Sometimes people in all sincerity and love ask me if maybe I'm bringing my girls up too idealistically.
"They won't be prepared for the real world!" they say with real and honest concern.
But I wonder, why we don't "recreate" the "real world" around them!
For truly they have so much to teach us about what matters most.
So much of what we worry about is extraneous.
Just look at all the awkwardness surrounding public breastfeeding, the most natural and fundamental gift of motherhood.
Sometimes we think we are giving our kids the best by buying more, building more, doing more. When being together more is what children really value.
The thing is, we have created a set of structures, systems and institutions that have negatively impacted the environment are non sustainable and all at a great human soul cost.
With this in mind I hope.... and I pray, that if we bring our children up with respect for nature, their own souls and others, kindness, gentleness, freedom and compassion, maybe our future world may be also healthier, kinder, gentler, more soul orientated and more environmentally (and mentally) sustainable.
Why don't we build our systems, structures and institutions around
children, family life, spiritual wholeness, beauty, environmental sustainability and human fulfillment.
Maybe the "real world" would do well to take it's cue from children.
Politicians are always telling us that our children's education is a number one priority. But the series of hoops we fling children through from aged 4 onwards is not child focused or child led, it is performance focused and economy led.
The gentle, natural rhythm and creative abundance of a Waldorf school, the open ended, passion driven unschooling approach and the submersion in living books and nature of Charlotte Mason's method all seem so far from conventional classrooms.
Even many modern buildings are built upon the foundations of being primarily quick, cheap and functional. Aesthetics take second place.
Look at the beautiful buildings of the past, built with real craftsmanship, built to inspire. Built to reflect the highest ethics of their particular culture.
Built as gifts to future generations.
Built to last.
And now we have high rises. Shoe boxes in the sky.
My heart just breaks for kids brought up in high rises without trees, flowers, and green spaces with which they can project their imaginations and refresh their souls.
Studies have shown that hospital patients actually recover more quickly if the view from their window is filled with nature, trees and greenery.
Building around the natural world instead of over it, could transform the lives of many city kids. I lived in quite a run down part of London as a teenager.
Sometimes when I needed to recharge my soul batteries I would go to a certain cemetery which was surrounded by woodland. It was the only really quiet space close enough for me to afford the bus fare. But this little pocket of wilderness, a place the noise of the city could not touch was a haven. Watching foxes scamper, listen to the birds sing, feel sunlight filter through green leaves would always restore me.
I remember when I was at school I would be constantly told off for starting out of the window instead of down at my page in my sterile classroom.
There was a tree, an old creaking oak tree between my class and the fence and I used to project myself out into this tree. I would watch the birds making their nests, sometimes a squirrel would scatter up the branches quick as lightening. The tree was my inspiration, my little piece of freedom "out there". A place where even the birds and the squirrels could run freer than I was able to. But it gave me a little promise.
Human nature needs to breathe, discover love, be enriched by beauty, have time for stillness and quiet. If it is concreted over it dies.
So when I ask myself the question, do I bring my kids up too idealistically?
I'd have to say, that maybe for the way the world is right now, yes I do.
However, hopefully for the world they will help to create in the future, no.
I pray I'm giving them the tools and inspiration with which they might be able to help build a more loving, gentler, kinder world.