In the preface of Wild Play (2011), Sobel describes the importance and challenges of fulfilling his goal to be a good father. He describes the stereotyped traits of a good dad (such as; knowing how to fix the plumbing). He then goes on to extend this list to less tangible traits such as being emotionally present as a father. He describes being emotionally present as "...more love than guidance or criticism." p. 13). Creating the circumstances for children to bond with the natural world may include, according to Sobel, being emotionally present.
Presence is something that comes up a lot for me when I am reflecting on my relationship with my son in the natural world. Instead of designing the experience to meet my expectations, I feel that the parent-child-nature experience is more fulfilled when I come into this state. Allowing time to slow down, I have observed, is a result of spending time outside. I think this sense that a child can receive from their own time outside is a benefit...but even more so when they can feel this slowing of time and presence from their own caregiver. I feel that as a parent, that a state of presence, can be the most difficult thing to model for our children. Sobel used the term "time sickness" to describe the feeling that there is never enough time in modern parenting (p.23). This feeling resonates with me as strikes me how important in can be to spend time parenting in nature.
Sobel describes his motivations for wanting to bridge childhood and nature in his family's experience in the preface. (A question that would be great to develop for parents participating in my FNC program and study) Some motivations include: replicating meaningful nature experiences from his own life, psychological benefits of nature play, the natural world as an important learning environment (just as important as the traditional school experience) (p. 13,15 & 17).
He writes this book as a parent first for other parents "...who desire, as I did and do, that their children grow up with dirt under their fingernails, glints of sunlight in their eyes, and a deep sense of hope about life on earth." (p.19).
This is a theme I have heard from other parents: "We want our kids to grow up knowing what nature is." Calgary Outdoor Playgroup Parent