In the past few posts, we have looked at providing discipline to our children within the context of being an Authentic Leader. Part of being the leader of your home is that you have a vision in mind for the future and also that you have a vision in mind for what is happening right here, today, within your own home.
Here are some ways to invoke the big picture of guiding your children’s behavior within your home:
First and foremost, you must start with yourself. There was recently an article in my local newspaper regarding Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups for alcoholics. A mother wrote in and said that she had been sober and attending AA meetings for 22 years. She started attending Al-non as well and stated, “I was dating a crack addict. It was the most insane things I could do. I knew I loved alcoholics; that’s the gist of it. They’re fabulous people, exciting. In Al-non, you learn to focus on yourself because your part is the only thing you have control over……I have the freedom to do anything I want to do, to be anything I want to be…….”
Most of us have not had this extreme of an epiphany, but I am asking you today, right now, to consider what kind of parent would you like to be to your child and what is holding you back?
Vimala McClure, in her book “The Path of Parenting” writes,”We all have the power to change the scripts we have been given, to alter them so they accurately reflect our values and the timeless principles we decide to consciously embrace.”
In order to do this, we have to make conscious choices about what we believe and how we live. Many mothers do this through some form of inner work. How you do your own inner work is up to you….Some mothers work through prayer, meditation, drumming, reading books of a spiritual or self-help nature, walking meditation, study circles, tai chi, yoga, journaling or the use of exercises created by Rudolf Steiner and laid out in his book,
If you don’t know where to begin, start thinking about some of the very necessary qualities for parenting. This might include working on patience, gentleness, self-discipline, compassion, your flexibility in situations, your ability to stay in the present with your children.
Work on framing things in a positive way. I see mothers every day who say they love mothering, love being home, but yet complain quite a bit. When you were out in the work day, was every day a fabulous day? Every day may not be a fabulous day at home unless you frame it that way. When you are a mother of small children, you start out measuring the days of your toddler and preschooler by how THEY acted that day; start measuring your day by how YOU acted that day. If you kept your cool no matter what your child was doing, then it was a great day! Start with you!
Second, you must begin to look at the spiritual reasons behind being a wife, a mother and a homemaker. Many mothers never look at this and wonder why they do not feel fulfilled within the home environment. I highly suggest the book, “The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker” by Manfred Schmidt-Brabant in order to stimulate some questions for you to ponder and meditate on. This is available through the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore or through Bob and Nancy’s Bookshop, www.waldorfbooks.com. If you come to the belief that you were called to the role of being a wife and mother, that creating peace in your home is the best and most wonderful way you can make this world a better place, then you will see the things you need to do to care for your home and your children in a different light.
Be committed to making your home a peaceful place – this may involve being the calm one when your spouse or your kids are not feeling calm, it may involve compromise. It can be hard work, be committed to it!
Third, create a peaceful atmosphere within your home by creating a physical environment of beauty. People new to Waldorf in particular worry about their lack of wooden toys and play silks for their children, but that is not really what Waldorf is all about. Waldorf is about creating a place of beauty within your home in simplicity. This may involve seriously less stuff than what you have now. It may also involve organizing things and implementing a daily and weekly cleaning regime. There are many resources to assist with this, my personal favorite is www.flylady.net. There are also many books on the market detailing weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly cleaning agendas.
Fourth, you must develop a rhythm. A yearly, weekly and daily rhythm. Schmidt-Brabant writes in “The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker”, “Rhythm is strength. And strength arises where time and life are formed rhythmically….Life is tension. Tension arises through contrasting elements. If we succeed in moving rhythmically within this tension, then strength will arise.”
A rhythm is meant to give you stability so you and your child know what is coming next. Future posts will look more carefully at the way to craft a rhythm and make it work for you and your family.
Fifth, you must learn to understand childhood development. Many folks like the Gesell Institute Series Your One Year Old, Your Two Year Old, etc. These titles are slightly outdated in many of its references as it was written in the 1960’s but the portions regarding childhood development are spot on and helpful. From a more anthroposophical point of view, you may want to try some of these books: You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Beyond the Rainbow Bridge by Barbara Patterson, or Lifeways: Working With Family Questions by Gudrun Davy and Bons Voors. Other excellent places to look when you are ready include Rudolf Steiner’s The Kingdom of Childhood, The Education of the Child, and the wonderful Soul Economy (my personal favorite). These books look at the overall picture of the small child and the role of the homemaker.
Being with a small child all day requires an integration of developing inner fortitude, a rhythm to help carry you and your child, an understanding of child development and being able to shape and guide your child’s behavior through gentle tools. For a small child under the age of 7 or 8, these tools would include the ability to make the environment one the child can be in without so many “no’s”, the ability to have a good sense of humor and creativity in response to typical childhood situations; these tools do not involve reasoning with a small child or physical punishment. More about these tools in the next post!
The five concepts mentioned about are for the big picture to help you be an Authentic Leader within your own home. The next post will take a peek at what to do when you feel close to losing it with your child and some techniques you can pull out at the drop of a hat to make life more beautiful for everyone in the house.