Looking To The Children

by on July 30th, 2008
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rhiannoncrystal-sm.jpgWith our daughter Rhiannon, it’s easy to see the importance of what we chose to expose or protect her from, the ways we inspire, instruct and guide her, and even more crucially the examples we set. We strive to provide an unconventional but empowering upbringing, so instead of talking about chores, we speak of the value and the rewards of taking care of things. Difficulty is described as a means for getting stronger, and an opportunity to distinguish our selves. When there is something hard or unpleasant that needs doing, we try to make it possible for it to be her choice, knowing that is the way to empower her, and have her taking credit instead of feeling victimized, controlled or obligated. And while paying attention to the ways she needs to be taught, we’ve also given attention to how much she and every child has to teach.

Her greatest contribution so far may be as a vivid example of right living, doing her work without complaining, saying yes to reasonable suggestions and standing up for herself when some friend tells her things she knows is wrong. She assumes that she is good, rather than assuming she is sinful or flawed, and builds her self one authentic part at a time. Regular trips to the river emphasize the importance of taking time off from projects to connect to the canyon, celebrate and savor. She readily tries most difficult tasks, acting as if there is nothing she cannot discover a way to do. When food is passed out, she makes a prayer of deep gratitude and heartful communion, acknowledges every plant and animal that contributed to the meal, and will sometimes resist the conversation to focus on the tastes and textures delighting her mouth. That does not mean she is unconscious of her effect, noticing as she does how words as well as actions can guide, strengthen, clarify or affirm. Rhiannon is thus quick to respond to a perceived need with appropriate counsel and advice. She can often read how people are feeling in spite of a forced smile, and offers precious advice about being fully present, self love, the value of dressing up and treating yourself well, being true to your needs and mission, trying to do the impossible, expressing sadness when sad the importance of celebration, as well as doing whatever it takes to resist wrongs and live our dreams. Even if our students and guests ever wanted to discount her, the palpable truth in her proclamations likely won them over, the earnest look on her face convincing the most committed skeptics of the power of her insights and observations, recommendations and convictions.


The kids of today need good reason to look up to us, it’s true. But when we think about how to live a meaningful life – love deeply and satisfy our curiosity, play hard and enjoy the outdoors, be easily intrigued and heartily pleased, be true to our natures and honor the natural world – it is to the little children of the world that we adults might best look.

-Jesse Wolf Hardin


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All photos (c) 2008 by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Categories: Jesse Wolf Hardin – Essays & Tales, Practicing Animá Lifeways

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