You can be the parent you want to be. Choose happiness and peace; choose to be calm in the face of a small child who is upset. Choose to be loving and gentle. You will never go wrong by showing your child compassion and love while also having a heart for knowing what will lift your child up and help your child within the developmental stage in which they are living.
I have some general thoughts about parenting with this kind of courage. And this kind of parenting does take courage! Many parents today are rushing about, attempting to placate their lack of a family life with their children through a myriad of outside the home activities and a myriad of material goods.
As always, start with yourself. Do you have integrity? Are you honest? Do you have time for your family and friends outside of your immediate family who need your listening ear or your help? Do you show your child that you help people? Are you patient?
Do you have a plan for parenting? What will your child be allowed to do at what ages? When will your child get to go to a sleepover, to see a movie, to get their ears pierced, to go on a date? What tasks do you expect your child to do as part of the care of the household? What things in your family are rites of passage? Do you have a plan that encompasses an understanding of where a three or four year old is developmentally as opposed to a ten or eleven year old?
Do you have warm and loving feelings toward your family, toward having children and raising children or do you feel trapped and isolated? If so, how could you change that? How could you radiate a positive attitude about mothering and about life? Your children are watching you and imitating your attitude!
Look at your home – is it peaceful? Summer is here, and there are still many weeks now before school starts (Waldorf homeschoolers at least take the summer off!) You could really go through and organize and deep clean one room a week until school starts……Have the decluttered environment in your home you have always dreamed of! You could also go through and put one small thing of beauty in each room – perhaps a small crystal, a flower in a small bud vase or something special to your heart. You don’t need a lot of financial means to clear things out and put a few flowers around! Remember, Waldorf is not about the wooden toys per say, but about understanding the essence of the developmental stages.
Look at your children – are they happy, healthy and thriving? What do they need to be in that place besides you centering yourself? One area that I think helps besides just a lot of love and listening and compassion is to give children work to do.
If your child is three to six years of age, you may have to be right with them and holding the space, but I bet they can dress themselves with you watching, brush their teeth and floss their teeth with your help, brush their hair with your help, make their own bed with you on one side and them on the other, put plates and cups and bowls by the sink, help fold laundry and put it away, bring clothes to the laundry room for washing, dust, scrub the toilet, sweep, water plants at first with supervision and then by themselves and lots of other things! One would never expect a three-year-old to just run off and do these things, but start building it into your rhythm. We get up, we go the bathroom, we eat breakfast and get dressed or however you do it in your home – if it is part of the rhythm and you are there to do it first, to guide, to be there for them to imitate, it will become habit.
For seven to twelve year olds, your child could clean their rooms with help at first, doing it with you holding the space and then doing it on their own, they could wash dishes, load and unload a dishwasher, cook simple meals, and a myriad of other things.
My almost eight year old asked my husband the other day if she would ever get a cell phone like Daddy and Mommy have. My husband looked at her and said, “Yes, honey, when you can work and pay for the phone.” Now, we don’t have as much need for a child to have a cell phone as we are not separated from our children due to school or at other activities where we are not present in some form, but I still thought that was a great answer! Teens can definitely work and pay for things – cell phones, car insurance, gasoline they use in the car and other things. The teenaged years are practice for life, for managing money, for decision making, for understanding and yes,even experiencing the consequences of decisions. It sounds difficult for a mother’s soul to hear when she has little ones, but it is the natural course of life.
Summer is a great time to map out a plan to deal with whatever challenges your family is facing right now. Be that positive light to uplift and embrace your child!
Until next time,