I am so happy to share with you today a guest post by the lovely and inspiring Karina Ladet of Karina’s Inner Space. Karina shares with us her thoughts on parenting from a multicultural perspective.
Tell us a little about your family
My name is Karina and I live with my husband Olivier and our two children, Gabriel (almost 6) and Lou Kalliste (almost 3) in a small village in the South of France. We’re a pretty multicultural family as I am a Cuban born Swede with a Swedish dad and a Romanian mom, and my husband is French. Being from different cultures means that my husband and I regularly “discuss” what is the “right” way to do things, ha, ha! I am pretty sure most couples deal with that but it seems like an extra challenge for us as we have been brought up in very different ways.
Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use.
Wow! My parenting style started out very influenced by attachment parenting and I love being physically close to my children. With the arrival of our second child I have become a little more detached and I now allow myself more time for myself and I respect my own space more too… My husband has been brought up in a more traditional way and we have talked for hours about how to balance a traditional style with a more hippie-inspired one ; ). When we became parents for the first time we realised just how opposite our views on education were but I am happy to say that we have now (almost 6 years later!) found a good balance that works for us and our family.
What do you see your role is as a parent?
To be fully present with my children as much as possible and to walk my talk. I try to let my children be as free and independent as they need to be and also respect my need for boundaries. I see children as perfect and whole human beings when they arrive in this world and my task is to be there next to them when they need me. I try to communicate with them in a respectful way and let them express any feelings that they need to let out. I also realise more and more that it is so important that I live my own life and do things that make me happy because my children also learn from that. My view of my role as a parent seems to evolve with time. Nothing is rigid, everything can change.
What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?
Oh! When my son was born he became the centre of our family and I was so in tune with his needs (or what I thought were his needs : ) that I completely forgot about myself. What helped me was to talk to other parents and to my husband. He is so much better at respecting his own boundaries and kept telling me it was ok for me to take care of myself too. I became so much more relaxed after that! Now I take it easy and try not to be too hard on myself
What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?
All the Love in my life! And getting to know two amazing young people. They have taught me so much about life and about myself. Going through pregnancies and giving birth has given me access to an incredible internal strength. After my son’s birth I felt like Superwoman! Anything was possible after going through that.
Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself? What might you say to other parents?
• Take care of yourself too! You don’t have to do something big but give yourself some me-time every day.
• Ask for help when you need it! You don’t have to do everything on your own.
• Allow yourself to be human with good days and bad days. It’s ok not to be Supermom every day. Children don’t need perfect parents. They need loving and caring parents and then you can work your way from there.
is a channel and happy hippie-at-heart. She offers one on one readings, workshops and (soon!) e-courses where you can learn how to communicate with your guides and angels. Visit her on her blog Karina’s Inner Space or connect with her on facebook
If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below! Be sure to join us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!
The other week-end the weather was so gorgeous there was no excuse for not getting outside and into nature. On the Saturday it was a bit chillier, but a Peregrine Falcon payed us a visit beckoning us to come outside. My sons were thrilled to see the Peregrine Falcon so close, as it had visited that week before in our backyard but further away. Good thing too, as it was eating a sparrow on the back fence, not something I want to see up close (bloody awful, literally).
We watched in awe as this beautiful and strong bird went about its business.
We acknowledged together that though we felt bad for the bird it was eating, we knew that it was all part of the cycle of life.
I looked up Peregrine Falcon and found this “It has been suggested that rescuing the peregrine from extinction has been one of mankind’s greatest environmental success stories.” How wonderful that this powerful and fast-flying bird sometimes referred to as the “cheetah of the sky” visited us that weekend. It was a reminder of the marvel of nature’s strength and ability to survive and then thrive.
On the Sunday when the weather was milder, we went for a bike ride in the valley and stopped to make some nature art . I have included some fast forward videos here to inspire.
There is no right or wrong way of doing this. As long as you are respectful of nature, living plants, and possible habitats for small inhabitants, then how it looks is up to you.
A few weeks ago my kids agreed to try some doodle art inspired by artist Traci Bautista . We never really got to the doodle part, but the boys had fun with the layers that they created using found stencils. It was a fun art activity to do with the kids.
You could have each family member do their own then piece them together in a collage, you can frame them side by side or if you are brave like me have your kids work on the same one together. Be prepared for disagreements. Think of it as an opportunity for learning.
There is no wrong way of doing this activity. Below are just some suggestions and ideas of what can happen. Encourage spontaneity and above all FUN!
- paint brushes
- apron, smock or old clothing to wear
- old tooth brushes (optional)
- sponges (optional)
- brayer (optional)
- Objects to us as stencils such as feathers, netting, doilies, popsicle sticks tooth picks, pennies anything goes as long as you’re okay with getting paint on it.
- Things to add texture: large brush, sponges old tooth brushes
- Spray bottles filled with single colour and some water
Choose a medium to large size paper. Choose about 3 colours that everyone feels goes well together. Have some white paint to lighten the colours adding to the layering effect. Not sure about mixing colours? Check this link out: mixing colours.
Here is what you will generally be doing to create your painting:
Place items on the paper and spray paints lightly over the area you want to make an imprint of. Remove the “stencil”. Allow paint to dry between layers or before putting another stencil on. Any object you place down and spray paint on will leave a negative of the object when it is removed, giving a stencil effect. The first ones will leave white outlines, but as you add more layers of stencils and paint the painting will have more textures.
Place object on paper, spray one paint colour at a time allowing it to dry before adding another colour. This is to avoid making the colours muddy or brown.
Use a brayer or sponge to put paint on a plastic letter stencil for a neat print.
Press this down on the paper, being careful not to shift it and smudge it.
Use a styrofoam tray for a wide pallet for use with wide brushes and brayers (paint rollers).
Be careful not to put too much paint on your brush or it will get under the stencil.
Rather than dragging the paint brush on the doilies or other stencils, dab the brush into the holes gently to leave a print.
Be sure to hold down the stencil as you apply the paint.
Be sure to praise team work!
You’re done when you decide!
The other day I was taking my eldest son to a doctor’s appointment and we took Public Transit as we usually do, since the office is right on the subway line. It was rush hour so somewhat on the crowded side, and there were several groups of youth canvasing asking passersby for change or tokens to help Toronto’s youth. We passed them on the way as we rushed to our appointment again on the way back to drop my son at school. This second group was younger children, a school group that were volunteering their time to fund raise.
As we passed them by headed towards the stairs to catch our train, I stopped mid stair. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the everyday rush of getting places or getting things done that we pass by opportunities. This is why I stopped. I reached into my purse and pulled out some money, giving it to my son to donate. He took it then hesitated, because it meant him going up the stairs and approaching someone he didn’t know, as well he said he was eager to get to school (nothing like a dentist appointment for doing that) I let him know that it was ok since we had missed the train anyway, and he then went and made the donation.
Of course I could have just done it myself. I really wanted my son to do it for several reasons:
1. I felt is was important for him to feel like he was taking action, helping others helping a cause. I had noticed him looking at the youth who were calling out their campaign with their T-shirts on “Help Toronto’s youth, your change can make changes happen”. I believe it is important for him to recognize and be grateful for what he has, that he is not in a position where he need this kind of help.
2. I wanted to push him a bit outside his comfort level by having him approach the volunteers himself with the hopes that he will feel confident to initiate this himself one day
3. I wanted to model the idea of taking time to notice what is happening around us and rather than be passive bystanders watching and not doing, I wanted him to remember to engage and participate fully in life, take opportunities to help when you notice them, however small.
4. I wanted the youth to feel heard, to encourage their efforts by listening to them and show them that we appreciate what they are doing by taking action and donating. I think that it is important important that youth who volunteer their time and effort feel that they are actually making a difference. Giving them a positive response helps ensure that they will continue to be active participants in change rather than discouraged bystanders who feel there is no hope.
5. When others see you donate for a cause I think it has a ripple effect. It makes it all the more easier for them to justify stopping and taking a few minutes to reach into their wallet, walk over and help out.
Giving a little bit of money may have been a “drop in the bucket”, but we can’t forget that each drop creates its own ripple. This was not just about helping through giving money. It was so much more than that: giving attention to our surroundings and what messages to pay attention to; giving our attention an appreciation to the youth who are taking their time to raise awareness; taking the time as little as it might be, yet still breaking the habit of just walking through crowds with blinders on; and finally by responding we potentially set off a ripple effect to the crowds who may be in “I can’t stop -have to get somewhere important” or “I am not going to pay attention to what is being asked of me because it doesn’t concern me” mode but then notice someone else taking action and stop and do something themselves.
Our actions are more powerful than we think. Hopefully it is the kind of power that brings other great things to life. Your children are watching. Everyday there are opportunities for change, lessons to be learned. When we take the time to take our blinders off and be open to seeing the opportunities and lessons life presents to us, our children will see them too.
Sometimes when we talk to our children they don’t listen. It may seem like a lot of the time in fact.
As a child therapist I am used to slipping into the language of children to engage them in conversation and pull from them their strength. They are engaged easily through their active imagination with play and story. They learn from watching and doing.
However admittedly I sometimes forget as a parent to use this child speak. This often happens when I am trying to do so many things and when I am so task focused and in my adult head. I forget that my children are not in that same head space and are driven by other motivators like play, having fun, enjoying life. The usual kid stuff.
What would happen if more adults were focused on having fun?
Luckily because my kids are so play driven, I can’t help but be reminded of their need to have this outlet. They are constantly trying to engage me in play so I am reminded of a different way of being in my head, namely through my creative imagination. When I am in this space it’s as if we are doing a wonderfully intricate dance where everyone is in rhythm with each other. Cooperation is not a struggle but a fun game where both players are winners.
I cherish those moments knowing that I have access to them any time I choose. It’s these moments that make the hard work of parenting worth it. It’s these moments that give me the clarity to communicate in my child’s mother tongue: play.
Sorting through and tidying up my computer files I came across a letter I had written for my youngest son from the voice of a small (bean bag) bear cub which I gave him. To put it in context, I will tell you that my son was having some difficulty doing his daily routines and was needing much encouragement and reminders. Also at the time he would rather stay home than go play at a friend’s place. I knew that he was feeling like he couldn’t do things as well as his brother. Anyway, though these were things that we talked with him about, there is something about stories that sparks the interest of a child to “listen” on a deeper level. With this in mind I share with you the letter below.
I just want to let you know that I am a black bear cub, and I am mostly vegetarian. I am still little but big enough to do things like swim across the lake (like that bear cub your mom told me you guys saw last year while camping). I heard we have a lot in common like your mom said that you like to forage for wild edibles and I love foraging for berries. I have been to Crab lake too just for the blue berries- I heard you like them too. One thing you should know about black bear cubs is that we stick with our moms a lot but we also venture out to explore new things. We are good swimmers, climbers, foragers (and your mom wanted me to mention that we almost always listen to our mamma bears- because they keep us safe). I have come to live with you so that I can learn some things about camping (my mom said I can visit her when you take me wilderness camping). I heard that you are a great portager- that is something I have never done before. Will you teach me? Your mom also told me that you like to help out at camp and you have a great smile. I am so excited that I will be living with you!
Lots of love,
Your bear cub friend
(Bears don’t have names like humans do- but my mom said it was okay if you gave me a human name)
What does your child speak look like?
The other day I came across a post on prayer flags which lead to my finding out about a prayer flag project. I liked the idea of letting our intentions for the world sway in the breeze, releasing it for all to witness.
For the Winter Solstice our family did a releasing ceremony where each of us wrote down what we wanted to let go of from the past year as we move into the next. For New Years I wanted the focus to be on the positive, sending out our wishes our intentions not just for ourselves but for the world. I wanted my boys to remember that they have the power to change the world, I wanted them to feel this by putting an action to their wishes and hopes for the world. And so we made prayer flags.
I explained to them that prayer flags are a way of putting your hopes for the world in a visual format, to share with others. I explained that they could have their prayer flag be about anything they wanted to wish for to happen in the world to make it a better place.
Immediately my eldest had an idea and began to work on his, while my youngest was doubtful that he would be able to express his on a flag. I talked him through his ideas asking him of what pictures he thought of when he thought of his wish for the world. This helped him. Below is a step by step Tutorial of how you can make a prayer flag with your family.
Here’s how you can make prayer flags with your family:
Gather your materials:
- a rectangular piece of cloth approximately 5″ x 11″ ( 3 of the 11″ will be folded over for a string to go through). We used old cloth napkins that I had and cut them to size.
- permanent markers, acrylic paints – the tackier (thick) paint works best, or fabric crayons
- flat Styrofoam tray that sometimes comes with produce (if you are doing a print like we did)
- pencil for drawing then etching (if you are making a print)
- glue gun or sewing needle and thread to make the fold that the string will go through.
Explain to your children what a prayer flag is: Keep it simple for younger children such as “a prayer flag is a way to share with the world your hope for something good you want to happen in the world”. For older children you may want to explain the origins of the prayer flag such as is done on the Creativity in Motion blog by Art Therapist Gretchen Miller. You don’t have to hold any particular religious beliefs to use prayer flags, it’s all about sending out your positive intentions for the world.
Have your children choose one focus, one positive thing that they would like to happen in the world. Have them focus on what they want rather than what they don’t want to happen in the world. So for example when my youngest spoke of his concern for climate change and the polar bears, and penguins having little ice to stay on, he visualized a picture of polar bears with a lot of ice, and penguins with lots of ice. In the end he chose to draw only the penguins.
Prepare the cloth by ironing it flat if there are wrinkles.
Fold over 1 1/2″ of the cloth & sew or glue down just the outer edge so that a sting can fit through it. Becareful of little fin gers the glue guns can get quite hot. Tip: there are low heat glue guns that are less hot but you have to work quicker.
Now have your child draw picture symbolizing their wish for the world:
They can do this several ways, free hand on the square with fabric crayons , or permanent markers or for a print have them emboss it into into the styrofoam.
Cut the edges off of the styrofoam tray so that it will be flat.
For younger children or to avoid disappointment with their picture, have your child draw it on paper the same size as your flag first and then either trace it from this drawing or have them copy it by etching it in.
To make a print its easiest to use one colour though you can try more than one. The etched in parts will not show paint when you make the print.
Flip and press evenly into the fabric. You can test your home made stamp on paper to see how it looks.
Make sure that if they want to write any words in the styrofoam tray that they write them backwards so that in a mirror you could read it (we forgot to do this).
Another way to make a print is to paint the picture on a piece of paper and press the paper onto the fabric, the trick is to use thicker acrylic paint and make the print before the paint dries (do not wet the brush or it waters the paint down too much for transferring the print). You can always add more paint, and draw or write with with permanent marker any additional embellishments after adding the print.
Once the flags are done and dry, put a string through the flags (a safety pin attached to a string and pushed through works well) and hang outside where it can blow in the wind, spreading your intentions for the world.
We would love to see what other families are making. If you like, you can post your family prayer flag photos on the Offbeatfamily Prayer Flag Flicker Group.
O Winter! ruler of the inverted year, . . . I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness, And all the comforts that the lowly roof Of undisturb’d Retirement, and the hours Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
We’ve been anticipating the cold weather here lately, with the coming of winter there seems to be a lot of shifts and changes that leave the best of us feeling a little under the weather, with little control over the impending changes:
more time spent indoors,
less room to move,
less time in the sun,
more time feeling in the dark,
more time in each other’s space,
less time in “outer” space.
I guess that’s why this time of year is a good time to delve into one’s inner world, reflecting on the year past and accepting perceived “good” and “bad”. Just letting go, in anticipation of what is to come. This year I plan to do this more formally with my family. I envision us sitting in a circle on cushions as we listen to the resonating song of the singing bowl. We each take turns passing our family talking stick around, as we reminisce about the good times had these past 11 months.
Yet there are so many things that can pull us in the other direction if we let them. There is so much glitter and bright lights, that it sometimes becomes distracting. It’s easy for me to forget to just sit with my family, spending time doing nothing or doing quiet things.
It is the time of year that many animals get ready to go into hibernation. Slowing down, resting, rejuvenating.
We can learn much from these practices. The cold can signal us to slow down and take it easy. With shorter days upon us, resting and relaxing makes sense. It’s okay. If we can give ourselves permission to do “less” we might just find that we are actually doing more for our family. More time snuggling, more time laughing, more time noticing simple pleasures, more time just allowing things to unfold.
The stillness of the approaching winter can be a reminder to embrace the quiet within. It is an opportunity to connect with ourselves and our children through nature’s wisdom. An opportunity for our children to experience our connection to nature and what we can learn from her.
How will you embrace upcoming change with your family?