The old preacher’s slightly shaky voice and once-hearty arthritic hands spoke of life and experience and hard-won wisdom as he held up a dusty tapestry with the backside facing us. The tangle of threads that seemed to go nowhere and snarl of multicolored knots gave no hint of the picture on the other side. “This is what we see,” he said. Then he turned the tapestry around to display the intricate, painstakingly crafted, exquisite picture on the front side. “And this is what God is doing.” He looked around the room, a kind and gentle understanding in his age-dimmed gaze. “Faith is trusting that your Father’s hands are carefully weaving a beautiful life’s story, even when all you can see is chaos.”
I remember this story often when life feels overwhelming, when big things like layoffs and sicknesses hit, and when small things like cranky toddlers, piles of laundry, and broken a/c units annoy. What feels to me like an endless cycle of dishes and diapers, punctuated by the odd disaster, must look like brilliant threads of golden perseverance, scarlet sacrifice, and soft blue-grey shades of faith, all woven tenderly into my life’s tapestry in my Father’s skillful hands.
I imagine life feels this way to my children, as well. As I try to teach and guide and nourish and encourage my children to grow into the beautiful humans they were created to be, they may not see the picture I am trying to weave.
They may not understand why they’re gently redirected when they try to crawl up the stairs or why bugs don’t make a good afternoon snack. They may not be able to fathom why their new dragonfly ‘pet’ isn’t allowed in the house or why they can’t hide in “the best hiding place EVER” in a hot car on a steamy Florida afternoon. They may not agree with the no-social-media rule and lack of a cell phone in their early teen years when “everybody has one!” And they may not fully get why the mall is not an approved hangout spot and why periodic texts to check in when out with friends are part of our family rules in their later teen years.
But, while these things may seem like meaningless threads or even unnecessary knots and tangles in their lives, the trust we share helps them to accept what they don’t understand, knowing that I have a purpose for each of these things even if they can’t see it.
It is that trust, that faith in my motives, my wisdom, my love, that makes gentle parenting possible. I don’t have to enforce my ‘rules’ with punishments or control my children with threats or intimidation because they know that I have their best interests at heart and that I will always, always listen to their concerns, even if I can’t change things or give them what they want.
I start building that trust from the moment my children are born and continue building it throughout their childhood. I respond quickly and consistently to their cries, whether they are eight days, eight years, or eighteen years old. I meet their needs as fully as I am able, whether those needs are a clean diaper, a full belly, a listening ear, or a warm hug. I respond gently and thoughtfully to their behaviors, whether they are having a meltdown, whining, tattling, questioning, or even challenging me.
And, perhaps most importantly, I’m honest about my own imperfections, am willing to apologize when I make one of my many parenting mistakes, and don’t expect perfection from my very human children.
Life is messy. No one has all the answers, at least not earth-side. But we can all trust that this sometimes bewildering, sometimes joyful, sometimes flat-out painful chaos called life has meaning and purpose and beauty beyond the scope of human sight. And as we carefully and gently weave the strands of our children’s days into a beautiful childhood, we can trust that our Father is thoughtfully and tenderly doing the same for us.
On a somewhat side note, my stillborn son, Sammy’s, birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. While he’s always in my heart, as his birthday approaches my heart tightens in my chest a bit more each day until the ache becomes almost unbearable, and then finally the day passes and I can breathe again. I wonder how tragedy must look from Heaven’s side. I wonder about my Sammy and my other lost babies, gone before they even had birthdays. What colors did they add to my story? What eternal beauty did they bring that would have made my tapestry incomplete if they had not come and gone, so heartbreakingly briefly, into my life? While I feel holes in my heart, one for each much-wanted child, and an aching cavern of loss for my Sammy, would my life have been complete without them? I can’t answer these questions. I won’t even try. But I imagine that is where faith stretches its silken blue-grey threads across my story like the fragile gossamer wings of a butterfly.
“Now we see through a glass darkly; then we shall see clearly, face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
May 11, 2012 | Categories: adolescence, attachment parenting, Bible, birth, character, children, Christian, Christian parenting, communication, family, gentle parenting, life, loss, miscarriage, motherhood, pregnancy loss, teens, wisdom | Tags: adolescence, attachment, attachment parenting, Bible, children, Christian, Christian parenting, gentle parenting, sacrifice, stillbirth, teens | 4 Comments »
Parenting is far more a journey than a destination. As parents we are always learning, always researching, always growing, always adjusting. Sharing our journeys is one way we can support and encourage each other along the way! Here are some really unique ways mamas are sharing their attachment/natural/gentle parenting experiences you might enjoy:
The first is a video by The Single Crunch. Such a beautiful testimony of the love of a mother!
I am a single mom…I breastfeed and practice child-led weaning, babywear, co-sleep, cloth diaper, homebirth, and do whatever else my natural instincts move me to do, regardless of what others may think. I DO NOT “train” my children (using the cry-it-out method to get babies to sleep). I do not spank. I do not vaccinate. I try not to run to modern medicine for every problem I or my children have, opting instead for natural (homeopathic) solutions when possible…I LISTEN to my children. I try to pause before I react and think about life from their point of view. I HAVE NOT ALWAYS LIVED THIS WAY…I’ve had a hard time with many of the ideals of being crunchy, especially as a single mom. It takes time and patience and time. Lots of time. Sometimes I’m not all that patient. I used to spank…I yell…But mainstream parenting never felt right to me. I wanted to meet moms who didn’t think my attachment (and the level of attachment I desired to have) with my children was weird. I found AP because most of the women in my life felt my ideas were silly, unintelligent, impractical, and unnecessary, especially for a mom with no husband. I didn’t care. I knew my children needed more of me. I’ve always felt a strong connection to my children, and I’ve always wanted to parent the way THEY showed me they needed me to, not a way that was convenient for me. I am now working to apply all that I have learned from my other mom friends and the many groups I subscribe to, to make my girls’ lives as safe, healthy, and happy as possible. I want to raise compassionate, secure, intelligent young women who know, understand, and believe that beauty starts within. (Read more at The Single Crunch)
The next is a lovely and honest post from The Mule about the blessings and challenges of breastfeeding on demand:
While I nurse you to sleep…
I...rest. For the first time today, I am still. I am not lifting, carrying, holding, bending, reaching, stretching, scrubbing, wiping, hauling, or lugging. Here in this dark room I lie beside you and allow my body and mind to come to stillness after the chaos of our day. You suck, and tug, you fiddle, and fuss…and slowly come to stillness too, until we both are still, and both are resting…I wait, momentarily, and then, I slowly slide away and leave you sleeping.
While I nurse you to sleep…
I…take stock. I turn over in my mind, the contents of the fridge, the washing on the floor, the money in the bank. I count up the years I’ve had so far and the years I might have left. I work out how old I will be when you are the age I am now – thirty seven – seventy two. I hope I make it. I count the eggs you already have in your body and those I have in mine and I wonder at the people they may become. I think about the person I was before I met you, the life I led, the things I’ve gained and the things I’ve lost, I count them all. I plan the contents of my other daughter’s lunchbox
(Read the rest of this lovely post at While I Nurse You to Sleep…)
This is an excellent and entertaining look at child-led, interest-led learning from Real Child Development.
Trust the child to direct his own learning. For it seems to me a fact that, in our struggle to make sense out of life, the things we most need to learn are the things we most want to learn. To put this another way, curiosity is hardly ever idle. What we want to know, we want to know for a reason. The reason is that there is a hole, a gap, an empty space in our understanding of things, our mental model of the world. We feel that gap like a hole in a tooth and want to fill it up. It makes us ask How? When? Why? While the gap is there, we are in tension, in suspense. Listen to the anxiety in a person’s voice when he says, “This doesn’t make sense!” When the gap in our understanding is filled, we feel pleasure, satisfaction, relief. Things make sense again – or at any rate, they make more sense than they did. When we learn this way, for these reasons, we learn both rapidly and permanently. The person who really needs to know something does not need to be told many times, drilled, tested. Once is enough. The new piece of knowledge fits into the gap ready for it, like a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle. Once in place, it is held in, it can’t fall out. We don’t forget things that make the world a more reasonable or interesting place for us. (Read the rest of this informative post at Real Child Development)
The next post is from Dulce De Leche‘s ’Gentle Discipline Toolbox’ series which has an excellent array of topics, ideas, and links!
My 19 month old began to love hitting. He wasn’t even angry most of the time. He just got a kick out of the sensation, the noise and the reactions. We tried softly stroking our cheeks with his hands and telling him “Gentle touches”. He giggled and slapped again. My temper and frustration were building, until I recalled something I had read by Dr. Sears. We began teaching him to give us high fives. His face lit up with delight, and he began to repeat it. He still got what he was craving–the game, noise, sensation and excitement–but now it was in a socially acceptable way that didn’t hurt anyone. I would like to say that at least we got a little advance warning as he gleefully squealed, “High fibe!” before striking, but he usually didn’t say it till he was already mid-strike. Still, it was progress… (Read more of this enlightening post at Dulce De Leche)
This last honest and informative article from Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond is a great introduction to positive parenting:
Positive parenting, at the very core of it, isn’t about what you can and can’t do in terms of disciplining, teaching, and guiding your kids. It isn’t even about having the perfect relationship (as there will always be breaks and repairs; such is life). It’s not about techniques or tools, whether or not to use time outs or time ins, consequences or problem-solving. All of those things stem from the practice of what is at the very core of this philosophy, but they are not THE philosophy itself. What it’s really about is the way we view children, their emotions, their needs, their motives. It’s about seeing them as human beings, worthy of respect and unconditional love, delicate, impressionable, who have as much to teach us as we have to teach them… (Read more from Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond)
March 25, 2012 | Categories: attachment parenting, baby led weaning, babywearing, Bible, breastfeeding, childhood, children, communication, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, grace-based discipline, homeschooling, natural parenting, nonvaxing, play, positive discipline, positive parenting, preschooler, toddler, Uncategorized | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, childhood, children, communication, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, play, positive parenting, preschoolers, sacrificial parenting, toddler | 1 Comment »
There is such a rush these days to get children sleeping through the night, weaned off the breast, eating solid foods, potty trained, reading independently, and on and on, that we seem to have lost the ability to simply enjoy life as it happens and let our children do the same. Gone are the days of making mud-pies and playing in piles of leaves. They’ve been replaced with flashcards, language immersion (even in the womb!), educational dvd’s, and the like. Preschool has become the new kindergarten, with parents rushing to get on waiting lists for the ‘best of the best’ preschools, often even before their first prenatal appointment!
Therapists in New York have reported an increase in parents seeking psychiatric services for stress related to the intensely ”cutthroat” admissions process for top-rated private preschools and kindergartens. “Parenting is a competitive sport,” says Dr. Lisa Spiegel. And that competition is leading parents to ask if their three-year-old should wear suits to preschool interviews, which designer purses are best to carry on school tours, and even if they should be induced into early delivery so their child ”could be considered for kindergarten before the Sept. 1 cutoff date.” (New York Post, see link below)
One would assume, with all of this emphasis on independence and education, that we would be moving forward as a society to a more self-sufficient, competent, and well-educated populace which, by extension, might reasonably be assumed to have less need of welfare programs and prisons. One would assume wrong, unfortunately.
By way of comparison, in 1960, welfare spending in the United States was $48.20 per capita with 1.7% of the population receiving federal assistance. (infoplease.com) By 2010 it had increased to $2256.40 per capita (usgovernmentspending.com) with 8.0% of the population receiving assistance. (wiki.answers.com) In 1960, 0.18% of the US population was imprisoned, whereas in 2010 that number had climbed to 0.74% (businessinsider.com) with drug use, rape, and assault rates skyrocketing.
So what happened? Obviously, there are many contributing factors, but one often overlooked, powerful contributor is how we parent our children. Study after study has confirmed that early childhood experiences have a profound impact on adult behavior, achievement, and satisfaction with life. The modern emphasis on ever-earlier independence and academics seems to inadvertently be sacrificing the very things they are designed to accomplish, and the modern view of parenting as a “competition” is setting the stage for stress, conflict, and failure.
Perhaps it is time for parents to reevaluate their priorities and realize their children are blessings to be cherished and nurtured, not pawns in a cut-throat game of strategy and intrigue. Perhaps it is time for a return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of pursuing happiness…perhaps it is time to let children be children again:
1) Let babies be babies~in other words, baby them! Babies are completely and totally helpless in every way. Medical experts agree that it isn’t possible to spoil a newborn, so responding promptly to cries will simply help them learn to trust that their needs will be met. Babies left to cry-it-out often do end up sleeping through the night earlier than babies whose needs are responded to because they have learned to give up on their needs being met. But that gain of sleeping through the night is accomplished at the loss of trust, and the resultant stress and long-term consequences simply aren’t worth it. (Surviving the First Three Months with a Newborn) Stress causes our bodies to release a hormone called cortisol which, when present for prolonged periods, can dramatically undermine brain development in babies and permanently impair brain function for life. Some causes of stress in babies are extended illnesses, detached parenting, and separation from their mothers, which has been linked to long-term anxiety and anti-social behavior. (News, Science and Environment)
2) Let human babies drink human milk~in other words, nurse them! Breastfeeding beyond the typical 6-12 month period has been shown to improve not only overall IQ’s in children, but also improve health and social outcomes. Children who are breastfed for 24+ months are less likely to have allergies and more likely to have healthy immune systems. (kellymom.com) Also, according to the World Health Organization, “a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five,” due, in part, to tainted water supplies, but also due to the immunity factors. And, socially, studies have shown repeatedly that, “Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence.” (Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. ‘Extended Breastfeeding and the Law.’)
3) Let children know they matter~in other words, listen and respond to them! Strong, healthy attachment in parent/child relationships has been linked to increased success rates in future marriage, greater career satisfaction, and overall stability and emotional health in adulthood. Children raised with detached parents tend to be forced into premature independence through sleep training, rigid discipline, and too early and/or prolonged separation from parents, often resulting in long-term dependency, attachment, and satisfaction issues. “Decades of research, including longitudinal studies, have shown that as securely attached babies get older, they form better relationships with others, have higher self-esteem, are more flexible and resilient under stress, and perform better in every aspect of life, from schoolwork to peer interactions.” (Dr. Laura Markham)
4) Let children see you being ‘good’~in other words, model the behavior you desire! Children are born observers and the first people they observe, with an almost scientific intensity, are their parents. Modeling appropriate and desirable behavior to children such as self-control, compassion, helpfulness, listening, respect, etc is a powerful tool in passing along these qualities to the next generation. “Discipline is everything you put into children that influences how they turn out…Whatever your ultimate objectives, they must be rooted in helping your child develop inner controls that last a lifetime. You want the guidance system that keeps the child in check at age four to keep his behavior on track at age forty, and you want this system to be integrated into the child’s whole personality, a part of him or her.” (Dr. William Sears)
5) Let children play~in other words, don’t rush them into growing up! Study after study has shown that children learn more, retain knowledge better, and maintain their natural curiosity and love of learning when they are allowed to learn through a combination of unstructured and guided play. The trend these days is to start children in academic-centered preschools as early as two years old and then move them into academically rigorous kindergarten programs, often while still four years of age. “While many children do fine in kindergarten and first grade, by the time they reach second grade, ‘they can’t hold it together — they fall apart and really struggle.’” (Colvin) “Newspapers and magazines across the country are reporting that kindergarten is the new first grade—full of pressure and short on play.”(What to Expect in Kindergarten) “As the parent of a child entering kindergarten, you’re sure to be shocked and amazed by what’s changed since your days on the story rug. Kindergarten isn’t what it used to be…many of the changes you observe make kindergarten a more challenging and potentially pressuring stage, it’s all in the name of teaching your child more effectively.”(Kindergarten Assessment) However, effective teaching is a subjective subject. Is teaching effective if it results in children who are capable of rote memorization and passing standardized tests, but lack imagination, curiosity, and a love of reading? Or is teaching more effective if it results in children who are innovative, pioneering, and life-long learners?
Do you think my little dirt magnet enjoyed her homeschool day?
February 22, 2012 | Categories: attachment parenting, breastfeeding, childhood, children, communication, gentle parenting, kindergarten, life, literacy, love, marriage, newborn, nursing, play, positive parenting, preschooler, reading, soothing, stress, toddler | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, breastfeeding, childhood, children, communication, gentle parenting, kindergarten, nature, newborn, outdoors, parenting, park, play, playground, positive parenting, preschoolers | 29 Comments »
I am thankful for fruit!
~By Their Fruit They Will Be Known~
Love ~ Many parents say they make their parenting choices out of love, and I believe that is so very true, but if God is love as He says He is (and He is!), then our love needs to reflect His in every way, including in our parenting. And how does God show His love? Sacrificially, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Modeling God’s sacrificial love in our parenting is reflected by making parenting choices based on our children’s needs, not our convenience. Responsive parenting is truly a picture of God’s sacrificial, unconditional love in that, as we respond to our children where they are, (“This is how God showed His great love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners [emphasis added]” Romans 5:8) comforting their cries, guiding their choices, providing for their needs, encouraging their individuality, we are, moment by moment, day by day, sacrificing our lives for them.
Joy ~ Parenting can be a challenge (Ask God. He’s got a lot of children, and they don’t behave all that well!) but taking joy in the journey and in our children makes all the difference. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’” (Luke 10:21) Take time out each day to enjoy your children, or, better yet, to tell them what joy they bring to your life and specifically what unique things you enjoy about them!
Peace ~ It’s so, so hard making parenting choices, knowing our actions (or inactions!) will have an incredibly profound effect on a precious little life. God knows and sees and cares about every detail of our lives and our children’s lives. And, in the same way that we want our little ones to trust us with their needs and concerns and desires, God wants us to trust Him and to have peace in Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Patience ~ “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) Children come into our lives as small bundles with big needs who don’t speak or understand our language and then proceed to grow into little people with their own temperaments, plans, and desires. Having patience as a parent should qualify as an extreme sport! But having and modeling patience with our children not only helps us to guide and grow them gently, but also encourages them to exercise patience with themselves and others throughout life…a rare, but lovely gift we can give the world through our children.
Kindness ~ My grandmother’s favorite verse was “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1Corinthians 13:4-5) This is a beautiful example of how the Bible encourages us to treat others…including our children! Taking time out on occasion to examine our parenting practices and evaluate them in terms of how loving and patient and kind we are to our little ones is a vital part of effective parenting. It’s also important to make sure we aren’t parenting ‘for the neighbors,’ in other words, we aren’t making parenting choices based on a ‘who has the best kid’ competition (envy, boastful) or out of embarrassment over our children’s behavior (pride). Are we easily angered by our children? Do we dredge up their mistakes time and time again? If so, consciously working to break those bad habits and replace them with love and patience and kindness will have a dramatically positive impact on our parenting.
Goodness ~ “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” (Mark 4:8) Of all things, shouldn’t our very first desire in parenting our children be to till the soil of their little hearts so tenderly, so carefully, so intentionally that their hearts are “good soil,” ready, eager, and willing to receive the Good News of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection for their sins? Instead of focusing on punishing our children’s mistakes, their ‘sins,’ thus negating the Gospel and undermining the very purpose for Jesus’ suffering, shouldn’t we model the grace and mercy and forgiveness we ourselves have been given? So what, exactly, is “good soil”? Agriculturally speaking, which is what the parable Jesus told was based on, “good soil” is well-drained (not bogged down by over-watering, i.e. over-indulgent parenting), fresh (not over-used or over-worked, i.e. over-bearing parenting), fertilized (filled with good nutrients, i.e. needs met), composted (mixed with rubbish, i.e. sinful!), and enriched (earthy minerals intact, i.e. connected to their source~their parents).
Faithfulness ~ “The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.” (Isaiah 38:19) God is faithful in His promises, faithful in His love, faithful in His parenting. In all things we need to reflect His character to our children so that when we tell them about ‘His faithfulness’ it isn’t only in words, but also in deeds. And what is faithfulness, exactly? It is defined as constancy, dependability, care, trustworthiness, devotion, honor, attachment, commitment. So let us parents, as reflections of God, be faithful to exhibit constancy, dependability, care, trustworthiness, devotion, honor, attachment, and commitment in our parenting choices!
Gentleness ~ “Let your gentleness be evident to all”…except your children. No, of course the Bible doesn’t say that! God actually instructs us to “Let your gentleness be evident to ALL (emphasis added)” in Philippians 4:5. Tender, compassionate, merciful, warmhearted, sensitive, approachable, good-humored…these are all synonyms for gentleness, and gentle parenting reflects all of these qualities. Let’s take a look at the antonyms (opposites) of the word gentle in the thesaurus~harsh, tough, violent, sharp, rigid, severe, unrelenting, unforgiving, punitive, unpleasant, pitiless, stern. “Let your gentleness be evident to all” including (especially!) our littlest, most defenseless, and truly precious gifts from God~our children!
Self-control ~ “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28) City walls being broken through was a tragedy of great proportions in the Bible, whereas a city gladly throwing open its gates to welcome its King was a time of rejoicing. The ‘city walls’ were used metaphorically in the Bible to refer to a person’s will. Many times the words ‘break a child’s will’ are thrown around and spoken as if directly from the mouth of God. But God, as our heavenly Parent, doesn’t seek to break our wills. Instead, He teaches us to trust Him by His own love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and by His self-control in not stomping us out of existence as we deserve by our sinfulness. And, after building that trust-relationship with us, He gently calls us to joyfully and voluntarily lay down our wills out of trust and gratitude and to open our hearts and minds and lives to Him, welcoming in our King. This is the heart of trust-based obedience!
November 21, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, Bible, birth, Christian, Christian parenting, food, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, Jesus, natural parenting, newborn, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, Bible, Christian, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, Jesus, parenting, positive parenting, sacrifice, sacrificial parenting | Leave A Comment »
I am thankful for motherhood!
Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. ~William Makepeace Thackeray
In the Arms of Motherhood~Reflections of the Cross
Motherhood is very simple to me. It’s a gift to me, but it’s not about me. Period. I’m the one who chose to bring these little people into the world, so the thought that somehow they have the responsibility to fit into my life, and work around my schedule, and not disrupt my pursuit of self completely mystifies me. They aren’t interlopers; they are guests, invited guests! And how do we treat our guests? Do we ignore their needs or make incomprehensible demands on them or ridicule, name-call, and hit them when they misstep?
Of course not! We welcome our guests with special dinners, make accommodations for their needs, and forgive their lack of knowledge of our ways. And our children deserve no less. In fact, they deserve much more! When our littlest invited guests arrive in our home and hearts, they are welcomed with open arms that are always available, day or night. They are provided nature’s best provision for their nutritional needs. And they are gently guided by example and lovingly encouraged to become a part of a healthy family dynamic. In short, when I invite these little people into my life, it stops being my life and becomes our lives!
Motherhood is, very simply, a lovely sacrifice. The Bible says, “Women will be saved through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15). I believe God is referring to the sacrifice of self that mothers willingly and lovingly live for their children as a reflection of the sacrifice Jesus made for His children on the Cross. It is a lovely retelling of the Cross played out in the arms of motherhood, again and again and again. Consider the young mother who gives up night after night of sleep to soothe her little one’s cries, or the older mother who gives up the peace of her golden years to welcome the child of her youth back into her home when life hits hard. This laying down of self, this giving up of comforts and rights and dreams, these are losses, sacrifices, but they are lovely, beautiful beyond belief. Their loveliness lies in the soft, warm weight of a sleepy baby with a full belly and a trusting heart. Their beauty lies in the spark of hope in the tear-filled eyes of a weary adult who’s life has turned dark, but who finds home is still a safe refuge.
My children, all six of them, are precious gifts straight from God’s heart to my home. I have had other precious gifts, babies who God gave for a time to fill my womb, but who weren’t meant to fill my arms, and one He gave to fill my arms for just a moment who wasn’t meant to stay. Each one of them brought with them the unique knowledge of how breathtakingly exquisite every living, breathing child is and how priceless and fragile and brief life itself can be.
I do not take this knowledge lightly. I have learned to treasure the moments of life with my children. I’ve learned that it’s not about me; it’s about us. And I’ve learned that sacrifice lights up the dark places in the world, making it a more beautiful place for all of us to live.
November 20, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, motherhood, newborn, positive discipline, pregnancy, stillbirth | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, loss, miscarriage, natural parenting, newborn, parenting, positive, positive parenting, pregnancy, sacrifice, sacrificial parenting, stillbirth | 5 Comments »
[Portions reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
”Parents usually need their children to go to sleep earlier than the children need to. Sleep is not a state you can force a child into. It is better to create an environment that allows sleep to overtake the child.”
Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips via PhD in Parenting
“Be reasonable and patient with your child and understand that not every child is the same and also that a child that did once sleep well, may not always sleep well. If a child is teething, growing through a growth spurt, sick, working on a developmental milestone, hungry, didn’t get enough exercise or fresh air, is preoccupied by a scary situation that occurred during the day, or any list of other things, that can wreak havoc on their sleep.”
“Twelve years ago, people told me that I would regret the whole cosleeping thing. I couldn’t give them an adequate reply. All I knew was that I was enjoying my nighttime parenting, perhaps more than any other aspect of new motherhood. I found I was more relaxed at night than during the day. There were no time crunches, no ringing telephones, no urgent chores to complete. No health professionals or well-meaning relations to tell me I was doing something wrong. Just me and the baby and the night.”
Bed to Crib, Moving Baby via Dr. Sears
Night Terrors via Dr. Sears
“It’s the middle of the night and you are awakened by your child screaming from his bedroom. You rush in to see what’s wrong and you find him sitting up in bed with a blank stare but very agitated. You try to wake him, asking him what is wrong but he doesn’t respond, he just keeps screaming. You are scared and don’t know what to do.”
Looking for ways to gently wean your little one into their own sleeping space? Here are a few ideas:
1.) Place a mattress beside your bed and start out each night there with your little cosleeper, then move up to your bed when they are fully asleep. When they wake, be sure to either take them back into your bed with you or join them on the mattress to make the transition as seamless as possible. (You can also start out the night in your bed as usual and move them to a small toddler bed beside your bed once they fall asleep fully if that works better for your space.)
2.) When you feel they are comfortable with the new arrangement, move the mattress a bit farther from your bed, either against the wall or at the foot of your bed, and repeat the same process of starting the night with them and welcoming them into your bed or joining them on the mattress if they wake.
3.) The next step is to move the mattress into their room and repeat the process.
4.) When you feel they are spending enough time in their room each night to feel comfortable with it, you can try staying with them until they are almost asleep and then telling them you are going to the bathroom or to brush your teeth (make sure you actually do what you say you’re going to do!) and will be right back. Come back quickly so they will be reassured that you can still be trusted. If they follow you or get upset, wait and try this step again in a week or two.
5.) When they are happy to stay in bed waiting for your return, start letting them spend a bit longer alone. Always tell them what you are going to do, and always do just what you said. Make sure to return when you are done so they know they can trust you and don’t need to come get you.
6.) Over time, this gradual weaning will result in them falling asleep on their own, and you can move on to the stage of books and cuddles and hugs and telling them goodnight, then leaving them with the reassurance that you’ll be back to check on them in a bit. Of course, always come back and check like you said you would!
7.) I can’t emphasize enough that this is a trust issue. The more that you honor what you say and stay in tune with their needs, the smoother and easier the process will go for both of you.
August 25, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle parenting, parenting guide | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, childhood, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle, gentle parenting, positive parenting, sacrificial parenting, sleep, sleep solutions, toddler | 4 Comments »
If you have THINGS in your house
The way that I do
Then this is the place
For BIG PEOPLE like you…
~Little THINGS need BIG PEOPLE to heed!~
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~Seuss
~Little THINGS matter!~
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” ~Seuss
~Little THINGS best thinks are thunk outdoors!~
“It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air.” ~Seuss
~Funny is a little THING’s firstest and bestest language!~
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!” ~Seuss
~Be your little THING’s bat-a-ma-ram!~
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” ~Seuss
~When THINGS are small, even little stuff seems tall!~
“This mess is too big and too deep and to tall. We can’t clean it up! We can’t clean it up at all!” ~Seuss
~Little THINGS think the bestest thoughts when SOMEONE BIG lets them out of the box!~
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” ~Seuss
~Day. Night. Night. Day. Little THINGS need BIG PEOPLE both, I say!~
We play all day.
We fight all night.” ~Seuss
~Perhaps, just maybe, this just might, be why little THINGS need BIG PEOPLE at night!~
“This is not good. This is not right. My feet stick out of bed all night. And when I pull them in, oh dear! My head sticks out of bed out here!” ~Seuss
~A little THING thinks in play, so a serious talk might be answered this way!~
“My shoe is off. My foot is cold. I have a bird I like to hold.” ~Seuss
~Did you ever think thoughts like a little THING thinks? Some BIG PEOPLE do, if they try, how ’bout you?~
“Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.” ~Seuss
~Every day a little THING needs, to hear the stories a BIG PERSON reads!~
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Seuss
August 14, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, children's books, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, bedtime stories, childhood, children, children's books, cosleeping, discipline, Dr Seuss, gentle discipline, homeschooling, nature, outdoors, parenting, park, play, playground, positive, positive parenting | 1 Comment »
My original guest post for Little Hearts Wishes Week was going to be a list of things I Wish I had Known Before I Became a Mom. However, the sleep portion sort of took a life of it’s own on and that combined with my total disgust for so called “sleep trainers” created this post instead. So my new wishes blog is“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep”
1. There is no such thing as “Sleeping Through The Night”-
Babies do not just magically start sleeping 10+ hrs a night at 6-8 weeks old like so many claim. The term “sleeping through the night” simply means baby sleeps for a 5 hour or longer stretch at one time, and this does not usually begin until 4+ months. If baby goes down at 7pm and you don’t go to bed until 10, don’t be surprised when baby is back up at 12am.
Honestly, you don’t WANT your baby to sleep for long stretches like that anyways~it increases the risk of SIDS. We now know that babies need the constant stirring and waking to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep that they are then unable to rouse from.
Young children do not completely develop a true sleep pattern until around age 5. Before that the human sleep mechanisms are not completely formed. So from birth until 5 it is completely normal for your child to wake in the night, and they will. Each of my kids do not wake every night, but since I have four, I am up several times a night with someone (and Sariah does wake 1-2 times every night on top of me getting up with the others a minimum of 1-2 times).
Don’t fall into the Mommy Wars of “my baby is better than yours and this is why…”
To quote Dr. Sears: “An important fact for you to remember is that your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of your baby’s temperament rather than your style of nighttime parenting. And keep in mind that other parents usually exaggerate how long their baby sleeps, as if this were a badge of good parenting, which it isn’t. It’s not your fault baby wakes up.”
2. Co-Sleeping is perfectly natural, safe, and NO you will NOT end up with a 6 yr old in your bed still!-
Co-Sleeping, when done safely and correctly, will NOT spoil your baby, and actually INCREASES the success rates of breastfeeding, DECREASES SIDS rates, and will INCREASE the amount of sleep everyone gets. Think about it, baby is right there with you (whether in your bed or in a side car crib) so when they do start to wake you can get to them quickly instead of stumbling around in the dark down hallways and into another room. The faster you can get to baby, the faster baby will return to sleeping.
I promise it will not last forever, and your baby will eventually transition into their own bed when they are ready. Don’t push them because, as crazy as it sounds now, when they are gone you will miss it. I miss snuggling with my Little Man at night. He stayed in our bed the longest of all of our kids (to date, as Sariah is still sleeping with us) and he was 3 when he transitioned into his own bed. A far cry for the 5-6 age range so many warned me I would be “stuck” with (and honestly I would not have considered myself “stuck” anyway).
3. Babies DO need to eat/drink at night and this does not mean only newborns-
Not only do babies need the nightly wakings to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep, they also need the constant night feedings to grow and remain healthy. It is not healthy, and actually can be dangerous, to try and force a baby to sleep through/skip a feeding that they need. Babies, especially newborns-3 months, are at risk of having their blood sugar levels dip dangerously low if they go too long without eating. If a baby wakes to eat, they are NOT trying to manipulate you. A baby cannot manipulate you, and it’s so sad that so many feel that they can.
Children from birth until about the age of 5 can and do need some sort of nourishment in the night. They are small and still growing at dramatic rates. Their systems are different than ours. Honestly, I wake up 1-2 times a night needing to use the restroom and get a drink, so if I am waking up thirsty, why should I tell my kids they have to wait until morning? My kids do not wake every single night asking for something to eat or drink, but when they do wake asking for that, I give it to them. I never ignore them or tell them they are not hungry/thirsty. I would not tell myself I am not hungry/thirsty when my body says I am, yet so many feel that a child’s pleas in the night for food or drink should just be ignored.
4. Please do not fall in the “sleep training” trap-
Sleep Training is harmful to babies, not only increasing their risk of SIDS, but also creating unsecure attachments which can hinder baby’s development. I know it’s hard, trust me I do! I have not slept through the night in almost 6 years now, not ONCE, EVER! Someone is always waking in this house.
I know you can become desperate for sleep, but please do not ever let that desperation go so far that you do things you do not feel comfortable with. If it feels wrong, if your body screams out at you that what you are doing is not right, listen! Trust your instincts, not what some author is trying to sell you. They are out to make money, and that’s it.
There are several so called ”Sleep Trainers” and “Sleep Whisperers” out there, each more ignorant and dangerous than the next. This all started 50 years ago with Dr. Spock (no, not from Star trek!). He was the original CIO (cry it out) advocate and had an entire generation of parents believing their tiny babies were out to “get them” from the moment they were born. These “terrible” little babies were on a mission to break and control mommy and daddy, to “manipulate” from day 1 and parents had to rule with iron fists and learn to ignore those ‘manipulative” cries. Funny how so few realize the Dr. Spock recanted everything he taught on his death bed, stating he was wrong and that babies’ cries should be responded to. He said babies should never be left to simply CIO.
Since then many more quacks have paraded around the same CIO dribble as Dr. Spock in a pretty new packaged selling is as “sleep training” for babies. Currently, the worst one (in my opinion) would have to be Tizzie Hall. She calls herself “The Sleep Whisperer” and her method “Save Our Sleep”. Her so-called methods are what got me in such a “tizzie” that my entire blog morphed into this.
If you have never heard of her, like me, you probably live in the US. She is really big overseas in places like Europe, the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc. The Dangers of Baby Training (from FB) describes her as…
“She does have 2 little boys (aged 3 and 1) but wrote the book before she had children. She doesn’t have any qualifications past a normal high school education. Among other things she advocates crying, a 3 hourly feeding schedule if you BF or 4 hourly if you FF, overwrap babies with excessive bedding (which is what The Analytical Armadillo has been questioning recently), has some very misinformed views and ideas which are all based on her observations and opinions, rather than any that can be substantiated by scientific evidence and had some weird notions that babies can poo and vomit on cue to manipulate their parents. In her toddler book, she advocates the use of the ‘holding technique’ to restrain kids and teach them not to touch things (there’s a video on youtube of her demonstrating this) and thinks babies should only be fed purees until they are 12 months, then mashed food, then only real food at approx 24 months old and thinks BLW is ‘inappropriate.’ She is all over facebook at the moment (and not in a good way)…. “
These are quotes taken directly from Tizzie Hall herself either from her book or her forums/FB page. Ironically she has tried to come back and say many of these things she never said or were taken out of context. I have also been informed that she now charges for answers on her forum and refuses to answer anything on FB because those who were against her so called ”system” would pick apart her answers….
“I often come across a baby who has learnt to vomit at bedtime during failed attempts at controlled crying. If you have one of these babies you will need to teach your child that vomiting will not get your attention or buy any extra time. This is hard, but it has to be done to stop the vomiting. The way you achieve this is to make the bed vomit-proof. Layer the towels in the bed and on the floor so it is easy for you to remove the vomit. When your baby vomits take the top towels away, leaving a second layer in case of a second vomit. If the vomit has gone on her clothing, undress her and put clean clothes on without taking her out of the cot by moving her to the other end. Do not make eye contact or talk to her while you do all this and be calm and confident through out, so you can fool your baby into thinking you don’t care about vomit.”
-This was taken directly from her book but she claims it was “out of context.” You be the judge.
To go along with this, in the article Victoria White: As a mother I take serious issue with the so- called Baby Whisperer Victoria quotes Tizzie about babies “manipulating” their parents by pooping and instructs parents to ignore this and let baby sleep in the poop to “teach them a lesson”
“‘When he pooed instead, they left him lying in his poo because they “realised” it had become “a game” They changed him after he’d gone to sleep. Don’t worry if you don’t get the bottom of your sleeping baby perfectly clean, says Tizzie, ‘a little bit of poo will not do any harm between then and the morning’.”
Or how about this winner, which is what sent me spiraling into this blog:
Question posted from a follower of the Save Our Sleep Program:
Q ~ ‘I’ve recently started my 7 month old on s.o.s routine. Day 4 and our nights are getting so much better. Before starting bub was waking every 2 hours sometimes less. My partner and I were exhausted. The first night he slept for 4 hours before needing to be resettled, second night was 7 hours and last night was 9.5 hours. Praying tonight is 12. Two little issues, first my boobs are killing me in the mornings now- I’m so engorged. And the second issue is that i think he is getting cold at night. I sleep him in a long sleeve onesie, a sleeping bag and a cellular blanket but he manages to wriggle out from under the blanket and when i go in to check on him he is sleeping on top of the blanket, and he is cold to touch.’
A ~ Do you have the bedding guide from the SOS website? It shows you what to dress bubs in for temps in various states. Best $9 you’ll ever spend! Need to make sure everything is 100% cotton (incl. mattress protector) otherwise bubs will sweat. Most of us use many more blankets than the guide, every bubs is different eg. I’m in Sydney and in a room of 24.2C my 6m has 12 blankets on + the clothing, bag and wrap mentioned in the guide.
Check out The Analytical Armadillo for a much deeper look into this issue, she actually asked Tizzie about the increased risk of SIDS in regards to babies over heating from too many blankets, here is some of Tizzie’s reply:
“As all of you know before giving any advice I do countless hours of research so I stand by all of my advice. These ladies don’t seem to be aware of the current SIDS guidelines stating as long as your babies head and face are uncovered and you are using cotton or bamboo bedding then it is perfectly safe to layer up the amount of these blankets to keep your baby warm. My opinion and research shows this in return keeps our babies in the safe back sleeping position. Also it is now clear overheating is only cited a risk factor and not as big a factor as was first thought but we do live in a generation with parents so scared of over heating their babies they are doing the opposite and under heating them which in my opinion a greater factor because a cold baby will roll to his or her tummy and sleep face down in the mattress.”
Click the link above to view her full response and so much more.
Sadly there are many more Tizzie Hall’s out there, people looking to make a quick buck on the desperation of sleep deprived parents at their wit’s end. They prey on this desperation to get parents to do things they otherwise would never even consider.
My wish is that parents would just throw all of this baby “training” crap out the window and trust their instincts! Listen to your baby; listen to your body. If it feels wrong, then it IS wrong. Your instincts are there for a reason. My second wish, that parents would stop listening to society and believing their babies are out to “get” and “control” them. A baby is not capable of manipulation; they have no understanding of that. They have simple, basic needs, and their only way to communicate those needs is to cry. Listen to their cries, respond to them, please do not ignore them. Studies now show that when babies are left to CIO or CC (controlled cry, a so called “nicer” form of CIO where you go in every 2, 4, 6 minutes and comfort baby only to leave again) they release the stress chemical cortisol, which is DAMAGING to their little brains. As little as 5 minutes of crying can actually cause damage and prolonged CIOing can lead to developmental delays later on.
I saw a great comparison the other day that took words about leaving a baby alone to CIO to teach them to stop “manipulating” and replaced the word ‘baby’ with ‘grandma’. It was a mock response to Tizzie Hall, thanking her for saving the author’s sleep. The author thanked Tizzie for giving the her the strength to ignore her elderly grandma’s cries in the night and show grandma who was boss in that house. When grandma vomited from being so upset, the author cleaned it up and left grandma without saying a word. After a few nights, grandma stopped crying, and the author said grandma doesn’t say or do much during the day, either, she just lays there silently. The author broke grandma’s spirit-is that what you really want to do to your child? Do you want to break your baby’s spirit, to teach them that mommy is “boss” and will not be “manipulated”? Sure, CIO seems to work. Babies do stop crying at night, but it’s not because you trained them to stop “manipulating” you, you simply trained them that mommy will not respond to their needs so why bother crying. (See full text here-Dear Sleep Trainer Expert,) It was a great visual to show that we would not treat an adult like this so why is it ok to treat an innocent baby this way?
A HUGE thank you shout must go to Anneke Temmink from The Dangers of Baby Training who provided me with all of the awesome links and quotes about the so called ”sleep whisperer”. She is awesome!
August 5, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, gentle parenting, parenting guide | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, childhood, cosleeping, gentle, gentle discipline, nature, newborn | Leave A Comment »
Beyond the “Rod”~Sometimes as Christians in our discussions and books on parenting, it appears as if we base our entire parenting philosophy around 5 scriptures in Proverbs that talk about “the rod.” A discussion of those scriptures is for another time – many others have posted different ideas of what these scriptures actually mean. But, Biblical interpretation aside, I feel it is foolish to place so much emphasis on 5 verses, when there is an entire Bible FULL of chapters and passages all about how we are to relate to each other. Many times we don’t automatically think about applying these scriptures directly to our relationship with children. But they DO apply, because a child is a person as fully deserving of love and respect as any adult.
“I believe that God designed us to begin our lives as babies, totally dependent and vulnerable, because He intended the family to be the setting in which His love was modeled.” – Floyd McClung, The Father Heart of God
Isn’t that amazing? God designed the family to be a place where His love is modeled to children. And more than that, He designed children in such a way that their primary way of learning is through modeling. When God’s love is modeled to a child, the child’s concept of love from and for God will not be abstract, it will be real.
“Our job as parents is to reflect God to our children so they will want to know and love Him. “ –Dr. William Sears
So dive in with me, will you? As an example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at Romans 12:15-18 “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
When I read this verse it makes me think of comforting my children – when they’re happy I am to rejoice with them. “Watch this, mommy!” one shouts as he swings across the monkey bars again for the 20th time – be happy with those who are happy – that’s the appropriate response.
What about when one cries? He’s sad, he’s disappointed, things didn’t go his way, or he’s hurt, or he’s so angry all he can do his cry – weep with those who weep -comfort him, that’s the appropriate response. The Bible tells me exactly what to do!
Live in harmony with each other. What can I do that will help us all live in harmony? Keeping calm, not shouting, controlling my responses, being filled with more love and patience will bring harmony to my home.
Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. This speaks to me about enjoying my kids. It tells me to get on the floor and play with them – wrestling, laughing, kicking the ball, giggling. Putting my distractions, my desires, my boredom, my pride aside, making eye-contact and enjoying my kids.
And don’t think you know it all! How many times do I enter a situation where my children are arguing or fighting, and I jump in with the immediate answer. I “know” exactly what will fix the problem. Do I take the time to listen? To help them problem solve? To find out what’s really going on, how each person feels? Or do I just think I know it all because I’m bigger?
Never pay back more evil with evil. Hurting people for any reason to me is evil. When our children behave in an evil way, we should not pay them back with more evil.
So that’s just one verse dissected and applied to our parenting. Hopefully you are beginning to see that being a sensitive parent will help you be a more sensitive Christian. And it will help our children learn about the character of God, laying the foundation for their own personal relationship with God to grow and deepen.
I’ll be sharing some more scriptures, so keep watching!
June 17, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, Christian, Christian parenting, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, Christian, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Ever heard the expression “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”? It’s a line from Disney’s movie version of Mary Poppins. Now, there’s a unique children’s book series which espouses the idea that ”a spoonful of sugar makes the parenting more fun”! The Wisdom For Little Hearts series offers beautifully illustrated children’s books with Gentle Parenting techniques woven into humorous, engaging children’s stories. Parents, teachers, and caregivers will discover simple, positive methods for addressing common discipline issues in the pages of these books as they read them to their little people, and children will be delighted by the vivid colors and gentle humor. The first book in the series, Petey’s Listening Ears, was recently reviewed by children’s product reviewer and mother, Angela of ‘One Smiley Monkey.’ Click on the picture of her sweet little guy to read her review or on the cover of Petey’s Listening Ears to see a product description or purchase a copy! As the series continues with Addie’s Inside Voice, JoJo’s Gentle Hands, Zoey the Happy Helper, and others due out from Lifeway’s publishing division in the coming months, Gentle Parents will be delighted to discover the subtle inclusion of babywearing, breastfeeding, and other natural parenting options in the beautiful illustrations. Beyond the children’s books in the series, other Wisdom For Little Hearts books to be released are age-specific Gentle Parenting guides and Gentle Parent devotional guides, all of which will be available through Lifeway and other retailers as well as Amazon and other online booksellers.
June 13, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, bedtime stories, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian children's books, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Six inches of arm flop over my breast as you
press your face in close to nurse.
Each night you scoot and wriggle,
telling me with your body
no space is allowed
An ache rises up and my fierce love for you chokes until it
hurts to breathe.
The little baby body that won’t roll over yet
somehow manages to curl from her back to her side
stretching chubby legs to kick at me as you did in the womb.
Your daddy marvels at your instincts
your hunger for connection
“She needs you”
with awe and tenderness
I wrap around you and graze your wispy hair with my lips.
Your face close to mine
your heavy eyes gaze at me and blink long and slow.
Noses touching, I breathe in your
sweet milky breath and we
June 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, gentle discipline, homeschooling, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
The words were my husband’s, and the day was February 19th, 1997. We’d just gotten our first-ever look at our new son, the son that would transform us at once from simply a couple, to a couple of parents. I remember looking at him, his tiny body buried beneath the full head of black hair and the skin he’d yet to grow into. I remember staring at his face, memorizing its features, almost made breathless by a sudden realization: He was a whole, unique, brand-new person. And he was my son.
We would go on to have three more children after that day, and each time I welcomed them with that same sense of awe. What would they look like? Who would they be? Not just extensions of my husband and myself, they were their own little individuals. They had their own personalities, their own indomitable spirits, and their own beautiful souls.
So much of what mainstream parenting advice has to offer is based on the supposition that children need to be controlled, manipulated, and otherwise forced into behaving a certain way. In effect it tells us that they are somehow lesser citizens who wouldn’t possibly do the right thing unless they were prodded, punished, or cajoled into doing so. Gentle parenting believes very much the opposite. At its core, it is simply a call to return to treating children like people. To move away from a top-down system of rewards and punishments to one of love and partnership. It’s not about trying to be a perfect parent, but about striving to be a connected parent. It’s about placing your relationship with your children first, and about giving them the respect and the consideration that they both desire and deserve.
Every parenting decision I’ve made since that first day 14 years ago has been sent through the same filter: Is this manner of treating someone the same way I’d treat anyone whom I dearly loved? Am I showing them gentleness, kindness and respect? Am I treating them the way that I myself would want to be treated? Will this action or these words bring us closer together or will they pull us further apart?
I have made mistakes as a parent to be sure. But as I look back at the last fourteen years, the moments I’ve wished I could take back have always been the moments when I’ve been too reactive. Too quick to speak, and too slow to listen. Too quick to focus on a behavior, and too slow to focus on the child. Too quick to judge, and too slow to understand.
Not once have I regretted being gentle, or thoughtful, or kind. Not once have I ever thought, “What I really needed was to be more tough with them.” No, time and again, the answer was the same: What was needed was more compassion. More kindness. More understanding.
My relationship with my kids is one based on love, trust, and respect. It is a living, breathing organism that only thrives when it is made a priority. It only grows when it is tended to. And just like any other relationship, I get back whatever it is I put in. The best part about a good relationship with your kids though, is that you get it back ten times over.
June 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, birth, Christian, gentle discipline, homeschooling, positive discipline, pregnancy | Tags: adolescence, attachment, attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, pregnancy | Leave A Comment »