The Rant: Kind Children For Life

 

(I would like to thank my friend Molly for brainstorming with me for this post!)

Earlier this week, I was at the pool  with some beautiful mother friends, and one of them mentioned a recent article in the Washington Post about raising kind children.  You can read  this article , and I highly suggest you do.   I have read it over.  And over. And over.

 

What is most stunning to me about this article is this particular statement:

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

 

Don’t get me wrong; like most parents I would like my children to be happy and to have a happy life doing what they love.  But, to have this at the expense of or exclusion of caring about others is totally disagreeable to me.  Kindness and love really and truly is the pinnacle of the human being.   It is to be found within ourselves, and how we hear and interact with the other.

 

How or why would this be happening?  Eighty percent is an incredibly high number!  I was pondering this, and this quote from the sweet little book “Wonderful Ways to Love a Teen….even when it seems impossible” by Judy Ford, M.S.W. popped into my head:

 

Some parents tell me that weeks go by without their saying anything more than hello and good-bye to their teenagers, not because they haven’t wanted to be with one another, but because their lives are loaded with demands and obligations.  The years from junior high to high school can be one big blur.  Soon the kids are graduating, and you barely remember what happened.

 

Children need to have kindness modeled for them everyday in their interactions; they need to be connected enough to their parents that their parents will help guide them in the tougher places and situations that often come up especially for middle schoolers and high schoolers; they need to have balance and time to breathe – not a schedule so packed in with rigorous academics and extracurricular activities that the home just becomes a “home base” on the way off to somewhere else.   If we can slow down and connect, then we can work on kindness.  But that requires time to talk, listen, exchange ideas.

 

I have been writing about kindness for a long time; you can see this 2009 post.   The Washington Post article had some good points to make; another resource I would like to point out is Zoe Weil’s 2003 book, “Above All, Be Kind.”  Weil’s book is focused upon humane education and educated decisions regarding consumerism.  Her book is divided into sections by age, including birth through age 6, the years of 7-12 and the teenaged years.  A constant focus on respect, reverence, responsibility, (as often mentioned in Waldorf Education and also a focus  in Weil’s book), is a promising way to lay a foundation for kindness, no matter what the age of your child.  Author Weil uses reverence as a focus in the early years, respect as a focus in the middle years, and responsibility as a focus for the teenaged years.

 

Above all, we must embody what we want our children to see.  We must slow down life enough that the pressure of outside activities and achievements does not become more important than showing love and kindness to others.  All the achievement in the world cannot really buy happiness, yet kindness often has a magic of its very own.

 

In this age where we are bombarded with information about parenting, discipline, how to navigate school, sports and friends, we can lose sight of  the the most important lesson of all in relating to each other: kindness.

Blessings,

Carrie

The Slow Summer

 

Eileen over at Little Acorn Learning is doing a whole series on the slow summer.  You can see one of her blog posts regarding this subject here.  There was also an interesting post about “banishing the playdate” that recently came across my Facebook page.  Part of what the author wrote about wasn’t perhaps particular to summer, but what I personally hold dear from summer – biking around to see who was out and could play.  You can read that blog post about spontaneous play  here.

 

I think slowing the summer down is so important.   Think back to Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: July

 

 

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not yet ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

I wrote about my homeschool planning method of marking seasonal and liturgical ideas down for each month in past posts, which has led to the creation of this series.  Now we are extending our mood of celebration into July!

 

July has always been an interesting month for me.  My personal energy has often Continue reading

What I Am Enjoying Right Now

 

Each summer has its own particular feel and energy.  In the past, I used to always feel like there was “July Doldrums”.  Last summer was a summer full of community and fun, and there wasn’t really a “July Doldrums” but there was a bit of emptiness as I recovered from two years of loss.  This summer, we are doing active things, but I  have often felt tired.  I think this has to do with planning homeschooling for three children while also  studying for a major re-certification exam at the end of this month; my head is so wrapped up it is like my body is kayaking but my head is digesting all this information!  LOL.  I have been feeling more energized this week after taking the children camping with a dear friend of mine and her children, and coming to a point in my planning and studying that most of it is done! Yay!

So, I wanted to share some things I am enjoying right now.  One thing of delight is that we are planning a trip to the beach in September after Labor Day.  So, I have been enjoying reading about the Georgia Coast.  I think we are going to go into Florida for our beach week, but a lot of the warm Atlantic Ocean wildlife is similar.  I  have always wanted to get “The Treasure Cave:  Sea Tales of Tiptoes Lightly” by Reg Down to bring with us to the beach to read, so I am excited for that.  We will also bring games and puzzles (and our eyes to watch the stars as part of our seventh grader’s astronomy block!  Less light pollution!)

We have been enjoying checking out the National and State Parks in our state as we work on badge requirements for a Civil War badge, a Get Outdoors Badge and a Junior Ranger Badge.  These badges are a great way to discover your state!  You can see the National Parks Foundation link here:  http://www.nationalparks.org/connect/npf-kids/junior-rangers

I have been enjoying church.  There is something lovely about the time between Pentecost and the new church year.  I have been thinking about this post:  http://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/church_year/no_ordinary_time.php. Some in the Episcopal Church refer to this time as “Ordinary Time” like our Roman Catholic friends, but the Book of Common Prayer does not name this season. The monks of Taize call this time “The Time of the Church” and I like that.  The Feast of the Dormition of St. Mary is a feast I am contemplating (August 15) and the loveliest ways to celebrate in our home.

Here are some links I have been enjoying out and about on the Internet: Continue reading

Stopping Societal Violence

 

(THIS IS NOT A POST TO READ WITH A CHILD HANGING OVER YOUR SHOULDER.  Adult content!)

You might wonder why this post is here, on a parenting blog.  I just have to speak up and say something, because these things that have been happening involve children.  Children are children until the age of 21, and the crisis that is occurring in the youth of the United States affects us all.

This has been a harrowing time for the United States, with mass public shootings occurring frequently, along with a culture of rape where 6  out of 10 women are raped in their lifetimes.  There was an incident in my own state recently of a graduation party at a cabin that got completely and horrifyingly out of hand and ended in a young woman being gang-raped, presumably by people she probably thought were trusted friends.  My heart just has been breaking for her, and it  has been breaking for all of these incidents and the people involved on all sides, and especially for the parents of these children.

What can we do, as we raise this next generation, to curb and stop societal violence?  How do we do it?

I have a few ideas that I have been germinating upon.  They are in no particular order.  Please add your own thoughts and suggestions in the comment box!

Continue reading

Update on A Summer Parenting Project

 

Do you all remember when I posted a summer parenting project?  Mine this year centered around de-cluttering the house and exercise, but in past years I have begged parents to find a religious/spiritual home for their family.  This year’s post is right here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/23/a-summer-parenting-project/

I am not the only one with this kind of thing on the brain!   I got great joy in reading Kara’s post over here about exercising:  http://www.kelizabethfleck.com/2014/06/7-quick-takes-birthdays-broccoli.html.  As a former personal trainer, a gym manager, a trainer of bodybuilders and a physical therapist, I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise.  This is so important for mothers who are suffering from depression and anxiety, and such a great example for our children.  Our homeschooled children really need breaks during the day to run and play.  Some homeschooled children do that naturally, but I do find the older children get the more they sit around and read….or craft….or read.  Smile  It can take determination to keep your family moving, especially during a busy school day, but so worth it!

My husband has traveled out of town Monday through late Thursday night for years, and I really got out of the habit of exercising consistently.   He is now traveling less, and  I am happy to say I am back on the exercise train.  What works best for me is to get up and out the door when my husband is home.  So, I am in the gym by 6:30 each morning, and my goal is to move that up to 6 AM.  I am tired by the end of the day, especially when I am teaching, (which is what I found out last year having sixth and third grade), so exercising at night is hard for me.  Morning is much better!  We have also been doing active things as a family, which we did last summer as well, but it is nice to have that piece too.  Hiking, kayaking, and running at our local park have been fun.

De-cluttering is coming along as well.  I am slowly culling books, which is so hard for me because I love books and as a homeschooler I keep thinking I will need that one book!  My husband painted our school room a cheery yellow (Daffodil from Sherwin Williams) and with some naturally dyed curtains, I think it is going to look great for when we start school again in August.  I will try to post some pictures when it is all done!

What are you all up to?  Let’s celebrate our successes, no matter how small!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Summer!

It is summer! There has been an article circulating around the Internet from over at The Atlantic regarding summer and having free time to just be:  http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/06/for-better-school-results-clear-the-schedule-and-let-kids-play/373144/

Part of this article deals with how “personal” executive function (ie, the ability to set goals, to be self-motivated and do the practical things to achieve a self-selected goal) is much better in children who spend less time in activities supervised by adults:

The authors studied the schedules and play habits of 70 six-year-old children, measuring how much time each of them spent in “less structured,” spontaneous activities such as imaginative play and self-selected reading and “structured” activities organized and supervised by adults, such as lessons, sports practice, community service and homework. They found that children who engage in more free play have more highly developed self-directed executive function. The opposite was also true: The more time kids spent in structured activities, the worse their sense of self-directed control. It’s worth noting that when classifying activities as “less structured” or “structured,” the authors deemed all child-initiated activities as “less-structured,” while all adult-led activities were “structured.”

The summer  can be a difficult time for working parents in particular, and some children end up trading school (an adult-directed activity), for different adult-directed activities in the summer – camps, lessons, and the like.

I am hearing from parents who both have to work this summer, or single parents who have to work.  They are wondering how to give their children a summer of time in nature and unstructured play.  I would love to hear suggestions from you all and how you have handled unstructured play for summer  in your family.    My own thoughts would be to enlist family members or friends who are able to be home and are taking their own children to the lake, beach, forest or out for a picnic.  I have many family  friends where both parents work, and those parents I know  are taking a good deal of vacation time this summer to make the work week shorter –ie, taking each Friday off so they have a long weekend with their children, for example.  I also have friends who work who have talked to their boss about changing their work hours so they go to work very early and get home early so they can have some daylight hours with their children to be together.    If a parent works from home, of course the children can have unstructured play there, but many parents have told me if they have only children it can be hard to get things done or multiple children while they are working sometimes play great and come up with wonderful ideas and sometimes not! Continue reading