Intimate Relationships: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

We are at the last of the eight facets of a healthy family culture!  Writing about the impact that the state of intimate relationships in a household can be a tricky proposition for many reasons, and one I hesitated writing about until the end.

First of all, I don’t want those in families led by a single adult to feel not included or to feel that a single family household is somehow sub-par. I also know from over the years that different marriages and partnerships have different feels to them, and how different couples define “a good marriage” seems to vary,  but somehow they work, so giving “advice” about this seems to be difficult at best.

However, what I have seen over the years is that when the intimate relationships within the household are not working well or are strained, it affects family culture, it can really affect the children, and so I did want to mention this as part of the foundation of healthy family life.

Many sources say it is actually not conflict that diminishes marriages, but rather lack of kindness, lack of patience and tolerance and a general lack of sense of love or being loved.

John M. Gottman, in the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, asserts that happy marriages are based upon Continue reading

Dealing With Conflict: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

How we deal with conflict in a family is so important as it really sets the tone for the energy and mood of the house. Is the tone of the home that things are important, but the moments are there for teaching and connection? Or is the tone of the home that things are important, but in a stressful way, and the energy and tone of the home is punishing and threatening?

I think how we deal with conflict comes down to two main things:  how we set boundaries and how we communicate. Continue reading

Gratitude: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

“The cultivation of this universal gratitude toward the world is of paramount importance.  It does not always need to be in one’s consciousness, but may simply live in the background of the feeling life, so that, at the end of a strenuous day, one can experience gratitude, for example, when entering a beautiful meadow full of flowers……And if we only act properly in front of the children, a corresponding increase in gratitude will develop within them for all that comes to them from the people living around them, from the way they speak or smile, or the way such people treat them.”  Rudolf Steiner from “A Child’s Changing Consciousness as the basis of pedagogical practice” –

I have always loved this idea that the concept of gratitude is planted within the first seven years of life as this seed that later grows into how we love people and the world, and then how we have a duty toward people and the world  as an outgrowth of gratitude and love.  That, to me, is one of the true pathways and one of the ultimate goals of education and parenting inspired by Rudolf Steiner.

Gratitude is embedded in the way one looks at the world. It colors what words we choose to use with our spouses and partners, with our extended family, with our friends and with our children.  Some of my long-term readers may remember this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/19/using-our-words-like-pearls/

It also colors our deeds and actions.  Continue reading

Mealtimes: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

Bless, O Lord, this food to our use and us to Thy service

And make us ever mindful of Thy many blessings

Amen

(Blessing from my husband’s side of the family)

Father, we thank Thee for this food before us

Give us strength to do Thy will

Guide and protect us in Thy heavenly path

For Christ’s sake

Amen

(Blessing from my side of the family)

Mealtimes are a vital place to slow down, to bring together different traditions from your side of the family and your partner’s side of the family, to protect and nurture and linger together.

Studies show interesting connections between children’s behavior and whether or not they ate family meals.  Many studies show, for example, Continue reading

Work and Play: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

We are jumping back into our series on the eight facets of a healthy family culture.  These facets, along with the inner development of the parent and a spiritual/religious life, really form a backbone and foundation for parenting and for homeschooling.  We have peeked at rhythm and sleep/rest and today we are ready to peek at the polar opposite of sleep/rest in work and play. Continue reading

Sleep and Rest: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

Have you ever felt weary?  Maybe it is the rainy weather and the lack of sunshine.  Maybe it is weariness from being emotionally fatigued.  I think we can all look back on these times and think about how inviting rest was for us.

Small children take in sense impressions all day long, without any kind of filter on those impressions.  They also tend to go “full force” in their work and play without a good ability to balance these inward and outward forces.  And lastly, small children under the age of 9 really have a difficult time balancing their excesses of emotion, of bringing their emotional and feeling life being into balance.  Rhythm is strength for them, and for the brief reasons mentioned above,  sleep and rest are vitally important for small children.

One thing that forms the basis of health is stillness.  Stillness is the basis for nearly all spiritual traditions around the world.  In my own tradition of Christianity, the Early Church Fathers discussed stillness, prayer, love, and self-control.  Stillness is also the basis for wonder and awe which leads to a sense of goodness in the small child, this idea that the world is a good place, which is a foundation of health.  When we have consistent sleep and rest times for the whole family, I think we convey to children that being still is valued.  That resting is okay.  That having an unhurried pace is okay.

In this age of information overload and the “need” to respond to things “right now, hurry, hurry and respond and don’t think first” I think  through rest and sleep we are giving our children the foundation to be able to say as adults, “That is interesting.  Please let me think about it and I will respond to you in a bit.”  We are giving our children the ability to find the stillness to connect with themselves, with the natural world and with the spiritual world.  We are giving them the tools for health. Continue reading

Rhythm–Part Four: The Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

Well, here we get down into the nitty-gritty:  how we craft a rhythm to take care of the THINGS in our home.  All things require care, require cleaning, require maintenance.  And here is my top secret thought:

This is often what can make or break homeschooling. It can also make or break how peaceful a mother feels…(not that one cannot have a wonderfully clean home and still have a whole bunch of sadness or tension in it!)  However,  I think in general, if mama is completely stressed and overwhelmed by her environment, and has to homeschool on top of total care of the home with no one helping in the form of the family working together, then mama may burn out.  If life cannot be brought under some bit of control in order to not have the Mount Rushmore of Laundry, things clean, the environment uncluttered to the point where mama does not feel nuts….then homeschool is that much harder to get done.

At least that’s how it is in my home.  And I think this is how many women function.  We all know people before things, but at the same time, if one is home all day long and every flat surface is piled high with things, every drawer and closet is bursting, the laundry and dishes are piled up…..

It just doesn’t feel good.

So, my thoughts are these: Continue reading

Rhythm – Part Three: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

So, if you have been following this series you all know I think the foundation of parenting and homeschooling consists of three things:   inner work and personal development, a religious and spiritual life, and a healthy family culture. ( In Waldorf Education in the grades we lay eight artistic pillars through which we teach academics along with practical work on top of these three foundational things).

We have looked at the beginnings of establishing a rhythm by starting with ourselves.  The other pieces of rhythm include a rhythm for the people and pets/livestock in your family, and then a rhythm of the care of the things in your home and environment.

I think the major piece of looking at rhythm for your family means pondering two important things:

1.  Discerning the essential – does your rhythm reflect the values you hold for your family?  And, if your rhythm does not reflect this for whatever reason right now but those values are still what you hold dear, how will you get there?

and -

2. Balance.  If  you craft a rhythm based on your day and week and find, for example, that everything is geared toward your oldest child, then having your rhythm written down becomes a system of checks and balances; a starting point for change.  Remember, there are all the children’s needs, the needs of the single adult or the need of the adult couple as well or the need of the extended family members in the home as well, along with pets, etc.  All have needs.

Throughout the years, I have chosen different ways to keep track of rhythm.  Sometimes Continue reading

Rhythm–Part Two: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

The three parts to rhythm include rhythm for yourself (so hard to set it for your family if you don’t have any rhythm to what you do in your day, your week, your month, your year!), rhythm for the family members and pets and/or livestock, and rhythm for the things in your home (a plan of care for things because all things take maintenance!)

Today we are looking at YOU.  Many mothers tell me they have a really hard time with rhythm, starting with sleep and what time they get up.

In order to get up and set the tone for your family, you must go to bed.  That, of course, is not nearly as simple as it seems sometimes.  Sometimes at night we are just thrilled to garner some time alone, or some time with a spouse if we are married and then we are up rather late on top of being up all night with:  the child who had a nightmare and can’t go back to sleep/the toddler who is restless/the baby who still wakes up.  Then, we find it hard to get up, we get up and jump into everything since the children are awake and running around, but then we do not get to take a shower or put ourselves “ together”  first. Continue reading

Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture: Rhythm (Part One)

There are many reasons to have a rhythm to your days: small children under seven crave stability and knowing what is going to happen; rhythm helps regulate such physiological processes as sleepiness and appetite; rhythm teaches children that home life is reliable and that parents are dependable; rhythm provides a balance so the needs of all in the household is addressed; and rhythm addresses the place of us as humans within the larger context of time and seasons.

Also,to me, an most important part of having a family rhythm is that it is an outward way of expressing your family’s values.  A family that values gardening, for example is going to have a rhythm that looks different than a family whose life includes lots of music.  Rhythm is another way that forces us, as parents, to be mindful as to what we are creating as family life, what is essential, what our mission is as a family in raising our children.  The beginning of a new year is always a wonderful time to go back and review your family mission statement. If you do not have a family mission statement, it might be an interesting process for you to ponder and go through.

I talk to so many women who state that garnering a rhythm is just plain hard.  Their main complaints and challenges about rhythm center around several things: Continue reading