(For those of you new to this blog, we have gone/are going through the series “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering” for the second time; you can find the back posts under the “General Wisdom” tab in the header).
Humor is such an important tool in mothering and in generating positive outcomes in behavior that it had to have its own separate day! I think this is one place where many mothers, including myself, can fall short if we are not truly careful in cultivating this.
Is everything in parenting really that serious? So many times I think we see a behavior in a small child and feel we must somehow change it because otherwise our teenager will have this behavior. So many times I think the expectations we have for our children are so high for their age that it leads to joyless and humorless interaction with our children.
Using humor does not mean we never set clear boundaries. However, it does mean that we use warmth and love to set boundaries. We can say no gently, and stick to our “no” even through the persistence of a child. Boundaries are okay. Humor and playfulness does mean that we can step back and laugh at our own mistakes, the mistakes our children make, and to see the humor and joy in a situation and have some fun! This is NEVER done in a teasing or hurtful manner, but in a way where everyone can join in on the fun!
How often do you laugh? Sometimes my husband rents me funny things to watch from NetFlix at night after the kids go to sleep just so I can laugh! I have one friend with whom when we get together we laugh a lot and she uses humor so well with her children. It always inspires me to cultivate more humor and playfulness into my parenting. Parenting can be VERY funny, and if we can look at it this way it can make many burdens light!
I am sure many of you have heard of the book “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence Cohen. It is not a Waldorf book by any means, but reading it may open your eyes to the connection that humor, joy and playfulness can have in your parenting adventure.
Much of Waldorf parenting centers around the mother doing work with her hands, and the young child weaving in and out of the work of the day. However, there is nothing wrong with setting up play scenarios, with helping a child “stuck” with his play (Waldorf Kindergarten teachers do this all the time!) and there is certainly nothing wrong with the use of humor and playfulness to engage the cooperation and fantasy of a small child in your daily rhythm.
Enjoy your lightening up!