Join us on November 17 for a free lecture from internationally-known educator and author Helle Heckmann.
An excerpt from the Preface of Heckmann’s book Slow Parenting:
It is now commonly known that the ability to bond is established during the first years of life, which is why early childhood is of paramount importance. It has an enormous impact on the development of potential later on in life. Childhood cannot be rushed through or taken lightly, nor can it be postponed to the weekend or the next holiday when we feel we have the time for it. Childhood is short, and we only have a limited time to be there with and for our children. This time is precious and never returns. Children need their parents–for longer periods of time. Quality in the world of children is also quantity, buckets of time, peace and the opportunity to experience those rare quiet moments that allow for something else to happen, if only the adults are capable of waiting and listening.
The lives and well-being of our children are in our hands. As adults we carry the full responsibility for our children. As parents, grandparents, educators and politicians, we must learn to stop and listen with a greater sensitivity to their needs.
Do politicians propose longer days in institutions and fewer closing days to enable active citizens to take on more work, to win votes in the name of women’s liberation? Should we accept financially stretched nurseries and kindergartens, where the educators have a hard time creating a cohesive day for the children when they are delivered and picked up at different times, some children being there for 8-10 hours, getting tired and distressed? No we should not! The children need us. They need to know that we are there for them, whether we are their parents, educators, or caregivers. They need security and attention rather than an unpredictable environment.
Today I am convinced that we need to re-learn the basics in being with children. Just as our children need repetition to learn, we adults sometimes need it, too. We need to learn how to stay in the background and be the “solid rock” that the children can lean upon rather than the fast “curler” who paves the way ahead. We need to re-learn not to demand fast results from our children or stress them with reasoning and logic before they are able to comprehend reason and logic. We need to ask ourselves: why do we think that if only they learn to think like us, then everything will be all right!
Children are not small adults and their needs are different from ours. The world is overwhelming and big and it is our responsibility to make it safe, recognizable and good. Then children will be able to reach out for the world in their own time, in trust and with natural confidence. We need to be there for them and see that when they do reach out we take their hands. It’s no use stressing and rushing around and then compensating with anesthetizing entertainment, toys, and television to make the world interesting for them. The world is breathtaking and beautiful, and we would be able to rediscover this ourselves if we could learn to see the world through the eyes of our children instead of expecting them to see the world through our eyes. Children experience the world with their senses, not with their intellect. They can’t understand why there isn’t the time to stop up and observe a little beetle and absorb the experience with all of their senses, or why both mom and dad need to work so much. Decide for yourself whether it is worth it.