When I was pregnant with my daughter, Allison, my goal as a parent was to give birth to a healthy baby. I read books about nutrition, watched what I ate, exercised, and strove to create the environment within my body that would enable her to grow well and be born healthy. At the same time, my husband and I worked to create within our apartment an environment that would nurture Allison and allow her to grow.
After Allison was born I felt in awe of this tiny being who was entrusted to our care. Looking into her eyes, I felt her strong spirit and wanted to respond with the best parenting I could. I wanted to create within our home an environment that would nurture and allow her spirit to grow. At the same time, I knew that there was a lot that I did not know about how to do that.
Maria Montessori said that the most important part of preparing an environment for children is to prepare the adult within it. As parents, we want to be prepared, but how? If we want to prepare a home in which the child’s spirit can grow, we need to begin by preparing the environment within our own hearts. For this we need time, and prayer, and the attitude of a scientist. Like a scientist, we need to let go of our preconceived ideas about our child, instead patiently observing our child, and remembering that we cannot control who they will become. This role requires great humility: often, we must exercise the power of silence, rather than facility of speech. Instead of telling them what to do, we must observe and listen. We need to promote the child’s independence, and forego feeling efficient and indispensable. This is very difficult.
The obstacles we face are pride and anger. Pride makes us look for results; we overvalue our role. Anger arises when the child does not respond as we expect. Our pride robs the child of her experience; our anger destroys the peace of the home. If we do become angry, we need immediately to ask ourselves: what was I hoping for that did not happen? We need to let go of our need to succeed.
To create a home that nurtures our child’s spirit we must open ourselves to our own relationship with God. If we want our child to pray, we must pray. If we want our child to be reverent, we must be reverent. Pray for your child by name and in his hearing. Look him in the eye and call him by name.
Listen to your child. When she asks a question, she is not asking for an answer; she is asking you to help her think about her own answers.
Follow your child. You may have a plan for your time together, but he or she may let you know they need something different: more or less time to talk, pray, or work. As far as possible, we need to be responsive and flexible.
Above all else, enjoy. Parenthood is a great gift to us. The children make us humble – a spiritual virtue! – and help us to live the Christian life in hope and joy.
My interactive app for the iPad, Who Are You, Jesus? brings Jesus’ message of love from the Bible to you and your child in a beautiful, engaging way that is easy to use. Touchscreen technology makes God’s message of love accessible to children of all abilities wherever they are. Who Are You, Jesus? adapts to children’s learning styles by enabling them to hear the words of Jesus and respond verbally or non-verbally, using a keyboard, speech-enabled dictation, and a built-in drawing capability. All the child’s responses are automatically saved and become their own, unique book about Jesus. Find it at whoareyoujesus.com
This is the fifth in my series of blogs about children and adults living spiritually. I welcome your comments or questions. Please share this via email, or on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, using the hashtag #WhoAreYouJesus. Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whoareyoujesus/
Until next time . . .