Today I was thinking about the art of presenting children with the message "the world is good." We live in a world that is indeed full of goodness and pleasure and love, but there is a flip side we have to deal with as well. There is also a lot of fear in the world, and "bad" things happen. We all have "bad" parenting days as well. Many of us are on "diets" from the news and from media to help us keep a positive spin on life.
What got me thinking about this was an issue in the parent-child class I teach. One of the adults was concerned about the swine flu shot and we started discussing it around the snack table. I flowed with this in part to see what might happen, in part to keep the morning "real", and in part to observe what the children would do. They all left the table! Wise children...they know what is good for them.
How do we present "the world is good" to our children when we ourselves struggle with the goodness of the world?
One of the ideas that came to me is to go back to the idea of rhythm. Rhythm is the art of creating sanctuary in your day. Bear with me as I overuse a metaphor, but it is holding church in your home. Meal times can be a haven for a child, as can bedtimes and story times. Anywhere we can create a little ritual and a quiet, sacred space for a child to feel safe is a sanctuary. This requires that we, as adults, put aside our fears and concerns about the world...about whether we are eating organic enough, whether our husband will find a job, whether we can avoid anger, whether or not we can fix our car. We cannot escape our concerns, and we need each other to help navigate this path.
And that leads me to my final insight:
The art of parenting (or relationship in general) is to engage daily in heroic acts of self-regulation.
It is often hard to put aside our feelings and needs in the moment, and a balancing act to choose what we believe can be harmful conversational influences and what are nurturing ways of speaking about the world around our children. Moderation is a nice goal.
May we, as the Heroes of Sanctuary, find comfort in the knowledge of the goodness of the world.
(I wrote this as an email for my parent-child list. I edited it and thought I'd share it here.Please accept my appreciation if you are on that list and reading this twice!)