My daughter was lying on my bed. She was five and a half. She looked around the room and said it was so peaceful and beautiful. She noted that my room had altars with candles and photos and there were no toys in my room.
She said that she liked my room more than the room she shares with her brother. She went on to decide that she hated her room and that it wasn’t fair and I had the good room. She worked herself up rather quickly.
I went through a myriad of response feelings internally: “Back off, this is my room. Of course my room is peaceful without toys: I’m a grown-up. You’re spoiled, you don’t even appreciate your awesome room with beautiful bunk-beds, fabulous books, and an array of wooden, non-toxic, imaginative toys.”
I didn’t say any of this out loud, however. Instead, I realized that I didn’t have to judge whether or not her claims were valid or justifiable. I didn’t have to change her into a “regular” kid who wants toys in her room.
I realized that the most respectful thing to do would be to listen to her need as expressed and see if we could accommodate them.
So, with her brother’s approval, we went to her bookshelf and cleared off all the toys on top of it. I explained to her that an altar was a sacred space, often with candles and items from nature, maybe a photo, and anything else that has meaning to you. I explained this to her as I would have if she was 8 or 18. I realized that if she was asking for it, she was old enough for it.
We spread a gold cloth (from her dress-up bin, note, “toy”) on top of the shelf and two tall votive candles. She was allowed to place whatever she wanted on top of the shelf. She added some of the items from nature she had collected over time: shells, rocks, feathers, sticks. Then she began to slowly, one by one, add certain items from the “toy bag” back onto the sacred space: some fairies, a special box, beads, and some animal figurines. The items began to take on different meaning once placed on her altar.
As soon as the first altar was completed, she decided to make another, using an old chair, again, covered with cloth, and then with the appropriate items added. This one holds a candle, a buddah, a photo of the three siblings, shell soap from a wedding, a miniature car (toy) from someone special, and so on.
Once completed, we cleared the top of her dresser, so as to appear sparse and altar-like. She went on to change her bed clothes to white to match mine.
I have to say, her room is much more peaceful now. There are still toy bins, tucked under the bunk beds and under the book shelf, but overall the room reads as much more clear.
She knew something that I didn’t and she was able to articulate her need. This was the Listen part of L.O.V.E. Parenting in action.
When have you listened to your child and surprised yourself with the outcome? Where is the sacred space in your home?
About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today's progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.