Mountain Thoughts: Building Trust with Our Children

Mike Semanoff is a professional skydiver/paraglider, publicist, editor, veteran, husband and father of three. He shares how time spent in the mountains with his sons builds trust and a foundation for life.


Living in the day and age where distracting electronics, work and travel take me away from my kids, I cherish the unplugged time I get to spend with them, particularly when we are in the mountains.

Lately I’ve found myself reflecting upon my childhood and how the time I spent with my father molded me into the person I am today. This led me to reflect on my relationship with my own children. At their age, one of the most important things I can do for them is to share quality one-on-one time in a constructive and trust-building environment.

A few months ago, after watching the music video “Remember Everything,” I began to see the importance of every interaction with my kids and how these interactions will be remembered. It’s up to me to determine whether those memories will be positive or negative.

I made a commitment to put down my phone when I’m home and take my children to the mountains to create positive memories and experiences that will last a lifetime. This renewed focus has transformed our previously good relationships into great relationships.

Before the snow started to fly in Utah, I made a point to take my kids to the mountains for easy rock climbing and rappelling. These outings gave me a chance to build trust with them and to be a source of knowledge in an activity that pushed them beyond their comfort zones. If they trust me in an unfamiliar activity, especially when they may perceive that activity as dangerous, then hopefully that will translate into trusting me when it comes to their adolescent years and beyond.

It has been so exciting for me to see a huge boost in my children’s self-confidence, while simultaneously building a more solid relationship with them. It has been so rewarding to teach them basic mountaineering skills and help them overcome the typical fears that come with heights and unfamiliar situations.  I love sharing my passions and have been doing this for years as a skydiving and paragliding instructor. Now, I get to share what I love with my kids. What can be better than that?

In addition to building trust and rapport with my kids, I want to be with them in nature because of the peace and clarity we find there. There are so few places where someone can go to reconnect and find direction in life’s many situations. Getting out in nature is a tried and true method for recharging the psyche. For my children to learn this invaluable lesson at a young age will keep them grounded throughout life.

If you want to build a stronger connection with your kids, take the time to get back to nature. Free yourself of distractions, and everything else will take care of itself.

Kühl Editor

At KÜHL, the passion remains to get outdoors and have fun. Our Born in the Mountains contributors share their love for the mountain culture with their stories, reflections and photographs.