For many meditating during these nights, silence is a theme for yesterday. I am meditating on silence today as I think of the polarity between myself and St. John the Evangelist, whose feast day is today. How do I bring silence and stillness into my life so I can have a more fruitful inner life? I find it hard to deepen that if there is nothing but noise or clutter or chaos swirling around me. So, having time to be home, to not rush, to have space and time is so important. How can I construct the rhythms of my family and of my heart in order to have this space this coming year?
And when do I boldly proclaim the truth in words, the way St. John proclaims the Logos? Do I speak truth when it is needed? Do I do that boldly, tactfully or timidly?
While so many people say they want to quit homeschooling in November and February, I find that a bit ironic for me personally since I perceive those months to be ones of silence and stillness and I love that aspect. Solitude is so different than taking a knowing break to replenish the soul.
How does silence manifest itself in your life? Do you welcome it? How does silence work with courage?
The Twelve Days of Christmas and the Twelve Holy Nights is a time when we slow down and listen to our deep inner selves, and what the Divine Creator and spiritual world is presenting to us as we silence and still ourselves enough to listen. It is this time of year, that if we are open, we can see the year that is coming and wonder at some of the things of virtue of humanity in the world.
I was meditating today on the virtue of courage. In the Christian calendar, we see this virtue in the life story of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the church. This is also a traditional virtue for many who meditate during the twelve Holy Nights.
Courage encompasses so many things – courage helps us forgive the unforgiveable. Courage helps us to be honest in tough situations. Courage helps us to stick to our values and morals even when it is not popular. Courage helps us try things we are unsure of which is a way to grow and change. Courage helps us chart a new path and direction. Courage doesn’t promise safety, but the ability to move forward in strength even under the worst of circumstances.
Parenting takes courage. Boundaries are very important in parenting, and it takes courage to set a boundary and help children achieve a healthy balance between form and freedom.
I would love to hear your thoughts about courage and the role it plays in your life. How do you see courage within yourself for the upcoming year?
We are at the last of this wonderful book, the epilogue, in which we see many of the principles of simplicity parenting applied to real-life cases. The epilogue opens with the case of six-year-old Carla, who is full of aggressive and controlling behavior. Kim John Payne notes that the parents wanted to “please and appease” and that the six-year-old was well on her way to complete domination and control of the home. Yet, this story is here because it shows that there is not an “ideal family” candidate for simplicity parenting and that any family can benefit. Simplicity is not just about simplifying stuff, but clearing out the space to be in each other’s hearts and to nurture each other. Increasing rhythm in the home, having more consistency in daily life is nothing but calming to the families of today. Meals and bedtime routines are still the hallmark of making a house into a home. He talks about the “sliding” we can do as parents into the company of our children.
It all takes time and energy, but the benefits of balance can be so outstanding for family life. I would love to hear your story about attaining balance and a simpler life!
Although it is only September, we have already endured bouts of cold weather around the United States and The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter, especially for the eastern part of the United States. Warmth is so important for our children. Warmth allows our children to settle in, to not be restless, to rest and sleep and grow better, and to reach their fullest potential as human beings.
We see this in many cultures all around the world in the dressing of babies warmly, even in subtropical and tropical climates. When our children are warm enough, then energy will not be diverted from the growth and maturity of the nervous system in order to just keep warm.
As a rule, three layers on the top with one layer tucked in, and two layers on the bottom is recommended. Here in Georgia I like two layers on the top and two layers on the bottom, just depending upon how cold and windy it is. Contrary to popular belief, the Deep South does see snow and we do get freezing temperatures. My favorite article about warmth by Mary Sutton, MD, appears in this back post as reprinted with permission.
Because of the importance warmth plays in the health and well-being of our children, I am excited to announce Green Mountain Organics (my favorite place to get woolens) is offering the readers of The Parenting Passageway 20 percent off woolens for winter through next weekend with the code pp20.
Many blessings, happy woolens,
We are up to my favorite chapter! Chapter Five, entitled “Schedules” is well-worth reading for yourself. I don’t believe parents in the United States intend to overschedule their children, yet that is where so many families are in reality, and this chapter offers a hard look at what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we could do differently.
This issue is not a new one. Kim John Payne points out that David Elkind’s book “The Hurried Child” first asked the question as to whether children were being pushed toward adulthood in the form of “super-competency” because parents lacked the time or interest for parenting. This was in the early 1980s. The latter half of the 1980’s saw a real focus on the child’s accomplishments and achievements. These trends are not new.
How do children spend their time? According to this chapter:
- Children ages 6 to 11 spend many hours in front of a television screen and a computer screen
- School takes 8 more hours than it did in 1981
- The amount of time in structured activities has doubled
- Time spent doing homework has also doubled – with the implementation of No Child Left Behind, students are averaging an hour and twenty minutes a night of homework.
- Children have 12 hours less free a week than they did – about 25 percent of a child’s day is “free” on average; in 1981 the average child had about 40 percent of his or her day free.
Kim John Payne points out that, “And it is really so bad to be busy? Why aren’t their busy kids seen as fulfilled rather than frantic? What is wrong with wanting your children to have as many opportunities as possible? I don’t think the central issue of “overscheduled” kids is motivation – either the parents’ or the kids’. Most parents are driven by good intentions…In wanting to provide for their children, here again parents act with generous motivations. But just as too many toys stifle creativity, too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to direct themselves, fill up their own time, to find and follow their own path.”
Some children really do not know what to do with even moments of spare time because they are used to having every minute structured. Kim John Payne points out that interest in an activity can be real and sustained over time for children but that time, leisure and other interests often help a main interest to grow. Children need unstructured time. This is coming out in more and more studies and childhood psychology literature regarding the development of executive function in children – things such as working memory, mental flexibility, reasoning, judgment – are enhanced by non structured activities, not by structured ones.
Awareness is the first step in stepping off the overscheduled burden. Play happens in unstructured time and opening up schedules lends itself to spontaneous moments . If a child has fewer activities, then a parent’s schedule (who is often a driver) will also open up as well. This can impact the entire family in a positive way.
How do you simplify your outside activities? Does your family need help in this area or is the balance easy?
These are a few of the reading lists I have for multicultural children’s literature for the English speaking reader:
Children’s literature by Native American authors – from preschool through high school/adult reading: http://www.slj.com/2013/11/collection-development/focus-on-collection-development/resources-and-kid-lit-about-american-indians-focus-on/#_
One of the best sites I have found for African American children’s literature: http://www.best-childrens-books.com/african-american-childrens-books.html (by grade and also award winners by year).
For Asian/Pacific Rim children’s literature: http://childrensbooks.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=childrensbooks&cdn=parenting&tm=103&f=20&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=3&bt=5&bts=75&zu=http%3A//www.nea.org/grants/29506.htm and here: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/diversity/asian_am/asian_am.html (if you look on the sidebar there are links to books of Chinese heritage, Japanese heritage and Korean heritage). There are also literature awards focused on Asia/Pacific Rim Children’s Literature. The award winners for 2013 are here: http://www.apalaweb.org/2013-asianpacific-american-award-for-literature-winners/
For children’s literature by Latino authors, by grade level: http://ccb.lis.illinois.edu/Projects/Additions%20on%209-20-07/CCB/CCB/mhommel2/Booklists.htm
For children’s literature regarding the Middle East: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2011/08/top-10-arabic-american-childrens-books/ and an extensive list here: http://bernadettesimpson.com/Childrens-YA-Books-MiddleEast.pdf
If you have a list on your blog of your favorite children’s literature as related to your religion or your cultural heritage, please leave a link in the comment box so my readers can find it!
This week, May 5th through May 11th, is Screen Free Week. I have a few links I would love to share with you all to inspire you to change your family’s viewing habits, plus three simple things you can do to keep this momentum going if being screen free is new to you and your family.
Here is the official website for Screen Free Week: http://www.screenfree.org/
Here is great article by a psychologist about the risks of screen time. Her thought is that it is not the message (ie, whether or not the show is “educational”, but the medium of the screen itself). This is an interesting article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201404/screen-free-week-is-just-around-the-corner
A great You Tube video for adults about “Looking Up”. British rhyming tells a truthful message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY&feature=youtu.be
Top Three Ways to Continue the Momentum of Screen Free Week:
1. Play Outside! Children need lots and lots of unstructured play. In this day and age, we seem to hover over our children and getting them outside can be a chore as opposed to what it was when we were growing up – we went out to play after school until the street lights came on and we were called home. Or, we consider the fact that our children are in active sports to take the place of play. Nothing takes the place of unstructured play.
Children even need risky play. Here is an article from Psychology Today that talks about why: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201404/risky-play-why-children-love-it-and-need-it?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Freedom-to-Learn+%28Freedom+to+Learn%29
Inspire yourself with folks who love to get outside. Try the Children & Nature Network: http://www.childrenandnature.org/ and also Renee’s blog over at FIMBY as her family hikes the Appalachian Trail: http://fimby.tougas.net/a-family-hiking-the-appalachian-trial
2. Have a list handy of things to do without a screen: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/blog/who-needs-screens-70-ideas-family-fun
If you have small children and you know they melt before dinner whilst you are trying to cook and you are depending upon a screen for entertainment (this is the most common scenario I get in my email), have a plan. Salt dough can work well, as can providing jobs to help the work of the family.
3. Set new rhythms that do not involve any screen time. Many mothers have told me over and over that it is much easier to cut the screens for their children out completely than to “wean off” or set a small limit, because then when the screen goes off there is arguing. Cut down your own computer time. Do you really need to be on social media sites for two hours a day? What else could you do during that time?