Beyond The Parenting Tale of Junior Mourning Dove (Part 4 of 4)

Beyond The Parenting Tale of Junior Mourning Dove (Part 4 of 4) August 3, 2018

In Part 1, 2 and 3 of this parenting blog we saw how our parenting prayers could be answered by nature, a true gift from God when our fledglings refuse to leave the nest, and how Tough-Love can go a long way in teaching survival to our children.


The sound of my cell phone called me back to the porch. It was a scuba diving friend calling to tell me she and her husband had just sold the big family home up north and were moving into a smaller condo close to me in the Palm Springs area.  “What about your sons in college? How are they going to feel about this and how are you all going to fit everyone into a small two-bedroom condo?” I asked.

“Oh, we haven’t told our boys we’ve sold the home, yet,” she laughed.

“But, we warned them years ago that once they left for college, they were officially out of the house. Our parenting would not be finished but their living at home would be history. We agreed to pay for their schooling as long as they maintained good grades. So, they won’t be that surprised. The condo’s second bedroom will be an office with a Murphy Bed, and the Livingroom will have a sleeper sofa in case they both come home for a weekend. We want them to visit but not be so comfortable that they won’t want to leave. After all, it is so much more comfortable to live at home and be taken care of, but those days are done. ”

My friend’s words reminded me of a parenting TV commercial.

A college student hugs his tearful parents good-bye on the home porch as he prepares to drive away to college. The street lights come on to symbolize a rite-of-passage and the end of his last day as a child. The parents solemnly close the door behind them. Then they peer at each other, break into a huge grin, turn up their oldies music and dance around the house while preparing a romantic dinner for two. Suddenly the doorbell rings. They cautiously peer out the front window and standing on the doorstep is their son. All the house lights turn off. Junior is standing in the dark scratching his head.



It was the human equivalent to the Birds destroying their nests.

After this surprising conversation with my friend, I checked on Junior Mourning Dove behind the waterfall. He was alone. Mom was calling to him from the rooftop. But, Junior was fed, safe, comfy, and having none of flying anywhere.  They could come to him. The parenting challenge was on….

Willful Junior Mourning Dove would wait them out in the basement.

After dinner, I checked on Junior once more. He was gone! I looked all around the porch area, under the ferns, and around the orchids. No Junior. He must have given in and flown up onto the roof with his parents. I looked up, and there he was. But, I was shocked!

Determined Junior had flapped, climber and clawed his way back into the nest where he waited.

Then, Mrs. Dove landed on the branch, looked at me, side-stepped over to Junior snuggled in the nest, and practically stuck her eye up against his eye. He bobbed his head up and down for food, but Mrs. Dove never opened her mouth. She simply turned and flew away. Junior settled back down. A few minutes later Mr. Dove flew onto the branch and pigeon-toed his way up to Junior who bobbed his head until I feared it would pop off. I swear Daddy Dove whispered something into Junior’s ear because Junior got very quiet. Then Mr. Dove flew away and joined his wife on the roof where together they continued to call Junior.

As night fell, Willful Junior still sat in the nest, hungry and alone. It had been hours since he had last eaten.

The next morning the nest was empty. Junior was on the roof with his parents. Hunger, cold, fear of abandonment and the steadfast behavior of parents who would not give into their willful child had won. There was no threatening; no screaming and yelling and no family therapy. The message was clear. Fly or die.

The natural desire to live had won.  


Sometimes the path of human nature and behavior goes sideways, especially when it comes to parenting skills.  It is during times like those that watching our wild families of birds can help put us back on the straight and narrow because we all share the same life-goal; to raise independent, self-sufficient off-spring that will continue to thrive after we die.

Do you know families whose grown children are clinging to the family nest and demanding to be fed and cared for as though they were still growing chicks? Or, do those adult children keep returning to the nest after sampling adult life and deciding it is not as much fun as home, like Junior?

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About the Author: Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos is a TV Producer/Host and Author/Lecturer of Dreams That Can Save Your Life written with Dr. Larry Burk, Foreword by Berne Siegel, which promotes patient advocacy and connecting with Dreams for success in health, wealth, and relationshipsContact –Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos Website


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Poster is the copyrighted property of the author



Article Research:

Animal Behavior | Psychology Today; The World of Animals

The Bird That Shouldn’t Be Able To Fly

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