Over the last three weeks, our playgroup has had a few sessions with a woman from the Steiner federation. It has been an amazing experience, but I have struggled to write about it because it has affected me so personally.
As a mother who rushes around at high speed, speaks very quickly, spends hours on the internet, schedules activities in for every day, works part time, loves the company of others and gets extremely jittery at the thought of spending time alone … a lot of what this woman had to say was very hard to hear.
Of course, I am paraphrasing terribly, and I welcome comments from anyone that thinks I have gotten the wrong end of the Steiner stick!
We all know the way we speak to our children can be deeply harmful, but we often forget that it can be extremely helpful, and healing. Young children absorb everything they experience into their very being. In that sense, the way we speak to them actually forms who they are.
By being fully present when we speak, by choosing our words consciously, by speaking slowly, calmly, peacefully we help our children develop fully. Beautiful words will have a very positive affect, just as ugly words will harm our children.
Filling our homes with artificial voices – the television, the radio, recorded music – confuses the child and is no substitute for the living voice. It is only the living voice that can be the powerfully positive, healing force that we desire. Children need to hear their mother and father speaking to them, singing to them, telling them stories..
Children are very sensitive to sense impressions and even a trip to the supermarket, with its bright lights, colours and noises, will be incredibly overwhelming. It is important to give our children a rich home-life – and that means spending a lot of time at home, just pottering about quietly doing home-making activities. Children won’t get bored doing this – they will love imitating their mother, playing with a few simple toys, running around the garden. It is the mothers that get bored. Many mothers are ‘too much in the mind’ with a running commentary going through our heads, thinking about the next thing we need to do, giving off a busy, nervous energy.
She commented that when mothers live ‘in their heads’ and rush their children around over-filling them with sense impressions, the children too become manic, over-wraught, excitable. Homes are filled with so many toys – these can be pared down to just a very very few quality toys that the child can love.
What she said has had a big impact on me. Initially - I wanted to reject everything she was saying. After all, we don’t watch TV, hardly go to the mall, our activities usually take place outdoors and close to nature. We might be busy, but I really thought that Munchkin likes going out, being busy as much as I do – and I would go crazy spending a day at home. I thought of women of my mothers generation, who suffered from terrible loneliness without the social support networks we have today.
But, as I thought about it, the truth of these teachings really hit me. Of course, adopting these teachings doesn’t mean we stop seeing other people. Or that we stop going out. But spending more time at home, not doing anything in particular has made a big difference. Munchkin thrives on this. And surprisingly, I’m really enjoying it too.
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