The Stranger

This is an amusing yet sobering  piece written by an anonymous person about the stranger living in his home growing up.  It is well- worth the short read.

The  Stranger

A   few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger  who  was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was  fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and  soon invited him to live with our family. The  stranger  was quickly accepted and was around

from  then on.   As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my  family.  In my young mind, he had a special niche.

 

My  parents were complementary instructors: Mom  taught  me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey.  But  the stranger… he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures,  mysteries  and comedies.  If  I wanted to know anything about Continue reading

Ways To Encourage Your Child

Look for the positive things in your child, and love and encourage your child.  There is a saying of something to the effect that we do not teach a toddler to walk by berating them every time they fall, but we encourage them when they make it onto their feet and stagger a few steps.  This is the same for older children; the things they are trying out and doing are different than learning to walk, but they are still learning to be a part of humanity!

Here are some encouraging words:

I knew you could do it! Continue reading

Part Two: Attachment Parenting: What’s Going On?

The first part of this series can be found here, including some really interesting comments regarding attachment parenting and enmeshment, attachment parenting and children learning to have self-reliance:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/01/23/attachment-parenting-whats-going-on/

So, on with my list of the ways I feel attachment parenting as sometimes been misconstrued and misunderstood, coming from my experience of being in the attachment community for the last 11 years:

Number Two:  The only way to guide a child is to talk to them, and talk some more, no matter what the child’s age.  I think if we look at the child as moving through the stages of imitation, short explanations, needing a loving authority figure,  going into cause and effect reasoning around the age of twelve and then moving into mentorship, apprenticeship, and such during the teenaged years, a completely verbal approach cannot and should not be the answer for children of all ages.  I have written about the idea of combining thinking, feeling and willing for the guiding of a child many times and in many ways on this blog.

Sometimes I think attached parents use excessive talking to a child to not only communicate and explain, but, (in all honesty!) in hopes that the child will agree with them. This way we can still all be friends!  This can be a very passive way to set a boundary.

Just because you are attached and connected to your children doesn’t mean they are always going to agree with you!

So, I wish the attachment parenting community would Continue reading

Attachment Parenting: What’s Going On?

I wrote about the intersection of attachment parenting and Waldorf education some years ago in a back post, but it has been on my mind again lately…And then, just this week, there was a wonderful thread regarding this topic on Marsha Johnson’s waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com list.  Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie of Wonder Of Childhood (http://thewonderofchildhood.com/) had some particularly wise and insightful things to say about the journey of the parent  as a part of Waldorf parenting  (which we often see in the work of biography in Waldorf Education, as we, the teacher and the parent, strive to heal and understand ourselves because we are not just teaching academic subjects but teaching how we view the world and who we are!) and how this intersects with attachment parenting.

My husband and I have attachment parented three children ages 11 to 3 as of this writing.  I have been involved and am still involved in attachment parenting at my local community level, and I receive a lot of mail and questions from attached parents all over the world, so I think I am in a unique situation to know what’s going on in the world of attached parents.

So, today I want to write about some of the ways I  personally think attachment parenting has been misunderstood and misconstrued.  Again, this is my opinion, so please take what resonates for you, and leave the rest behind.  There really are no road maps for the attachment parenting of the older child; I believe there is a book out by Isabelle Fox on this subject and I think I read it a long time ago but yet I have little impression of it at this point Therefore, these are just some of my observations from seeing attached children that are now over the age of seven, up through the teenaged years.

The attached mothers I have spoken to who have children over the age of 7 or 8 wouldn’t change the fact that they are attachment parenting but many of them would change HOW they did it.  Most of the things they would change has to do with rhythm, how they communicated with the young child, and boundaries for the entire family.

So, without a road map for the older child, here is my perspective after being in the attachment community for eleven years now:

Number One: Some feel that in order to be an attached parent, the approach must be completely child-centered – ie,  the child sets the rhythm, whatever the child wants to do the parent does their best to make it happen,  anything the child says and does requires the attention of the parent.   Yet, Jean Liedloff herself wrote about the unhappy consequences of being completely child-centered here:  http://www.continuum-concept.org/reading/whosInControl.html

Actually,  I think the attachment literature that has sprung up has done 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

Cultivating Stillness and Silence

I think this is something we should strive for in all age groups of children, don’t you agree?  Cultivating stillness and silence is a way for all of humanity to hear the voices of the Heavens speak to us; it is the basis for most spiritual and religious practices throughout the world, and I think for small children it is the basis for reverence, awe and wonder in those early years of birth through age seven.

For myself as a Christian, my commitment is to show my children moments of this utter stillness and silence, this time of not “emptying myself” but of filling myself up with the Triune God.  This will plant the seeds of cultivating silence for my children as they will undoubtedly enter a life full of even more busyness, sound and bustle.  You may have your own spiritual or religious traditions that help you cultivate this unhurried attitude and ability to hear from the Heavens.

Many parents tell me that their small children are most quiet when they are outside. Of course!  How can we, even as adults, not be silenced and awed as we see this beautiful world?  Helping children find quiet outdoors is a wonderful thing; can we look at the clouds, we can listen attentively to the sounds of nature. Continue reading

Fearless Parenting

Fearless parenting means seeing that the world is a good place and being able to unequivocally transmit this to our children.  Things may happen in life, things may happen in parenting, and yet things work out.  Life moves and the Creator is in the eddies and tidepools of the Cosmos.

If you think you are a fearless parent yet constantly have a barrage of how things “have” to be, if you think your child needs a perfect childhood with no stress in  order to achieve being an optimal adult, if things are so carefully orchestrated and everything has to be just so,  then  I would still say you are parenting out of fear and not being fearless.

Being fearless in parenting does not mean that we don’t protect our children, or that we throw our small children out to the wolves.  No  We do our best..  But this does mean that we establish communities of trust, that we trust and have an inherent sense that new experiences for our children will be good.  We also trust that our children will do the right thing as they grow into independence.  We are there to help, to encourage, to support, that we guide, but we cannot walk this journey for our children.  They have come here with their own gifts, their own talents from God, and He has a plan for their lives in His infinite wisdom that shall be good.

This sense of goodness is based upon reverence.  Reverence is well-established not only through a religious life, but  through the way we play out our own feelings of gratitude and our own feelings of awe and wonder at the world.  Continue reading

P Is For Patience

 

Parenting calls on us to be patient even when we do not feel like it. 

I have been thinking a lot about patience.   I have written about patience before on this blog, but as I grow and change new thoughts come to me.

 

And  what I really want to tell you today, my friends, is that the only way to increase your patience is to take your IMPATIENCE and replace it with LOVE.

 

Love for your children.

Love in knowing that maturity comes slowly.

Love in having a soft and gentle answer to what a child does that is immature.

Love in knowing when a child does need to be pushed a bit in order to move forward.

Love in being able to freeze time, in a sense, whilst the children are all screaming at once, and to still see the tenderness in that scene.  To really see those needs that have to be met, but knowing there is time present to do that.

 

For one cannot be in a hurry in parenting.  It solves nothing to jump to snap decisions, snap judgments, snap action.    I have a dear friend who related to me one day that every time she was trying to get all her children out of the door, inevitably all of them would fall apart and all of them would all be talking, screaming or crying louder and louder to get her attention.  Who should she listen to?  Take turns, listen to “he said, she said”, pay attention to the youngest, the most urgent?  I suppose any of the courses could be reasonable as we step in and try to fight and wade through all of this…but perhaps there is another way to look at it all.

 

And that is this:  replace the frustration you are feeling with love; and keep your eye on the original intent. If it is time to go, then we get in the car and hash this out later. If it is time to eat, then we are eating and we can talk about all this in a bit.  Guide your children  toward the immediate need or goal, whether this is that it is time to go, time to eat, etc.  Deal with the causes of falling apart as a separate issue once everyone calms down, and solve the problems.  Maybe the cause  of everyone falling apart was no one could find their shoes; therefore the shoes need to be in a central place so everyone can find them.  Maybe there is a need for a bathroom break  for everyone fifteen minutes before dinner.  But these solutions will come after the immediate goal is met.  Craft your life.

 

Slow, steady, warm and loving, These are the mantras of parenting.  It can be  hard to do this alone as we are just human; this is when your developed spiritual path will envelop your weaknesses,  your frailness, your challenges and human-ness.  Prayer avails much.

 

P is for Patience, but L is for Love.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Parenting Just For Today

One of my dear local friends  just sent me the most beautiful prayer from the book “Making God Real In The Orthodox Home” by Fr. Anthony Coniaris  (here is the Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0937032077/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A6MHEJ10672MS) .  Here is the beautiful prayer she shared with me:

Continue reading

“Friends and Lovers” by Julian Sleigh

My dear friend Lovey from over at Loveyland lent me this book.  I really wanted to write a review for you all but am finding it a bit  difficult as it  is the kind of book where so many things are profound you want to underline every other sentence and tab the pages and ponder what the authors says.  (Okay, I guess that is something of a review right there.  Smile)

This book is called “Friends and Lovers:  Working Through Relationships” and is written by Julian Sleigh who is a priest in the Christian Community, the renewal of religion that in part accepts the work of Rudolf Steiner and celebrates the traditional seven sacraments in renewed form.  Steiner’s work is referred to here and there in this  book, but I think even if that is not your worldview you will find much sensitive food for thought in this book.

This is not a huge book, about 191 pages total.  There are 24 chapters in this book including:   Setting out, Being a complete person, How am I doing?, Openness, The dynamic of affection, Friendship, The wonder of the soul, Helps and hindrances, Soul-mating, Forging bonds, It takes work to be social, Feeling, Not for myself, The way of love, Exploring the feminine, On being a man, Confiding, Sexuality:  a very personal matter, Creation or recreation?, The question of marriage, The music of marriage, Difficulties and challenges, From rapture to rupture, The community of the future.

The author begins this book with the description that there are “warm places in every person’s soul” that can be filled with feeling for others, and those others have awareness of these feelings.  How then do we become able to master interacting and communicating with others in harmony?  How do we relate to ourselves and how do we use this as the basis for relating to others?  How do we harness and tame anger and anxiety in our interactions with others?

One of my favorite parts of the book is about friendship.  On page 37, the author writes, “A friend is a person who is prepared to suffer in support of you:  to suffer for you and sometimes even to suffer because of you.  Your friend will give you space within his soul, and carry you in this space.” 

Another of my favorite ideas from this book is that relating to one another is a discipline and how feelings are part of our emotional life but feeling (as in willing, feeling, thinking) “is a stream of spiritual force that enters our soul when we are at peace with ourselves and with the world around.” 

There are some wonderful lists peppered through this book; the nine things for success in relating to others comes to mind as well as the 22 causes of possible break-down in a marriage.

The author talks about the crisis at age 28 that many people go through, adjusting to the first pregnancy,  infidelity and divorce and much more.

All in all a very interesting read! Has anyone out there also read this book and have any comments on it to share?

Here is a link to it on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Friends-Lovers-Working-Through-Relationships/dp/0863152678/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295545806&sr=8-1

Many blessings,

Carrie