I have been writing this blog for ten years, and if you look back at this time of year for those ten years, there is probably at least one or more posts about warmth. This is the time of year temperatures finally tend to drop in our area, and when you hang out in the 90s for summer and early fall, dropping into the 30s does seem like a big drop!
I first became interested in warmth when my children were very small (and my oldest is seventeen, so this was quite some time ago) as I learned about the importance of warmth (physical warmth and otherwise) in the Early Years of Waldorf homeschooling and Waldorf parenting. The development of the senses, of which warmth is one of the human senses, supports the way we relate to each other and the development of the child. This is why you see so many small children wrapped up warmly in woolens and other natural fibers during the winter. But if one digs deeper into the background of this sense, there is more.
An interesting point about warmth comes from the book “Our Twelve Senses: How Healthy Senses Refresh the Soul” by Albert Soesman. He posits that as we, and children, meet the world, the world responds to us in two ways. Either we receieve something when our attention, interest is answered and we feel a sense of belonging or we feel left out. This is true warmth. Steiner equated warmth as being the first sense of man. In a way, Steiner saw all senses as being created from the sense of warmth – a process of differentiation teased out all the other senses from this one.
In parenting and in teaching, I think it can be easy to give off more coldness than we intend. Being with children 24/7 , answering questions 24/7, functioning on very little sleep, can make us feel distant. I don’t think we have to be perfect parents to raise children well. In fact, I think good and real and authentic parenting demands imperfection, but also observation.
One of the things I have been pondering lately is the role of temperaments in teaching and parenting. We have four temperaments – phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic, and sanguine. As an adult, these should all be integrated and balanced. In the book, “Lighting Fires: Deepening Educaiton Through Meditation,” by Jorgen Smit, he talks about how unbalanced and unassimilated temperaments affect children. Choleric parents/teachers affect the digestive systems of the child, and provide nervousness. Melancholic parents/teachers can lead to heart conditions later in life for the children in their care. The sanguine teacher can ironically diminsh joy in children and lead to a lack of vitality. The phlegmatic teacher almost can suffocate a child and also lead to nervous adulthood. But remember, this is for those with unbalanced temperaments!
So, how do we provide warmth to our children (outside of physical warmth, which can easily be taken care of with woolens and warming food and drinks)?
- Know yourself, and see that your temperament is something to be assimilated, observed, and worked with in your inner work. We all have patterns, and this type of teaching and parenting requires us to find ours and work with it in a spiritual sense to balance it. This is the gift we can give ourselves and our children. The phlegmatic can provide wonderful insights into spiritual development; the choleric can become a person of initiative and the portrayer of true events in history; the sanguine can use their imagination and enter the world (I think as a great synthesizer of many pieces if the work is done); the melancholic can use the thoroughness and sense of responsibility to find truth in the world. This work is a way towards warmth for ourselves, our children, and the world.
- Affirm our children through hope, through empowering words, and through one on one time.
- Find our smiles. Sometimes our smiles go a long ways even if we are so tired to make conversation.
- Let’s feed our children’s senses through warming meals. This is a part of Waldrof education, but it works well for all parenting. Order and beauty in the home and especially surrounding mealtimes is warming.
- Let’s create some fun. Next week, when it is supposed to be very cold here, my oldest daughter and I are planning a warm, snuggly night for her younger siblings. We are not completely sure what that will entail yet, but maybe a hot chocolate bar and snuggly blankets and board games will be part of it.
Hugs and love,