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

Changing Our Parenting Language

There was recently an excellent conversation on Mrs. Marsha Johnson’s list (waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com) about three-year-olds and “temper tantrums”.  One of the wonderful mothers on Mrs. Johnson’s list emailed me and stated how she always felt badly about that phrase: “temper tantrum”.

I have to agree with her.  If you think carefully about it, that is a phrase that really puts a mother on one side and a child on the other side.  A “temper tantrum” really implies that the child has a bad temper, that the child should be able to control his or her emotions and that this temper tantrum is a lack of self-control or self-discipline on the part of the child.

A “temper tantrum” is a need for connection.  A time when a child is feeling so badly, so over-stimulated, is a time when a child really needs you to guide them with love.  Sometimes all you can do is to be there.  Time-out  is not an effective tool for this; it promotes separation and isolation instead of listening and being with that child when they need you most.  Please see this back post for more about dealing with challenging behaviors:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/12/more-about-time-in-for-tinies/

So, let’s re-name temper tantrums once and for all.  I think “Connection Crisis” sums it up.  Your child needs you.

This reminds me of an article that was shared with me at a La Leche League meeting many, many years ago.  It was written by Pam Leo, author of “Connection Parenting” and appeared in the 1997 Winter edition of Empathic Parenting.  She took concepts from Faber and Mazlish’s “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” and modified them. 

I am going to modify what Pam wrote, so here goes:

1.  When you blame and accuse me –

  • I hear:  I’m no good, I do everything wrong
  • I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless
  • I need: for you to listen without interrupting and judging me, to set boundaries for me if I need, but most of all to love me despite my flaws and mistakes

2.  When you call me names –

  • I hear:  I’m stupid, I’m lazy, I’m no good
  • I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless
  • I need: encouragement

3.  When you threaten me–

  • I hear:  a person I  love is going to hurt me
  • I feel:  afraid, in danger, unsafe, terribly alone
  • I need: boundaries set and kept  in a loving way, I need to see a way to de-escalate conflicts peacefully, I need to feel your warmth and your love

4.  When you command, order or coerce me–

  • I hear:  I have no choice, I am powerless, I don’t matter
  • I feel:  unloved, unlovable, incapable and worthless
  • I need: to be able to make mistakes when the cost is small in order to learn, limits but with enough freedom that I can still grow into being myself, understanding  and love

5.  When you keep warning me –

  • I hear:  I am careless, I am stupid, I don’t think well
  • I feel:  unloved, unlovable, incapable and worthless
  • I need:  a safe way to channel my wonderful ideas, my energy

6.  When you make martyrdom statements:

  • I hear:  I am selfish, I am thoughtless, I am mean
  • I feel:  unloved, unlovable, incapable, guilty and bad
  • I need:  to see how someone asks for help when they need it, to see how someone can take care of themselves and still take care of others, how someone exercises self-control of their mouth, how someone has a positive attitude

7.  When you make comparisons:

  • I hear:  I am not good enough, everyone else is better, you don’t love me
  • I feel:  unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless
  • I need:  you to guide me to improvement, you to show me how to solve a problem or a challenge

8.  When you are sarcastic –

  • I hear: voice words and tones that don’t match the situation
  • I feel: confused
  • I need:  your sincerity, your gentle voice and hands to guide me, to see how children of different ages are parented in different ways

9.  When you make negative prophesies–

  • I hear:  I will never do it right, I will never be enough, my life will be ruined
  • I feel:  hopeless, unloved, unlovable, incapable and worthless
  • I need: your encouragement, your guidance, your ability to let me mistakes when the cost is small, your love and compassion, your demonstration that sometimes “okay” is “good enough”

10.  When you lecture and moralize –

  • I hear:  I should be better than I am, I will never get this right
  • I feel:  unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless. alone and isolated
  • I need:  your love, your boundaries to keep me safe, your warmth and understanding, your stories about what you were like at this age and what happened and did you ever at all feel the way I feel

 

Change your language and change how you feel toward your parenting

Many blessings,

Carrie

Love Is A Verb

I am sure you have all heard this notion before:  that love is often more an action than a feeling.  To be loving, even to be “in love”,  we have to act loving and then the feeling of love comes.

How are you putting love into action in your home?

Love is picking up and soothing that infant for the millionth time when you really wish they would just go to sleep.

Love is being kind to your child even though they just answered you flippantly.

Love is making time to spend with your spouse at the end of a long day even though you are tired.

Love is being patient when you don’t feel like being patient, and being kind when you don’t feel like being kind.  How you do this in your home really influences the tone of your home and the behavior of the small child who not only imitates you, but looks to you to see how you react when things are not going well.

How do you react when you make a mistake?

How do you react when someone is behaving poorly?  Not doing what you want them to do?  Are you the person who escalates things or de-escalates things in stressful situations?

How do you calm things down and make things more peaceful than when you found them?

How do you leave your little corner of the world better than it was before?

It is hard work, but the wonder of it all is in the striving.  It is truly not about being perfect.  There is no perfect mother, no perfect home, no perfect road to success,  no perfect way.  There is only a loving mother, a nurturing home, a middle road, and a thoughtful way. 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Renewal: Mission Statements

This is the time of renewal, this sacred and new time between Easter and Ascension.  This is a great time to take stock and start planning; plan for your personal development; plan for homeschooling (Waldorf mothers who are homeschooling the grades – have you ordered your materials yet?  Have you started laying out a flow to your blocks for the fall?); plan for what you would like to see happen between now and fall.

You are the architect, you are the designer, you are the artist of your life and the lives of your children.  If things are overwhelming right now,it is okay to say no to things.  It is okay to set boundaries.  It is okay to be real and authentic and honest about what you can and cannot handle!

One thing that always helps me is  to go back to our Family Mission Statement.  Here is a back post about writing a family mission statement, you can see that here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/08/creating-a-family-mission-statement/  Once you have this piece of paper, please do make sure to review it, use it, keep it in your mind as you make decisions.  It should be like a guiding compass for your family and the things you choose to do as a family. 

The other thing that can keep you centered is to have your own Personal Mission Statement or what some people call a Personal Vision Statement.  The more you can develop yourself, learn about yourself, and calm and center yourself (which means actually figuring out what makes you feel calm and centered to begin with :)), your family will absolutely benefit.  Children want a mother that is calmly in control of things and can be a resource, a guide, a boundary, a wall to bounce off if need be – but a gentle, calm and nurturing presence.  What children don’t want is out- of- control, screaming and yelling parents where the whole atmosphere of the house feels stressed and falling apart.  You can get to the first thing, but you have to stop and think. 

  • Think about what would make the biggest difference in your life to make yourself more calm.
  • Think about what your priorities really are, and how your life could reflect that. 
  • How could your marriage be a priority?  What would that look like?
  • If your children are small, they must be a priority.  They are depending upon you to guide them and to love them and to teach them.
  • What do you want your homeschooling adventure to look like?  Have you assessed your child and know what they need to work on – not just “skill-wise” but also emotionally, physically, spiritually?  What do they need to develop into “whole” human beings?  What would your homeschooling look like to reflect that?  Now is the time to assess for next year’s planning.  You cannot figure out what you are going to do in homeschooling next year unless you have assessed where your child is right now, and some of the biggest homeschooling lessons have nothing to do with academic skills at all.

Just a few thoughts for today.

Many blessings to you,

Carrie