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

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

 

 

glorious candlemas

I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating The Feast of St. Brigid on February 1st and Candlemas/The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ/Groundhog Day yesterday on February 2nd.  This is the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere that the days are lengthening a bit.  In some countries, the first snowdrops, a beautiful little white flower, are emerging from beneath snow.

We think of the first beginnings of light, and a beautiful candle festival helps mark the occasion.  There are so many ways to make candles, including rolling beeswax sheets, dipping candles, pouring beeswax into half of a walnut shell (and you can push in a little candle in order to have little floating lights, which are always fun for children), and you can make earth candles where you pour a candle and place a wick directly into a hole into the earth.

This is a wonderful time to change over your nature table if you have one going to mark the seasons.  Flower fairies, branches in water that are budding,  a single candle, perhaps leading up to the markings of St. Valentine’s Day and then a little Lenten Garden (dish garden)  are all appropriate. All winter greenery is taken down.

In the back post The Magic of Candlemas, I have listed a number of different ways to celebrate.  I like to celebrate things for more than one day, and especially feel that those of you with small children should never feel like you missed the one day and feel pressured about that.  Remember, these days mark seasons beginning and ending, and what we carry inside ourselves around this time of year.

I love the idea of growing the light inside all of us.  I have had a very productive five weeks of inner work where many major areas of my life are now on a different track or moved forward.  It has been so satisfying, and I hope you feel the stirrings of new inner growth for yourself.  I always think of this verse this time of year (so fun for small children to be buried under silk scarves and awaken, but also reminds us that it is time for us to move forward, to embrace the new, to find our initiative and willing):

In the heart of a seed,

Buried deep so deep,

A dear little plant

Lay fast asleep.

Wake, said the sun,

And creep to the light.

Wake, said the voice

Of the raindrops bright.

The little plant heard,

And arose to see,

What the wonderful

Outside world might be.

Blessings today and always,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

7 ways of doing self-care +parenting

Maybe parents from previous generations wouldn’t understand this fuss about self-care.  I think generally people got married and had children earlier than parents are doing now. Maybe there was more support in juggling the home and the kids through extended family, which many of us don’t have these days.  I know when I was younger, I certainly didn’t really understand the fuss about self-care as well as I do now, and when I started parenting over seventeen years ago, it wasn’t even really a thing to talk about self-care.

Cue now.  Cue the late 40s.

Years of parenting and homeschooling still await.

Things are shifting.

Self-care is needed.

Now self-care seems absolutely vital to me; absolutely necessary; absolutely important. It is something important for me that benefits the whole family, despite whatever limitations may be in the way.

Maybe you are feeling this as well.  I think younger parents are much more in tune with this than we are.  However, at any stage, it can be easy to neglect in the shuffle and business of life, especially for homeschooling parents whose children and teens are with the family many (all) hours a day.  So, i put together 7 ways for doing self-care that might resonate with you or give you ideas for your own practice.

  1.  Find your attitude about self-care, and your find your discipline to follow through.  First you have to believe that self-care is necessary, and then you have to find a way to follow through on doing self-care no matter what personal obstacles are in your situation.  Maybe your significant other travles nonstop, and you homeschool three tiny children that you can’t just leave to run out and do appointments or even go for a heart-pounding run that doesn’t involve stopping to look every ten feet at some critter on the ground.  Instead of feeling defeated, how will you make this work?  Brainstorm ideas, and believe AND do.
  2. Keep the big health guidelines in mind.  One hundred fifty minutes of moderate areobic exercise  a week and  twice a week strength training is recommended for adults in the United States, there are recommendations for how often to see your doctor and dentist, there are even recommendations for number of hours you should sleep a night, and how many hours a day you should be on a screen.  That might be the bare minimum place you start.
  3. Rest and play.  Rest and play for adults may be one of the most overlooked areas of health. This one can be done with your children, with your significant other, with your friends or by yourself?  How do you rest and play? What does that look like for you?
  4.  Time in nature.  This is extremely important for decreasing stress, for setting healthy patterns in sleep, and for a myriad of health benefits, even down to the cellular level.  There is true research on this, and since many people spend a lot of time indoors, it may be worth it to schedule yourself some forest bathing time or time to be outside.
  5. Time in community.  Community is very important. It is something new mothers or new fathers  naturally often seek in the form of playgroups…and then as the children grow, as teens have more interests and they no longer want to get together with the same chidren they have been since playgroup days due to lack of common interests…it can become more difficult to see other adults that you are really and truly close to.  My recommendation is to go out to dinner or tea or meet at a park – just the adults.  When your children are teenagers, you can leave them and do this!  If you think you don’t need this, I would say you should try.  It reduces anxiety, having community has many health benefits,  it makes you feel connected, and when your children are off living their own lives, you are going to want some friends!
  6. Time alone.  It is important to have some time each day, each week, each month to just be alone without the children.  Many parents get so lost in their children and all the hustle and bustle that they often lose who they were.  Parenting will change you! You will be a different person than you were.  That is normal.  But losing complete connection with yourself, your goals,  your dreams, your functioning as a separate human being outside of being a parent is difficult.  It can take time to get those things back, and time alone to think or think and journal can be invaluable.
  7. Healthy food.  Healthy food, and not using food as a form of stress control or self-medication is really important. Parenting can start a whole cycle of eating while standing up, eating as quickly as possible,  not having time to cook.  Batch cooking healthy things for the week can be a really big help, as can gadgets such as a crock-pot or Instapot.  Finding healthy recipes and making them, not keeping junk  food in the house that really isn’t made up of food but instead chemicals and additives ( I call it “food-like” substances) in the house, is really important self-care, and it sets a great tone for the future generation living in your household.  I was at a continuing education course where the home health physical therapists were estimating over half of the patients they were seeing were obese, and had Type 2 diabetes, and didn’t hardly move during the day.  This isn’t where we want ourselves or the next generation to end up!

Share with me your favorite ways to self-care!

Blessings and love,

Carrie