“Dr. Montessori stresses that children absorb completely whatever they experience in the first plane of development and these experiences become a part of their soul. This places an incredible responsibility on us as the adults in their lives… How will or should this influence the way you are with children? What qualities, fears, attitudes do you have that you would and would not want children to absorb? What kinds of impressions do you want the child to gain from their experience with you and in the environment you prepare?”

This is the kind of thing that spiked me into PPD/A after Amy was born. I was so committed to doing things right, but so very aware that not only do we all make mistakes, but we make mistakes that really hurt people. What a paralyzing thought. It seems flippant to just figure that people ought to know that about one another and learn forgiveness. And yet that does seem to be what we’re called to in regards to our debtors, those who sin or trespass against us. We are to have compassion and mercy on them as our Father has on us. Perhaps it is possible, then, to find a proper balance or harmony or integration between taking sin seriously on the one hand, and on the other hand, trusting in grace — not just from God (who has to be gracious) but also from others (who don’t).

So I could talk about aiming to be kind, warm, open-hearted, compassionate, and respectful toward the children in my class. I could talk about working to minimize my impatience, my anxiety, my distress in chaos and disorder, my tendency to take things personally and negatively. But perhaps what I should focus on instead is how I could model grace and compassion when I mess up, not only in the way I apologize and seek to make amends, but also in how I treat myself the wrongdoer — acknowledging the wrong, taking responsibility, but not overly berating myself, not labeling myself as bad. Or how I could model self-control, self-awareness, self-care, peace, and consideration, in times when I’m experiencing strong emotions.

I would want the children to get the impression that everyone and everything belongs, that there is always room for compassion and respect even within a firm moral and ethical framework, for ourselves and for others.

“Perfection is not within the grasp of ordinary human beings. Efforts to attain it typically interfere with that lenient response to the imperfections of others, including those of one’s child, which alone make good human relations possible.” — Bettelheim


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