According to an article detailed on msn.com this morning, 1 in 5 young people (college-aged) in the United States have a personality disorder, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, phobias and bipolar disorder. This was the findings of a study where 5,000 people aged 19-25 were interviewed face to face and asked about a variety of personality disorders. Researchers also found the rates of substance of abuse by young people was higher than the rates of personality disorders.
Obviously, personality disorders have always been around. Hopefully this study will highlight the prevalence of these diseases and encourage those affected to seek help. Hopefully this study will encourage discussion amongst families as to family history. Hopefully this study will encourage more research to be done into the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to personality disorders.
Some children seem to you with their own biology, circumstances and destiny. The best parenting techniques may not be able to change the reality some children, step children or foster or adoptive children, enter into your home with. This post is not intended to be directed toward those children per se, unless you think there is something here that will help your circumstance.
Here is just a thought for what may compose the best stability and the most security for our children so they can grow up into healthy, stable adults.
1. Marriage before having children is an excellent place to start.
2. If you work outside the home and are happy with this and your family is thriving, please skip this paragraph and go on! If you are not perfectly happy, read this. I feel having a parent that stays home with the children when they are young, and is home daily throughout the child’s years, even the teen-aged years, is essential. I personally have had a variety of work situations including working 12 hours a week with on=site daycare when my oldest was little and now working one weekend day a month when my husband can be home with my children. I have stressed and agonized and felt torn like so many of you. So please know I am not saying these things lightly or without feeling or compassion. However, if you have thought about staying home and have the possibility of doing so, I am here to encourage you.
I have two thoughts on the subject of working, and I am sure you all can add more perspectives and comments. My first thought is actually for the mother. If you are caught up in work, chances are you are not present at home, even if you are physically there. I have seen mothers tearing themselves into little pieces in order to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect worker, the perfect everything, only to be stressed out, worried, disappointed and feeling like they are not doing the best job at either place. If this is you, change it. Your children need your warm, loving and caring presence.
My second thought on this subject is for the children. Some children seem to do “well” (whatever that means) in daycare of any kind – group daycare, in-home daycare, nanny etc. – but some children just do not do well, even if it is care provided in their own home. I do wish there were more studies regarding the number of hours a child is in daycare and future health ramifications for the school-aged child and the adult – studies that look at mental health and physical health outcomes. The difficult thing about this is sometimes you just cannot tell until your children have grown and matured who seemed to survive in an alternative care situation and who really did not.
All that being said, if you are going to work, please be happy about it and confident about it and carry that to your children in your energy. Please do not use your worry about working as an excuse to jellyfish parent or to shower your child with material things to make up for what you believe is lacking. Have a rhythm for when you get home from work, and work hard to be with your child outside of work. Seek out support from other caring, working parents through your local La Leche League and Attachment Parenting support groups.
If you wish your work situation was something else, and many of us do in this economy, know from the bottom of your heart you are a caring parent for even worrying about it, and that you are doing everything you can do, the best you can do, right now. My heart goes out to yours. Support is vital in this situation, please do find a community to hook into about this important subject.
Onward and upwards.
3. Get your own stability in check – do what you need to do, but get therapy, help, advice, do your own inner work through prayer, meditation, tai chi, yoga, energy work. Align yourselves with mothers whose parenting you admire. Look deeply into what you feel the role of a homemaker should be, could be, is now for you. Think about how you set the tone for your home, the peace in your home, the tone and model for your spouse and your children. Think about your relationship with the other adults in your extended family, and what you are modeling for your children. Do not assign your adult baggage a role in your child’s life.
Also, mothers please take care of your bodies. It is the only one you have for your life here on Earth, and how you feel in your body affects your mind and your attitude and your ability to create peace in your home. Please show your children how to care for their own bodies by limiting your own screen time, by being active, by eating healthy and by receiving whatever preventative health care you need to keep yourself in balance.
4. Start things right by breastfeeding and practicing other measures of attachment parenting. If you need more advice or thoughts regarding this, please see www.attachmentparenting.org and www.lalecheleague.org.
5. Learn about protecting your child’s senses (all 12 of them! Yes, there are 12 senses according to Rudolf Steiner). Warmth is a very important sense, and start working on this early to provide your children not just with physical warmth by keeping their heads covered, but also work on being emotionally warm with your children. They need this to thrive!
6. Establish a rhythm in your home that benefits your whole family. This includes gently guiding yourself and your child toward better, healthier sleeping patterns, and adequate time in movement and outside time. Repetition is a healthy cornerstone for the early years. Work toward providing healthy boundaries that protect everyone in the family’s dignity and respect.
7. Understand normal childhood development and the best ways to guide behavior in a loving way during different stages of development. For the early years, this includes respecting that young children live in their bodies, distraction, having a strong rhythm, limited choices, using fantasy and movement as our friends to encourage the behavior we do want to see, keeping ourselves calm and grounded, and yes, even use of the word “no”. You can still set limits and be a loving parent. You can still be a warm, loving parent and not explain away the mysteries of life and chatter away to your child. Practice your singing and humming instead for some really beautiful energy in your home that words and explanations cannot touch.
8. Enjoy, protect and nurture childhood. I feel so sad when parents say to me, “Yes, my little one is six and in school and all grown up.” I feel sad when I see the little girl third graders at the bus stop experimenting with make-up. I feel sad when all the wonder of childhood is gone before it even starts in our rush to sign our little ones up for organized sports, teach them reading and writing, and force their independence too early. What is our hurriedness doing to our children?
Let them have the wonder of childhood. Protect them from media for awhile. They will not be behind if they do not use a computer when they are five, and they will not be behind if they haven’t seen all the Hannah Montana TV shows by the time they are nine. Childhood should be a time of imagination, fantasy and wonder.
The world our children will inherit will be even more fast-paced than it is now. We are going to need good, solid leaders who can make difficult decisions, innovative out of the box creative thinkers, inventors, and people who can help other people. Protecting their childhood and letting your child have a childhood will contribute to this in a most important way.
9. Look into Waldorf education for your child. It is the most healing educational system I can find, the only one that seems to correlate the educational process with the possible health of the future adult, the one where the entire curriculum is set up to feed a child’s soul based on the child’s developmental level. Please see our own personal reasons for choosing Waldorf for home education on my blog post entitled, “Wonderful Waldorf”.
10. Create opportunity and moments of wonder and reverence in your home for your child through nature observation and being outside, the wonder of stories, the wonder of beautiful art and music, the wonder of the mysteries of life. Wonder, joy, reverence is really what it is all about.
Take what resonates with you from here. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
Just a few of my thoughts from my little corner of the world.