My Plan for Personal Development As A Homemaker

My own plan for developing myself as a homemaker includes an inner and  outer core.  Let me explain further, and maybe this will inspire you to come up with your own plan.

In Waldorf education, we look at the soul development of the child and what the child needs according to seven-year cycles.  Here are some thoughts for the first three seven-year cycles:

Ages Birth- Age 7:  Gratitude; Goodness, Imitation (the notion of the child as one large unfiltered sense organ taking all impressions in); Rhythm and Balance; Movement and Play

Ages 7-14:  Love; Beauty; love for natural authority for elders; Imagination; Feelings; Art

Ages 14-21:  Duty; Truth; Intellectual Work; Idealism

So, with keeping that in mind, then I look at what I personally need to develop or work on according to the stages of my children and also my own goals for my own inner work.  For simplicity’s sake, I develop this into two categories: an inner and our core, but you could divide it however you would like!  And yes, most of the things of the outer core absolutely do nourish the inner soul, but the outer core things I think of as more the “doing” the “physical” piece with the inner core being more the things “to meditate on” “ponder”.

Here are some personal examples of what I consider Outer and Inner Core:

OUTER CORE:

  • Setting a rhythm that work for my family.  I say this all the time, but it seems to bear frequent repeating:  cut back on your outside activities, cultivate your ability to be home, start with a rhythm around waking/sleeping/rest times and meals, and build up from there. If this all new to you, try the “Rhythm” tag in the tags box for back posts.  It also bears repeating that Life Before Children is not the same as Life After Children.
  • The other outer piece is to develop skills.  Part of Waldorf homeschooling is learning to teach a variety of skills that seem to be rather lost in our society today – knitting, crocheting, all kinds of art, music, singing, cooking, baking, gardening.  If you would like a complete list for what to be working on when your children are under 7 years of age please see the skill list Lovey and I came up with here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/09/a-mothers-job-in-the-waldorf-homeschool-kindergarten/

So perhaps you pick just one skill for Fall and one skill for Spring and work on those.  Seek out teachers if you need to, buy that book on the subject, watch that YouTube video.  The point is, once you have identified the skill, you can break it  down into what you need to do to make it happen!

  • Time to be outside and observe the seasons, festival preparations and celebrations that are the marker of your family’s traditions and yearly rhythm.

INNER CORE:

When I think of inner core, I am working toward things that nourish the “soul life” of my home.  I am also thinking of the things that add into our Family Mission Statement.  Here is our Family Mission Statement:

Our family will be a place of KINDNESS, as we love one another, help one another, and are gentle and patient with one another in words and actions.

(“Don’t ever forget kindness and truth. Wear them like a necklace. Write them on your heart as if on a tablet.” Proverbs 3:3 and “Someone with a quick temper does foolish things, but someone with understanding remains calm.” Proverbs 14:17).

Our family will be one of INTEGRITY as we do what we say we are going to do and act in honesty and loyalty to one another.

(“The good people who live honest lives will be a blessing to their children.” Proverbs 20:7)

Our family will be a place of POSITIVE ATTITUDES as we have hope, cheerfulness and encouragement for each other in all situations and challenges.

(“Worry is a heavy load, but a kind word cheers you up.” Proverbs 12:25 and “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, making people happy and healthy.” Proverbs 16:24)

If you need help writing your Family Mission Statement, here is a back post on that: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/08/creating-a-family-mission-statement/ 

Your family mission statement can help guide you as to the “intangibles” you need to develop in fulfilling this.  For me, part of kindness is also warmth and  being present.  So  those are the things I choose to focus on and develop in order to fulfill part of our Mission Statement.  Maybe your things to work on are different but I think you can see how this works.

Most of all, KEEP IT SIMPLE.  All of this simply cannot happen overnight; it takes years.  If your children are very small and you are drowning yourself in books and research and plans but no action, I suggest several simple steps:

  • Read Steiner for yourself
  • Pick one main resource for homeschooling help if you are that point (ie, for example, if you are using a Waldorf consultant’s work, pick ONE consultant to follow and consult with!)
  • Pick one skill to develop per semester or year
  • Remember that your own intuition and inner work, along with developing rhythm and being present with your family counts first and foremost.
  • Anything can be done if you break it up bit by bit!

Children, Chores, Housecleaning and Homeschooling

This post  is for my dear friend Andrea, and also for Molly, who asked in the comment section of this post (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/03/this-week-in-our-december-waldorf-homeschool/#comments) when and how I got housecleaning, baby care, dog care done with homeschooling.

Great question!  Many of you know I have an eight-week-old, so the answer is this:

One person cannot do everything.

There has to be priorities.  I have been involved with La Leche League for years, and one of the things I have heard repeatedly is “people before things.”

You cannot homeschool and do beautiful main lessons and extra lessons, tend to a nursing baby, cook everything from scratch, make all your children’s clothes, tend to yourself and your husband – and do it all and not be crazy!

Forging close and intimate connections with your children, rediscovering the creativity from a child’s perspective, having the time to play a board game with that eight-year-old, being outside with a preschooler learning to ride a bike,  all takes time.  Children are only small once.  Yes, things still have to “get done”, but we also need to realize this period of time is a SEASON.  It will not be this way forever.  I love gardening, cooking, baking, needle felting and I love my house to be clean – but warm connection with my children is more important right now than those things.  This can be very difficult for those of us who are used to doing everything by hand and having everything a certain way!  Do not treat your children as if they are an intrusion in your work; treat them as the precious gifts they are!

I detailed my housecleaning routine here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/11/housecleaning-and-homeschooling/

and will be happy to tell you where I am now:

My morning routine is essentially to grab a fast shower if I didn’t take one the night before, cook a warm breakfast for everyone, throw laundry in and then either run the vacuum cleaner or clean the bathrooms (and if the baby is in the sling it may not be me getting down on my hands and knees to scrub the bathroom  floor!)

We typically go outside and go for a walk or a bike ride and jump rope and then come in and start school.  We then come in and prepare a snack.  School begins and we work in increments of about 20 to 30 minutes and take breaks where the children play and I either make food for lunch or dinner ahead of time or switch laundry or do diaper changes.  After school is finished, before lunch and quiet time, we pick up any toys that are on the floor and clean up the school room.  After lunch and quiet time is when we do any other focused chores (see original housecleaning/homeschooling post).  I plan in preparation time before dinner where we clean up the house again and also prepare food.  We have been home a lot, so we are here and can work slowly and stop with these breaks and be okay with that.  I am also lucky in that my husband is generally home at night and can help with dinner dishes and anything else I really need.  In fact, I am really lucky this month as he has a whole four weeks of paid paternity leave right now!

Baby care happens all the time – the baby usually falls asleep in the sling during our morning movement, and then sometimes he stays in the sling or I can put him down in the co-sleeper for a nap.  He usually takes another nap late morning in  my lap whilst I am homeschooling.  After lunch, we lay down together for another nap and then he takes his fourth nap somewhere in the later afternoon (many times the children are  playing outside in the yard by then).  Some days he is awake a lot of the day, some days he is growing and sleeping a lot.  He nurses on demand, and tends to fall asleep fairly early at night.   We co-sleep, and I try to go to bed by nine so I can be refreshed the next day.  Nursing at night does not usually wake me up, and we may get up once or twice to change diapers but usually he goes right back to sleep after that.  This season will pass, and we will soon be into a more mobile, teeth-getting stage that I am sure will be more challenging.  But, having a basic rhythm  really does help at this point.  Temperament also plays into it as he is a fairly laid-back little guy.  He is held most of the time :) because he will only be this little once and I so love him!

The dog gets walked every night by my husband (she used to get walked by the kids and I in the morning as well, and we will go back to that once the baby is bigger).  I have the kids clicker train her during some of the breaks, and she plays in all the kids’ games (which sometimes involves her getting dressed up in tutus, poor dog!)

The main thing is to not get too excited about it all, it will all get done eventually.  One has to be patient and realize that again, this is a season, it won’t be like this forever and it is okay that  things take longer than before.

The other things that have helped me include the following:

  • To have my children have an early bedtime.  The time after they go to bed is the time I do any last minute cleaning up, folding of laundry, gathering things for homeschool the next day. 
  • To have a quiet time after lunch.  When you homeschool and are with your children all day long, it can become important to have some space and a little break mid-day.
  • To build in time of cleaning up throughout the day, and to generally think ahead regarding food preparation.
  • To really consider what is absolutely essential – for me, it makes me crazy to have things not picked up.  My flat surfaces have to be cleaned up.  The bathrooms can’t be dirty and there cannot be mounds of dishes in the kitchen sink.  So those things are top priority so I can function.
  • Enlist help. Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse to help you, and don’t feel resentful that he cannot read your mind and know what you want done!
  • Less is more. Rotate the toys and don’t put so many out.  Limit access to art supplies that require your assistance.
  • Work in small chunks of time that have stopping points.
  • Keep in mind realistic expectations for each age.  Children under age 7 typically need more than a verbal directive to do something; you usually need to be there to physically help as well.  Don’t verbally ask them to do something while you do something else and then become frustrated they are not doing what you asked!  At the same time, repetition builds habit so do involve your children!

Just a few thoughts,

Carrie

My Notebook

I started out a long time ago with a “Control Journal” as suggested from Flylady (www.flylady.net).  This is essentially suggested to be a binder with your household routines and such in it.    I still have it, and mine is mainly  now divided into sections for phone numbers,  directories for the neighborhood, some deep cleaning routines/checkliststs and dinner menu plans I printed out from my membership at www.cookingTF.com

Then I read this book during the last trimester of my third pregnancy  (“Becoming The Woman God Wants Me To Be” by Donna Patrow):http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Woman-God-Wants-Me/dp/0800730720/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258915978&sr=8-1.  I cannot say I loved all of the advice in the book.  As a physical therapist and someone who took many, many college-level nutrition courses, I was particularly and seriously concerned about the exercise and nutrition advice offered in this book.  But, this book did instill a further inspiration for that “inner work” we are always talking about with parenting and Waldorf homeschooling.  All of us need a “nudge” to keep on track!  I pulled out two other books that were inspiring to me in the past, “The Power of A Praying Wife” by Stormie OMartian ( http://www.amazon.com/Power-Praying%C2%AE-Wife-Deluxe/dp/0736919899/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258916244&sr=1-3)  and this one, The Power of A Positive Mom” by Karol Ladd ( http://www.amazon.com/Power-Positive-Mom-Revised/dp/1416551212/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258916301&sr=1-5) .  These two books provide me much inspiration when I need it. I combined some of the things from those books along with the idea of making a binder as mentioned in “Becoming the Woman God Wants Me To Be” and made a sort of household notebook with sections that also fulfill my penchant for being a prayer warrior and my inner work.

So, when you open up my binder, the first thing you see is my Personal Vision Statement and our Family Mission Statement.  The entire first section is “Power Tools” of inspiring quotes, Affirmations, a page of Scripture Memory Verses, prayer lists for people outside our immediate family and prayer lists for the immediate family.

The other sections are:

Personal:    Our weekly rhythm, Cleaning Routines/Checklists, Evening Routines, to-do list

My Husband (I have personalized daily prayers there for my husband based upon some of the areas mentioned in “The Power of A Praying Wife”)

My Children (separate prayer lists for each of the three children)

Household (seasonal deep cleaning checklists, menu for the week, recipes for the week)

Projects (typically this includes lectures of Steiner’s I have printed out and am in the midst of reading)

A Section for Melisa Nielsen’s “Be A Beacon” Program

I use this binder two to three times a day or more as I pray for people and take some moments in the midst of our busy day to connect to my Creator.

Inner work is so important; if you make this a priority you will reap many benefits in your parenting, your homeschooling and your life!

Blessings,

Carrie

Links for Dangers of Media for Children

This is a great article that describes the phenomenon of “age compression” as viewed by a Kindergarten teacher and some things she did to combat this:

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/23_03/six233.shtml

Here is an article from TIME:

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1914450-2,00.html

The sad statistics regarding how much media children are watching:

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/media_entertainment/tv-viewing-among-kids-at-an-eight-year-high/

The best antidote you can provide to your children besides the obvious step of limiting media exposure from screens includes providing opportunity for time in nature and plenty of time and open ended toys for imaginative play.

Peace,

Carrie

My Top Three Favorite Crafty Blogs

I am sure everyone has heard of SouleMama or seen Amanda Soule’s wonderful books, but just in case you have not, here is the blog link: http://soulemama.typepad.com/ 

Another “biggie” with a book to buy for Christmas! http://rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/

Those are two well-read blogs to check out!  There are many, many others, but I wanted to spotlight a few I really like that I don’t think has as big an audience as some of the others (yet!).  So, for purposes of this post, my personal top three favorite crafty blogs are these (drum roll please!):

1.  http://www.skiptomylou.org/     Skip To My Lou always has great seasonal ideas, along with money saving ideas!

2.  http://www.purlbee.com/      A great source for knitting, embroidery and other handwork ideas.

3.  http://tinyhappy.typepad.com/  New Zealand’s answer to SouleMama!

And this one, especially for Waldorf Handwork:  http://teachinghandwork.blogspot.com/

Happy Browsing!

Carrie

Is Your Home A Sanctuary?

If you have small children and read this blog, you know the mantra I have regarding the need to entrench your small children firmly in the home and the need for us as parents to be careful about establishing rhythm at home and being happy in the home before we start adding many outside errands or activities.  Part of Waldorf in our homes is learning and practicing many practical life skills for the small child to see and emulate – and how can we do this if we are not home?

One thing to consider with being home is our physical environment.  We probably all have areas of our homes we would like to improve, but being home does not mean we need to have an expensive house or furnishings to be happy.

One of the first things one can do to improve the physical beauty of the home is to seriously look at the amount of stuff and clutter in the home and pare it all down.  Many folks are first attracted to Waldorf because of all those beautiful wooden toys – interesting that Steiner often discussed how the best toys were extremely simple and homemade, and yet we have this cottage industry of many, many toys.  Pare down your toys, the amount of clothes your kids have and how many things you have.  Your small home will seem spacious!

The second thing may be to consider unusual uses of space.  I currently have a lovely school room in my dining room area and my dining room in a sunroom area.  The dining room is more contained for homeschooling (ie, can’t see it from the front door when you walk in) and the sunroom area is larger and visible directly from the front door.  Our breakfast nook area off the kitchen is a also now a playroom to keep the children close whilst I cook or clean.

Paint is something to consider as well.  The right shade of paint can really warm a room and make it inviting.  Evaluate your furniture as well – if you painted this piece of furniture or changed the drawer pulls, would it look totally different?  Many times this is just as good as getting new furniture!  Can you reupholster anything? 

Rugs, curtains and pillows are last.  If you can sew, that is so helpful but even if you cannot, perhaps you can find wonderful thrift store bargains.  Can you take down the blinds and clean them all before you put up new curtains?

Then look at the outside of your house.  Does it need painting?  Pressure washing? Mulch?  Is the front entry inviting? If you enter through the garage can you walk through the garage?  Does the garage need painting?

This is a lot about the physical environment because I think when we are home all day the physical clutter, cleanliness and appearance of our homes can really affect how we feel!

Of course, the most important aspect of the home is the aspect of ensoulement.  Is your home a happy place to be?  A place where your children feel most calm and peaceful? Is it a warm and friendly place?  Is is a place where if a relative fell asleep on the sofa that would be okay and even welcomed?  Does your home attract people to want to come and be in it?

Happy cleaning!

Carrie

The Habit of Happiness

To me, happiness is a habit.  Happiness is not something that comes from external sources – ie, the whole “this made me happy today” and “this made me sad” and “this made me angry”.  Yes, things happen and we sometimes feel happy, sad or angry as a first reaction – but with time and practice, we can learn to modify our inner landscape and choose how to react, help rid ourselves of stress, worry and anxiety and put in its place a sense of peace instead.  Peace, to me, is the Real Deal of Happiness.  Peace is that inner quality that occurs no matter what the circumstances of life surround you.

The way to this path is to choose to be happy and peaceful as your journey, as a conscious step every day, and not just viewing happiness as this elusive goal.  Here are some thoughts for how to do this:

1.  Practice basic meditation – Steiner has some great exercises for anthroposophical inner work and if you go here you will find the inner work of the day posted:  http://www.rsarchive.org/

2.  Do your best to not model worry, anxiety and guilt for your family members.  I would venture to say that many of us have worried, anxious and guilty thought patterns because this is what was modeled to us as children.  It is an easy thing to pass on to the next generation.

3.  Limit your hurrying:  being hurried and overscheduled can lead quickly to feeling overwhelmed, guilt-ridden and anxiety-ridden.  As homeschoolers, many of us could be so booked with activities we could be out of the house every day, morning, afternoon, and night.  Pick and choose and realize  that homeschooling can be about, and should be about, being in your home.

4.  Religious practices can provide peace – easy to knock it until you try it and create a practice.  Many people are very cynical regarding organized religion, but I urge you to investigate this if this is a stumbling block for you.  Find the religious path that works for you and work at it.  Certain faiths, such as the Catholic faith and the Episcopal faith, have a “Daily Office” where prayers are said at certain times of the day – this can be a very grounding experience to help you focus your attention off of yourself and onto something higher.  To my Orthodox readers, does this also exist in the Orthodox Church as well?

5. Exercise.  Walk, bike, swim, take the time to go to the gym if you have the financial luxury to be able to afford a gym, walk on some nature trails, do some yoga.  Make this a priority for yourself and for your children.  This is very important for dealing with depression and anxiety, and to help feel more  peaceful. 

6.  Re-frame how you look at  things, and how you say things.  Watch your words like the pearls you are, because the words you say are the reality for your children.

7.  Forge as close and intimate a relationship as you can with your spouse or partner.  Your children are NOT a substitute for the intimacy you should be experiencing with your adult partner, and your children will be better for it to see this wonderful, healthy relationship between two adults who can laugh and have fun together.  Having this relationship as a bedrock in your life will provide you with peace!

I think creating a habit of happiness for your inner work is this coming school year is very important.  I hear so many mothers who tell me up and down how fortunate they are to be able to be home during this economy, how they like being a stay-at-home mother but yet all they do is complain about their husbands, their homes, their weight and body image, their children’s behavior and themselves. 

Stop complaining; choose peace and happiness instead.  Start with yourself in small steps and model this for your spouse and your children; you may be surprised with the wonderful results!

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Simplicity of Parenting

Sometimes I wonder why we make parenting so hard on ourselves.  Seriously!    Do the indigenous tribes of the world  sit around and read a million books on breastfeeding, and then co-sleeping and then how to parent and how to be gentle and educational methods and how to raise productive citizens?  No, of course not. They have each other, they have traditional ways of doing things, they have elders who help, they have huge close communities.

Our problem is that we have lost our way in our society and we are  re-creating the parenting wheel ourselves, bit by bit, in our own homes.   The wonderful book “The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker” by Manfred Schmidt-Brabant is precisely about this subject.   We have lost so much of the intrinsic, the from the heart parenting, that sometimes we wonder if we will ever see it again.  And in the meantime, our children look to us to lead and to guide and to love and to cherish them.

Here are some rules of simplicity in parenting that really struck me tonight:

Love your child. Hold your child, tell them you love them, breastfeed them, sleep with them, be close to them.  Look at the world from their eyes, but do not assume they feel about things as you do or understand the things you understand – they are not a miniature extension of you, they have not had your experience, they have a different consciousness!  Respect them, and also respect them enough to know when they need you and your gentle help to guide them.

Enjoy life and be confident in your life!  Enjoy your children. Don’t you think they know when in your heart you feel irritable, trapped, resentful, wondering where your life is?  If you cannot enjoy this life that you were given, please, please, help yourself out.  Discuss your feelings with your spouse and with your extended family, find a friend to talk to, find a mother’s helper for  a few hours each day, talk to a counselor, go see a doctor to rule out any physical causes of depression, create a community for yourself.   Your children deserve a whole human being, a whole beautiful and wonderful and wise woman to take care of them!

Re-frame your own attitude. Parenting should not be the end of your life; parenting is just the beginning!  Find things for you that you need to do to be that whole person, work with your spouse or a friend to make it happen, but also realize this is BIGGER than just you; this is not all about you; it is about these wonderful spiritual beings that decided to come and be with you and be a part of your family!  Family is a bigger and more beautiful thing than you alone!

Know that you set the tone in your home.  Men do things differently than women, they parent differently; so why nag?  Where and what does nagging get you?  Model and set the tone.  Healthy eating, healthy sleeping, healthy communication, rest, peacefulness, fun together, joy, being outside:  the keys to a healthy life no matter what your age!

Find the positive.  Find the positive intent.  Instead of assuming the worst of your children, your spouse, the friends you thought you had, assume something positive.  Assume the people who love you want to help you, that they do support you and understand you. Cut those people some slack; we are not perfect beings in this perfect world!    Maintain some of a feeling of joy and innocence regarding your world, it is possible!  Look at the possible  needs behind your child’s behavior and don’t discuss it with them, for heaven’s sake, but use it to help  guide your child!  Uplift your child, move and dance with them and love them  to where they are supposed to be in life and who they are unfolding to be!

Love your children, love yourself and love each other.  Simplicity in parenting!

Blessings to you all,

Carrie

Mindful Parenting

As St. John’s Day calls us to be more inward and focused in the midst of outer expansion, perhaps a meditative focus for all of us as mothers could be contemplation of the phrase “mindful parenting”. 

What does mindful parenting mean to you personally?  To me, it means that I am in control of myself and my actions in front of my children, that I consider their feelings along with their needs, that I show my children empathy for their feelings, that I bring joy and laughter and warmth to my parenting.  To be a mindful parent, I must consider the “bigger picture” of parenting – where my children are developmentally, where they have been, where they are going, what their temperaments are and who they are as beautiful individuals and how we all work together in one family.  I must also consider my own “cup” – is it full, how do I get it full within the context of parenting?  I can be a beacon of light and love for my children when I am centered and calm and peaceful.

I feel blessed to be a parent, and I truly enjoy my children.  I think people have different ages of parenting they like and enjoy – my mother-in-law always says how wonderful she finds ages three and four, while other people I know really rather dislike these stages.  Some mothers have commented to me that teenagers are so difficult, and I have other friends who say they just love the teenaged energy in their home and want all of their teenager’s friends to come and hang out within their family!

Even if you are in a parenting stage that perhaps you are not particularly enjoying, perhaps here is a Waldorf parenting view you can take and use:  the notion that there really are no difficult children, but there are difficult behaviors that children show us.  When we break things down into a behavior and NOT the child, it opens a gateway so we can look at that behavior. Why is this behavior triggering me as a parent so?  What do I need in this moment to be more fulfilled and peaceful that is separate from what my child is doing? Is this an issue of safety?  Or is it an issue that just bothers me but I could gently direct it?  Do I have to direct it at all?  What is the need of the child under the behavior?  Is there more than one way to meet that need and am I comfortable meeting that need for my child and in what way?  Can my child meet their own need?  Can we work together so that in our family all of us can be happy and peaceful?

How can I use my words like pearls….instead of spouting off the book of lectures, can I use a few positively-worded phrases?  Can I be warm and loving and caring even if I have to set a limit?  Is the limit necessary at all?  I actually don’t use many limits in my family, our rhythm carries much of it, modeling carries much of it, love carries much of it.  We are respectful to each other.

These are the kinds of inward questions that shape my days of parenting, and the kinds of inward contemplation I do in my own parenting as we draw closer to St. John’s Day(Midsummer’s Day).

Thanks for reading,

Carrie

Fathers and Daughters: Part Two

In our last post we looked at the role of daughters who are ages birth through 7.  Today let’s look at further ages!

Age 8-14

  • Dads are VERY important during this time to many girls, so hopefully the foundation for a close father-daughter relationship was laid during the first seven years.
  • Daughters really want to be with their fathers and have his undivided attention.  They can be very interested in Dad’s work and what hobbies he enjoys.
  • They also want to be able to be authentic around their fathers, and to not have to be always happy or never  be angry around their fathers.  Emotional availability is important to girls.
  • Daughters need the genuine praise and love of  their fathers.
  • They need dad to help them follow through on family rules (and the rules need to be reasonable and clear).
  • They want to be included in their father’s world and do things with their father.
  • The practical management of money is one area where  many fathers take over the teaching with good results.  Another area may be sports, whether this may be team sports or individual sports.  I know families where dad coaches the team sport, and I know families where the whole family takes karate together.  It is not that mothers cannot teach their children in these areas, but these are areas where I have seen other families have success with spending time and guiding their daughters, and areas mentioned that dads may have success in the book, “Raising A Daughter.”
  • Dads really can impact how girls transition into adolescence.  A great time for Daddy-Daughter dates if that has not already been happening!
  • Dads usually are also great people to start teaching a 10 or 12 year old and up how to set goals and plan strategy!  Again, not that mothers cannot, but this may be an area where dads really excel!

Ages 14-21

  • In the book “Raising A Daughter”, by Jeanne Elium and Don Elium, they write, “The worst mistake for a father to make at this time in his daughter’s life is to withdraw himself from her, because he does not know how to deal with his own response to her developing sexuality.  Daughters need reassurance from the first man in their lives that these changes they are undergoing are okay, that their father still loves them.”
  • Emotional availability is very important to girls of this age.
  • Fathers can be a big support during this age for setting clear limits.
  • Fathers help teach girls of this age what to expect from a boyfriend or a future husband.
  • Dads need to understand that this an age when the intellect is growing, that the teenager notices the “unfairness” of things and is critically questioning and searching for answers to her questions.
  • Girls may separate less from their parents and families than boys and attempt to make their relationships more authentic, deeper.  They long for connection.  There is more about this important difference between boys and girl adolescents on page 342 of “Raising A Daughter.”
  • A best friend is very important during this time!  I am sure many of us remember this from our own adolescence, and I still see it in the teenaged girls around me.  I recommend from a homeschooling perspective that you work hard to find activities and friends for your daughter during the age range of 8-12 because  it can be difficult for homeschooled teenagers to connect to others during the high school years – some homeschooled children go on to not homeschool during these years, the activities are fewer and involve a broader age range usually (ie, adults may be included in community classes, etc.).  It can be more challenging, so something to think about and plot a course, because it will become important thing for your daughter as she matures and grows.
  • Help your teenager find balance between intellect and physical.
  • Enforce the family – as homeschoolers we typically do not have a problem with this, but other families may so it is worth mentioning. It is okay to take a family vacation and not bring along your child’s friends.
  • Hook your daughter up with mentors in career fields she is interested in, or even with other adult women that you trust and know for things such as gardening, baking, etc.
  • Encourage all work toward an achievement.  That is important to recognize the process, not just the result!
  • This is a time to talk and negotiate (and if you are doing this in the younger years, you are putting the cart before the horse! Please stop!)  Discuss in private away from friends, younger siblings.  This is important to an adolescent!
  • Dad really needs to be open emotionally to his daughter and involved in his daughter’s life.  He also needs a fulfilling relationship with his spouse or partner to really model this for his daughter. Work on your relationship together!
  • Help your teenaged get involved in volunteering, whether that it through a place of religious worship, in your neighborhood, or through a service organization.
  • Watch your daughter carefully for the plagues of the modern teenaged years – eating disorders, sexual abuse by a boyfriend or others, suicide, cutting and get help from professionals as your daughter needs it.

Hope this list was helpful, not only to dads, but to all of you.  I highly recommend Jeanne Elium and Don Elium’s, “Raising A Daughter.”  This book is highly compatible with both attachment parenting and Waldorf perspectives, and will truly make you think.  It is well-worth the money, and you can also try your local library and see if it is there.

Peace,

Carrie