Parenting Tuesday: Expectations: Friend or Foe?

I was recently looking through Michele Borba’s book, “Parents Do Make A Difference: How To Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts,” and this sentence jumped out at me:

The kind of messages we send our children is critical.  Expecting little from our kids limits their success, because they lose the incentive to try new possibilities.  Unrealistic expectations can also damage our kids:  “Why didn’t you get all A’s?”  “How did you not make the team?”  “You got a 98 percent – which two did you miss?”  Pushing our kids because we want the best for them may be misinterpreted by them as “You’re not good enough.”  Successful expectations gently stretch our children’s potential to become their best without pushing them to be more than they can be.  And these expectations never destroy children’s feelings of adequacy.”

The author goes on to discuss using the parameters of “developmentally appropriate, realistic, child-oriented, and success-oriented” as barometers for whether an expectation is healthy or not.

I talk a lot about development on this blog, and have included realistic expectations as part of the developmental posts for each age.  You can access many back posts to look at that.  However, here is a quick rule of thumb:  Continue reading

Boundaries

Friends, I have been hearing from a lot of you recently via email and many of you are struggling with boundaries in your lives.  I am not a counselor, and I am not a psychologist, but I wanted to tell you a few things I have learned about boundaries along the way in the experience of my life and I hope it will be helpful to you. I encourage you if you are having challenges with this to go and talk to a qualified counselor.  This can be so helpful in getting your life, your family and your parenting going the way you want it to!  What a wonderful way to start the New Year!

Boundaries, to me, are a skill that many of us have to learn.  Perhaps our ability to set boundaries was damaged in childhood or early adulthood.  Perhaps we are not even sure what a boundary is or why we would want boundaries.  Or perhaps we have too many boundaries and have erected relentless walls in order to keep the world out.

Yet, healthy boundaries are so necessary.  A boundary is something we set in order to separate ourselves from other people; it tells us how far a person can go with us and how far we can go with another person.  It keeps us from becoming enmeshed with another person:  enmeshment is a complete state of feeling so empathetically with that person that we take on the other person’s feelings, responsibilities,challenges and problems completely and wholly as our own.   As parents, we are separate from our children; we are different people. And, boundaries not only separate us from our children, but it also shows how we are linked together in familial roles.  We are linked together, but we are not the same.  We are the adult.  The relationship is not an equal one.  We have more experience and more guidance, more logic and reasoning to bring to any situation.  We also have a duty to honor the developmental stage of our child and we can do this with boundaries.

Relationships without boundaries cause dependency and stunted emotional growth for both ourselves and the other party involved.   If we have too many boundaries, no one can get close to us at all and we end up isolated and alone.   With good boundaries, we learn to develop an appropriate sense of roles amongst family members and the other people in our lives. We learn to respect ourselves and others.  We can trust and listen not only to ourselves, but to others.

Specifically in parenting, boundaries allow children to feel safe and secure.  Boundaries helps children learn self-control and how to function with people outside of their immediate family. Parents who set good boundaries for themselves and for their children are modeling for the children, how, in turn, to set emotional and physical boundaries for themselves.  If we can be calm as a child tests out what the boundary and line in the sand actually is, then we are modeling for our child how to handle this in their own lives.   We help them learn how to function in the world.

For parents who have trouble setting any boundaries for their children, out of “respect” for the child,  I often will ask the parent: Continue reading

What Is In Your Way Of Being A Light?: Anger and Fear

(So, this is the kick in the fanny post that is a continuation of the post I just did about showing warmth and being a light for others this season, but from the polar opposite side of the issue.  If you are not in the mood for this, feel free to return for the next post, which will be lighter!  Smile)

Part of parenting, and a huge part of Waldorf homeschooling, is the spiritual journey we should all be on to develop our spiritual lives.  What we are is what we teach our children and what we show the world and how we interact with the world.

Fear and anger cannot drive a family life or a community without ripping it apart, even if you try to cover it up with other happier things. Continue reading

The Work of Biography: The First Two Seven Year Cycles

I talked a little about my experience with doing biographical work at my Foundation Studies course in this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/09/01/the-work-of-the-biography/  . If you have not done the preliminary work outlined in that post, you may want to start that first and then return here to deepen your work.

Based upon some of the ideas in my course regarding each seven year cycle, I have formulated some open-ended questions for you to answer in order to take a closer look at your own journey. Continue reading

Keeping Healthy Through The Winter

The winters of 2012-2013 and the 2013-2014 could be particularly frigid, according to some reports. (Here is one I was looking at:  http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/combination-of-factors-could-m/36990).

This is also the time of year when many mothers, especially homeschooling mothers, find themselves in the throws of trying to homeschool, bake, cook, craft, make gifts, visit family and travel…and essentially overextend themselves and get sick on top of all the holiday bustle!  Many homeschooling mothers I know seem to have long-term health issues that affect their immune systems, which really doesn’t help as well!

One of the first things that I find helpful is to make sure warmth becomes a priority.  I love Green Mountain Organics, and I notice they are having a 10 percent off sale on all their warm woolens.  http://www.facebook.com/notes/green-mountain-organics/winter-woolen-sale/166623896683512.  If you are unfamiliar with the importance of warmth, this back post may be helpful to you:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/06/warmth-strength-and-freedom-by-mary-kelly-sutton/

Rest is another huge priority; and I think rest extends even past going to bed every night at a decent hour.  I think it also requires Continue reading

Relating And Connecting

I absolutely love the book, “Connecting With Young Children:  Educating The Will”, by Master Waldorf Kindergarten teacher Stephen Spitalny.  (If you have not read this book, I really think you should.  Here is the link for it:  http://www.amazon.com/Connecting-With-Young-Children-Educating/dp/1105320820/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351371198&sr=8-1&keywords=connecting+with+young+children+educating+the+will.  It is chock full of wonderful thoughts for the self development of the adult, how to guide small children, and yes, how to work with and shape the will forces of the young child.)

Mr.  Spitalny begins his book with this paragraph:  Continue reading

Getting Your Groove Back

I talk to mothers every, every day who are just plain overwhelmed.  They are single or their partners travel, they don’t have a community to lean on, their children are small, they are juggling so many things.

And when you are overwhelmed, you constantly feel scattered.  Disorganized.  Like there is not enough time. Perhaps you feel enmeshed with one particular child and out of balance in dealing with the needs of all of your multiple children.

I can only write these things as I have lived these things.  Life is not perfect, and parenting small children is not for the faint of heart.

The place to start, is yourself.   You are the key to your own overwhelm!   Continue reading

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… Continue reading