Remember Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird? He had an unruffled steadiness as a parent – as a character – that I will be striving for this year as mom to my 9- and 12-year-olds. Regardless of how old your children are, I think we can all use some Atticus Finch in our parenting. We could definitely be more effective if we’re more clear about who we are, more calm in how we respond, and overall, bring strength, self-restraint, and confidence to meeting the challenges we face in our adult world.
I have been preparing for the up-coming workshop that I am facilitating (Saturday, January 10, 2015 at my home, 1-4 pm) with parents who are interested in exploring Chapter 6 in Simplicity Parenting – “Filtering the Adult World.” The chapter reveals a parenting perspective that is truly relevant for the modern challenges we face on a daily basis.
I can definitely see a bit of myself in the parent he describes at the start of the chapter, Annmarie. She worries about her kids – about their safety, their education, the possible missed opportunities, etc. I do get that kind of worry and fear as a mom. I have to admit that I feel a bit uncomfortable when I can’t see my kids in the backyard. It’s irrational and paranoid, but it is an emotional response that requires some self soothing on my part. It is neurotic that I get up in the night at least once each week to check to make sure the kids are still in their beds. Thankfully I don’t worry as much about their education as I did when my oldest was starting kindergarten and 1st grade. We started the kids in Waldorf when they were 3 and 6 and it has been an excellent choice for us.
The author sheds some light on creating a simplified and balanced diet of media and adult verbal clutter in the home. Despite being in a low-tech school, technology still feels like a pressure for me. We briefly (and with great regret) dabbled with having the kids inherit our used laptops. It was evident within no time at all how even monitoring their usage and the onslaught of information it provided at their fingertips wasn’t making them easy to parent. They relinquished them without much complaint. I agree with Kim Payne, “computers, like any tool, are only helpful when age appropriate.” Since the school doesn’t require them to use computers, for us, their usage was becoming more of a burden to our family connectedness and I could definitely see that it was preventing the “deep wells of creativity and resourcefulness” from developing in both the kids. Obviously, we cannot become completely cut off from information, nor from technology, and I don’t claim that my kids will never use a computer or watch television. Again, it’s about visiting the concepts of simplicity and moderation for your family, as it makes sense, especially for children 8 and older.
What is even more fascinating and requires greater reflection for me is the author’s invitation to talk less – to say less so that our words mean more. Silence is important. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading and writing for 2 hours while my 9 year old lounged near me. The quiet was so peaceful and calming. No sounds of technology and no unnecessary chit chat. The clicking of the clock, the scribbling of the pen on paper, and the rhythmical breaths of my child resting was all that existed. I want more of that kind of calm and quiet in 2015.
So, starting today – and I hope you’ll join me in this – I am striving to filter the verbal clutter that I contribute to the world by asking myself 3 questions before I speak…
1. Is it true?
2. Is it kind?
3. Is it necessary?
It’s never too late to implement positive, healthy communication. If you’re in or near the Triangle area of NC (or if you can’t make it due to timing or distance, check out my phone coaching), we still have spots available in the Simplicity Gathering next Saturday where we will delve into this chapter together and further explore how we can allow our children the grace of being a child without the overwhelm of technology and adult anxieties, concerns, and information.
Becoming the calm, less anxious parent I want to be in 2015,