If you believe love to be the answer in the world, then you must ask yourself the question: how do we develop the capacities of children, our next generation, to love and to be love in the world?
I found the ability to nourish these capacities in my children through my faith. That in and of itself is a long story for another time, but that inner work and healing led to an idea. It was a thought, a coming to believe that we as a family, being attached and connected to our children, would be the foundation for their ability to love.
What was most important to us is that the overall feeling in our home was that YOU ARE LOVED. God loves you. You are loved. Who you are is enough. Who you are is just right. Who you are matters. You are unconditionally and without question, loved. You belong.
The longing to develop this capacity for love continued for me when I found Waldorf Education. I once heard a beautiful lecture by Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, give a lecture on the Greek terms for love and how this ties in with Waldorf Education. This is what I see in Waldorf homeschooling and in nurturing the capacities of our children to love:
Birth through seven – an affection and affinity found in the goodness of nature, the goodness of the Earth and of all the things in the Earth. In the homeschooling family, this love is the Greek “storge” – a familial kind of love and affection. This word was used by the Ancient Greeks to mainly describe familial relationships. How fitting that a Waldorf Kindergarten re-creates the home environment, and here in the home with our homeschooling, we live this with our children.
Many parents have to start here because they have lost that affinity for their fellow man, for nature, for the world and because for many parents today, it seems as if parenting a small child is a stressful experience……. If life has been a hard road, it takes inner work, healing and love for you to come to the place where you can experience storge with your child. But you can do it!
Seven through Twelve – The building of affection and friendship between friends, family and community. The Ancient Greeks called this “philios” and it implied a brotherhood of equality. I think if we protect our children’s childhood, we see this in the way our children feel at one with Spirit, with nature, with the rock over there and the bird over here and with an ease with others in community. It is a time of great beauty and Oneness with the world. Many speak of the separation of the child from the world around the age of nine, an inner separation and leaving the Garden of Eden during the nine year change so to speak, but I often feel that in the homeschooling environment this period from nine or ten through age twelve or thirteen is really a slow awakening if the child is protected and nurtured.
The Teenaged Years – We see in this period “eros”. In this day and age, we often associate this kind of love with “erotic love” – perhaps with the idea that teenagers have romantic relationships on their minds amidst many bodily changes! However, the Ancient Greeks also took “eros” to mean a love of beauty, an appreciation of beauty within a person or an appreciation of beauty itself. The Greeks saw that this appreciation of beauty often led to spiritual truth. We see this in the curriculum so well – the beauty of geometry leading to the truths of numbers and nature, for example. Another example might be the truths of history, but providing a lens of lightness in the darkness to look at this through; seeing the beauty of humanity even in difficult circumstances.
Between the teenaged years and the age of twenty-one, when the child is an adult, he or she hopefully is ready to go into the world with an agape love. A selfless love. A love without bounds and without condition. A loving kindness to serve humanity. A love that wants the other to live in good will. A love that was built upon the family, the community, and seeing the beauty in others.
So, again, if love is the answer, how we develop capacities to get to that answer matters. What we do matters.
I wanted so bad to homeschool my son but when an intuitive tells you he incarnated to experience going to school and different types of people what do you do? Its obvious he is craving being around other children as he lights up when his cousins are over. I am a single mom who works from home. Its sad but won’t work out. In this respect i just need to let go. Its like a grieving process that i don’t have two to three kids and a normal family situation for him. I feel i am holding on to a lifestyle we dont have. Homeschooling really is just for families and children that dont mind being without other kids a lot. Its for Moms who have a lot of time. After my son suffered vaccine injury, years of healing him, and now after years of being alone with him I have no charge left to my batteries. I decided to take him three mornings a week for kinder to susquehanna waldorf. The idea of full time first grade is breaking my heart already!!
How wonderful you recognize what your family and what your child needs! I am so glad that you are finding balance and love….School is not a bad thing; it can be a wonderful and healthy option. The transition to first grade I think is always challenging a bit, especially with a first or only child. Open your heart and mind to the beauty of this next stage. 🙂
Much peace and many blessings to you!
What a wonderful post Carrie and so true!
After 7 years of homeschooling the Waldorf way and pondering the ages and child development I have to come to a similar realization.
I always feel sad for little children who are forced into academics so early, when at this age the foundation for ones life is really laid by teaching the child the wonder and reverence for nature and the world around us. I do think this in itself is a hard task for young parents, especially in todays world.
Once the child learns and embraces the wonders of our earthly lives they than can than move on, as you stated, to see themselves as part of that wonder.
I think around the nine year change going into the teenage years, the child learns how to care for that wondrous life around himself and also for himself through love and knowledge.
Very timely post for me. Thoughtful one too. Thank you!
Such a beautiful post! I also relate to Christina’s message above, as I’m a single mom who probably will not homeschool. (And am also a product of/believer in/supporter of public schools and strengthening that system in our communities.) But I find great inspiration and support in this post, and other posts about homeschooling and Waldorf homeschooling in particular. And hey, Life often surprises you…my daughter’s only 3 so I won’t yet say “never” to homeschooling!
This relates beautifully to the Steiner lecture I’m reading, Gratitude, Love , and Duty. I highly recommend it.
Providing such an environment of love that you speak of gives me a sense of reassurance when I’m concerned about my choices as a parent. No matter what, if my choices are made out of my capacity for love- and that truly comes with a deep consciousness- my children will flourish.
My mother had a very troubling childhood & wasn’t confident as a young mom but my siblings & I grew very close & compassionately connected to the world around us. I truly believe this is due to my parents work of creating a home full of gratitude and love. My mom especially always made us feel loved, regardless of our (bad) choices or actions.
Thanks for the “lovely” post 😉
I’ve got a question regarding my capacities as the homemaker/teacher/mother but also survivor of sexual abuse as a child. There are many times when I feel I’m not sure how to guide my children through conflict or difficult times because I’m not in my thinking/feeling part of the brain but rather in flight or fight. I’ve also got serious struggles with praying/faith. I want to find the right way to grow myself because I have a lot of love to give & do give it but I also get stuck in the wrong part of my brain when things get overwhelming. Do you have suggestions for reading or a specific counselor type (i already have a therapist but sometimes trying to speak about waldorf ways gets hard bc she isn’t familiar) that could help me with inner work? I would really appreciate it. Your posts have helped me tremendously. Thank you
Hugs and love…wishing you healing and peace. I am trying to think and I am not certain who would be helpful…I was thinking of the Anthroposophic Psychology. I don’t know much about it at all, but perhaps it could be worth looking into: https://apana-services.org/ William Bento has written (several??) books, so that could be one author to look into. The other person I was thinking of was Lynn Jericho, she deals more with biography and festivals and such but that could also be a possibility. http://imagineself.com/
Of course you probably know all the more mainstream routes… I have attended sessions with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, but of course that doesn’t assist with the Waldorf end of thing, but she could be another good author to read. I was also thinking of cognitive processing kind of therapy, but again, that doesn’t really deal with Waldorf and you probably have investigated all of that….. If I run across anything else that could be helpful, I will email you..
I am honored you are reading here and am in awe of all the ways you are rebuilding and healing yourself in your journey. I wish you many blessings.
I love the idea of Waldorf, and I have lots of resources, but ultimately, it drove my kid crazy. So we found another way, and there is once more peace in the realm.
Yes, Love! So important, Carrie, and it can be life-changing. To love and be loved. It certainly changed our lives with my oldest who had sensory integration issues as a youngster. I read the book, Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love, and it really shifted our focus to loving attention. That and the slower pace of Waldorf homeschooling. To Chelsea, I just want to make the suggestion of hypnotherapy; it’s been transformative for me. And lastly, I mention love as one of “The 5 Essential Elements of Your Main Lessons” in my talk on the Waldorf Homeschool Expo this weekend!
Thank you Jean! Love to hear your thoughts and experiences and looking forward to hearing you on the Expo.
This is a beautiful inspiring post, and every time I read a post like this, I’m reminded to re-evaluate all the small ways I still let go of love in my interaction with my kids. It’s a constant conscious endeavour amidst the entropy of life.
No matter what our choices, love in intention and follow-through needs to be consistent.
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