When we take children seriously and treat them with respect, it becomes obvious that we owe them much more than just providing for their basic needs and teaching effective lessons. We owe them the gift of viewing, occasionally, our best selves. But are we even seeing ourselves at our best?
We Can't Unlearn What We Now Know
The state of the world today can feel oppressive even to those of us who are privileged enough to be financially and emotionally stable. Everywhere we look, there is human suffering. Our life choices and experiences might be perceived differently in the current political climate. The more awareness brought to light of society’s ills, the more realizations we have of our own behaviors and also of those who have behaved disrespectfully toward our bodies, our minds, and our hearts. It hurts.
Minor incidents become painfully obvious - major incidents - in retrospect. Were we charged more money because of how we looked? Were we looked at or touched inappropriately? Can we sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow without thinking of the woman who suffered nonconsensual advances by those who brought her to the stage - oppression which ultimately lead to her death? We can’t. Rose colored glasses can’t exist.
Neither, in the anger and frustration we are collectively experiencing, can much optimism for the future. And this is a problem. This is not an easy time to raise children. Our view of the world is shifting uncomfortably, and the more we engage in the fight for justice the more consumed we are by the limitations we encounter. Me, too, the whispers continue, volume increasing. Me, too. Me, too. In the roar, it is hard to listen to any other inner voice.
Healing Starts With You
If this is a sea of troubled emotions that are currently washing over you, it is time to make room for inner healing and peace. We cannot give our children what they need until we have paid attention to own hearts. Are you making enough space for you? You might want to create a special place in your home for the conflict resolution that is so necessary for the survival of your spirit. Create a space for it so that you can acknowledge the suffering, make a commitment to addressing it, and look toward a future of peace.
Your Peace Table
In Montessori circles, we often recommend using a peace table dedicated to expressing emotions and resolving conflict between two children. This is an idea that works very well because it adds a concrete plan of action to a voluntary emotional activity that is by nature abstract. It’s not just for children, however. It can work for you.
- Designate a small part of your home you are willing to devote to peace. It might be an end table, a basket, or a corner of your dresser. It needs to be a place you will return to regularly.
- Decorate with a few beautiful items that you like to look at or hold. Ideas: a plant, prayer beads, a paper weight, a shell.
- Return to this space to breathe, meditate, journal, drink tea, or say a healing prayer for yourself and the world.
Raising children takes emotional energy. Let’s help make that energy calm, soothing, optimistic, and compassionate. Cultivating spaces for ourselves is just as important as it is for our children. You are worth it. Are you willing?