Authority is so necessary for parenting in today ‘s fast-paced world. Authority, sharing its root with words such as authentic and author, gives us the number one way to guide our children into peace.
It is not a big house, or a small house.
It is not the amount of money we have or don’t have.
It is not what activities our children are enrolled in or not.
It is how we connect to our children through authority.
Authority is a special way of holding the space for our children in such a way that the child can enter fully and wholly into the world without anxiety, worry or distress. They do not have to enter into the adult world but can be an innocent in childhood play and the childhood repetition of play, work, being outside, submersed in the rhythm of the year.
The challenge of our times is that so many of us grew up in homes where our parents were busy with their own needs, where we were latch-key children coming home to empty house, where our own needs were not looked at closely or lovingly. Or, conversely, perhaps we were expected to be seen and not heard.
Therefore, we vow not to repeat any of those things with our children. We try to connect with them, but sometimes in such a totally adult way, it infringes upon the world of the child. Or we retreat and don’t intrude at all, thereby offering no guidance to the child. Both ways are opposite ends of a boundary spectrum.
However, the healthiest connection to our children can only be held by authority. This is not done by having boundaries that are so regulated and infringing that it is almost enmeshing and picky over every thing a child does. And it is not done by having no boundaries and mere observation or turning away.
Authority, to me, is about being the author of a beautiful family life. It is being okay with being the author of picking the family’s activities, your child’s playmates,. to set up a beautiful rhythm to life, to limit unwholesome choices, and yes, to give children the freedom they need to work and to show them how to work and be industrious within the home and the community. This is so important in the stages of goodness in the years birth through seven where the world is a good place and in the ages of seven to fourteen, where the world should be seen as a beautiful place with strong heroes, strong role models to emulate. The age grouping so often commercially marketed as “tweens” are not yet in the third seven year cycle and as such still need special protection and boundaries.
How do you feel about being the author of your family’s life?
It is a special challenge of our times to not carry our own baggage about authority into the lives of our children, and so worth the time to figure out within ourselves and with our other adult family members how we feel about this and how to work with it.
Many blessings and much love,
Hi Carrie, I’m one of your silent, but faithful readers! I just linked to you in a post about “Inspiring Nature & Waldorf-inspired Blogs” and wanted you to know about it. Thank you for consistently writing for us and for the quality and thoughtfulness of your work.
I forgot to leave the link:
“Author of your family’s life” is a beautiful way to describe being a parent. It’s inspiring, simple and poetic. It also helps to know that all authors get “rewrites” when we make mistakes. Thank you!
Carrie, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I wrote something similar last year on my blog, comparing the act of writing with the act of parenting— putting the author back into authority.
This post is so beautiful. I think it goes well with the thought that children should not have too many choices because even though it sounds like fun it can actually be quite overwhelming for them. Don’t we all wish we could be the author of our family life and write the most amazing story? Thank you so much for writing this!
For me a great revelation came when I linked the Psych theory of Karpman’s Drama Triangles with parenting, in particular tantruming…It seemst o me: we can make ourselves the victims in parenting (You kids make my life so tough.); we can rescue our kids too often (Through reasoning, debating boundaries or otherwise not holding the edges of the world firm); we can use our larger bodies to inflict pain of some sort (You are messing up my plans therefore you must pay); OR we can detach our own dramas from the process.
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This entry really spoke to me, thank you for sharing this for others to learn from.
I love how you describe the ages of 7-14 as “a time when the world should be a beautiful place, full of strong heroes and role models to emulate.”
The challenge for me is that I did grow up as a latch-key child coming home to an enmpty house and not having direct experiences of these strong models to draw from. The “heroes” from today’s media are far from those that I wish to have my children emulate. The struggle for me there lies in identifying those role models and exposing my children to them. What are your suggestions for sources within literature, song, music?
Additionally, I struggle with focus and over-control, so creating a balanced rhythm is another challenge. My goal is to help create the type of healthy rhythm you describe, and love your description of seeking this balance as we approach midsummer. Do you have any practical ideas for implementing such a rhythm in our everyday routine? I would be truly grateful!!
So thankful to have stumbled on your blog,
Lovely to hear from you. Please do let me know the ages of your children. There are many posts regarding summer on this space – peek under “Seasons” under the family life tab in the header bar or type in “summer” in the search box.
I am so glad you are here. Rhythm is about eating times, waking times, sleeping times, outside play in nature, free play in the home, work, and depending upon the age of the children, artistic things. I have posts about Waldorf in the Home for the one year old, the two year old, etc. and then by grade (grade one is close to age 7, etc) so you should be able to gleam ideas from there.
There are also many posts about “Rhythm” if you run a search.
Thank you for your response. My daughter is going to be 9 years old next week, and my son is 11. I ran a search on summer and found some neat entries, which led into more links of interesting items…it is endless!
So it seems that rhythm is about maintaining a regular routine for meals, rest, time outdoors, etc. This is a challenge in our fast-paced world. This last year we have pulled back considerably from week-day sports and extra-curriculars, since they were so disruptive to maintaining time together to enjoy a family meal, home activities and play.
Our challenge is to find activities that both my son and daughter enjoy, they have greatly different interests. I will continue to look for ideas within the posts on Waldorf in the home for each grade level.
Do you have thoughts on sources for role model “heroes” within literature, song, music? Perhaps I will find them in your posts?
Eager to learn,
Carrie – For nine to eleven year olds, Waldorf Education would have a nine year old in either third or fourth grade, so Old Testament Stories, Norse Myths, stories of the state you live in and its heroes..For an eleven year old, that would be fifth grade in Waldorf Education, so stories of Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek History, stories of US figures associated with the regions of the US such as American Tall Tale figures or heroes who did such things as work on the Erie Canal. George Washington Carver in fifth grade botany. If he is almost twelve, he is headed toward the great figures of Ancient Rome and Medieval Europe, along with studies of great geologists and astronomers.
Hope that helps.
So far as the activities, yes, they are different people, but perhaps they can each pick one activity each for each semester or school year. And take the summers off and have fun camping, hiking, kayaking, being on a farm, riding bikes, and having a picnic by the lake or beach.
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