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Making Childhood Sacred

Making Childhood Sacred

Is not about filling up children's schedules with every type of fabulous activity.

Is not about permissiveness ... or authoritarianism.

Is not about being a so-called perfect parent.

Is not about always putting our children's needs above our own.

Making childhood sacred is about ...

CONNECTION AND LOVE

Humans are built for connection.

By loving ourselves, our children and the Earth unconditionally, we model reverent and mutually nourishing connectedness with All Beings - with our own self-love as the foundation.

childhood

Art by Elisabeta Hermann

Making childhood sacred is about ...

COMMUNITY

Parents are not meant to go it alone. Children are meant to be surrounded by a wide caring adults, each with their own wisdom to share, skills to teach and beingness to model.

community

Art by Molly Costello

Making childhood sacred is about ...

FREEDOM

Children who are free to experiment, to take risks, to master skills, and to follow their interests and passions are children who discover the strengths of their minds and bodies.

free range children

Photo by by Jean-Paul Loyer

Making childhood sacred is about ...

DAYDREAMING & PLAY

Solitary reflective time.
Positive constructive daydreaming.
Hapless mind-wandering.
Unstructured free play

Teaching children to be constantly productive and filling their schedules with endless activities is the antithesis of a sacred childhood.  

Children need unscheduled alone time. Time when their cognitive functioning can rest. Time to tap into their deeper selves. Time for imaginative play and exploration.

daydreaming

Art by Laimonas Šmergelis

Making childhood sacred is about ...

A PATH TO PURPOSE

Children who are held accountable - non-judgmentally - for their actions discover their own power to create a life worth living rather than one focused on shame, blame, and external standards and expectations.

Children whose gifts and contributions are acknowledged naturally assume a purposeful role in their family and community.

Children who are offered mentorship and an adolescent rite of passage have the best chance of finding their authentic selves in service to community, the world and the Holy.​

rites of passage

Photo by Ly Huong Long

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Empower Girls to Be Who They Are

positive body image for girls

Be who you are. That's what we want for our collective sons and daughters, right? Being rooted in one's own being-ness - rather than defining oneself according to external standards and expectations - is essential for self-esteem and empowerment, for tuning into one's passions and purpose, and for all the things we want for ourselves and for young people.

Here are 15 doable ways to empower girls to Be Who They Are. And as it happens, these apply to all genders.​

We all have a role in supporting children and youth. Since my primary personal mission is to empower girls through mentorship and parent education, I'm often speaking to parents of daughters - or more generally, women who are called to girls' mentorship.

But the differences between what girls need and what boys need are limited.  What I'm often talking about is what all humans need.  And in fact, once we undo the culture's restrictive gender stereotyping, there will be fewer differences - especially as we move past the gender-as-binary model altogether.  

So here's a girl-languaged list of positive, doable ways to help everyone Be Who They Are.  Some are primarily for parents, but most of them could be offered by any role model.  

Many of these call for some inner work on your part, to bring more consciousness and light to a feeling, belief or story that is not in alignment with the message you want to bring.  Are you up for that? That's what we're here for, right?

As you read this, notice how you respond in your body.  Which of these resonate, which puzzle, which repel? 

empower girls

Art by Tammy Wyatt

15 Ways to Empower Girls to Be Who They Are

  1. Tell your daughters, "I believe in you" - and mean it. If you find yourself unsure of that inside, work with that, perhaps starting with believing in yourself. 
  2. Teach and model from birth that her body belongs to her. She chooses who gets close to her, who touches, hugs, tickles, or kisses her .. or throws snowballs at her.  She will learn to stand up for her body's sovereignty, and to offer that same respect to others.
  3. Name all the parts of her body including genitalia.
  4. Teach her that pleasure is her birthright.
  5. Talk to her about the changes of puberty and sexuality in accurate, relaxed and positive ways.
  6. Teach her to understand, revere and respect menstruation.
  7. Encourage her to listen to her intuition, her inner knowing.
  8. Encourage girls to explore whatever activities and learning call to them. Consciously set aside genderized limitations or expectations; if they persist, work with that. 
  9. Cultivate non-gender-binary, non-heteronormative, non-cis-gender-exclusive language and worldview. Don't let labels, stories or expectations impede you from being curious, respectful and awed by who your child actually is, right now.
  10. Tune into and respond to her ideas, passions, and skills. Limit your vocal and energetic response to her appearance.
  11. Limit praise - or more broadly, evaluation - so she develops intrinsic motivation and a connection to her Inner Compass, rather than relying on outside approval for self-esteem and and external expectations for direction.
  12. Encourage mistakes. Remove shame/judgment from mistakes. Without mistakes, there is no learning. Teach and model that failing magnificently is awesome.  If you don't feel the truth of this in your body, work with what you do feel in a tender way. 
  13. Allow her to seek her own answers and solutions. Humans - especially children - are natural explorers and seekers of mastery. Allow that to unfold.
  14. Teach and model media literacy from an early age. Help her to understand and filter the various sorts of toxic messages in advertising and popular culture.
  15. Show her how to be assertive - to ask for what she wants, to decline what she does not want, and to express her opinions and feelings.
empower girls

Photo by Rebecca Droke

To empower girls and all genders, start simple

Don't let a long list intimidate you.

As intentional people, I'm guessing that most of you already bring many of these to the children and youth in your life. Notice that, celebrate that, and keep on!

Of those items that resonate for you, but you don't see as your strong points, pick one or two.  Talk about them with your adult allies to help you flesh out why it matters to you, what messages you received as a child and the impact of that,  and to reflect on skillful ways to incorporate those pieces of empowerment into your life and the lives of the young people you care about. 

Thanks in advance for engaging with this. Truly we rise together!


Without reflection, there is no learning.  

Learning doesn't "stick" without reflection. The best reflections include our bodies and emotions, not just our minds.  

So pause for a few moments to ask yourself: What's my response? Where was I inspired or discouraged? What was puzzling? Clear as a bell? What would I add, remove or change? What information or support would I love to receive? Which items on the list will I aim to include (more) in my life?

Would you share your reflections? Please leave a comment below or contact me.

Much love and many blessings, 

Learn to mentor girls & lead Girls' Circles

Do you feel called to mentor girls?
Learn about JOYW's
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You'll enjoy new content, new resources and new collaborative opportunities in addition to an extensive interactive resource platform offering post-graduate support beginning in 2017.

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JOYW Girls' Circle by JOYW artist Karen MacKenzie

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Parents! Words matter!

Dearest Parents:

Words matter. They do.

Your words form your child's inner hologram of the world and who they are within that world. 

Your words can break a child's heart or her spirit.

Words linger.  What you tell her now will be what she tells herself as an adult.

Your words can remind a child that she is awesome, sovereign, holy, whole and a gift to this world.

Please choose words that affirm and guide rather than label and control

This powerful image brought tears to my eyes.  

What words and phrases from your childhood haunt you?

Which do you remember with joy?

How do these words affect you now?

Please leave a comment.

This poem rectifies the lie of the old adage...

"Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words can never hurt me”
and this I knew was surely true
and Truth could not Desert me

But now I know it is not so
I've changed the latter part;
For Sticks and stones may break the Bones
But words can break the Heart

Sticks and Stones may break the Bones
and leave the Spirit whole
But Simple Words can break the heart
Or Silence crush the soul.

~ H. J. Warren

Art by Jenna Bromser


Sisters!  Join the Fall 2015
Mentoring Girls Certificate Training
Now open at the Super Early Bird Rate

Girls' Circle by Karen MacKenzie

So much support for parents is included in the course!

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Teach girls that desire – that pleasure – is healthy and good

pleasure

Art by Chie Yoshii

Pleasure is taboo in our society today.  It is associated with laziness, self-indulgence, selfishness, and being "un-spiritual".

By teaching ourselves to marginalize or ignore pleasure, we find ourselves disconnected from our bodies, from joy, and from our inner guidance system which is designed to lead us toward things that feel good and that we feel good about.

Today I'd like to focus on the most taboo aspect of pleasure and that is sexual pleasure.  We can empowering sexual well-being and health in children and youth by teaching and modeling that pleasure is a good thing.

What are the some of the messages girls hear about sexuality?

pleasure is good

Art by Alima Newton

· Wait. You’re too young. You’re not married. It’s wrong. It can ruin your life.

· You’re a slut if you do, a prude if you don’t.

· Boys want only one thing. Boys just want to use you.

· If you want to be liked (be cool, etc), you need to service your boyfriend

· Don’t be sexy.

· Do be sexy.

What’s the result?

· Confusion - focused on trying to please others (impossible) as compared to tuning into one’s one wants and needs

· Shame – feeling inferior, embarrassed, even humiliated

· Lack of sexual agency – the ability to choose who, when, and how someone gets close to her

· Lack of assertiveness – to express their desires or their limits

· Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem

What do girls need from parents, mentors and teachers?

comprehensive sex education

Art by Janice Sylvia Brock

· Comprehensive sex education explaining the changes of puberty for boys and girls, menstruation, female reproductive anatomy, sexuality, masturbation, pregnancy, birth, birth control and STD prevention

· Positive messages about self-pleasuring from aged zero forward. That it is normal, healthy and good.

· Acknowledge of body sovereignty

· Encouragement to be assertive – to express their feelings, needs, wants and opinions

· Encouragement to set limits

· Encouragement to tune into her intuition, her inner guidance system, her body wisdom and to her own pleasure

It’s time to empower adolescent and pre-adolescent girls to  pay attention to and honor pleasure.    

Pleasure is one part of a healthy and functional inner guidance system which also includes instincts, intuition, and emotions - and is informed by our beliefs and values.  When we teach and model to our young people to tune into their inner guidance system, we empower them to make healthy choices that they feel good about.  We likewise empower them to notice and correct their mistakes which are after all an essential part of learning and growing.  

And so, if this has stimulated some ideas or pondering, please respond to these questions, or say whatever you'd enjoy sharing.

What's your relationship with pleasure?

What are the typical messages about pleasure that children in your community receive?

What "pleasure-positive" messages and activities would you enjoy sharing with the young people in your life?

Thank you!

pleasure is good

Art by Meaghan Ogilvie

Mentoring Girls Training

Get support for sex-positive parenting and mentoring in the Mentoring Girls Certificate Training or the Non-Certificate Mentoring Girls Training

Learn to teach girls to take charge of their physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being - and all of these include sexual well-being.


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