Leaving the cage behind yields tangible dividends
Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a walk.
We might speak metaphorically: this house feels like a prison, the walls are closing in, I’m feeling claustrophobic, I have cabin fever. But those of us rearing adolescents know that domestic confines can be all too real. Particularly when cohabitating with a teen, where there are so many opportunities for dramatic outbursts, conflicts and seemingly endless, sullen silences.
Guess what? Your teen very likely feels the same way. And breaking the mood for all involved might be as simple as a change of scenery. Simply going for a walk with your teen can be an antidote to at least part of what ails you both and can prove beneficial in more than one way.
A new atmosphere
In tumultuous times, the house can seem the culprit. After all, it’s where most of the worst episodes play out, where the thickest tension really resides. Bringing the same actors, even the same dynamic, into a different setting can take away some of that edge. The forward momentum of walking feels at least like you’re making progress (even if only metaphorical). The fresh air can lift the spirits in the same way the cloistered air of the house lately has been dampening them. A little sunshine — corny but true — can be a pretty effective balm.
No one’s saying this is a miracle cure. But often in the heavy business of a family under duress it is the little tweaks and dabs of new color that make the load bearable, lighter.
A new perspective
Problems can look insurmountable and situations hopeless when you see nothing else. But there is always something else, always more than just our hardships. And some time on a walk, surrounded by a neighborhood and nature, can remind us of that.
There is always a community around us; we just have to take time to see it. There are individuals struggling and striving, families grieving and triumphing, people suffering setbacks yet surviving and moving forward. A walk may only afford us a brief glimpse of the surface, but it’s helpful to remember that those we see when out and about aren’t so different than we are.
Time in nature lends its own perspective. “Everything to its season …” and that means problems and hard times, too. No matter what our family is facing, a new bud or blossom in early spring shows that nothing is permanent, in nature things are always being reborn. A chill in the wind means the holidays are on the way. Full-on summer means we can work up a sweat. A new perspective doesn’t make our problems go away, but it does keep them in proportion.
A new tradition
What if taking a walk becomes the beginning of a new tradition? A bit of not-too-strenuous family bonding time? Don’t get militant about it; there’s no need to institute two hours of walking time every night after dinner, seven days a week. Just do, say, Monday and Thursday evenings, a half-hour to an hour.
Maybe out of the blockade of home, your teen will open up and talk to you. Each of you can see what draws the others’ eye, and talk about that tree, or landscaping, or house color. Maybe you’ll let go of some of your worry or anger. Maybe nothing will happen except that, for some set amount of time, everyone is enjoying a little frivolous time together. Nothing wrong with frivolity — chances are there’s been too little of it in the home as of late.
This is simple, easy. Remember: it is never a prison so long as you can open the door and walk out.