Steiner Education: A Challenge For Couples?
When a couple first journeys into Steiner/Waldorf education, it is very scary. More often than not, it will be the woman who will be gung-ho and all for no tv, strict adherence to rhythm, no vaccines, a total switch to homeopathic remedies, a vegetarian diet–you name it, she will want to do it. The man will probably resist, find it creepy, and generally be the less active and excited of the two. He will strain against all the difficult changes and complain to his buddies that his wife has gone nuts. Thus begins one of many struggles on this path.
No matter how else the man fights it, he will see how healing the education is for the children. He will see how differently his children will behave–how much more calm and centered they are, for example, compared to their media-exposed counterparts. He will see many things that are good for the child. But, the relationship between man and woman, if both are not equally sold on Steiner Education, will be challenged, because they day-to-day decisions that were taken for granted before are now put on the table for scrutiny.
Women are naturally more spiritual to begin with, and therefore more open and connected to some of the “radical” concepts being introduced in Steiner Education. Men are just more materialistic and earthly in their views. They are grounded on the plane of rationality so it is not as easy for them to make the leap. Somewhere between the two, I’m sure a healthy attitude towards Steiner Education can be met.
I was one of those super gung-ho Waldorf moms and I wanted to do everything right. Every mother does, that’s why it is so overwhelming to come across Steiner Education and all it means, because it is not just education in school but a new way of living. It is not easy. But truth be told, I burned out doing it all and now I am trying to find a healthy balance between staying true to the principles I believe in and the daily demands of my life, with the long term view that tells me my health–inner and physical–are necessary for the family to be well. This path can burn you out, what with the natural medicine and therapies, diet, rhythm, the constant working on oneself– all can really overwhelm, so it’s good to take the middle path and learn to breathe in and out. When my children are with their father, I know they are in a different world. I don’t like to fret over how much media exposure they’re getting anymore and I try to unclench my gut when they come home singing adult tunes and mimicking stuff they must have seen on the tube. Instead, I take deep breaths and try my best to accept what I cannot change.
Some couples do not survive this journey into Steiner Education because it is also a very deep journey into oneself. I believe that at the very heart of this education is a commitment to integrity on all levels. That is a daunting challenge indeed, especially in the Philippines where the concept of marriage is still very backward. Any couple who enters this journey will inevitably have to face the most difficult questions about their union and purpose. Those who survive come out of it with the most inspiring relationships — where work, purpose, love and life have come together wonderfully. I have been around some couples who exude this strength and I am always blessed to be in their company.
I have also been around a lot of mothers who have to give up what they feel is right for their children in order to give in to what their husbands want to do with them–watch television, play video games, etc. Many of us just work on accepting what cannot be changed and try to simply make the best of every situation. Wherever we are on this path, one can be sure we are being stretched in unfamiliar ways. It is not an easy life, but one that is definitely worth the struggle. When I see how truthful my children are, how creative, gentle and kind, I know that it is all worth it and I would do it again and again for them.
Steiner Education is really an education for the family towards integration and wholeness. It is not just a school. Anyone who embarks on this adventure will know that it is a journey through life towards our fullest potential as human beings. Anything false will be brought to light. Scary, yes, but absolutely essential if you want your children to grow-up whole and integrated.
So if you and your partner are struggling, take heart. It is normal for anything that needs to grow to resist and flail about. It is the only way new and great things can be born.