Fostering Maturity In Children

This is from our last post on Chapter Nine of “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers”:

So, what can we do as parents to foster maturity?  The authors write “The key to activating maturation is to take care of the attachment needs of the child.  To foster independence we must first invite dependence; to promote individuation we must provide a sense of belonging and unity; to help the child separate we must assume the responsibility for keeping the child close.”

Here is another quote: “The first task is to create space in the child’s heart for the certainty that she is precisely the person the parents want and love.”  Very lovely thought to meditate and ponder.”

I wanted to expand on this a bit.  One thought that fits well in line with this is Waldorf Education’s holistic view of the child, of the cycles of childhood and adulthood and how different capacities and truths are available for us to work with during different times as the child grows and matures. 

The things at the very core of Waldorf Education and Waldorf parenting as so applicable toward helping a child toward balanced healthy adulthood.  I write about this all the time on this blog.

My second thought is this:  it is not just attachment and love, it is about also about where we are as a parent.  Let me explain.

I think that whilst we don’t ALWAYS like our children, we always love them, and I think fostering the attitude that even if you make mistakes or  in the nine and up crowd that even if you make choices that are not stellar, we will always love you and support you is really important.

But I also think there is more to this than just attachment or fostering a feeling of unconditional love and warmth in our children.

It is also about us and where we are and what our inner self is holding on to.  We have to be so careful to not let our own baggage hold our children back.  We have to be so careful to not let our own fears hold our children down.  We have to be so careful and not confuse using our children’s childhood with healing our own inner childhood. 

I agree that attachment and dependency MUST be met; but I also agree that sometimes parents hold onto some phases past the point where it is healthy.

You see, I have seen so many parents who had the attachment part down really have severe trouble giving their children wings and allowing their children to tackle things independently, even if  a bit rashly, without standing over their shoulders saying, “Gosh, do you really think you should be doing it that way” or what have you.  Or trouble in that whilst they are “fostering dependence” as the authors speak about, it gets confused and mixed with the child having a  lack of responsibility where the older child does not participate in chores, or where the child does not ever have to give something up for the sanity of the family.

Instead of a bit of benign neglect or being in a side ring whilst the family as a whole is in the center ring, the child becomes not only the center ring of the circus but the ringmaster of the whole show.

In the book “Boundaries With Kids” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, the authors write, “ Your task as a parent is to help your child develop inside him what you have been providing on the outside:  responsibility, self-control, and freedom.”  And I would add love and compassion for themselves and for their fellow human beings and the things we as human beings have stewardship for. 

I think as attached parents and especially as homeschooling parents, we have to be okay with giving our older children some wings and some opportunity to make mistakes where the cost is small. 

We have to allow them to have some of those social experiences that teach them when they are bossy, their friends may not want to play with them.  We have to support them through the times when their old best friend has a new best friend.   If they are fearful, we have to still give them opportunities to try.  We have to give them opportunities to persevere through things they don’t want to do.  It is about more than attachment and  love for our child.  It is also about following through on the hard stuff. 

It is hard as a parent to watch a child struggle and yes, we do what we can to comfort and to help.  But sometimes we cannot fix everything, and part of life as a child is growing into one’s own power and one’s own ability to fix things, even if it starts out in an immature way and then grows.

That’s maturity.  What are you doing to foster maturity in your child this week?

Many blessings,

Carrie

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6 thoughts on “Fostering Maturity In Children

  1. wow, I like this. I’ve never read anything so clear that helps see that differentiation between the parent and child within the atatchment parenting context. sometimes I HAVE felt like attachment parenting is being one big mushy blob and even with my 11 month old there are some boundaries between us -more every day, while I still hold her close in love. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, I needed to read exactly this.

  2. I love the idea of raising mature children, and I agree that those who are appropriately mature, are well nurtured and allowed to explore at their own pace – with boundaries. Thanks for sharing this book, Carrie. I’ve really enjoyed these posts.

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  4. Wonderful! Every time you cover a chapter in this book I’m reminded that I should be picking it up to read also.

    I agree that children need parents to consistently support them through challenges and there are so many ways in which to do that, isn’t there?

    Knowing your child and each individual situation is so important.

    Through my work as a coach I encounter this on a daily basis with my clients and try to extend that to my parenting. When I have a client struggling with a tough situation I would never dream of giving them the answers or telling them what I would do if I were them. I like to use this sometimes when I am about to disrupt my children in this way, just a pause and maybe a curious question to help them think through it on their own.

    There are also times when we, as parents, need to set firm guidelines as they help the whole family.

    At this time we’re working with our son (he’s also on the autism spectrum so firm boundaries are almost more important for him…without them he has no rules or routines to live by) to curb his meltdowns and negativity when presented with choices he doesn’t like. I don’t think this is stifling his emotions as much as giving him other options for dealing with tough emotions.

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