A New Way of Parenting
by Melinda Fischer
For years I was fascinated with homeopathic medicine. After suffering with debilitating migraines for years and having no relief from traditional medicine a friend suggested I try a homeopath. I didn’t even know what a “homeopath” was but my friend had recently become pregnant after going through years of infertility by going to a homeopath so I made my appointment. I was also having light sensitivity problems and after an 1 1/2 long interview I was given little tiny pills. The prescription in homeopathy is called a remedy and I knew what my remedy was called but had no idea what it meant. Frankly, I didn’t care because within 10 minutes I could go out into the light again which I hadn’t been able to do in 3 months and I was hooked.
It took me another 5 years to finish my education to become a homeopath and with it all the traditional psychological courses that would go with becoming a pediatric homeopath. One of the greatest joys for me has been helping little people overcome illnesses that traditional medicine couldn’t help. And specializing in pediatrics means that I have heard the usual barrage of questions regarding how to raise kids. From potty training to what to feed kids I’ve answered them all.
And then I had my own “spirited” son and all my answers disappeared. Nothing I had been trained for prepared me for the assault course known as parenting. I had always known there were compliant children and non-compliant children but all the training and books I read really just dealt with compliant children. I understand what it’s like to parent a 2 yo and all the drama those little people are capable of but no one prepares you for a child that knows how to unlock any type of baby gate, doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep, cannot be redirected and for who time outs don’t work .
While homeopathy can help a child to better come into balance it doesn’t change their temperament. For spirited children they are more of everything. More intense, sensitive, persistent and energetic. With the right remedy my first born changed almost overnight. Even my playgroup friends noticed right away that he was more settled and calm but what it didn’t change was how to discipline a spirited child. My search began for something that would give me the tools to help my little guy and myself.
I knew from the very beginning that I would homeschool my children. I just felt that I was the right person to help guide my kids on the path to who they were born to become. For me public school simply meant bad behavior and killing the spirit of learning. I had seen plenty of little kids in practice that as soon as they were put into daycare or preschool they completely changed. I had friends who were nannies who also echoed this exact thing so there was no question that I would give my children the chance to be little kids with all the wonder that meant without the pack animal socialization that occurs in public school.
But what was the right curriculum? That was my next question. What blended in with my idea of wholesome, wonder filled childhood? And what would help me lead and discipline my older son in a way that kept both of us from killing each other? I was, from the very beginning, drawn to Waldorf for these very reasons. I loved the idea of letting a child bloom slowly. Of the wonderful wooden heirloom quality toys and the idea of not starting too early, handcrafts and the arts. But there seemed to be two things holding me back: one was that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to have two children doing two different levels and it seemed like Waldorf was better suited to compliant children. The few Waldorf parents I had run into seemed to have children who enjoyed sitting for hours and I had never met anyone who had boys. It seemed that it was particularly of interest with moms with girls and I had boys. Really, really energetic boys. So I gave up on it.
I continued to struggle with my son over discipline to the point that my husband and I were beginning to wonder what type of life my son would have. The time outs didn’t work, explaining to him didn’t work, leveraging him by taking a toy didn’t work and pretty much all the things my education had taught me just didn’t work. I was left with the only thing that I swore I would never do: spank. And sadly, for me, it worked. I prided myself on being an attached parent and here I was left with the one thing I never wanted to do.
Meanwhile I started coming back to Waldorf. Slowly stepping my toe into the water, I had heard of Christopherus and navigated through the online site. I was thrilled with the wealth of information for free and when I got to the download section I couldn’t believe that finally someone in the Waldorf community was tackling the subject of discipline. I downloaded all three of the early education series and I like to tell you that I totally got all of it, but well, I didn’t. I couldn’t see how just not talking about what they’d just done wrong would work. So I shelved them.
Keeping Christopherus in the back of my mind, I bought some of the Waldorf pre-k curriculum packages to see what might be a good fit for my family. None of them really spoke to me. It seemed they were either a bit like doing school at home or so many rules that I just couldn’t get my head around them. And of course, there was nothing about discipline in any of them. Finally I bought Christopherus’ Kindergarten With Your Three To Six Year Old and for the first time things started clicking. I read and read and reread this little gem. Donna really seemed to understand what I was feeling about home being the best place for my kids and all the unique situations that arise out of being at home. But most importantly there was a section on discipline. Slowly I started getting my thoughts together and understanding what discipline could look like without the filter of my education to hinder me. I found my downloads on early education and listen and listened and listened and again things began clicking. Then I joined the form and went through the old posts and just dumped all that wonderful information into my head.
I could finally see what it meant to not let my son get too much into his head (intellect)and what the consequences of that were. I could see how to talk to him pictorially and stop his behavior problems before they started. How to get a rhythm to my day that was just for us, not someone else’s idea of what it should be. But most importantly for me, I was given tools on how to help me discipline my son without spanking and having it work for the first time!
I’d like to tell you everyday is just Zen but it’s not. That’s just life with kids but everyday we’re closer and loving this journey called homeschool.