Connection, Direction, and “Protection”… What do we think of when we think of protecting our children? I think it is natural to immediately think of protecting them from physical danger or exposure to things that are not appropriate for them. Well, certainly this is part of it. But, our quest is to believe in, love, and share Goodness, so dwelling on thoughts of a fearful nature are obstructions to our quest. I know especially within Waldorf it can be easy to slip into the mindset of worry when dwelling on the effects of screen time, synthetic plastic or fiber toys, processed foods, early academics, you name it. “It’s Too Awakening.” “It’s Too Stimulating.” “It’s Not Natural.” “It’s Not Developmentally Appropriate.” It reminds me of a recent discussion on a Waldorf board, where someone mentioned they thought they heard a Waldorf teacher say that using “weekly themes” could give the child a sense of time and their world being fractured. I immediately imagined this scenario:
Obviously the meme blows it out of proportion a bit, but I think we often blow things out of proportion when it comes to protecting our children. I think we make big deals of the physical, impermanent world and need to make a bit bigger deal about how to protect in the realm of spirit and soul, which trump body. After all, as the saying goes- we are not just physical bodies having a spiritual experience- rather, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. And how do we protect within the realm of spirit and soul? What has come to me in my meditations is the idea of “Holding the Image.” Yes, last time I mentioned “holding the space” (Melisa Nielson did you coin that term?” I know I heard it from you first!). This time… holding the image. We hold the image of our child’s highest self. In holding it, we are protecting it. We are keeping it intact, cared for, alive and strong.
I know it seems like I frequently mention my difficulties/disconnect with my Christian beliefs. And here I go again. Just humor me, because I’m working it out in real time after 8 years of religious elementray school and a couple at Bible College. :) I really feel like one of the biggest breakthroughs in my parenting came when I stopped believing the Christian ideology of sin nature. No, I’m not trying to turn John Calvin or any other theologian over in his grave or anything. But (if you are working from a basic Christian perspective), you believe we were created by God, and created in the image of God, how could we possibly be created with a nature of sin? We were created with a free will- so I believe we have a choice nature. Not negative, not positive- but neutral. We have the choice to choose lower or higher vibration, aka to function via the flesh vs. to function via the spirit, higher nature or lower nature. Now by actually using that free will to sin, did we suddenly change our very nature? Nope. We introduced a low vibration to the mix, but we didn’t become the low vibration, we just started functioning on a lower level than we have the potential to. Our nature is still the same- a choice nature. We do increase the likelihood of future sin, or “missing the mark” as sin is defined, because once you’ve “gone there” it is easy to follow a groove that’s been carved out. But, tipping the scales a bit in our best interest, God actually sees us as our potential. He stands outside of time, Holding the Image, seeing us as perfect and complete in Him- the way He intends.
I recently heard a recording of a young boy, about nine, explaining predestination- that it is like a hint of our destiny, and we can choose to follow it or not. I love that. So I see God intending for us, and we can choose to follow in His intention, the “destiny” He has pre-thought- well, not really pre-thought since He stands outside of time, but whatever the equivalent is in Divine Being!- or, we decide to go another way (because, you know, we have a choice nature).
So back to keeping the idea of our child’s highest self being protected… what does this look like? This means believing the best about our children. Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, can I get an amen (I Cor. 13)? This means not considering our child a liar, a thief, a complainer, or lazy even if they exhibit any of those behaviours. Stand with God outside of eternity, get that image of your child at his or her best- as if they have fulfilled every jot and tittle of what God created them to be, and are perfect now, covered in righteousness and grace- and visualize every last shred of negative ideas about your child turn into a thin inky veil of fog swirling around your child. That inky cloud is Error, and Be-Lieving In, or to Be Living In, it is to be “dwelling in” error, which is error itself. So watch the cloud of error dissolve- visualize it wafting away into nothing as light pierces through darkness, and light becomes the absence of darkness. Now, that light is Love. Be that love, that light, in your child’s life. This works for your spouse, too.
And to give some concrete examples of how this affects my parenting, I remind my children of who they really are. Rather than “Stop being such a complainer!”, it’s “I know you appreciate all the blessings you have been showered with lately- let’s start counting those blessings together. ” Instead of “Stop being such a tease to your brother!” it is, “I know you are a kind and loving person, and you dislike to see the people you love hurting… can you show me a little of that love I know is in your heart? Or perhaps the behaviour is just reflecting a state of being out of sync, and mom needs to step in and hold that space- “Maybe you are needing more personal space right now and this situation isn’t working? Lets figure out how to change this dynamic”- new activity, new room, new beginning.
I love the verse that says “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” You may be saying, “How can I treat my child like they are perfect when it is so obvious to my senses they are not?” Think about this; now you see through a glass, darkly. There are two spiritual laws, as real to me as gravity; one is that we create our own reality; the other is what we focus on, we get more of. “Creating our own reality” means that if we choose to view things from a certain perspective, we can be sure we will keep finding evidence to support our conclusion that our perspective is correct. If you choose to look at the world as half empty, you’ll find plenty of proof that things are not ideal. If you choose to believe you are blessed beyond measure, and are actively looking for blessings and miracles, you will find them everywhere! So it just stands to reason, if you choose to view your child as defiant, they will become, at least in your mind, more defiant. You will feel at odds and keep perpetuating this defiance myth. “What you focus on, you get more of” coincides with the law of attraction. The pop culture law of attraction became twisted when it offered the false idea that you attract what you want (ie, money, relationships, etc). Rather, you attract what you are. So if you are feeling at odds with your child or spouse, you will keep behaving as though you are at odds; they will sense this; the drama will play out.
In Holding the Image, we offer redemption to restore the image when it has been clouded. Redemption, in my mind, is the opposite of punishment. It is the anti-punishment (you know, like anti-matter)! You offer the child a way back to find that perfect image of themselves you hold out to them- to step back into that beautiful intention for all they can be and do. When feelings have been hurt, we make restitution by showing love. When property has been damaged, we replace it. When milk spills, we clean it up. Forgiveness, grace. All better!
And how does Holding the Image and offering redemption protect our children? It protects them by ensuring they have every bit of assistance they need to live from their Higher Self, their self when connected to their Source. There, within Source, perfect loves casts out all fear. It is a haven of safety, a place of perfection. When you are connected to Goodness, viewed as Good and of worth, ultimately, you will begin to behave in kind… you will instinctively avoid bad situations, because you are so accustomed to dwelling within that state of wellbeing, you will notice dischord and know to avoid it.
In troubleshooting negative behaviour, it is also helpful to examine the drive behind it (an unmet need? a false perception? a feeling of disconnect from you, the parent?). I’ve often considered how in homeopathy, we seek to bring disease out of the body, and skin problems are viewed as a good sign (the problem is coming to the surface to make an exit– vs. allopathic medicine attempting to steamroll the problem, which generally shoves it back down… we don’t see any “symptoms”, not because the problem is gone but because we are uncomfortable with it and try to sweep it under the rug, so to speak. Punitive discipline does not root out the cause- it tries to simply get rid of the behaviour. The cause very often remains, and resurfaces later in new manifestations or neurotic behaviours as the child tries with increasing frustration to “work it out”- to self-heal. Connecting in love, telling therapeutic stories, and meeting needs are great for acting as a catalyst for working such things out of the system.
The first place to begin, of course, is in “holding the image” for ourselves. If you have trouble envisioning this picture of you clothed in perfection, complete in your Source, I think you’ve got an assignment… meditate on it! I do this often, because I have PILES of guilt to unload from being told and believing I was riddled with sin, it was in my nature to go the wrong way, and constantly being made to feel “wrong” because I had no concept of the image my Source holds when He looks at me- already complete in the truest sense of time, eternity, where all work is already finished; lovable; worthy of love. Guilt and shame may be useful for about a split instant as we get a flash of them before or after a negative behaviour- they inform us Nope! Low vibration this way- steer clear- get back to redemption!” Beyond that split second, when we identify with them and dwell with them, we begin to attract more guilt and shame vibrations. Shame… the gift that keeps on giving- ugh! RUN AWAY (or as my Baptist friends would say- “leave it at the cross”)! In our “dark glass” of physicality, smudged and cloudy, we peer out to eternity trying to make sense of it, still striving to grasp more beautiful realities…