How Do You Define Adventurous Parenting?

Usually when you set off to write a report or dig into a topic, you need to define your terms. It is important that your reader understands how you define certain concepts so that you’re able to take off from the same launch point. That being said, something that is fun about The Adventures in Parenthood Project is my quest to pick apart some of the concepts surrounding adventurous parenting, including the very definition of these two words.

The toddler is tuckered out from a backcountry adventure to Banff's Shadow Lake Lodge with her parents. She's not one to nap on the trail and actually fell asleep 10 minutes from the car after a four hour hike. Photo Paul Zizka Photography.
The toddler is tuckered out from a backcountry adventure to Banff’s Shadow Lake Lodge with her parents. She’s not one to nap on the trail and actually fell asleep 10 minutes from the car after a four hour hike. Photo Paul Zizka Photography.

So, to help me make some headway, I put a question out to my community of outdoor family bloggers: How do you define “adventurous parenting?”. Their answers reveal a broad spectrum of perspectives, from “parenting is adventurous in itself” to qualities that make one parenting style more adventurous than others. It’s not about being better or worse at parenting; the reality is that some people are willing to do things with their children that others are not, and it’s all a matter of choice.

I’ll leave you to read their definitions, and please take some time to provide your own in the comment of this post! (My answers is all the way at the bottom, so you’ll have to do some scrolling…)


“I think being an adventurous parent is all about being courageous, pushing past the worries and fears about how everything could go terribly wrong, and getting out to do something fun anyway. I saw a quote the other day that said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” [Ambrose Redmoon] And I think that applies to all of us. We have decided that it is more important for our kids to be outside doing amazing things than to be afraid of all of the work and hardship that come along with it.”

-Katherine Thayer-Calder of

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“I think adventurous parenting is different for each family based on their experiences. For some, just going for a hike with their kids is an adventure in and of itself, and for others it may be teaching their kid how to white water kayak or spending a couple nights backpacking. Also, for kids, most things are an adventure since so many things are new to them.”

-Melissa Edge of

“Adventurous parenting means taking an active, positive role in your kids’ lives, teaching important values like loving nature through example. Any parent trying to rear their children in uniquely positive ways is adventurous, whether that’s living overseas, camping with a toddler, rejecting media influences, or choosing a better parenting style than the one you were raised with.” 

-Susan Strayer of

“Not putting the need to calm your nerves ahead of their need to excite their nerves.”

-Ken Schmaltz of

“Adventure is a mistake one makes on purpose. With stubbornness we cultivate flexibility. Within the bounds of caution, we explore creativity. Along with patience, we need guts. Everything I say about adventure, I can say about parenting as well – why shouldn’t they come together? I think everyone deserves surprises in life. Deserves challenge and amazement and discovery and the chance to learn how powerful and adaptable they really are. That applies to small people too.”

-Erin McKittrick of

“I see so many of my friends enduring parenthood and I think it’s because they’ve lost their sense of adventure. They dread the unknown and find a rut they stick in. It seems like we’re always doing something new and different and that helps keep it fun. Adventure isn’t always outside. We’ve done lots of SCIENCE and depending on how creative I get it can be VERY adventurous.”

-John Soltys of

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Every day as a parent is an adventure. Some days they are big adventures and some days they are small.”

-Kathy Dalton of

“Being adventurous parents is about giving our kids wonderful memories and the lessons learned from them. That is what kids take with them through life. “Stuff” comes and goes, memories last.”

-Mae Kiggins of

“For me, parenting (and life) is all about experiences. Opening my daughter’s eyes and mind up to the beauty of our world’s diversity and the magnificence of its design is my duty. If that is called adventurous, then I guess I’m an adventurous parent.” 

-Jennifer Fontaine of

“As far as I can remember, I have been “adventurous” from my childhood, career and parenting lifestyle. People tell us that they are amazed we haven’t stopped our outdoor adventures. But after the birth of first child my mom told me children adapt to the parents lifestyle, if you let them. Looking back through my life, I always wanted to take chances and push the limits, not because I want to be adventurous but because that is who I am. I want to go through life kicking ass and taking every opportunity that comes along, even in parenthood. To others it might seem like adventurous parenting, but to me it is who we are.”

-Melissa Avery of

“I think parenting is adventurous, so it’s really just par for the course.”

-Paul Osborn of

“My favourite definition is this: “it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome” [] with a focus on the uncertain outcome part of it. Here is a post I wrote on just this topic during a time when dear friends of ours found their lives rerouted from backyard fun, hikes and fishing trips to living at a children’s hospital for the next year+ of their life.”

-Alyssa Erickson of

“Adventurous parenting is understanding that something could happen, but also understanding the risk is more advantageous than the harm from not doing it. It’s breaking out of the “safe route” through parenthood, and defining things for yourself.”

-Nancy Sathre-Vogel of

“I see it as continuing the outdoor activities you enjoyed doing before having kids, and trying to include the children into the sports so that you can do them together as a family. The kids might not get to come mountaineering with you yet but they can join you on easier trips within your acceptable risk comforts as a parent. 

“Everything changes when you have kids and that 8-hour backpacking trip to camp turns into a 1-hour trip to a much closer campsite, the full day ski tour becomes a short half hour adventure around a local golf course, canoes are introduced in backcountry adventures to reach camp (and carry all your gear and kids), and sleds are introduced for skiing. But you still get out there and do it. Expectations are modified and you move at a slower pace.”

-Tanya Koob of

“Adventurous parenting for us relates just as much to the whole of life experiences as it does to our outdoor endeavours. It means allowing your kids to explore, try new things, and make mistakes – allowing for the natural consequences to take place. These child-led and parent-guided adventures serve the development of the entire person, not merely the ‘outdoorsy’ part of the person. Adventure can extend into every facet of our life; I see my role as a parent is to cultivate my little ones’ sense of curiosity and wonder as unique individuals!”

-Ann Fischer of

“Adventures aren’t defined by their size or location. They can be big, they can be small, they can be far from home or they can happen in your backyard. I think adventures happen when you step into the unknown with an open mind and a good sense of humor!

-Sarah McLean of

“Adventure is embracing the unknown and venturing into it with a good knowledge of our skills, as well as the experiences we are lacking, so that we can take appropriate risks. If we embrace adventure as parents, we push the limits on what is possible with children and break free of social norms for the purpose of teaching them the realities of life in an unconventional way.”

-Meghan J. Ward of

Related Post

The Kid Question: How an Adventurer Decides to Become a Parent

How do you define “adventurous parenting”?

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

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