Nurturing in Nature – Or, Trapping Teens in the Wild

When you have little kids and you want to spend time with them, all you have to do is:  1) Go to the bathroom; 2) Lay down for a nap; or 3) Get in the shower.  Within seconds, anyone under the age of 10 living in your home will be within spitting distance, eager for your undivided attention.

When you have teenagers and you want a face-to-face encounter, you must: A) Bribe them; B) Trick them; or C) Text them while sitting at the same dinner table.

But don’t panic.  In such situations, I simply turn to The Village, and enlist the help of another mom – Mother Nature, to be exact.

My 16-year-old daughter recently shocked me with a Mother’s Day picnic at the Roswell Mill Ruins.  Usually on this holiday, I receive a hug and a cleverly written letter with the ink still wet. Instead, she whisked me away to this historic gem.  Upon arrival, we crossed a covered bridge that spanned a rushing creek, and descended a hill to set up camp on some rocks by the water.  It was a popular place, and we ended up taking a lot of Facebook photos for strangers.  Nonetheless, we had a lovely time people watching and listening to the world around us.

Because the thing about Mother Nature is this:  she doesn’t take no for an answer.  She can be tough, but after a little time with her, you end up feeling better about yourself.  Plus, she has horrible WiFi.

Nurturing in Nature
Chattahoochee Gold Branch

A few weeks later we ventured back for a “welcome summer” hike with our dogs.  However, after pulling up and seeing swarms of teenage boys with towels converging in the parking lot, I quickly aborted the mission and steered us to the Gold Branch of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. After a short trek to a scenic spot overlooking the river, we settled in to watch the dogs and ducks splash about. It wasn’t long before we heard chattering, and along came four girls wearing nothing but bikinis and a smile, so one can assume a swimming hole is within easy distance.

Next up is the Sope Creek Trail – we’ve heard it has interesting ruins and connects to Cochran Shoals, which is our favorite walk of all.

Important note:  these hikes are neither profound nor life-changing.  Sometimes we talk about big things, like love and friendship.  Other times, we talk about the walk itself, or how the dogs just pooped and we forgot a bag. 

But, whatever the topic, at least we are in each others’ universe for a time.  Once you have a captive audience, a few easy prepared questions, and the promise of food, simply pass the baton and let Mother Nature do the rest.

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Alison is a Florida transplant who came to Atlanta just in time for the '96 Olympics. She married her husband Travis that same year and is the proud mama of daughter Carolyn, 23, and son Emory, 21. She is a 5th grade teacher, with a side hustle as a graphic designer, and is an avid rooster enthusiast. She enjoys blogging, watching her kids follow their dreams, and spending as much time as possible on her back deck.


  1. First of all… yes to all those things with little ones and big ones. My husband was on the phone last night & our 2 year old was talking non-stop. He gets off the phone and the little one was quiet as a mouse. He was like, what the heck is that? I explained to him the amazing phenomenon of when toddlers want attention.

    And teenagers?! Yes – if we can drag them by their fingernails away from the wifi, you’re reminded of how interesting and funny they can be.

    I’m always looking for fun outdoor places to explore and I absolutely LOVE this list!! Thank you for posting it!!

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