Why Dads Need to Dig in the Dirt

Dads need to dig in the dirt, to plant trees, to find worms, and to grow low-hanging fruit for their kids. Here’s why.

There’s a really nice dad in my neighborhood. A dad who has the time of day for his kids; he speaks gently – it’s obvious how much he loves and respects them. I’m just sure he’s trying to give them every advantage. Which is why I was sad when I watched him in the garden with his young son one day last fall.

The dad was raking leaves and the little guy was doing his best to help. They were chatting back and forth. That part was good..

Then the dad got out the lawnmower. All of a sudden he couldn’t hear what the little guy had to say any more. The kid was getting under his feet and the dad, of course, was trying to be careful not to hurt him. Then I noticed that the kid had a little plastic lawnmower and he was trying to follow along and do as dad did. But he kept getting in the way. Dad was stopping his gas powered lawn mower over and over again to explain. This just couldn’t last; we all have limited patience.

It got me wondering. How many times is this story repeated weekend after weekend from spring to fall, year upon year, across the country? Isn’t there something better for dads to do in the garden? Something better for kids to see and learn than lawn care with a noisy, hazardous, and polluting lawnmower?

With all the awareness that kids need to spend time outdoors we’ve got to do better. I believe that dads are uniquely placed to mentor their kids. Which kid doesn’t want approval from dad? And gardening is so good for us that there is even garden therapy (called horticultural therapy).

In the garden you can:

1.    Grow healthy food.

2.    Get fresh air and exercise.

3.    Explore the science of plants, animals and microbes.

4.    Support native wildlife.

5.    Demonstrate safe tool use and teach carpentry skills.

6.    Build structures which catch rainwater runoff and prevent pollution and flooding.

7.    Mentor a healthy relationship with your kids.

With all these possibilities would you rather your kid learn to walk behind a lawnmower?

Decide to do something different in the garden this year. What is it going to be?

[This is a guest post from Alison Kerr. Alison is an American from Scotland who lives in Eastern Kansas with her two teens, two cats, and her cowboy-hat-toting husband. She plants vegetables, eats home-made soup and freshly baked bread, gives hugs to her family, hikes Kansas prairie fields in the heat of summer, cools off in creeks, admires rocks and trees, watches birds, reads books, and invites nature into her garden. She encourages you to love nature, learn about gardening, and aim for sustainability through her writing at Loving Nature’s Garden.]

Image: net_efekt at Flickr

6 thoughts on “Why Dads Need to Dig in the Dirt

  • January 12, 2010 at 4:53 am
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    Great post! I couldn’t agree more. The little ones I have cared for as well as my own kids and grandkids have encouraged me to appreciate the Beauty of Bugs! In fact, I have a whole collection of bug photos as a result because kids love bugs! Especially the amazing bugs in other countries. They are beautiful, miraculous beings that remind us there is so much more going on that what the TV shows us.

    I love being in the presence of kids, especially the 3 year old that has an incredible eye and fascination for miniature life.

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  • January 12, 2010 at 4:56 am
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    BTW- If you don’t have your own garden, just taking kids on field trips to visit the community gardens in your area is a great way to share this experience, even it’s not your own garden. One of my favorite places to go and bring kids or just have lunch is the SF Fort Mason Community Garden. It is filled with life and color and nature and views of SF. Wow!

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  • January 12, 2010 at 8:17 am
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    Community gardens are great, I quite agree with you Granny Pants. Nothing beats growing your own food though, even if it’s just in a pot, or bean sprouts in a jar. I suggest doing both!

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  • January 12, 2010 at 11:48 am
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    Fun post! great reminders! Dads are so important for the development of our kids! This post made me think of all the fun things my dad did with me as a kid and what Charlie does with our son in our garden! (Charlie w/side kick Jeremiah is the fence builder, tomato staker and compost mover; mom (me) often mows the lawn!)
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..What’s Happening Wednesday =-.

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