A Letter to a Childless Friend:
A friend once asked me how I planned on raising my children differently from the way I was raised. I thought it was one of the best questions I have ever been asked. It really made me think, and the essence of it lingered in my mind long after the conversation had ended.
I felt as if I had been caught unprepared somehow. Like I had given an answer but it had been somehow incomplete. I don’t even remember what my response was in the moment, but apparently I came home and *gasp* WROTE about it! which I am now rediscovering in my archives. Here is my written response to her, which I cannot honestly remember if I ever sent.
” You asked what I plan on doing differently when it comes to raising my children. I feel like there’s sooooo much lol. I said education, the calendar (more meaningful/pagan celebrations), & support in their sexual development. Those are the three biggies that come to mind first. But I’ve been thinking about it all night and was still dwelling on it this morning when it occurred to me that there are a few other really big “Biggies” that I missed. Since you asked, I figured I would go ahead and write them out, since that is how I process things, and I think it is one of the most important questions I have ever been asked. Thank that you for recognizing the importance of it.
I also want to make myself accountable (maybe “accountable” is the wrong word. Maybe “witnessed” is better…..) to someone besides myself and Andrew. I think sometimes I am too hard on myself (and him when it comes down to it), and that sometimes I am too sensitive when it comes to differences in our parenting techniques, so I would sorta relish the kind of objective witnessing you can provide because I can tell you are one of the rare types of human that has an independent (and appreciatively critical) mind. You’re like a human unicorn. Anywho, in a nutshell ;
- Vitality- I want to teach them how to care for themselves, body mind and spirit. How to eat and rest properly. Where to find inspiration. How to listen to their bodies. How to be their own greatest caretaker. the IMPORTANCE of developing a healthy relationship with their inner and outer environment, if that makes sense?
- Emotions- This is HUGE for me! I only recently had this lightbulb go off. I want to teach them how to relate to their emotions in a healthy, beneficial way, and how to not be afraid or embarrassed to express them.
- Connection- How to form the kinds of relationships that will nurture their spirits and help their souls evolve.
- Community- The importance of giving back. The mutual satisfaction of being a valuable and contributing member of your neighborhood.
- Presence- Another biggie. Maybe the biggest for me right now actually. Or at least the most difficult. The ability to just BE. And the importance of it. How to meditate. How to breathe properly. How to expand the senses.
- Personal Sovereignty- I want to teach them how not just how to survive in the world, but how to THRIVE, simply by being who they are meant to be. I have no idea how to do this, and I have no idea who they are going to grow into. I hope I can keep my ego out of it and give them the room, respect, and recognition they need in order to blossom into their full potentials.
There is this book I have on my kindle called “Riding Between the Worlds” that you can borrow if you are interested, it is about the mystical healing powers of horses and how they can aid one on his or her path to self discovery. You mentioned that you feel really drawn to animals, so I wanted to mention what has been pulling at my heartstrings lately to see if any of it resonates with you:
I think humanity needs a new myth for itself. A new story. I think we need to start spreading and internalizing a new purpose for ourselves. That purpose being- We are the ambassadors between the human race and the other life forms we share the planet with. Including plants and animals. I think it is vital for our survival as a species that we start recognizing, and then treating the other living creatures we inhabit this planet with, as our equals. This is more radical than it initially sounds, but I do actually believe it is true, (acting in accordance to this belief of course can get much more tricky), and I think that all the other species we live so intimately with are also beginning to evolve at a more rapid rate and expand their own levels of consciousness as well. As humans, our job is to be gentle guides and translators, so that this new golden age can be ushered in with understanding and harmony rather than destruction and chaos…” –end letter.
Right now I am trying to figure it out for myself, so that I have some sound experience to base any advise I give them off of. Currently, I think the best thing is to pursue those things that make your heart sing at all cost. The tricky part is getting clear on what those things are. I tend to keep one of two questions in the back of my mind. One is “If I don’t wake up tomorrow morning, or if something tragic happens to me or someone I love today, will I have any regrets? Will I be happy with how I chose to live this day?” The other is the one I asked you, “What would I be most excited to wake up for tomorrow?” For me this involves freedom. a loose schedule revolving around eating delicious, healthy, homegrown food, and caring for my family, animals included. Lots of horse rides. Camping. Exploring. Crafting. Reading. Swimming. Just LIVING in harmony with the seasons and stuff and having a ton of fucking fun with the people I love in the process. So I ask myself how I can make this possible. I’m not 100% sure. yet. But I see the ideas crystallizing (weed reference NOT intended haha) and I actually feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at this manifestation stuff cuz i mean…i really do continue to receive everything my little heart aches for. Its amazing! I feel so blessed!
I still agree with my past self. If you want to raise your children differently first and foremost take it upon yourself as your right, duty, honor, privilege, and responsibility….to be the greatest educator in their schooling. Stop handing over that most sacred of tasks to outside authority. YOU decide what is really worth knowing and learning in life, not a standardized government mandate of some sort. And listen to your children. Even the very young ones. Be their greatest advocate. What do they want to learn? What are they hungry and eager for? If they are anything like mine, the answer is EVERYTHING! So the possibilities are really endless. What do they love? What do they want to understand more fully? Give them more of that! Let them follow their passions and learn to follow yours.
If you want to teach your children differently from the masses, consider incorporating some of the above six ideas into your lesson plans and be sure to take lots of notes about the process and how your children respond. Post them in the comments, I would love to hear of your experiences! Also please share the ways you are raising, or plan to raise, your real or imaginary children differently from the western standardized model, a model that I believe we are seeing some serious repercussions from, the result of unquestioningly accepting “the way things are and have been”, for far too many generations now.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” —Mother Teresa