Love, Respect and Disagreement

I don’t have to agree with you to love and respect you.This is a phrase that I have been pondering lately. I find that it applies to two areas in my motherhood, my relationship to children and especially my relationship with other parents, caregivers and friends.

With children, there are many things we disagree with on a daily basis, like whether or not shoes should be worn outside, or if we should feed the dogs our dinner, or if it’s a good idea to eat bugs that are found in the dirt. “I don’t want you to do that.”  Is a phrase that I say more often, but I would like to start saying “I don’t agree with that.” I like the latter because in that instance it implies that both myself and the child have opinions that matter. When I simply say that I don’t want something to happen, while being honest, I am still never allowing room for negotiation when it’s appropriate. There is never negotiation when it comes to health and safety, but perhaps eating bugs is something I can learn to understand even though it is SO gross to me. I have a boy, so I will have to learn to tolerate the gross. :) As Magda Gerber of RIE says: “Respect is the basis of the RIE hilosophy. We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being.

With adults, there are always things we disagree on, especially when it comes to parenting philosophies. We will never be in complete agreement with anyone because there are so many intricicities to parenting, well, to life actually! This is where it is important to say to another person, “You may not agree with this point of view and that is okay.” With all of my experience and information I have a great deal of opinions and ideas about parenting that I love to share, but this does not mean that I am ever right or better in my views. I recently had a conversation with a good friend about spanking and how I am not at all for spanking and she is. I really wrestled with this for awhile (and still am) but I am determined to come to a place where I accept and trust her point of view on the matter. I still love and respect that mother dearly, and her choice is her own. As a mother, teacher, nanny and friend, I will always strive to view any other parents choices in a positive light and come to peace with their choices.

I very much believe that our children come to us for a reason, for all of our good and all of the mistakes we will make as parents. It is our job to love and respect our children unconditionally throughout their lives, even when we completely disagree with their actions and our job as grow-up children to strive to see the good in our own parents. Perhaps we can work to extend this task to our parent peers as well; to learn to respect other parents choices and strive to remove our judgement of them. In doing this, our hearts may be lighter and our children may learn from our effort to be better human beings.

Here are a few GREAT books for working with your children: Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect, By Magda Gerber and Bringing up Bebe, by Pamela Drukerman.

Here is a great book that will help remove judgement and cultivate love: The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. (Or read brief summery here)

Those are only a few books and I would LOVE to learn about more books to help me on this quest.

 

What are your thoughts? Does this seem like an impossible task to you or something to strive for? What would be something that you would struggle with in others parenting choices?

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Intuition vs Information: Thoughts on The Parenting Method War

There is much debate about which parenting method is the ‘right’ one. It seems, at times, that I see wars going on all over the place; CIO vs. co-sleeping, Attachment parenting vs. Babywise, Day care vs. Stay at hom moms, etc. etc. etc. I’ve often thought that perhaps all of this debate is rather pointless. Perhaps all of this parenting advice is just helpful tools or even confirmations for us that we are doing the right thing for our children. We choose the philosophy that resonates with us the most and use that as our guide, and then we have these little people that join us in our world and get everything they need from our own individual styles as parents. They chose US as parents, and naturally we will give them everything they need to become the adults they are meant to be.

I chose a Waldorf/RIE method to follow for my parenting style and my profession. At the heart of Waldorf philosophy, the work we do is primarily of a spiritual nature. This could also be interpreted as intuition if you choose to see it that way. There are actually exercises and meditations we can do to stregthen this spiritual/intuitive quality in us as mothers. Some believe that we all have Spiritual helpers, or Angels, that help guide our way. As a woman who works with young children for my life’s work, I feel that this is so true for me. If I am actively working on my meditative/inner work practice, I am allowing myself to be open to divine intuition to help guide my way from day to day. I’m not thinking about how to work within a certain pre-determined method; I am listening to the moment. During a particularly challenging time, we can wait a few moment before we react and take a deep breath and the answer to the problem might be given to us.

Now, this is what I am experiencing in my work with children and it might be entirely different for everyone else, but the intuition is still there for each of us.  Whether you are following Angels and intuition or following a book, you are following your heart and doing exactly the right thing for YOUR children. Can you imagine a world where, instead of criticism and blame, we are surrounded by support and understanding? Can you imagine being out in public and not feeling self-conscious of your parenting but feeling empowered by the people around us? What are you thoughts on how to bring acceptance and trust for every mother and her own individual parenting method?

Backyard Wonderland

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Portland and we have big plans for our backyard. It’s long been my wish to turn it into something magical for children to play in. Here are a few ideas we were planning on incorporating into our yard.

Grass and Edible Wild Flowers – Greenery and flowers will often become the stuff of potions and fairy houses for you little ones. It’s good to have edible flowers and herbs so that you can bring the magic inside for salads and tea. Here is a great site with a large variety of edible flowers. My favorites are sunflowers, marigolds, clover, lavender, and dandelions.

Large Stones – Children need real, good work, and what better work than hoisting around large stones. On summer days, hot stones become resting places for some interesting bugs.

Wood in a Variety of Sizes – From small sticks to large logs, the imagination can create so much. Sticks become wands and swords and logs become the steps to a house of base for a game of tag.

Living Willow House – I can’t imagine a better playhouse than one that grows and changes every year. Follow this link for great instructions on how to make your own living house.

Sandpit – Playing in the sand is an important task for little learning minds. Sand play is open-ended, the child determines the direction and path of his or her own play creating endless possibilities.

You will usually find these things and more in a Waldorf Kindergarten, and even if you can’t make your ideal Waldorf Magic Land, when left alone, your children will make so much from absolutely nothing. I recall spending long summer days in a completely bare backyard running around with my best friends playing that we were Unicorns, or swinging on the bench making up silly games and songs. There are so many great things you can do to your backyard to make it a place where the imagination can flourish, but the best thing you can provide is space for children to play independently.

Moms, You ARE Doing Great!

I saw this and HAD to re-post! I love this! At first I was intrigued by the title Confessions of a High-Heel Wearing Hippy Mommy, since I myself feel like I would like to be a fancy lady, but in my heart am still a hippy. Then when I read her post, I’m not trying to win a medal, I was completely inspired. She writes that “Finding balance is tricky – the balance between knowing what’s “best,” and knowing what works for me and my kids.”

I feel that is something I struggle with every day, and everyday have to remind myself that I AM doing great! I am bombarded by information on the internet and books (since I choose to be apart of these things), and I have all of this information from 3 years of Waldorf Teacher Training and more often than I like, I let that information lead me to feel guilt and regret. Recently a new friend and RIE mom , who has quite a bit more Waldorf and RIE training than myself, told me that the greatest gift I could give myself is to forget everything I have learned and simply be a Mom. I love that because it feels so true in my heart that I am a good Mom and care so deeply for my son and any other children I am around, from my friends children to children in classes I have taught.

So today, for my fellow Mothers (and Fathers if you follow) I would like to tell you that YOU are doing a great job; you are doing your best and that is exactly enough for your children. They love you for all you give to them and all you give to YOURSELVES. So have a cup of tea and pat yourself on your back.

From the wonderful High-Heeled Hippy Mommy I think I have found my new Mantra: “I have a full house, a full heart and very full hands.  Life is crazy, but it’s good.  I’m finding my way.  And I’m doing okay.”