The Journey Of Softening Ourselves

I wrote a variation on this post for my homeschooling group list, but thought the topic was important enough to share, so here are some of my thoughts on this topic for my readers here at The Parenting Passageway…

Many of us are attracted to Waldorf Education because we ourselves are in need of healing, and also because we want our children to have childhoods that they do not have to recover from.  (Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I fear for our nation because I worry the next generation will be too busy healing from their own childhoods and their own troubles and will not be strong enough to tackle the problems of the “other” within their communities—if we can only take care of ourselves, how can we hope to help with issues of peace, justice, education and more?  Just an aside note and digression…)

Sometimes we come to Waldorf Education with things that have helped buffer us against the world in the past:  sharp words, quick and sarcastic wit, a “I will get them before they get me” kind of attitude,  our misguided attempts at communicating whilst still protecting our own woundedness from the possibility from any further assault….

And then we enter the world of Waldorf Education; this beautiful lazured land of natural toys, gorgeous handwork, learning how to live a practical life, how to bring things in at the right time for our children.  We work and strive toward rhythm:   toward having calm and steady days.

But there is more, and that piece is ourselves.  Rudolf Steiner wrote that children respond not just to our teaching, but to WHO we are.  Who we are is precious, and in order to see that, sometimes we have to strip away some of the rough exterior buffers we have built up over the years, because the very way we carry ourselves,  dress ourselves, speak to our children and to others matters distinctly.  We then can  notice things in the world of Waldorf Education and wonder…

We look around and see aprons….  Why aprons and long skirts and often scarves?  In the past our homeschooling group has held entire classes about  protecting the life forces of the body, and part of that protection includes dress.  Here is an article about the role of the apron in the Kindergarten, but I would venture to say that those of us home continually with children can look at this article with new eyes:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=126:fallwinter-2007-issue-53-the-kindergarten-apron&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10. Our own homeschooled children, even if they are older than kindergarten age, pull more deeply from us than they would if they were in a classroom with a teacher.

Sometimes we have to change our language and how we interact with people, to soften our words so we can be open to the good things in this world.  Small children under the age of seven need pictorial imagery that is in the moment and stimulates movement and imagination; older children need a loving authority who can help them meet boundaries and limits within a loving framework.  Sometimes loving authority for an older grades-aged child who is home and not in a classroom is not as indirect as a teacher would be, but we often have to deal with issues at home that do not come up in a classroom (and vice versa, I am certain!).  But love is how we gather our children, how we life them up to grow up to be healthy and responsible adults.  Do not hold your older children back to the place of your four year olds…help them move in developmentally appropriate ways, in ways that are supportive, but not through sarcasm, put-downs, and disconnect.

Sometimes we have to let go of how we view the world.  The world is a good place for a small child and we as adults must believe this as well.  Goodness is something we must bring and carry for the children in the first seven year cycle,  beauty for the second seven, and truth in the third seven year cycle because carrying development this way for our children leads to the  healthiest adults.  We can consider how these cycles meet the needs of a child entering puberty here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=684:how-does-the-middle-school-meet-puberty&catid=127:articles&Itemid=5

Rhythm at home is also of utmost importance.  Lack of rhythm places great demands upon the heart and over –stimulates the nerve sense pole of the physical body.  You can read more about that here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=112:springsummer-2008-issue-54-in-the-light-of-the-heart&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10

When you come to your children, please come with your gentleness, your kindness, your goodness.  Soften your hearts, your dress, your speech, how fast you are moving,  and try your best to leave your adult views at the door if they are not healthy for your children.   If you must carry  things that are more adult, if you are still working through your woundedness, please do it with other adults and please don’t pass that baggage onto your children.

Work on yourself as the precious being that you are.  I find my personal striving and path for inner development is, for me, done through my religion and my religious community.  You may find a similar path at a place of worship.  If you are curious about how a Waldorf teacher uses inner development in teacher preparation, here is a good article about how one teacher has worked on that:   http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=137:springsummer-2007-issue-52-the-inner-life-and-work-of-the-teacher&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10

Many blessings for a gentle week,

Carrie

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12 thoughts on “The Journey Of Softening Ourselves

  1. I was blessed with child who has been perfectly healthy, gentle, well-adjusted. I was a troubled child with a delicate nervous system and personality, and difficult circumstances. Often I feel that my daughter would probably be just fine without considering all this Waldorf stuff–but that I can only be the mother I want to be through it. I viscerally experience my own need for rhythm, for gentleness, for practical work, for a home filled with blessings and beauty. And daily I feel lacking in the ability to bring these things further into our lives. Forward two steps and backward one, I am entering into more of the “good world” space that I need, and one that benefits my family, I hope. I pray that as years pass, I will find myself more at ease in this home, this body, this world. And that my family will be an institution that nourishes us all. Thank you for posting and acknowledging the journey of the wounded parent.

  2. Thanks for this post Carrie! Its true for me that my attraction to Waldorf is so my child would not go through what I did and I guess it brings me healing too as i find a harmonious rhythm and cultivate good things for the whole family, hmm. As a designer I found the insightful link on apron imagery & its rationale fascinating. Apron #3 is my favorite & like what I have at home but I have pretty modern tastes so am unduly biased. Also really liked the link to In the Light of the Heart. Not that I fully understand all of it at all but I want to & it resonated with me anyways. Its in keeping with a wonderful workshop I took on the practice of sensory awareness. By the way there’s a typo on the last link, an extra dot in waldorflibrary, that damaged the link. Anyways now that I got it to work I’ll read that too. Thank you so very much for the warm guidance of your blog!
    God Bless,
    Michele

    • Hhmmm, it should work…You may have to go directly and search the On-line Waldorf Library and type inner work teacher in their search engine..
      Maybe there is another problem with the link, but I thought the extra space and such was it..
      I will look at it again.

      Thanks for being persistent!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  3. Hi Carrie, I want to first thank you so much for this blog. It has helped me in so many ways on my journey into motherhood.
    I’m hoping that you can help me in an area that I struggle with daily. I have 2 small children, 4yo and newborn. I find it extremely difficult to show my daughters that the world is a good place because of our living situation. We live in a big city that is plagued with violence. On our block alone we deal with gang and drug related violence often. I do my best to shield my children from these things, but when we are trying to get in and out of the house to go to the park, etc and there is fighting, police out in front of us I have a hard time hiding this. When my 4 yo wants to wait outside for me well I run up to change the babies diaper and I just honestly can not let her, for her own safety, how do you even begin to explain this to a child so young and do I even want to. When we are at the park and I have to make a decision to grab my child and leave fast before violence escalates to shooting, and she doesn’t know anything but mama just made me leave my play time without any warning.
    We are planning to get out of the city, even if that means more commute time for my husband, but in the mean time we are here until the spring. Of course I have control in my home and I can show her that people are good through stories and songs, books and other ways, but we can’t stay in our tiny little apartment day and night.
    Thank you for any help or your readers can offer. And thank you again for your blog.

    • Oh Heather,
      Such a hard situation! My heart really goes out to you, and you are doing your very best. I don’t know as you need to explain much to a child that young, ie, why you cannot leave her outside whilst you go to change the baby’s diaper…leaving the park obviously is much harder, and like you said, there really is no time to explain it…I wonder, and I don’t know what your resources are, but if for example you could go to a park in a safer location rather than your own neighborhood..again, I am sure that would involve possible bus or train transfers…But, that certainly doesn’t fix the daily challenge of stepping out your front door to go outside to the store, etc.
      I don’t know as there is a solution to your challenge; are there other decent neighbors near you whom you could gather with? You are in an apartment building, is there any kind of yard or are there any decent neighbors who have a yard that might be safer than the park?

      I am sorry to be of so little help; no one should have to live in a neighborhood that has such potential for violence and yet the reality is that people do every day. You are doing a great job, and you are a great mom! Many blessings to you, your husband and your sweet little ones!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Heather,
      The other thing that came to mind almost as soon as I signed off the first thing I wrote to you was also to look to your religious community. A religious community handles tragedy better than we do as isolated invididuals, we are not fully ourselves until we can look others in the eye within community, and community shows the good even in tough situations and challenges..I don’t know what city you are in, but here in Atlanta we have churches and other places of worship even in the toughest communities in Atlanta. I know because the children I treated when I was worked as a pediatric PT often came from those tough communities, and here were there beautiful, gorgeous, upstanding families in the midst of it ..their religious communities carried a lot for most of these wonderful families living amidst the violence.

      Just a thought, I don’t know how that resonates with you, I will be praying for protection for you and your family,
      Carrie

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