Originally posted here by Parenting For Peace...
"If there is a single idea most associated with springtime, it is GROWTH. We see it all around us in the natural world.
Our human world isn't quite as straightforward. As the trees bud and flowers blossom outside our windows, our global landscape features a lot of suffering, turmoil and fear. Many people I talk to are feeling anguished and powerless.
I really get that. And, I want to remind you of the powerful social action you as a parent (or teacher or caregiver) for peace are engaged in every day: building the youth for our future. [That's an FDR paraphrase. I wrote more about this in my Winter newsletter, in case you still have it.]
One of the most important ways you can do this is to cultivate an atmosphere in which your child can be in GROWTH mode, rather than in protection mode. Your child is in growth mode when he or she feels safe, secure, connected and heard. When children feel disconnected, invisible, without boundaries or a loving leader, they feel unsafe; this elicits an anti-growth biochemical cascade that shifts them into what I call protection mode. (Fyi, protection mode is where most "bad behavior" happens.)
Sheltering Your Child's Childhood
A gentle reminder that tumultuous times like these open up a pitfall that even the most conscientious, loving parents can trip into without realizing it: your protective buffer of their childhood experience can erode under the intensity of your own feelings about what is happening in the grown-up world.
"Parents need to buffer their children, not from the normal vagaries of childhood—the daily frustrations inherent in being a child, the disappointments with parental restrictions, the spats with friends, the skinned knees, all of which are essential for their budding resilience—but from the vagaries of adulthood, one of which is simply a flood of too much information: CNN, NPR, World News Tonight, Modern Family, family politics, political intrigue, intriguing reality shows, community gossip, environmental crises and the like." [Pg. 270 of Parenting for Peace]
This applies to the young child, up to about age seven. As children move into the school-age years, there are many constructive ways to discuss current events so that it enriches rather than overwhelms them. [Find many on pg. 382] We want to pay special attention to the pivotal "nine-year change," an age when the child begins to question all that was previously taken for granted, and can become disenchanted with the world. [Some 9-year ideas on pg. 386]
It isn't just about the quality of information (such as "too adult," although that is often an issue)--it is about the sheer quantity of sensory input that children, like everyone, are bombarded with by virtue of living in this information-revolution era. As Kim John Payne put it, they often feel the world is "coming at them," and this can shift them into protection mode.
Your child will have a lifetime of total immersion in the world, but only a relatively few years to enjoy what Rudolf Steiner called "the kingdom of childhood." As a gardener would shelter a seedling / sapling from the elements until it grows the foundation needed to be a strong, long-lived tree, you are sheltering your child in a similarly wise way. Be forewarned: despite how wise it is, it is not the cultural norm. These days even very young kids are savvy and in-the-know about everything going on in the world, with their parents' and teachers' enthusiastic encouragement.
Parenting for peace is a hero's journey that often entails swimming against the tide of the status quo, where cultural norms exert tremendous pressure on well-meaning parents to make choices that aren't good for kids, or for our future as a human family.
I have faith in you. Here's to making pro-growth parenting choices..."