My imagination had conjured up scenes of calm babies in beautiful clothes held by a rested, peaceful mother glowing from the miracle of birth. The reality, however, was more like exhausted parents from the rooming-in of healthy premature twins, waiting for someone to release them from a hospital of onlookers so they could get some sleep already!
I remember uttering the words, “where is the parenting manual that describes this”? A far cry from the ethereal beginning I expected, but it was not the last time that my idea of parenting differed from reality.
In Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children Sharifa Oppenheimer gives young parents the tools and ideas to create their unique family culture. An inspirational model, complete with space to write in the margins and take notes, once you have had some sleep and identify as a parent to a small human.
For many years, I have told our boys imagination stories. These stories rooted in my childhood memories of trips to visit family, magical creatures coming to life in the garden, or mischievous twin boys that went on fantastic adventures while their parents were busy. Later, the boys would take over the creative stories and I would move them along with a prompt of ‘and then what happened’? Our family rhythm of reading a book before bed is so well established that the kids remind us it is time to read together, and we all enjoy finding out what those Hardy Boys are up to today!
Sharifa Oppenheimer, inspired by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, helps us see that education is a lifetime of moments, beginning with imitating the adults in their lives. It is with Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, that we can bring back the great traditions of raising a family by teaching them who they are by how we live.
Creating a Family Culture
The family is a living breathing thing. Our daily actions teach our children how they are an essential part of our family organism. They belong to a group of people that treasure their gifts and support their challenges. It is through our family interactions they learn the intricacies of social behavior in the safety of the home environment and form the foundations of their identities. We can either do this consciously as she suggests or not, but the quality of our family culture rests on the awareness we bring to it.
Heaven on Earth is a must have for every parent of young children. It reminds me that a wide-awake parent raises a child who has the courage to see things as they are, and can build that important relationship with their inner selves to guide them to one day create their own family culture.
You can buy Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children at SteinerBooks.org as well as the accompanying guide How to Create the Star of Your Family Culture: The Heaven on Earth Workbook.