This chapter starts with these sentences: “Anyone who has ever home schooled their children discovered that 24 hours a day means 24 hours. The parent and child spend a lot of time together. When I home schooled my children, their world was interlocked with mine. We couldn’t spend that much time being mad at each other. We had to learn to get along much more than the average family, who are apart for large amounts of time. It was the same with the siblings. Why spend the time fighting? Instead, we put effort into building our relationship.”
Judy Arnall talks about no matter how wonderful your relationship is when things are going well, what counts is how family members communicate with one another when things are not going well. I whole-heartedly agree. This is important! It is easy to be a great parent when things are going well, but harder to be centered and peaceful if your child is melting down, runs away from you in a parking lot, or is having a temper tantrum in the store.
The author makes a list of things that make up a relationship built on respect, honesty, equal rights, fairness, sharing feelings, taking responsibility and good communication. She has eight pages of ideas for building bonds within the family, which range from anything from camping together to sharing feelings to eating family meals together.
One “family builder” that she mentions which I so agree with is to make your family relationship your priority. She writes, “Say “no” more often. Most people value family life as their first priority but then take on too many outside commitments and over schedule their children in outside activities. That leaves no time for family life.” How many of you have found this to be so very true? I have!
The author then goes on to address the discipline myths that interfere with building the bond, and in that section she talks about how children do not need punishment, but need opportunity for making amends. This is a hallmark of Waldorf parenting as well. She also de-bunks the myth of time-out, which I also agree with as the young child does not have the logical capacity to sit there and “think about what they did” and “reflect on how they would do it differently.” The child has a completely different consciousness than an adult.
The other one in this section that I appreciated mention is the notion that children learn by watching how the world works. Judy Arnall writes, “It’s more effective if children learn what is acceptable rather than what is unacceptable. When we point things out to people, we give them the message they are stupid and can’t figure things out for themselves. Children are intrinsic learners. They will figure out what not to do if you show them what to do over and over again. All criticism is negative, regardless of how “polite” it sounds.”
From a Waldorf parenting perspective, we think of less words and of modeling because children imitate what they see because they are a sensory being. The notions discussed in this section of the book fit in well with that view-point. Children learn self-control by watching YOU be self-controlled. They learn how to be positive by YOU being positive.
The author also mentions that there is no such thing as a parenting expert, that the expert on your child is YOU. This is an interesting idea in this age of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dear Abby, support groups and everything else.
There is more in this chapter, including a lengthy discussion of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and an entire section of the impact of feelings on behavior, and communication and problem-solving to build relationships.
Lots of happy reading,