Today is The Feast of The Holy Innocents. Christians around the world mark this day in recognition of King Herod’s order to massacre all infant boys under the age of two in Bethlehem as he raged against the Christ Child being born. Many families take this time to say a blessing over their own children. Tonight would be a wonderful night to pray and meditate over your children as they sleep for a little bit; revel in their faces and the young men and women they will grow up to be.
One thing that strikes me on this day is that we must do a good job of protecting our children’s innocence. This is something that is getting lost in our culture as adult life, adult speech, adult dress, adult ways of educating, are being brought down to the smallest in our society.
I find what we say to children to be of primary importance. If you have children under the age of 7, ask yourself if what you are about to say to them is something they really need to know. Is it pictorial and imaginative, what you are about to say? It is an order, or can you just take the small child by the hand and help them do what needs to be done? Have you crafted a rhythm so your child has an order to his or her day?
Here are some back posts to help you with this idea of protection and how to talk to small children:
Help in stopping to give small children so many choices: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/06/a-waldorf-parenting-perspective-wont-choices-strengthen-my-childs-will/
This is one of my favorites because no one talks about this: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/26/how-to-talk-to-your-seven-and-eight-year-old/
One thing we always think about in Waldorf Education is what impact education is going to have upon the health of child once they grow up and become an adult. This is why we work to protect the twelve senses (and if the twelve senses are new to you, and you scratching your head and saying “I thought there was only five!” you can use the search engine to find the back posts). One important way to protect these senses is through warmth, and through sleep and quiet/rest times.
Here are two back posts regarding sleep: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/14/part-two-of-a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/13/a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/
Here are some thoughts on the Early Bedtime: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/25/the-early-bedtime/
But perhaps the flip side of this and what we also need to talk about is how to open the world up gradually. I see many Waldorf parents who take protection so seriously and they extend that pink protection bubble of Kindergarten way beyond the appropriate time.
I am certainly not advocating a “Child Gone Wild” approach for a seven-year-old, but the point becomes there is a time to start answering questions, there is a time to talk about life’s issues, and yes, a time for media and computers, a time for reading newspapers and the like. The door must open at some point as you prepare your child to live in the world. I feel actually the ages from 9-14 are the harder ages in which to discern what the balance of protection and opening the world up should be. I guess that is an entirely different post though!
Happy pondering protection and opening up gradually to the world,