Why Do I Yell At My Children So Much?

I think whenever there is a lot of yelling going on in a household, it signifies the possibility of several things:

1.  The household, or you, are under complete stress.  What  can you do to simplify your schedule, your rhythm, your life?

2.  Lack of nourishment for you at a physical level, an emotional level, or a soul level.  What can you do to fill your own bucket so you can be steady?  Do you need a break? If you are feeling stressed, how can you change the mood?  Being in nature is a huge help.

3.  I find sometimes the most gentle people are gentle up to a point, and then they explode.  I think this goes back to boundaries.  Sometimes gentle people can be too lax in boundaries, and all the small irritations build up until it all explodes.  I think what one finds with folks who have older children, who have multiple children, is that they are much quicker to set a boundary in a kind but firm way before it all escalates.  Always think about boundaries. 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

Finding Center

I am busy reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing The Universe:  The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, And Science” by Michael S. Schneider.  This is a fabulous read, especially for those of you homeschooling fifth graders and up in the Waldorf tradition, where the child moves from movement and form drawing to freehand geometry into geometry with tools.

I was re-reading the first section of the book, on the circle and the number one, and came across this passage:

“Nothing exists without a center around which it revolves, whether the nucleus of an atom, the heart of our body, hearth of the home, capital of a nation, sun in the solar system, or black hole at the core of a galaxy.  When the center does not hold, the entire affair collapses.  An idea or conversation is considered “pointless” not because it leads nowhere but because it has no center holding it together.”

I think parenting is learning how to revolve around our center, and how to find our center again if we loose it.  If our center is kindness, gentleness and self-control, then we have a center to return to in the moment (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/01/23/a-guest-post-take-pause-with-the-10-x-7-rule/).  We also then have a center to set our long-term vision around in terms of what drives the decisions in our family.

However, there is another very real and important reason to find our center:   If what we do and say becomes the inner voice of our children as adults, why not practice now?

Say these critical things to your child:

You are so strong.

You are so helpful.

I love you.

Thank you.

I know you can do this.

I am proud of you.

More importantly, show your child that they belong in your family.  That they make you laugh.  That they make you happy and make you  feel joyous.  Give them a smile, a hug, a kiss.  Tell them they are a precious treasure.  Because they are.

And you are too. If you are feeling dragged down, and lower than low about your parenting, your mothering, your life, please fight against those thoughts.  Some of the Early Church fathers had an idea about thoughts such as these; they called them logismi in Greek.  Thoughts that are not beautiful or joyous , helpful or kind are not from the Divine Source.  Don’t let them take you over.  Don’t wallow in them.

Find your center, find your joy again.  Work is a huge help in this.  Meaningful work for ourselves, our children.   A huge part of the Waldorf curriculum, outside of the art and the movement, is work.  Within Waldorf homeschooling, we learn practical skills,  we learn how to do things with our hands to help our family and to help our neighbor.

Find your center of kindness.  Your children can help you work and nurture your home, they can work and help make something for a member of your community who needs it.

You are so strong.

You are so kind.

You are such a good mother.

You make great decisions for your family.

You bring joy to those around you.

Peace,

Carrie

I HATE The Mother That I Am

Every so often, I get emails that break my heart.  This has been one of those weeks.  There are many mothers out there just hating what their mothering is, what they themselves are right now.  And that breaks my heart.

Sometimes I don’t know all the details, all the circumstances.  Is this a chronic feeling and struggle or is it something right here in the moment?  Is it part of or tied to the July doldrums (if any of you have read this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about July here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/05/the-july-doldrums-again/   )

We ALL have moments we feel like this.  We may even be having more than just moments, we may be having rough patches with our children where we honestly feel like this for an extended period of time.  Some seasons of parenting are so difficult, so challenging.  Some children have behavior that is challenging and it just challenges us.

And we don’t always handle it well.  We don’t always handle it with grace.  We don’t  always handle it with love.  Sometimes it is hard to see how to best react when it is your own child and we don’t have that outside view looking at someone else’s child doing the same behavior.

Sometimes we feel our children would be better off with anyone else but ourselves.  I have been there too.  I get to those points too, and all I can say is that for me, it is a sign that there is too much going on.  Too much outside pressure, too harried to respond to things in an even-keeled way,  too many things to tend to, and a clear sign my spiritual footing has been neglected, and most likely a sign that my physical body is not being taken care of.

I often think of the village raising a child – how different than all the shaping of a child being done by mainly one or two parents!  Or I think of my own childhood – at school most of the day, coming home and going outside to play until dark, going to bed.  I wasn’t always around a whole lot.  No one had to “arrange” play dates and things to do back then, and the parents were not involved in every dramatic friendship disagreement or thing at school.

For better or for worse, things have changed on a societal level and we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves.  We talk about not wanting to push our children, but yet we push the hell out of ourselves.  We talk about our children being wonderful, never taking credit for that at all, but when they don’t “act well”, then somehow it is all our fault.

Just musings….So, anyway, once you have a good cry, see if any of this resonates: Continue reading

Rhythm: Part One

When I see homeschooling mothers who feel burdened, depressed, as if there is not enough time, that they are buried under their homes and chores – well, I feel terrible.  It really is a difficult thing to see, and we have all been there I think.  Interruptions to life come,  and some times homeschooling and parenting flow more efficiently and joyfully than other times.

To me, the most major piece of assisting a mother to reclaim the joy in parenting and in homeschooling, outside of prayer to determine the essential and for strength :), is a rhythm to the day.  I think mothers who manage their homes and children well feel happy and satisfied because there is less stress in knowing what will happen when.   I think also mothers who have a rhythm feel BALANCED.  There is enough time in the day for your priorities as a mother or father, and rhythm enables the life of the whole family and all of its members to be considered.

A dear friend and I were chatting this morning about this very subject.  Balance is a tricky issue, isn’t it?  It often seems that there is much being done for the family as a whole (mealtimes, bedtimes, perhaps something such as the activities at a place of worship), things that revolve around perhaps the oldest child (homeschooling, outside activities)….leaving many mothers and fathers wondering, where is the time for me? for us? for the younger children who don’t have outside activities yet? Continue reading

Signs of Stress….Of Parenting

I had a little chuckle today when I was going through my blog’s statistics.  There, listed under “search terms” of how folks find this blog, was the search term “signs of stress of parenting.”  It was sort of funny to me, I don’t know why, but  I thought, “If you are looking up for signs of stress in parenting then either you are not a parent and you are doing a research paper, or if you are a parent and you are looking this up, then …well, you probably are stressed!”  It seems like most of us who are parents know all too well the signs of being stressed and harried!

But then I turned myself to a serious note, and thought about this person.  Maybe it was someone who really is feeling on the edge and was searching for ways to combat that awful feeling.  I have talked to a lot of mothers lately, and this time of year does tend  to make many mothers feel on edge – finishing up school, lots of competitions and performances for those children involved in outside activities.

So, here are my top ten signs of parenting stress:

1. You feel harried and hurried.

2.  There is never enough time.

3.  You are irritable with your spouse.

4.  You feel resentful your spouse gets to go to work, leaving you ALONE to do everything.

5.  You are so tired that you could check yourself into a hotel and sleep for a month.

6.  The usual stash of hidden chocolate (don’t all mothers have this somewhere?) is not working.

7.  You are yelling at everyone.

8.  There is absolutely no time, not even fifteen minutes, for just you and you alone.

9.  The house is a disaster.

10.  You are crying a lot.

Sigh, What to do?  Here are few suggestions, do take what resonates with you: Continue reading

New Beginnings

Lenten tidings to you all, dear readers!

Lent is this sobering, quieting time of new beginnings.  It becomes the time and space for confession and for asking forgiveness, both in public and in private.  It becomes the time of setting forth priorities and laying forth new inroads of habits.  A time of using less resources, both of food and of our planet’s energy.  A time of new prayer and much reading.  And a time of doing.

I think many people do not associate Lent with doing.  But I do.  The website Full Homely Divinity says, “The Celtic saints who laid the foundations for our Anglican traditions were an extreme lot.  One might say that their practice of the faith was homely in the extreme.  They lived in harsh times and seemed to exult in taking on harsh challenges, physically and spiritually.  Thus, they challenge us in the softer times in which we live and in the softer ways in which we choose to live as Christians.” You can see the full article here, including a summary of the wonderful Lenten book about St. Kevin and the blackbird here:  http://fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/full%20homely%20lent.htm

Now is the time – what are your priorities for your family? Are you willing to step out and live that?  What is your place and your mark to make to help your community?  Are you doing it?

And your parenting:  it is not enough to just read blogs or books and toddle on the way you always have.  Now is the time to do.  Be present with your children by taking an electronic fast.  Play with your children.  Do real work in front of them.  Show them how to live!

In the spirit of Lent, I offer you several links that are my favorite for this season:

Carbonfast for Lent:  http://carbonfast.blogspot.com/

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: http://www.churchyear.net/lentfathers.html

A Lenten Calendar for children:   http://thesefortydays.blogspot.com/2008/02/project-lenten-calendar.html

We will also be coming back to the oldie but goodie series  “Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother” with updated versions of these classic posts that will also include a strong component of real, practical work – the doing piece that is the balance to inner work.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Discipline: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

 

Discipline is our seventh facet of a healthy family culture.  Discipline, to me, boils down to nothing less than how you guide your child or children toward becoming a mature and healthy adult. Discipline requires authenticity, yes, but also a steadiness and platform of patience and evenness, and an understanding of children’s development and the best tools to use when.  The tools of discipline, to me, differ based on the developmental stage of the child.

 

 Being An Authentic Leader – This is one of the very first posts I ever wrote on this blog:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/16/gentle-discipline-as-authentic-leadership/

 

The first ingredient is of course, you.  Your views, your steadiness, and yes, your family culture obviously influence things.  And no, I don’t think you need to be this completely calm mother who walks around like she in a valium-induced haze.  I know loads of mothers who have incredible energy!  I do think, though, that there has to be a steadiness of not being completely overwhelmed and frustrated.  And that, to be honest, can be really difficult when children are very small.  And teenagers also take a lot of energy!

 

The qualities I think about most in my own mothering were the ones I described in the series “20 Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”.  Some of my long-term readers might remember that series.  Cultivating these qualities is what inner work and personal development is all about.  You can see those posts here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/category/general-wisdom/20-days-toward-more-mindful-mothering/

 

How Do You View Children and Childhood?  Much of this boils down to what you think about children. Do you think they are miniature adults with less experience just waiting to be filled up with knowledge?  Do you think the consciousness of the child and the rationality of the child is the same as the adult?  Many times we would point to teenagers, and laugh, and say, oh no of course a teenager is not as rational as an adult, but yet we parent them by talking them to death and expecting them to come to the same conclusions that a forty-three year old adult would in the same situation.  They might, but they might not!  Smile

 

I often think of the ages of birth through seven being a time of doing, the time of age seven through age fourteen of being the time of strong feelings, and the time of age fourteen through age twenty-one being when rational thought is being developed.  To me, childhood ends around the age of twenty-one.

 

If we concur that development does take time, that children of different ages actually are different in the way that they think and respond to things, then we can look at tools and expectations based upon development.

 

However, the one thing that remains steady through all of these ages is CONNECTION and ATTACHMENT.  You cannot parent without this.  Please do go back and read the posts that summarize the wonderful book “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers”.  Connection is the number one way to discipline a child. 

 

Discipline Tools – So, for me, the methods and tools of discipline looks a bit different dependent upon the child’s age.  I have written many, many, many posts on this.

 

In a brief nutshell, for  the ages birth to seven, your discipline techniques really involves slowing down.  Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, and slowing down really sets the tone for what happens. Small children should be involved in meaningful work, and plenty of  indoor and outdoor play.   Physically moving with your child into what needs to be done whilst you are singing and helping them is most helpful.  Children of this age imitate what you are doing, so making sure you are doing something worthy of imitation is very important.  Words and talking the child to death is the least important part of this picture. 

 

For children ages seven to fourteen, this is a time to be a loving authority in your child’s life because there will be many instances of your child discovering what the boundaries of your home life truly are, and they are searching to see  if you yourself walk the walk of what you are telling your child.  Criticism of the parent seems to start in our times around ages nine or ten, not in the same way that a teenager criticizes, but children of this age certainly do notice if you tell them one thing and then do another!  Calm, sure, steady and warm are hallmarks in discipline of this age.

 

For children fourteen to twenty-one, the parent is moving into more of an age of being the expert guide on life’s issues and the child is of course taking increasing responsibility.  Here is an interesting blog post from over at Christopherus regarding parenting teenagers and talking specifically about dealing with friends:  http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2005/07/keeping_one_ste.html

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

9/11 And The Atmosphere of Homeschooling

I think one thing that a mother brand new to homeschooling can hear, but not really wrap their arms around until they do it themselves, is that homeschooling is not school and that in homeschooling, the family life provides learning all the time.  Everything is an opportunity, and learning continues to happen during “school time” or not school time.

Much is being made around the Internet right now regarding the atmosphere of homeschooling – should it be an environment of learning opportunities?  grace? prayer?  Probably all of the above, correct?

But I have another idea rarely mentioned: I  suggest it be an atmosphere of love.  Love for your child and your family. Love for your Creator and a willingness to give the life of your family back to Him.    Love for your neighbors and your community.  Love for the way you homeschool and your way of living. Continue reading

Angry- Yell- Cry-Repeat

Have you all ever been in that sort of cycle with a child?  Maybe the child gets really angry, you get angry and  yell, the child yells, it all comes to a head, you both cry, but the cycle repeats.  So many mothers I talk to feel sad, feel guilty, and can’t understand why things have to “come to that “ in order to really communicate with their child.  Mothers also feel most guilty when they have things going on within their families, adult things, and the stress of what is going on comes out in the way they deal with their child’s behavior. Continue reading