Here, I share some of my concluding take aways from reflecting on my parent-child-nature relationship during this program and study:
I set out to build a nature connection for my son. What I discovered is in the end the parent-child-nature (PCN) relationship created the opportunity to reconnect myself to the natural world - which I didn't realize I was missing. Going out into a natural setting with a child as my companion demanded me to slow down, follow another's lead, and experience the curiosities of the natural world through a child. I'm starting to feel that parental reconnection to the natural world, or perhaps to their former child in nature, has an important role to play in connecting our children.
To symbolize my current appreciation of the PCN relationship, I gravitated towards an old caribou antler as part of a reflection activity during the study's concluding focus group. The growing of the antlers represented the developing PCN relationship with the idea of new 'branches' evolving in this relationship with my son over time. The shedding of the antlers, as part of the natural cycle, symbolizes the shedding of my previous understandings and assumptions as a parent with my child in nature. The fact that this cycle of growing and shedding is an old cycle for the caribou symbolized, for me, that the PCN relationship is an old cycle as well. And that for the purpose of this study we are only giving a name to this old relationship and the time to pay some attention to it through our reflections and develop an appreciation for what it can offer us as parents/families in the new millennium.