Today is The Feast of The Holy Innocents. Christians around the world mark this day in recognition of King Herod’s order to massacre all infant boys under the age of two in Bethlehem as he raged against the Christ Child being born. Many families take this time to say a blessing over their own children. Tonight would be a wonderful night to pray and meditate over your children as they sleep for a little bit; revel in their faces and the young men and women they will grow up to be.
One thing that strikes me on this day is that we must do a good job of protecting our children’s innocence. This is something that is getting lost in our culture as adult life, adult speech, adult dress, adult ways of educating, are being brought down to the smallest in our society.
I find what we say to children to be of primary importance. If you have children under the age of 7, ask yourself if what you are about to say to them is something they really need to know. Is it pictorial and imaginative, what you are about to say? It is an order, or can you just take the small child by the hand and help them do what needs to be done? Have you crafted a rhythm so your child has an order to his or her day?
Here are some back posts to help you with this idea of protection and how to talk to small children:
and this gem: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/11/does-your-child-know-what-is-best/
Help in stopping to give small children so many choices: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/06/a-waldorf-parenting-perspective-wont-choices-strengthen-my-childs-will/
This is one of my favorites because no one talks about this: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/26/how-to-talk-to-your-seven-and-eight-year-old/
One thing we always think about in Waldorf Education is what impact education is going to have upon the health of child once they grow up and become an adult. This is why we work to protect the twelve senses (and if the twelve senses are new to you, and you scratching your head and saying “I thought there was only five!” you can use the search engine to find the back posts). One important way to protect these senses is through warmth, and through sleep and quiet/rest times.
Here are two back posts regarding sleep: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/14/part-two-of-a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/ and here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/13/a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/
Here are some thoughts on the Early Bedtime: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/25/the-early-bedtime/
But perhaps the flip side of this and what we also need to talk about is how to open the world up gradually. I see many Waldorf parents who take protection so seriously and they extend that pink protection bubble of Kindergarten way beyond the appropriate time.
I am certainly not advocating a “Child Gone Wild” approach for a seven-year-old, but the point becomes there is a time to start answering questions, there is a time to talk about life’s issues, and yes, a time for media and computers, a time for reading newspapers and the like. The door must open at some point as you prepare your child to live in the world. I feel actually the ages from 9-14 are the harder ages in which to discern what the balance of protection and opening the world up should be. I guess that is an entirely different post though!
Happy pondering protection and opening up gradually to the world,
Thanks for this it was really interesting, especially the link to the old post about talking to a 7/8 year old – I probably didn’t give it much heed when you first wrote it, as it wasn’t applicable to us at the time, but have found it really useful now that my oldest has recently turned 7, and I’m realising we are in a new phase.
It is interesting – we do a lot to ensure that they are protected as a small Under 7 child, but the difficulty comes more for me, now that he is growing older in knowing how far to allow the “real world” to come in, the temptation to prolong the bubble existance is great, but it won’t necessarily serve him well in the future, equally, I don’t want to suddenly burst the bubble entirely – so it’s a question of being more mindful about shades of grey than previously.
This is a great topic, Carrie. I’ve been thinking a lot about protection lately. My almost 3 year old is very curious and aware and has always asked a lot of questions about the world and other people. As he gets older his questions show a greater understanding of the world (from “Why does the sun set early in the winter?” to “Why does so and so have a sad face?”, and sometimes even, “Mama, what does frustrated look like? What does patience look like?” etc). A part of me wants to answer his questions thinking that I will help him be “smarter” (and he gets lots of praise for this from others) and then there’s the part of me who is reading Carrie’s blog and other information out there and I feel like I am making a big leap into trusting that protection is what will ultimately make him *happier* and healthier. And that he’ll still be smart, too. I suppose it’s channeling his observations/questions into his creative play rather than into concrete information about the world(?).
And, Carrie, I see that you are indeed doing a series! Thank you for this wonderful Christmas gift.
You inspire me Elizabeth, what can I say? Merry Christmas, dear friend!
Many blessings and a hug,