I remember putting my kids to bed at night when they were young - giving them the security and comfort of knowing that their worries should be about their little life, not the big issues of financially and emotionally supporting them, giving them a roof over their heads, food, clothes and the importance of having a safe space in which to sleep - a bed of their own which may seem like a privilege, that if we can, every child should be able to experience…I think it's actually not a privilege, but a rite of passage in some ways or at least in our culture. A rite of passage is an event, ceremony, or experience that marks a milestone in a person's life. Many are cultural, religious, social, and professional, across the globe, they range from an early age in some cultures, like Japan, as a 3-year-old girl, being allowed to grow long hair, and at age 7 shifting from a rope belt to an obi for their kimono, for a boy, at age 5 being allowed to wear a hakama, a formal garment - clothing for both represents entering into the formal stage of middle childhood. Various tribal rituals indicate the growth of an individual to the next level of development in eventually reaching adulthood. Rites of passage indicating milestones have also entered our social, educational and professional world with marriage ceremonies, funerals, 12-step programs, promotions, passing tests to the next level, certifications, graduations, licenses, too many to list; There are also many religious and spiritual milestones, from Deepak Chopra's 7 stages of spiritual development to baptisms, to B'nai Mitzvahs..and so much more. One U.S. cultural rite of passage is something I hadn't really thought about until I read about how my guest volunteers his time.
This more typical rite of passage is moving from a crib or a parent/guardian's/siblings/shared bed to one's very own bed. This milestone represents so many things in our culture that often go unnoticed or unrecognized and are truly significant. Having the capability of sleeping independently by means of having the privilege of having one's own bed begins to create a feeling of ownership over one's self, the feeling of self-reliance which builds self-esteem. Having one's own space becomes sacred, a spot that is theirs to set up, take care of, decorate, and love within the natural shelter of home - it is so much more than just a bed. For many parents or guardians who can afford beds, it becomes an automatic expectation and a feeling sometimes of moving forward for their child in healthy ways - even if they keep getting up in the middle of the night to sneak into their parents' bed, but for a child who has never had the experience of transitioning at a very young age, this becomes a journey of self-reliance that can translate into so many positive steps toward independence that may not have been a previous more typical step due to financial constraints.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace, our featured nonprofit organization believes that a bed is a basic need for the best physical, emotional, and mental support that a child needs. They are a national organization, based in Idaho, but we are focusing on one of their growing chapters, in Texas; this is a response to the call of a national problem, one bed at a time, one town at a time.
To learn more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace, check out their website: www.shpbeds.org