More questions from the field! A wonderful mother and frequent reader writes in:
“My question….. I am having trouble convincing my husband that under 7’s are best served by being pictorial and active. He is a wonderful father that likes to give big, grown-up, factual answers to questions. He also likes to read grown-up stories to our four year old (Treasure Island, The Count of Monte Cristo). He is so proud of his smart son and feels that he is bright enough to listen to these stories. I try to talk to him gently about Steiner’s ideas for I do not want to micro-manage their relationship.
Our budget is very tight, so I would love a suggestion of something to read to him (so I can save my pennies and buy the best book that I need).
Here are some ideas:
- As far as the “adult” answers to things, I think one thing you can do is model. When your wee one asks questions, see if you can answer and model in a pictorial way, an active way. It also helps to get together with other families who have children who are the same age as your children, but also with some who have older children as well so Dad can see how very little a four-year-old really is when compared to a ten-year-old (and also how immature a ten-year-old can truly be, LOL)
- You can also have a heartfelt talk and talk about the “normal” four-year-old or six-year-old and realistic expectations for those ages. The Gesell Institute books, whilst not Waldorf, backs up a lot of what four-year-olds and other ages truly understand (and don’t). It also is anti-teaching a four-year-old to read, and lays out exactly what a child of each age is likely to do at the dinner table during meals, which are also frequently Top Dad Concerns. I also have table manners under the “Starting Solid Foods with Your Infant” post on this blog.
- I think it also helps to talk about what we remember doing when we were four; if Dad can’t remember perhaps his mother is still alive and can recall some things about when Dad was four. Not only great fodder for bedtime storytelling, but also can help point out that four is really darn little.
- As far as Waldorf books, actually, I think Jack Petrash’s “Navigating the Terrain of Childhood” is one that really speaks to fathers, and the one I would recommend to start. The other book I thought of was “Heaven to Earth” by Sharifa Oppenheimer. That might also be a place to start if you don’t have that one……(just ignore the references to time-out in the last chapter of the book! )
- And yes, I think being gentle and not micro-managing their relationship is important. Your little boy is very lucky he has a Dad who wants to read to him every night. The story is most likely going right over his head, but he is getting to spend time with his father, and that is priceless. (I did have to laugh a bit about Count of Monte Cristo though! I remember that from the 10th or 11th grade?! College? ) After some of these books are finished, perhaps you can line up a few books that might be more appropriate for a four-year-old, (NOT by saying the other ones were inappropriate, of course, but just mentioning that many four-year olds really seem to like this book) and also perhaps encourage storytelling. Storytelling is wonderful! Here is a list of books for the Under-7 crowd: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/20/more-books-for-children-under-7/
- The other thing to encourage is the “physical” piece on weekends – wrestling games, playing in the yard, being in nature, all of those kinds of things to get both of them out of their head. Dads are so good at roughhousing and kids really need that!
- I like Donna Simmons’ Audio Download available here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/audio-downloads.html entitled “Talking Pictorially and Living Actively With Your Young Child.” Perhaps Dad would be willing to give that a listen?
- Above all, approach all this with love and respect; how wonderful to have such an involved Dad! It sounds like you really appreciate the relationship Dad is developing with his son, what a great model for all the mothers who read this blog to see!
Hope that helps a bit!
Other Questions From the Field About Dads
Q.. Dad is undecided about homeschooling, please help.
The other thing I would add is that many families start homeschooling on a “trial” basis for a year or so….and then they like it so much they never look back.
Q. Dad and I have completely different styles of discipline. What can I do?
A: This is a tough one and unfortunately it comes up frequently. Really all one can do is sit down and talk about it, with the utmost respect for your partner, even if you don’t agree with his views. After all, he only wants what is best for your children, even if his methods are different than yours. Sometimes this boils down to realistic expectations, and for that I again refer to The Gesell Institute books (“Your Three-Year-Old”, “Your-Four-Year-Old”, etc). Many fathers have very high expectations of their first-born child once they hit three or four or five, and don’t understand how truly little those ages are. Once your oldest hits “older” and you have younger ones coming up on three, four and five, many parents realize for the first time how little those ages are (but when this age is your oldest they seem “so big now”!)
The other thing you can do is model how you handle things and see if that rubs off at all.
I have seen several cases of this, however, that required family counseling with a neutral party in order to really come up with ground rules that both parents could live with and be happy with. Attachment Parenting International recommends Imago therapists, see here for a therapist in your area: http://www.imagotherapists.com/default.aspx