Being a parent and a child today

by Daniel Wirz*

There are many things children need to thrive. First and foremost: that we are there for them. It’s quite simple, but it’s by no means a given these days. Children are often perceived as a burden. What they demand of us goes too far for many parents. They feel threatened on their path to self-realisation and withdraw, even if only inwardly.
  What does this mean for our children’s everyday lives? How do they deal with it? Do we encourage them to become independent by withdrawing ourselves? What do children expect from their parents? What are their basic needs and how do we fulfil them without denying ourselves?
  What children are always looking for, everywhere: The encounter with us, up close, direct, undisguised, sincere. They want to feel us. Just as we are and – even more importantly – what we want to become. We can’t hide anything from them. And we hurt the children if we try to fool them.
  The fact that we make mistakes is one inevitable thing. But the fact that we learn from them is another, much more important thing. Children are generous in their forgiveness. They don’t hold anything against us and are ready to start afresh every day. In this sense, living together with children is a great opportunity to constantly become something new. It is crucial that we convey to the children that we ourselves are on the way to making something of us.
  Basically, they think a lot of us, and there’s nothing they’d rather do than orientate themselves on us. But just that: Not that we are fooling them. They should feel our efforts. In plain language, this means: no education without self-education.
  What else children need existentially is actually derived from what has just been said.
  In other words, once this ‘foundation’ has been laid, the rest will follow as if by itself.
  One more thing should perhaps be mentioned: Even if we recognise some familiar things in our children, they are not really «our» children. I mean: they are not just to be understood as a “cheap copy” of their ancestors. Regardless of some undoubtedly formative factors, they are an individuality. That literally means: indivisible. We should always respect that. In this way, we give them the freedom to become what they are innermost meant to be. It must therefore be a blessing for the child to be surrounded by adults who – unspoken – constantly ask the question: Who are you?  •

Daniel Wirz is a psychologist, teacher and author. Co-founder of the “Freie Pädagogische Arbeitskreis” (Free pedagogic working group) (today: “Menschenbildung” – Humanistic Education), co-founder of the Rudolf Steiner School Baar and the New School Zug.

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