. She craves social contact, but lacks many of the skills needed to be successful in building relationships with peers. She is often at the center of a hurricane of emotions, made more unbearable and unmanageable with extreme anxiety. Life sometimes feels like a never-ending series of appointments with therapists and doctors to find the help she needs to manage daily living. That’s no way to feel strong and successful in life…
Then we decided that she and I would spend a few months backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. As journaled here on this blog, I researched, planned, bought gear, and off we went. Along the way, we discovered that this is exactly what she needs! Being in nature brought anxiety and emotions to manageable levels. We could walk peacefully through most days. She enjoyed the social contacts along the way, with little of the stress that debilitates her in town.
Folks questioned how we could make her take this trip, focused on the physical dangers. We now realize that she and I will take many more adventures along the AT, focused on the personal healing that comes when this child is in the woods…
5 thoughts on “Child in the Woods”
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Everyone needs to find the path that works for them. Your daughter is so fortunate to have parents that understand this and do the hard work to make it happen. As a parent myself of a high-functioning autistic son, I so understand your efforts and commitment to your daughter.
Thanks for the encouragement, Tom!
The book, “One Mind at a Time” (can’t find it in the put away stuff and I don’t remember the author’s name). It was a big help in raising and homeschooling our child and progression into the adult world.
Thanks, Mike. I will look for it!