Cultivating How To Hold The Space : The Inner Work Of Advent

I talk a lot on this blog about the need for parents to hold the space for their children, and many families wonder what that would look like or how that would happen.

When I talk about this notion of  holding the space I mean it in a kind way, in a loving way, in an authentic way, but in a way where you are the wall a child can bounce off of.  If you were the Queen, you would not be running around like a chicken with your head cut off (my great-grandmother’s saying!), trying to accommodate three or four children’s wishes and desires of any given moment.   Instead, you would be calm and collected.  You would have a kind way but a Queenly Way.  You would probably think before you decreed something, and you probably would not explain the heck out of yourself.

How can you be the Queen of your home?

If you have children under the age of 9, you are going to know that children under the age of 9 are prone to “emotional excess”, one of my favorite expressions that Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool points out. Children of this stage are beings of will and movement, and you would expect things such as hunger, sleep,  and over-stimulation to play a role in behavior.  And being Queen, you would come up with ways to make life flow smoothly.

Perhaps you would lay out clothes the night before and expect that many children want to be dressed by their mommies even when they are 5.  And you would decide, ahead of time, if this was okay by you or something that would Shove Her Highness Off Into The Moat.  This way you could be proactive about such issues within your home, and not reactive.  You might consider having a rotating menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner so there is no treating The Queen as a short- order cook.  There are many other areas where the thought of thinking and planning ahead could come together for the benefit of your family. 

You would not be swept away by the torrents of wee ones’ tantrums and emotion because you would know your number one job would be to hold the balance when your child cannot hold it for themselves.  This does not mean to be an unemotional  rock, but it does mean you can understand how words can be just words, feelings can change on a dime and if you can just hold on, your child will eventually calm down.  You will understand that you are being a rock for your child to hold onto so the torrent of emotion doesn’t escalate for the child.

Again, this does not mean being unfeeling!  You can hold your child, pat your child, move your child, but you may  not fall apart with your child as they fall apart.  You may not unleash your own torrent of emotion on a small child and expect them to not crumple in front of you.  Behavior that is not fabulous in an under-9 child generally needs to be treated in the same ho-hum tone you would use to ask a child to pick up a book off the floor.  Then you can move into having the child FIX his poor action, because the child is a WILLING and DOING being at this point.  He needs to DO to fix it!  But he cannot fix it if he is falling apart and you are falling apart with him!  He is learning; help him!

For children over the age of 9, as Queen you would realize feelings are predominant.  Feelings were also important before, but feelings were more in an undifferentiated kind of state. Now feelings are so specific!  Being Queen, you would be able to hear feelings expressed immaturely ( meaning not always in a way pleasing to the Queen’s ears!) and still be able to be a calm rock with a ho-hum attitude to help the child learn to fix this challenge!   Feelings can be acknowledged without judgment because most of all,  The Queen is a problem-solver, and if she can model being calm, solving the problem, being respectful, then the child will as well! 

For children over the age of 14, they are interested in your thoughts, in the nature of constructing an argument, in your thoughts and why you think that and how you got there in your thinking.  It is hard!  Don’t you remember being a teenager?

Barbara Coloroso, in her book, “Kids Are Worth It!  Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline” :  “If you are raising adolescents, you are in a high-risk category for a coronary.  You’re up against someone dealing with a major hormone attack:  feet are too big, hands are too big, bodies are too big or too small, voices are up, voices are down, zits are coming out all over their faces.  They come to the front door, all smiles; two minutes later they are in the bathroom crying.  You ask what happened.  “She used my comb.”  “He wore my shirt.”  “She didn’t call like she said she would.”  Are we going to make it through this?  Yes, but we can’t keep hooking in to our kids’ adrenaline.”

A Queen is the Ultimate Helper, problem-solver, balancer, peacemaker.

Can you be that Queen for a day?


30 thoughts on “Cultivating How To Hold The Space : The Inner Work Of Advent

  1. I feel like you’re speaking just to me. It’s so nice! I read all the recommended links you gave me a couple days ago. Things are going pretty well. I’m seeing more and more that most of the problems are mine. When I’m “living in the flesh” (as Beth Moore would say) our house is a disaster. It’s getting betterthough. Your posts are helping ever so much!

  2. This was just what I needed today as our house sure had an excess of emotions. I really appreciate your info of a whole range of ages. I have both little and big kids in my home, and it’s getter harder to find parenting support for the older set that come from a waldorf perspective.
    Thank you

  3. “Shove Her Highness Off Into the Moat” ROFL! I need to remember that line.

    This was a wonderful post. I really needed these reminders – thank you!

  4. I just wanted to tell you that I love this blog. Most of your posts seem to be speaking to me directly. This one in particular.

    Thank-you so much for all the great insights you provide!

  5. Absolutely on target, as usual, Carrie:)
    I have been praying for help in being that warm and loving wall that my family needs. This is a great help.

  6. Carrie,

    This is your most beautiful post. What a perfect gift for Christmas. Thank you. I had to smile as I read about teenage feet being too big. I was reminded as my son was going through puberty, it seemed that he literally was walking into walls. It took him awhile to adjust to his growth spurts. Now at 20, he has adjusted and rarely walks into walls. I however walk into him all the time! I think in my mind he is still my little boy and I’m always surprised by how much area he consumes in the room:)

  7. I have a question about my daughter (turns two on Sunday). For the better part of her life she has been eating, asking to eat, or crying/fit throwing. This can’t be healthy (?). When she was about 9 months old I really started trying to become a better mother and “dabbling” in Waldorf. I’ve read through a lot of your old posts and other bloggers posts to find stuff about her. What gives with her?

    • Jane, My first stop would be a health care provider – an MD or DO to rule out any physical issues. My second stop would be a pediatric chiropractor. My third stop would be a homeopath. Does she have food allergies? What has her growth been like? Is she hitting her developmental milestones? Does she have sensory issues? Is she frustrated due to speech stuff? ThereThese are things you and your health care team will need to delve into… During this time I would work so hard on myself and how I set the rhythm and tone in my home…. How do you connect with her? How attached are you all as a dyad? Can you meditate over her at night and see her as she is – perfect, sweet, small, innocent? How is your family right now? Peaceful?
      I cannot offer medical advice or tell you what to do, I can only relate the steps I would take if this was my child. 🙂 And I am not there to see your child in person, so it is hard to say what is going on… ???
      Did you see the toddler posts on this blog? Tripping into Toddlerhood is the title of one. I would also get out the “Your One Year Old” and “Your Two Year Old” by the Gesell Institute (Ames and Bates) or buy them used off of Amazon and read them and see if their descriptions of these ages match up. Dr Sears also has a good book out about the “high needs” baby and child that might be helpful..

      All the best and please keep us updated as to your progress..
      Many blessings

  8. Hi Carrie

    Thanks for the beautiful post. It is the highlight of my day to have a quiet moment with a cup of tea and your blog. New to Waldorf and wanting to be the best mum I can be I have found a lot of inspiration from you. Having a good rythm that fits the family, being proactive and loooots of time outside (thank goodness Summer has finally arrived in New Zealand!) helps. I too feel often that the post was written for me personally!
    As an artist I have a ‘sensitive’ temperament and I find it very hard to be calm and collected. I am trying to find ways to celebrate my 2 children’s ‘sensitive’ temperaments and ‘hold the space’. I have never had it explained more beautifully than to think of myself as the Queen of my household. I think I am going to create a piece of artwork so I can see myself and be reminded daily that I am the Queen. And from now on I will have this image in my mind when I deal with the kiddos.
    Thanks for taking the time to write and I wish you and the family a wonderful Chistmas and holiday season.

  9. Thank you for this post, I had such a hard day controlling my own emotions. How can I become the queen? I try so hard, but I fail. I try and hold it together, I reconize when I’m about to lose it, but when I can’t think of a solution I just explode. I’ve read lots of your post before and when I’m having a hard time I often try and hop on line to read your blog for a few minutes and it helps so much. Today I couldn’t, and I ended up loading the kids in the car and driving to no where just to have a break and get the little one (18mo)to nap (my 4yo was preventing him from napping at home). I get some time to myself at night, I have been trying to meditate… I know, the answers are all here, the problem is all me, I need better rhythm, time to exersize and take care of myself better, inner work, more organization …I think I just needed to vent, thank you…

    • Oh, Erin, I dont think the “problem” is all you…It is just you is the only thing you can control. 🙂 Hang in there and be easy with yourself, have as much love for yourself as you do for others…:)

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  16. Hi Carrie,

    I love your insights. Thank you for sharing them.
    I have a question about this one though.

    As Women we are naturally cyclic creatures. Our energy levels and our emotions wax and wane with the moon and our menstrual cycles.

    At the times when our energy is low and we are called to surrender and retreat into stillness how can we authentically hold the space for our children? How can we honour ourselves and this need for solitude and still hold the space for the family?

    Peace to your family and Blessings for a wonderful 2011.


    • Hi Julie, When you have children who are small and at home it is hard to get this solitude of which you speak ….However, I do think that because we are architects of our homes, we can plan for these downtimes each month in whatever way brings us peace. This may be a week of hiking in nature each month when the children are small if that brings us solitude and peace, or it may be to schedule time with friends. I think this is something each mothers would have to meditate on personally and decide what is right for her and her family, really there is no pat answer as all women are so different.
      Great question!
      Many blessings,

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  18. Thank you for this post! I have ben reading several back posts this evening to help me with my 4 year old son. He is so much like me and we often clash. You have reminded me that he is still so little. I am feeling much more confident and have some tools I can use to help me gently and lovingly guide my children. Many blessings to you!

    • Meaghan,
      Hang in there! Four is really, really tiny. It is hard to remember sometimes, but so true.
      Lots of love,

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  20. Dear Carrie, I decided to revisit this series this Advent season. I already feel convicted! “Behavior that is not fabulous in an under-9 child generally needs to be treated in the same ho-hum tone you would use to ask a child to pick up a book off the floor”, that’s exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for the constant inspiration, and have a blessed Advent! Tali

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