How to Help Your Child Climb Grown-Up Mountain

Is my child ready to climb Mt. Everest?

If you’re like me, the answer is “Of course not!” and “She might get hurt!”

But what about a harder mountain to climb? How about Grown Up Mountain?

This is a mountain you’ve helped your children climb since they were born. But it gets a lot steeper for them as they prepare for college.

I think all parents want their kids to expertly scale that mountain—and all the mountains they will face in life.

Have you given them the right mountain climbing skills to climb on their own, or have you carried them on your back the whole way up Grown Up Mountain?

Montana Bound

Many years ago, I wrote a little book called I Climbed a Mountain in Montana.  (It’s still available on Amazon by the way!) My daughter and I had taken a mother/daughter trip to a dude ranch. Every day she rode horses and I went fly fishing.

On the ranch, there was a fairly high mountain. I had heard there was a path that hikers took to get up, so I decided to go on my own and scale it. I was 45 years old at the time and she had just graduated high school and college was mere weeks away.

I did not think I would write a book about it, but something told me to take notes on the way up, at the top and as I went back down. Can you guess what the chapters were called? Going Up—At the Top—Coming Back Down.

OK, I do not confess to being Hemingway, but I wanted to capture this experience and remember it.

That summer was a major turning point in our lives. My daughter was leaving home and I hoped and prayed she (and I) were ready for it.

That mountain became a metaphor for my life and my daughter’s life.

Throughout our years, my daughter and I climbed many mountains, both together and alone. We achieved success and we’ve been at the top of our game, and we’ve been in the valleys. As soon as we climbed one mountain, another faced us.

When our children were babies, we carried them around everywhere. They were on our hips or in strollers. We started ascending the mountain and they got a little bit heavy so we taught them to walk—but we still held their hands.

As the climb got steeper and they got older, they learned new skills in order to climb higher: Learning to tie their shoes, table manners, schoolwork… each year was a new vista on the way up the mountain.

By the time they got to high school, the altitude got scary for us and for our children. Suddenly it felt as if we couldn’t protect our children from the dangers of the world anymore! Or we began to wonder if they were ever going to get up that mountain and be mature adults.

That is certainly where I was that summer in Montana. Was she ever going to ready for college, much less what life would throw at her?

I had to face leaving her on the side of the mountain—by herself.

I had done all I could. In a few weeks, my day-to-day job was over.

Steve has a good story about this. I wish I had known it that when I was helping my daughter climb Grown Up Mountain.

It’s a simple tool that anyone can apply.

He always tried to think of his kids as a year or two older than they actually were. He would think about what skills they would need to have at that older age. Then he would teach those skills to his children and start treating them as if they were that age.

We know our kids have many mountains ahead of them. We won’t always be there, but what we taught them will be.

As a mom, I sincerely hope you take this time to teach your child the skills they’ll need to survive the climb. Your time with them is precious and short! I believe in you!


What have you done to help your child climb Grown Up Mountain? Do you have a tip? Please share in the comment section below!

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