The Arms That Hold
On the topic of spoiling kids, helicopter parenting, and discipline, trust and holding on to our kids. This was written as a response to a facebook discussionon on this article: http://www.positive-parents.org/2011/07/whats-wrong-with-kids-today.html
Yes! Spoil is a great word to look at. I like the image of fruit growing on the tree. The fruit clings to the tree, stays there for just the right time, when it’s ripe/ready, it either falls or releases itself with the slightest nudge. So with attachment, the child, as the fruit stays with her parents, the tree for as long as needed. Discipline, forced separation etc. are like picking fruit green!
Another image I like to consider regularly, are the arms that hold, the arms of the mother, father, family members and community…they open and embrace, accepting, holding, rocking, cradling, loving unconditionally. And, they also protect, set limits, catch (do not stray too far, pull back from danger, prevent harm to others, express boundaries of self and other). Finally, they release, allow, permit, send off, welcome back. The arms, the linked hands of a integrated community, the doors and windows, the edge of the forest, the river and the valley, and the mountains and sea, all these cradle and protect us. They can also restrict us, and punish. The hand that beats, closes doors, banishes, takes control, and shuts away, and throws away the key. These actions are all based in fear, rather than trust. Trust that with just enough nurturing, protection, and teaching / enabling, the child will ripen, not rot or spoil, or forever remain green, and he be capable of leaving those arms, that village to venture fourth into the forest, across the river and mountains, maybe even across the sea, and know deep in the very centre of his or her belongingness, that she/he can return to those open arms!
Let us also remember, that the hands and arms launch off, like a spring board, a bow, sending fourth an arrow…. they are flexible and stretchy, like the walls of a womb. Our children need our arms to protect us and express boundaries; but they will in their very nature, test us, push against our holding arms to see how firm our hold is and how far they stretch, when. They do this because it is slowly that they learn autonomy, and how it fits in with belonging and contribution / competence.
Hopefully our arms are firm and lose enough for them to take their own risks, make mistakes, and not learn the fear of failure, rejection, incompetence. I am so grateful to be raising my kids with the folks I have in my life now!
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to return to Firemaker with my son again for the third year to share this experience of being collected and embraced. To share, to contribute to, and to experience the embrace of a community and a natural setting in such a wonderful way.