Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself”

“When I was a child myself, however, I was told and thus believed that my purpose in life was to be a nice little girl.  When I grew up, I found I was a very nice lady.  By being “nice” I avoided situations that called for much power and yielded to others to avoid power struggles…..Luckily, my children have taught me differently.” – page 105

This chapter is all about empowerment and the need for all human beings to feel confident and competent. Power comes from the Latin word poder meaning “to be able.”

We cannot have a winning family if it is constantly about power, in a negative sense, where there are attacks and counter-attacks so someone in the family wins and someone in the family loses. This is essentially what the author calls “power taking”- when people try to dominate or disempower others.  If this happens within a family, someone in the family will be victimized.

A winning family will “power share” – power is cooperative, mutual,nurturing. People share power within the family, and with this everyone’s personal power is expanded.

Power plays out in four different personality types:

  • Powerless – the person is helpless, dependent, insecure
  • Powerful – confident, capable, in control,
  • Empowering – supportive, encouraging, challenging
  • Overpowering – dominating, manipulative, arrogant, pushy

The author asks the question that if these were four people standing in a room, who would be attracted to each other?  Who would avoid each other?  This sort of reflection can help one look at the balance of power in the home, and look at the power distribution between the adults in the home and the relationship between the adults and the children.

The author  also talks about how in general society has become a place of disconnection and competition and how the easiest way to reclaim the power by being divided and conquered is to unite with others who share the same common experience. There is a section about violence and how this impacts women and children as the primary victims and how children who are raised in violent homes also become victims. Instead of wounding our children and perpetuating the cycle of violence, we can learn to heal ourselves.  The end of the chapter tackles gender and violence, and then has a section on “Family Empowerment.”  Under family empowerment, the author lists things to teach our children:

  • To be respectful of themselves and others
  • To be responsible for their behavior
  • That they have personal body rights
  • To be assertive
  • To be sensitive
  • To be nonviolent
  • To avoid dangers but to fight their battles
  • To have high self-esteem – people who value themselves and others do not tolerate abuse

The chapter ends with, “Our homes can be a refuge – a haven of love and safety, a source of strength and support.  You have the power to create a supportive and peaceful family where people are for, not against, each other.  Children need to feel safe at home. So do you.”

The next chapter is about discipline without damage, and you won’t want to miss it!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

inward thirteen

Once the twelve year change is finally done, many teens hit a more inward phase.  This can be around thirteen and half, or for some just over fourteen years of age.  Sometimes we see this in the way a teen withdraws into their own room, or into their own art or whatever their interest is.  Some draw close to a beloved parent or other adult whom they trust and enjoy spending time with, but some teens are almost hyper-critical of their  parents, especially their mother, and are mainly just a shadow disappearing into their rooms.  It may seem that on the surface that not much makes them happy, so they sort of come across as the Eeyore of the family.

While the media often portrays this type of developmental stage as a teen wearing black sitting in (or wanting!) a  black room in a dark mood, I think it is a little more positive than that.  By withdrawing, the teen begins to figure out who they are in relation to their family, their friends, their community.  He or she protects him or herself from other’s criticisms, almost like the coccoon of a caterpillar so that the teen can emerge as the butterfly later down the road.  In homeschooling, I think this idea of the coccoon can extend to actually wanting to attend school because there may be more “privacy” there – an independent life without parents looking over one’s shoulder, or siblings looking over one’s shoulder.

Does this look different for a child raised with a lot of family attachment?  I think it does.  The really attached children I have seen, no matter what their type of schooling, often seem to withdraw from peers  but crave being in the family more, particularly those coveted one on one dates with a parent.  They may spend time in their rooms, but also enjoy “dates” with their parents without siblings around, may roll their eyes at some traditions or the idea of family vacations, but still have a terrific time. In fact, I think this age can be one of the times where we feel as if our insistence upon the family unit may really pay off!  However, if  you have done this, and you don’t feel like this age is working out that way for you and your teen and you feel like you failed, don’t panic.  Every teen has a different personality, a different temperament, a different love language, a different level of extroversiona  and introversion.  As long as there is nothing involving self-harm, being bullied or bullying other people, etc and you feel you have done all you can, then you can hold  your steady with your ho-hum.

Here are a few of my top tips in dealing with thirteen/fourteen year olds going through a more inward phase:

  1.  Keep a steady rhythm, especially limits on technology if that is involved, and bedtimes.  Meals and eating patterns seem to get more erratic around this age, so I think not just relying on the teen to fix themselves something but to have family meals continue just the same.  Your protection is important right now for health and developing healthy habits – this child is not 17 or 18 or even 16; there is a difference!
  2.  Do not  push for constant involvement with siblings or cousins or even friends, but do have some expectation as to what their part in a healthy family life would look like – game nights? Dates out with a parent?  A sibling day between your 13/14 year old and a sibling?  Family vacations- with or without a friend?  Do they have to help take care of a younger sibling? I find for many homeschooling families with these patterns in place, things may not shift a whole lot, but for some families it does depending upon the personality of the teen – so again, make your expectations known and be ho-hum about the emotional response.
  3. Many thirteen/fourteen year olds feel deeply at this age, but their responses can often be one word; they may shy away from physical touch by a parent.  Only you really can observe the child in front of you and decide how to approach that, when to push or not push for that further emotional intimacy. Sometimes it is okay for things to lie fallow for awhile; it is okay to be ho hum about things; please do not criticize so harshly – thirteen and fourteen year olds really take it to heart.
  4. Do plan time alone with your thirteen/fourteen year olds, especially if you have younger siblings in the house.  Many teens desperately need time away from younger siblings.
  5. Teens of this age usually have interests, and if they do not have interests, I think that for the sake of balance, see what interests you can help your teen discover.  Encourage and spend time on those, within balance. Many younger teens try to do all the things, and find themselves cranky and exhausted.  Protection is important for this age, but so is interest in the real world, in different cultures, in different ideas – otherwise the teen remains the center of his or her own universe into adulthood.
  6. Teens this age usually grow in the idea of responsibility and that not everything is someone else’s fault. If you don’t see this coming along, that may be something to nurture.
  7. The most pivotal time for adolescence is the fifteen/sixteen year change, so if you are dealing with things that seem out of the norm problematic, I highly suggest counseling and getting outside help in order to set up a better foundation for that change.  Boundaries and consequences, close family times, may be something that is argued about, but also leads to the adolescent feeling most secure.
  8. Sometimes adolescents need help in calming their emotional life and learning how to be less impulsive and dramatic, and some need help in raising empathy, sharing emotions, forming relationships.  Only you can decide what your teen needs.
  9. Adolescence is not a stable time, and many missteps can happen between the ages of 14-18.  Some adolescents really develop critical problems in their thinking about themselves and the world, or develop habits that aren’t healthy. You really need to be around, present, and while maintinging a ho-hum attitude, be ready to provide protection, or balance for your teen when they can’t do it themselves, consequences and boundaries for when they try out the wrong things, and help sooner rather than later if things are problematic.  Rudolf Steiner, the foundation of Waldorf Education, often said the times of hearing the inner voice most strongly may occur around ages 19, 38, and 56, so we try to give our teens the best foundation we can in the times of 14-18.

There is much more to say about the healthy development of adolescents, but I would love to hear your experiences. What were you like as an adolescent?  Does that influence how you are parenting your teen?

Blessings,

Carrie

when teens don’t want to homeschool anymore…and how to keep the magic alive

I think teens in seventh grade and up really need a say in whether they want to homeschol or not as being a willing participant is an important part of homeschooling high school.  

It is also important, though, to know that teens and especially homeschooled teens who may never have been in any type of school setting cannot anticipate exactly what they need, and that you as the parent have the experience to be able to anticipate more knowing and loving the child standing in front of you.  You also know what the schools are like in your area, and what options are available, and whether or not these would be a good fit.  Some teens that are reluctant and difficult at home are also extremely reluctant and difficult at school and the setting doesn’t really change what is going on.  Some teens do better at school and work harder there than at home.  Some do much better at home without the added social or competitive pressures at school.

Other confounding factors include that some states allow homeschoolers to partake in public school sports or even participate in certain courses, which really meets some teens’ needs, and some states don’t.  Some school districts easily and readily accept home credits in early high school for what you have done in the home environment, and some will not accept those credits, so that can limit options for teens who want to go to high school for junior and senior year.  Not every teen is actually interested in dual enrollment, which is often offered up as a solution to this problem, and is being used widely for  public high schoolers as well.  And much of all of this depends upon what your teen wants to do after graduation, and what they will need.  The number of AP courses one can take is a big deal for some majors at some colleges, and whether this is right or wrong, you may be in a scramble to find your teen these kinds of courses.  Anything previously decided in eighth grade through sophomore year may change dramatically with the 16 year change, when a teen may get a much clearer picture about what they want to do and what they need to do to be on their way to that dream.

For some parents, not homeschooling high school isn’t really even an option discussed.  There family culture is such that that is the only option. Some families decide that opening the doors is okay, but they search for the best fit in schooling or classes.  But the reality is that things change, whether you are homeschooling or not,  because the older teen years tend to be more hectic with more outside activities.  

We may be left feeling a bit off -kilter with all the transitions, especially if it is our first high schooler.  Also, we   are aging and changing ourselves – by the time our last children reach high school we may have been homeschooling 25 years or more!  A lot can change in twenty five years!  Our spouses may be talking about retirement  or working less and traveling and what they want to do once the children are out of the house.   I find these thoughts seem to naturally come up as parents hit the early 50s themselves.

I also find myself, at almost 49, wanting to give back a little outside of my own home and family to others and wanting a day or two back in the clinic after taking so many years to homeschool.  It happens.  Life is often about change!  When we have worked so hard to provide stability and rhythm and calmness for our families over the years, sometimes this can feel strange and disconcerting, to say the least.

So with all these changes, we can be left as homeschooling mothers wondering what our identity is. If we aren’t a homeschooling parent, are we still really needed to be home?  If we aren’t homeschooling, and our last child is older, do we still need to hold the magic of nature tables and puppetry and window transparencies and rhythm? What will we be doing the rest of the time whilst the children are at school?  If we want something outside the home, will our children suffer with the change, will it be too much to juggle?  How do we hold magic for the last child, especially if there is a large age gap between the older children and the last child?

In our family, we are there – our youngest is in only the tiny realm of  third grade; our oldest will be a high school senior in the fall and wants to take all her classes outside the home due to AP credit and the nature of what she needs with calculus and physics, and our eighth grader who really dislikes school “work” (she likes to learn) due to learning disabilities that makes everything doubly hard has said she would try harder and work harder outside the home than she will in it.  She might enjoy it more at home, but she wants to go to college, and feels she will be more motivated to work really hard outside the home and she wants a bigger social circle than what we have homeschooling high school around here.  Loneliness can be real in the teen years.  So, the final situation there is still in process, but likely some form of school.

So, where does a situation like that leave us as homeschooling parents?

How do we keep the magic?  Do we?

I think we do.  Art, and the rhythm of the changing of the seasons, and the rhythm of everyday  is nourishing to every person in the home.  Part of what draws many of us to Waldorf homeschooling is that it is healing for the adult in the home as well too.  Festivals may look different than with tinies under the age of 7, but I think it is still important to mark them.

I still like to do a nature table that changes with the seasons, and put out seasonal pictures that change.   I like to gather fresh flowers and have arrangements that reflect the seasons. I like to cook seasonally, and to mark all the festivals we are used to marking, even if in a bit of a simpler way.

I like to create art that changes with the seasons, even if I only have a few days a quarter to sit down with the kids and create seasonal art. I will even create it by myself and put it up.  The kids notice.

Boundaries and rhythm still stand.

For our third grader, who is out of the home way more than his older sisters ever were at that age, I prioritize nature time.  I will even give up a school day to take him hiking.  The children in our neighborhood don’t really come outside to play, and he needs the time outside.   I have tried to find things within a few exits off the highway of our home for the most part so the driving we do do is less impactful, and to know where parks are when we are waiting for siblings so that outside time is the standard rhythm and constant.

I also prioritize older siblings doing things with our third grader, helping him with school, so he feels special in the shuffle.   His times to play with friends or to just have an afternoon home without having to go to something for his siblings is also a priority.  Not going to lie- it’s a juggle when you have busy teenaged girls!

I have spent a lot of time in inner work.  This year I really prioritized self-care, and that has helped me roll with some of the changes I think I would have been more resistant to and upset about than before.  It also has helped me see clearly where we are in this season of life, and what is going to carry us through the next ten years as a loving family, with healthy and happy young adults as opposed to just thinking about homeschooling as an end to itself.  Homeschooling is not the end, it is the beginning. That’t the real discussion, and more that I hope to write more on in the future. I think this is the part of homeschooling no other homeschooling blogs are really talking about.  

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences,

Carrie

How To Help Your Children Grow Up To Be Healthy Adults

Have you ever felt like every time you turn around that the news about this generation of children is just sad and scary?  There was an article on CNN.com yesterday about how 1 in 7 children and teen have a mental health condition (and that half go untreated).  Couple that with the statistics cited for all the new childhood epidemics, including asthma, ADHD/ADD, allergies and allergic eczema, food allergies and intolerances, celiac disease, obesity, learning disorders, autism, depression and anxiety, growing rates of suicide…people wonder what is going on with this generation of children?

We already know much of the answer to that:

  • Many are experiencing a hectic, arrythmical life, sometimes due to parental choice but sometimes due to no fault of the parents –  the fact is  that economically the entire family may have to work long hours just to cover rent and put food on the table
  • Many children are experiencing lack of loving adult presence – some children do not have a lot of  parental presence, true community,  or extended family involvement
  • Many are not experiencing enough movement, free play, or time outside in nature; too much adult-directed activity from an early age
  • Increasing  land, food, air, and  water toxicity 
  • Many are experiencing  too much screen time and not enough sleep
  • Many are not experiencing enough loving boundaries and not enough true and deep present attention …. If children could regulate themselves like adults and adult like an adult, they wouldn’t need a childhood. They could go straight into adulthood!
  • An increasing academic load from preschool onward that doesn’t account for the neurologic development of the brain nor how humans learn best. Hint: it’s not just through worksheets and pencil/paper work
  • Stress about college and grades  from the earliest of teen years (or even before) onward

So, what can YOU do as a parent to protect your children and provide a stable upbringing for your children so they can become healthy adults? I have some ideas!

Cut out screens when you are home and replace it with time outside; free play; undirected play, and yes, even play that you used to do that is now considered risky, like climbing trees and being out in the woods.

Set times that your children need to be outside if you live in an area that can support that. Otherwise, make going to places of nature a priority on weekends.

Teach your children how to do things around the house and give them chores to do. Do them as a family and teach them how to do it first, and then let them take responsibility

Set bedtimes and mealtimes.  Have a family night; spend time together, and expect good manners as a way of showing each other that you love each other.

Cut down the hectic pace of your life as much as possible!  Your children won’t die if they don’t do every extra-curricular activity under the sun

Get your own baggage and woundedness in order!  Your children deserve your time, your energy, your attention.  They need you to be your best you so you can support them!

Teach your children healthy habits about sleep, food, water, movement, how to deal with physical illness with both regular and alternative medicince and when they are old enough techniques for mindfulness and how to deal with stress.  Model this for them yourself!

Look at the child in front of you and what he or she needs.  Look at what boundaries would help balance them and make them healthy and set those boundaries lovingly.

Learn how to communicate lovingly with your children and guide them.

Protect them from stress. They shouldn’t have to handle stress like a 40 or 50 year old adult.

Promote developmental education in your school systems or homeschools  that include the arts, movement, volunteering, mindfulness, activities of kindness.  If you want to know what this would look like or what you could do, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com.  

I would love to hear your ideas!

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

a day of love

St. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.  Many do not celebrate, thinking it a grand conspiracy of the card and candy manufacturers, but some families use it as a springboard for focusing on loving significant others, children, and pets for the entire month of February.  Perhaps we can settle into finding the love and wonder that comes with our everyday actions.

Whenever we assume positive intent, we are showing love.

Whenever we choose to see the light in someone, we are showing love.

Whenever we use good manners, we are showing love.

Whenever we use kind words, we are showing love.

Whenever we are working as a team in the home, we are showing love.

Love is an action; the most sacred and wonderful action of all to show someone that they have a beautiful light inside of them, that they belong, that their life and their talents are sacred, and that they are wonderful.

And the beautiful thing is that we can start right in our very own homes and in the very own otherwise-might-be encounters of everyday life.  These are the moments that build and bridge into connection, acceptance, and warmth.  The people we love and laugh with are right in front of us, and if we do it right this quiet goodness is going to make a mark upon the next generation of our country’s leaders, innovators, and creators.

May we love one another, and treat one another with kindness.

Blessings,
carrie

 

teens who don’t want to drive

Some teens are excited and ready to drive in the United States, but the latest thing that many parents are lamenting is that their teen doesn’t want to drive or even attempt to get their license.  This phenomenon has even hit mainstream news sources, like in this article by National Geographic.  It is definitely a national trend that I don’t think has an end in sight.  We are seeing a true shift that I think will last generations and may even extend as car technology changes.

I have read many of the articles on this subject, observed many of my teen’s friends, and have come up with some ideas of why this trend may be…

  1.  Teens are working less. You might wonder what this has to do with driving, but hear me out.   If the emphasis is placed on academic success rather than school being something one does in addition to other things, then the teen may not have the time or motivation to get a job due to so much homework and extra classes.  If they don’t have a job, they may not have money to pay for gas or insurance, let alone to save up for a car.  The teens I know who are driving the most  have a job!
  2. Teens have more friends on-line and are dating less than previous generations.  There is less reason to go out of the house.  Teens are no longer going to the mall and hanging out – they can hang out and shop in their rooms.  They may not be running out of the house to go pick up their girlfriend.   The digital age has changed the landscape of adolescence forever.
  3. Many teens have anxiety ( I have read estimates that span anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the teen population, depending upon what criteria is used), and the feeling that you could die or you could kill someone while driving a car makes driving a less than  tantalizing proporition to many teens.
  4. There are alternatives – rides with friends, Uber, public transportation, walking, and yes….parents often started  driving their children to activities at earlier ages, and are continuing, so why give that up?

Here are a few of my suggestions in dealing with reluctant teens –

I think the philosophy is always that the parents will do things for their children until the child can take it over for themselves.  In general, this age might be determined just by readiness cues and  seeing how responsibile the child  is in doing what needs to be done under supervision and then independently.  In the case of driving, the ability to drive is dictated by state laws, by learning new skills under supervision,by testing,  and yes, I think by having incentive.  So if your teen is reluctant to drive, perhaps have a conversation about expectations and what is holding your teen back.  Are your expectations clear to yourself and to them?

If you want your teen to learn to drive, and they are already feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork and activities, you may need to clear some space so they have the time to learn to drive.  It isn’t like cramming for an academic test.  It requires time, space, practice.

They may not want to learn to drive with you.  Or they may not want to learn with all their siblings in the car.  Some will learn better with Driver’s Education, some will learn better with a trusted relative or neighbor.

Figure out the expectation for how to pay for gas, insurance, a car.  These things can really hold teens back. If they have no car to drive or no way to pay for gas or insurance because they don’t have a job, what is the incentive for obtaining a license to drive?

Address anxiety. Sometimes having a timeline, a driving instructor, etc can help an anxious teen break things down into steps that seem doable.  The idea of testing may also provoke anxiety.   And as much as I hate to say it, I know people who never were comfortable driving and nearly always lived in areas where there was good public transportation available.  It may be hard to think this way if you live in an area where good public transportation doesn’t exist, but that may be where your teen ends up as an adult.

Lower your expectations.  Most of the new drivers I know are driving surface streets to school and back (probably a 5 miles radius) or to a job that is also within a five mile radius.  Not every new driver is ready to drive all over the city.  Think about where your teen would be okay driving when they do get their licenses.  This is particularly important for homeschooling families, who many times do have classes or activities that are far away.  If you goal is for that teen to drive to those far away things, your teen may or may not be comfortable with that as a new driver.

Would love to hear your thoughts,
Carrie

lovely february

I know February can be a dreary month, but I love Candlemas and Valentine’s Day, so I try to envision glowing light and love over the days of this month even if the cold weather continues outside!  Typically February is our coldest month here in the Deep South, but we are not having cold weather and will be up in the upper 60s (F) this week.  At any rate, I am sure it will drop and be cold again!

Here are some of the days we will be celebrating in February:

February 1– The Feast of St. Brigid

February 2 – Candlemas – I recommend these two back posts:  The Magic of Candlemas and glorious candlemas

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day – try this back post:  Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Waldorf Home

We don’t mark Chinese New Year very well on our own, but we used to with friends and it was always wonderful.  If you have an opportunity to go to a Chinese New Year celebration, I highly recommend it!  You can see this back post from 2009 about how my friend would lead a wonderful celebration that included our family:  The Chinese New Year in the Waldorf Home

Homeschooling in February:

I am taking things easy.  We have some outside testing and doctor’s appointments this month, and that always messes up our rhythm, so I am planning on being happy with whatever we accomplish this month and not worry.

I have thought time and time again that perhaps our homeschooling journey is coming to an end …. It will be interesting to see things that happen and am resting in these thoughts for the future this month.

third grade – we will be finishing up our  block of Hebrew Stories/Old Testament tales as traditional in the Waldorf curriculum in this grade, and we will be moving into a block about We are using All About Reading for practice as well since reading has been a struggle and will continue daily work in math.  Please follow me on Instagram @theparentingpassageway as that is where I will be posting third grade work this month.

eighth grade – we are continuing with our year round course of pre-algebra, and  finishing our  block on Revolutions that  included the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, The French Revolution, Simon Bolivar, and the Mexican Revolution.

eleventh grade – we are continuing with our year-long courses in Chemistry and in American Government/Social Justice from Oak Meadow.  Our eleventh grader also has AP Psychology, Pre-Calculus,and  AP Language and Composition outside of the home.  We are busy arranging the end of year AP tests,  taking the SAT (she already took the ACT), and looking at colleges.

Self-Care:

This is the MOST important part of the rhythm!  If I am not on, I cannot lead anyone else. If I am unmotivated and dragging, I cannot homeschool effectively. If I am not feeling any energy, then it will be harder to nurture our home or to invest time in the relationships that matter the most!

I sit down and plan my self-care that has to be outside of the home for the week on Sundays.  Simple things I do at home that don’t require as much planning include journaling, meditating, tapping (EFT), use of The Book of Common Prayer daily, and epsom salt baths.

For this month, I am very focused on meal planning and exercising.  My health is improving each month, and I think by April I will be feeling much better!

The other thing I am focused on is getting back into my career. I did pediatric physical therapy for years, but am thinking about switching into Women’s Health and this will require quite a  lot of work, but I think the calling is there!

Home-care

I am sticking with very simple cleaning and decluttering routines and asking for help. I cannot homeschool and do everything we do outside the home and do continue taking care of the house as if it is my ful-time job. However,  I also cannot stand a messy or dirty house as I am a very visual person, and we really don’t have the money for an outside cleaning person.  So, that leaves simplicity and asking for help as our family is a team!

Crafting – I love the little crafts in the “Earthways” book. I know it is an Early Years book, but I love the transparencies, the little Valentine’s Day crafts…. I hope to post pictures of some of our processes on Instagram @theparentingpassageway and on The Parenting Passageway’s Facebook page.

I would love to hear what you are up to this month!

Blessings and love always,

Carrie