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Seeing the World through Baking and Traveling

By Lynn Fantom
February 8, 2010
File under: Family Time, Green Activities


The Great Recession has taught us there’s more to life than granite countertops.

Someone said this to me recently, and I thought of it again when my co-worker Jessica Birk told me that she and her two sons, Craig, 4, and Brandon, 2, have started baking together every weekend.  Often they give their goodies away.

I don’t know whether their cookie racks sit on granite countertops or not, but it struck me how much Jessica is teaching her sons with such ordinary playtime.  On a Saturday afternoon she’s rolling out lessons about cooperation, science, and charity, along with her cookie dough.

Vacation travel also offers an opportunity for parents to build values and develop a common history with their children.  But do we think about family trips in that way or, justifiably exhausted, just default to what’s easiest?

Says New York psychologist Joan Levine, Ph.D., “Vacations offer fun and relaxation.  But whether carefully contemplated or not, the choices we make about where to go and what to do also communicate to our children what’s important to us.”

Not so long ago, to many of us, a “family-friendly” vacation meant jetting off to an all-inclusive resort where the kids got to play video games in the kids’ club and parents relaxed by the pool.  It seemed “cute” that an eight-year-old could master calling for room service so quickly.

Today you may be thinking a little differently.  Worrying about your carbon footprint is only the beginning.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, says, “Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. The polarity of the relationship has reversed. Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment—but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.  Yet, at the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature—in positive ways.”

Planning a nature-oriented family holiday?  Check out Acadia National Park in Maine.

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