[From Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood by L.R.Knost available June 2013; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages now available on Amazon.]
Okay, let’s be honest. Parents are adults, and not every adult is comfortable sitting on the floor playing with stuffed animals for hours at a time. We don’t always eagerly jump in puddles or make mudpies. We often have heavy things weighing on us…health issues, financial strains, layoffs threatening, marital conflict…and playing is simply the very last thing on our minds.
But the reality that play is the language of childhood and that our children need us to connect with them on their terms is on our minds. The truth that childhood is such a brief season of life and if we blink too long we’ll miss this precious time with our children just adds to the weight we carry, making playing with them seem like just another burden, another demand on our already stretched-too-thin time, attention, and patience.
The thing is, though, that our children do need us to connect with them in play. It’s in the simplicity of play that children sort through the complexity of life and, like puzzle pieces, put it all together to make sense of the world. Play is how they process the overwhelming task of acclimating to a big, strange, sometimes scary world, and they need to feel securely connected to us and in close communication with us as they find their way. Play provides that connection and builds those oh-so-important channels of communication that are essential in a healthy parent/child relationship.
That, of course, leaves us in the dichotomous position of our needs versus our children’s needs which in and of itself is not conducive to a healthy relationship. So what’s a busy, overburdened, stressed parent to do?
Enter, the playful parent who weaves humor into the humdrum, tummy tickling into the routine, dancing into the dreary, and silly songs into the mundane. Here are ten ways to weave playful parenting into the ordinary moments of everyday life:
- When your baby is an infant, babywearing is the secret to playful connection and communication building. Wearing your baby close to your heart, singing and swaying and placing soft kisses on a tiny head while doing dishes and sweeping the floors and taking the dog for walks is a lovely, low-stress way to weave playfulness into your day.
- When your baby is a bit older, continue wearing him as long as you both are comfortable with it because riding high on your hip or back lets him see the world from your vantage point and offers everyday moments to play with bubbles in the sink as you wash dishes, to dance through the house as you put away laundry, and to giggle together as you grocery shop.
- Daily routines offer awesome opportunities to play as you ‘tickle’ your little one’s teeth instead of brush them, ‘capture’ wild shoes that try to escape when you’re leaving the house, and ‘wrestle’ with your little pajama monster before bed.
- Wrangling a reluctant child into the carseat is often a dreaded daily task. Try making a game out of it by tickling a little tummy while you buckle up straps or blowing some bubbles to distract your little one or making up a silly buckle-up song to ease the transition.
- While driving, turn off the radio and make up silly stories or songs or simply talk about where you’re going or what you see as you drive.
- Reading to your little one from birth onward is the single best way to raise a reader. Try making it more interactive by acting out the story or using different voices to read or letting your child guess what’s going to happen on each page before you read it.
- Getting out the door in the morning can be a challenge. Turn it into a real challenge by having hopping contests to the car. Let your little one win and give tickle-kisses as their prize!
- Bathtime is a great time for fun. Set sail to distant shores with your little pirate and search for hidden treasure or go on a safari and find jungle animals floating in piles of bubbles or go spelunking and make cave drawings on the sides of the tub with bath crayons.
- As your children get older their need for playful connection and communication is still strong. Play word games in the car. Turn math homework into playtime by using manipulatives to help them work things out. Cook together while singing pop tunes. Arm wrestle at the dinner table. Have a quick pillow fight in the morning to put everyone’s grumpies to sleep.
- Chores are a real chore. Try turning them into a game, instead! Get out a board game with dice and every time someone rolls they not only move their game piece, but pick up the same number of toys and put them away and then race back in time for their next turn.
The central idea here is to intentionally weave fun and play and connectedness and communication into your everyday moments to turn ordinary days into extraordinary memories that will last a lifetime!
Dr. Laura Markham’s website, AhaParenting.com, is one of my favorite go-to resources to share with parents. With sound advice based on clinical and personal experience and supported by research, Dr. Markham offers excellent guidance for parents looking for help in their gentle parenting journeys.
Now, there’s a new resource from Dr. Markham that I’m delighted to share with you: her new parenting guide, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting! With a personable approach, clear explanations, and anecdotal illustrations, you’ll find Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting an easy-to-read, helpful resource to keep on hand and to share with other parents in need of a little guidance. (Check back here on Monday for a chance to win a copy for free!)
Dr. Markham honored Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources with the opportunity to be a part of her virtual book tour to launch her new book by engaging in an online interview with me. Here is the transcript from our surprisingly candid and insightful interview:
Welcome, Dr. Markham! Will you share your background/experience/education with my readers?
I’m trained as a clinical psychologist. When I got my PhD at Columbia University, my mentor was Dr. Larry Aber, an attachment theorist who ran the Barnard Toddler Center.
I was fascinated by the longitudinal studies that followed children over time and found that securely attached children are easier to raise, do better in school, are better liked by teachers and peers, are more professionally successful, are happier, are healthier, have better romantic relationships and marriages, enjoy parenting more, and are more likely to themselves raise securely attached children.
Unfortunately, only about 60% of children in the US (this varies a bit across cultures) are estimated to be securely attached, leaving the other 40% to struggle emotionally for their entire lives. And yet, this is something we can change – by working with parents! We can accurately project whether a child will be securely attached by interviewing the mom before the child is even born, and we can work with the parents to help them resolve their own attachment issues to raise a securely attached child. Every parent deserves that opportunity. That’s why I specialize in parenting.
So you advocate Attachment Parenting?
I’m an Attachment Theorist, but Attachment Parenting is not quite the same as Attachment Theory.
Attachment Parenting is a set of practices – for instance, wearing your baby, breastfeeding and co-sleeping – that are thought to promote a secure attachment. As an Attachment Theorist, I think it’s important to point out that while these practices may facilitate more responsive parenting—which does indeed contribute to a secure attachment—they are not the actual cause of ‘secure attachment.’
What creates a secure attachment is a parent who is warmly responsive to the needs of her unique child and able to accept the full range of his emotions. That means, for instance, that as a parent it’s important that we’re able to tolerate our child being angry at us, or clingy, or crying. To do that, we have to be able to stay calm and regulate our own feelings, and nurture our child through his emotions. That’s what creates attachment security.
Do you recommend babywearing, breastfeeding, and cosleeping?
I lived those practices with my own children, and they made my life easier and my babies happier. I personally believe they help us to be more responsive as parents, and research is emerging to back that up. So yes, I recommend them. But my point is that if it doesn’t work for you to use one or more of these practices, for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a responsive parent with a securely attached child.
How has your own parenting journey contributed to your work and to your new book?
When my son was born 21 years ago, my midwife told me before I left the hospital that I should begin right away to let my son cry at night so he would sleep better. My instincts, and my training, told me that was wrong. The more suggestions I heard, the more I realized that most parenting advice we take for granted in our culture was inherited from previous generations who did not have access to the longitudinal and brain research that we have now.
For instance, we now know that the advice during the last century to “Leave your baby to cry and he’ll learn to self-soothe” simply isn’t true – babies’ brains develop the wiring to soothe themselves by being soothed by their parents. Babies who are left to cry may stop crying because they’ve learned that no one comes, but their cortisol levels are still measurably high, indicating that they’re still stressed. That stress and fear has to come out somewhere, in the baby’s cranky moods or clingy behavior.
Another example is the pervasive practice of time-outs. Children act out because they’re in the grip of strong emotions, just as adults do. Sending them off alone to calm down gives them the message that having emotions is a bad thing, and that they’re all alone to learn to manage their overwhelming, scary feelings. And punishment actually hinders moral development—it doesn’t help the child behave better.
When my son was born, I saw so many parents around me struggling. Parenting is the hardest work we do, as I learned first hand, and parents don’t get the support we need and deserve. But I also saw parents unknowingly creating problems with their children by following well-intentioned, but misinformed, advice. These were wonderful people who loved their children without reservation and only wanted what was best for their children. They would have been horrified to learn that their own actions were making their kids act out more. So I wanted to support parents and help them get a better start with their children.
What influence did your own childhood experiences have on your parenting philosophy?
My parents both loved me, but they were divorced and had their own challenges. They couldn’t handle their own emotions, much less mine. I remember vividly how fast I had to grow up, how lonely I felt, how I was looking in all the wrong places for someone to love me as a teenager.
Now, I couldn’t have explained to you, even as a 16-year-old, what was wrong. But having that experience, I can say with total certainty that every child who is acting out is sending us an SOS for understanding, connection, and help with their emotions—no matter how incomprehensible their behavior may be to us.
How is it that you came out of those experiences okay?
Parents often ask me that when they hear about my childhood. I spent years in therapy and years meditating. I still have to work at taking care of myself; it doesn’t come naturally because I wasn’t taken care of. And I’m just lucky that I didn’t have additional risk factors – like ADHD, or a vulnerability to addiction – or I might not have made it to adulthood.
But there are two positive takeaways here:
1. No matter what your childhood was like, you can heal it and be the parent your child needs.
2. No parent is perfect, because we’re human. Luckily, children are pretty resilient. What we do right is more important in creating the solid foundation for our kids than those times we mess up.
What has most impacted your parenting philosophy?
My understanding of children includes my training in child development, especially Attachment theory, which I’ve already mentioned. What I see parents struggling with is always emotions – their own, and their child’s. We all need a loving “witness” so we can heal our emotional hurts, which I first learned from Virginia Axline and Carl Rogers, and then saw Aletha Solter put into practice with babies.
Of course, recent neurological findings have helped me flesh out and evolve my approach, so I’m a fan of Dan Siegel and Allan Schore. Finally, my specialty is practical solutions to the issues of everyday family life, so I’ve learned from countless leaders in the field –Adele Faber, Magda Gerber, Patty Wipfler, Larry Cohen, Jane Nelsen, and so many more.
How does the style of parenting you advocate build trust to set the stage for a peaceful, mutually respectful parent/child relationship throughout the childhood and adolescent years?
Every time we listen to our crying baby, tantruming toddler, or whining preschooler and respond to her needs, we build our child’s trust that we’re on her side, looking out for her best interests.
Every time we resist our impulse to lash out with punishment, and instead help our child with the feelings that are driving her behavior, we help her gain the emotional skills to manage her behavior.
Every time we seek first to connect, and only then to guide, we help our child want to follow our guidance.
That slow accretion of respectful interactions is what builds the strong relationship we all want with our children. Our children learn that’s how to live in relationship, so they’re naturally respectful, compassionate and considerate. They treasure their relationship with us, and would no more damage that relationship — by lying to us, or defying us — than they would set fire to the house, and for the same reasons.
I now have a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old. We never had the rocky teen years that scare parents. I think that tough teen stage is completely unnecessary; it’s created by a parenting style that doesn’t meet kids’ needs.
If you had to sum up your parenting philosophy in a single sentence, what would it be?
Or more specifically:
Manage your own emotions so that you can listen, empathize and stay connected with your child as you guide him. When you get upset, breathe through it and don’t take action until you’re centered again so you have access to your deeper wisdom.
Dr. Markham, thank you so much for including ‘Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources’ in your virtual book tour, and good luck with the launch of ‘Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting’!
Dr. Laura Markham trained as a clinical psychologist, but she’s also a mother, so she understands parents as well as kids. Her new book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. You can get Dr. Laura’s free daily or weekly emails online at AhaParenting.com, the home of Aha! Moments for parents of babies through teens.
November 29, 2012 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, books, breastfeeding, cosleeping, parenting guide, positive discipline, positive parenting | Tags: babywearing, emotional intelligence, parenting, positive discipline, positive parenting, time-out | 4 Comments »
I was at the park with my little ones yesterday and got a text from one of my older children. Not an uncommon occurrence since I have six children, all the way from a 24-year-old married father of two down to a nursling of my own. As I looked up from my phone after returning the text, I saw a young mom glance quickly away from me, obvious disapproval on her face. I suddenly realized I was a bad mom…you know, ‘that’ mom at the park or ballet lesson or soccer game who ignores her kids in favor of her iphone.
When my phone buzzed again with a return text, I hesitated for a moment before I caught myself, laughed, and responded to my son’s text. I’ve been a parent for 24 (almost 25 now!) years, and I know better. I am no longer crushed or even influenced by the occasional disapproving glances when I nurse in public or say those three controversial words, “We don’t vaccinate,” or when I don’t spank my toddler for…well, anything, ever! I am confident and comfortable enough in my parenting after all these years to neither hide nor flaunt my choices to breastfeed, cosleep, babywear, homeschool, and discipline gently.
And, on the flipside of that coin, I’ve been a parent long enough to know that you don’t give birth and suddenly just know all there is to know about parenting. My own journey to gentle parenting was just that, a journey. We’re all learning ‘on the job,’ literally, and on top of that we’re all just humans raising humans and can and will make mistakes, no matter how much experience we have.
Breast or bottle. Demand or schedule feeding. Thumb, dummy, or mama as a pacifier. Public, private, or home school. Vax’ing, delayed vax’ing, or non-vax’ing. The list of differences among good parents doing the best they know how to do with the knowledge and experience they have is endless.
No, I don’t agree with all parenting choices. Yes, I can and will share my own experiences and beliefs. And, yes, I am passionate about my beliefs.
But I didn’t get to this place of comfort and confidence in my parenting overnight. And so I can and do give grace to those who aren’t making what I consider to be the best parenting choices or who aren’t confident enough about their own parenting to give grace to me when my choices don’t agree with theirs.
So, what are my personal parenting beliefs? Glad you asked!
- I believe that breastfeeding provides not only the best nutrition for babies and the best bonding experience for mamas and babies, but also cannot be replicated by formula if for no other reason than that it is a living organism that evolves as a baby grows to meet the baby’s changing nutritional and immunity needs. I believe it is also best for our society as well as our planet for reasons you can read about here. But if you bottle feed, I won’t roll my eyes at you in public.
- I believe that cosleeping not only helps new babies acclimate to this strange, new world, but that it also aids in the establishment of breastfeeding, is protective against SIDS, and actually helps exhausted new mamas to get more sleep. You can read about safe cosleeping practices and research here. But if you don’t cosleep, I won’t de-friend you.
- I believe that wearing babies helps them acquire head control and core strength without the discomfort of ‘tummy-time,’ aids in the development of proper hip alignment, and frees up mama’s (or daddy’s!) hands for other tasks, all while keeping their sweet little baby faces close enough for lots of kisses. You can find tons of information, links, and even some instructional YouTube videos here. But if you never wear your baby, I won’t hang you out to dry.
- I believe that herd immunity is a myth, that vaccine ingredients such as formaldehyde and aluminum are contributors to the skyrocketing autism and autoimmune disorder rates, that the immune system cannot be ‘tricked’ into providing immunity with any reliable efficacy, and that the pharmaceutical industry is calling the shots rather than the medical community. You can read more here. But I won’t talk about you behind your back if you choose to vaccinate your children.
- I believe that gentle and respectful discipline models the kind of self-controlled, compassionate, and responsible adults we all would like our children to turn out to be. And I believe that harsh and rigid discipline with punitive consequences produces negative long-term effects. For some gentle discipline ideas, click here. But if you subscribe to a different discipline style than mine, I won’t lecture you…though I will try to model a gentler approach.
And one last thing. Before the advent of iphones and ipads, moms like me would often bring books to the park and read them in between pushing our little ones on the swings and catching them at the end of the slide. We’d sit and chat with other mamas and daddies at ballet and soccer practice in between watching our children become what we were sure were going to be prima ballerinas or the next Pelé. We felt no guilt reading our books and chatting with friends. We still met our children’s needs. We laughed at their antics and kissed their boo-boos. We cheered them on and called out helpful ‘tips’ and encouragement. And these days if we occasionally answer a text or update our Facebook status in between interactions with our children, that’s okay, too. “Everything in moderation”…that’s my motto!
May 14, 2012 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, motherhood, natural parenting, nonvaxing, nursing, positive discipline, positive parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, positive parenting | 16 Comments »
[Portions reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
Wearing your baby against your heart is one of the most beautiful and bonding experiences you can have with your little one after giving birth. Studies have even shown that mamas and babies can synchronize their heartbeats with a simple smile! Clearly, wearing your baby within kissing distance, where the slightest tilt of the head brings your smile into focus for your precious new little one, is a wonderful gift of connection that has benefits far, far beyond our understanding!
I have six children, so I can testify to the extreme value of babywearing for being able to continue with a busy life after giving birth to a tiny new person. From attending sports practices to grocery shopping to making dinner to housecleaning, babywearing is a life-saver, not to mention a great source of exercise to get that pre-baby body back!
In addition to the benefits to a busy mama, babywearing can also replace tummy-time for little ones who don’t enjoy being stuck on the floor. While being worn, babies’ core and neck muscles are being strengthened by the motion of a mother’s body while she walks and bends and moves throughout the day.
I’ve been gathering resources for a babywearing post and couldn’t resist using this cute picture to illustrate it even though the little guy isn’t in the best position for hip health. But I just love seeing daddies wearing babies as well as mommies wearing babies. Check out the resources below for information about the different kinds of carriers available, different kinds of positions you can use, health and development benefits, how to make your own no-sew wrap, and more!
Informative articles and answers to common babywearing questions from Dr. Sears.
Tons of articles and resources about babywearing from one of my favorite baby carrier providers, Boba.
Lots of excellent babywearing information from an extremely versatile carrier from another favorite of mine, Onya Baby.
Peer reviewed articles, scientific studies and analysis, historical precedent, cultural influence, and more from TheBabyWearer.com
Over one thousand babywearing products reviewed…almost seven thousand reviews!
From “Don’t you ever put that poor baby down?” to “My baby did just fine in a buggy”…here are some lovely suggestions for gentle responses to negative comments.
Proper baby carrier positioning recommendations from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
And some YouTube finds…
How to make a no-sew wrap:
A mama of twins demonstrates front and back carries…
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 »
You’ve all heard the story of the industrious, magical little elves who went behind the poor, but good-hearted, shoemaker and finished his work for him, saving his shop and rewarding him for his hard work. This is not that story…
Once upon a time there was a kind, hard-working homemaker named Elvimama. She had five children, Elvin, Elvira, Elvish, Elvis, and Baby Elvie. Elvimama worked hard every day to feed her five children Elftritious foods, teach them their Elfessons, make sure they practiced on their Elviolins, take them to their Elfootball and Elfallet practices while she grabbed an hour at Elfercize (wearing Baby Elvie, of course!), and then rushed back home to put a healthy, home-cooked Elfalicious meal on the table for dinner. Life was busy, but good…except for one thing.
Their Elfhouse was a mess! No matter how hard Elvimama worked, no matter how carefully she organized her day, or how little sleep she got, her Elfhousekeeping ended up looking rather…well, unkept.
She’d start with the bedrooms each morning, straightening and sweeping and organizing, then move on to the kitchen and work her way through the morning dishes and then sweep and mop and take out the trash, before heading to the Elfamily room to polish and vacuum. But she was plagued by a strange phenomenon every single day…as soon as she was finished with one room and had moved on to another, the first room mysteriously returned to it’s former state of disarray! And when she finished the second room and moved on to the third, the second room was also suddenly back to a disheveled mess!
This pattern when on throughout her day, with each bedroom cleaned, then miraculously uncleaned, the kitchen spotless, then instantly a sticky stack of unwashed dishes appearing when she headed for the Elfamily room. And, even there, when she’d polished and vacuumed and straightened, the second she walked out, piles of toys walked right back in!
Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, this phenomenon continued, with Elvimama starting every day with a messy house, spending every day cleaning and cleaning and cleaning, only to end every day with a still-messy house!
It was frustrating and exhausting, and sometimes Elvimama would head to the bathroom for a long soak in the tub and a good cry. But, inevitably, little elf-hands would come knocking on the door and little elf-voices would be calling out for Elvimama’s attention. Her long soak always turned into a quick wash, and she’d mop up her tears and emerge with a smile and arms ready to gather her little elf-loves close.
Time passed, and Elvin and Elvira went off to college. Elvish joined the Elf-Corp, and Elvis made the big-time in Nashville. Baby Elvie grew up and opened a little bookstore called The Elf Shelf.
One morning, Elvimama got up and started with the bedrooms, straightening and sweeping and organizing, then moved on to the kitchen and worked her way through the morning dishes and then swept and mopped and took out the trash, before heading to the Elfamily room to polish and vacuum and straighten. When she was finished, she stopped and stared in shocked silence. Everything was…spotless…pristine.
No jumbled piles of clothes had unfolded themselves in the bedrooms. No sticky stack of dishes had reappeared in the kitchen. No toys had marched back into the Elfamily room.
Her house was finally clean, but her heart longed for jelly fingerprints and funny little dirt-smudged elf-faces, muddy footprints and sticky little giggle-grin kisses. Elvimama sighed and headed to the bathroom for a long soak in the tub. Now, no little elf-hands came knocking on the door and no little elf-voices called out for Elvimama’s attention.
And Elvimama had a good cry.
A mother’s love is strong enough to hold her children close when they’re young and she longs for rest, and to let them go when they grow up and she longs for the past.
February 27, 2012 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, bookish, books, childhood, children, family, food, homeschooling, life, love | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, childhood, children, family, food, gentle, homeschooling, parenting, sacrifice, sacrificial parenting | 4 Comments »
[Reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
As babies grow from the newborn stage, through infancy, and into the toddler years, there is a natural and healthy progression toward independence that blossoms when a secure trust-foundation is in place. That trust-foundation is forged through the consistent meeting of a baby’s needs lovingly, gently, and empathetically by a primary caregiver.
When a baby is breastfed, his mother is naturally close and available and, when parenting by following her maternal instincts, tends to be in tune with her baby in a beautiful symbiosis of unspoken communication. At some point, a baby will begin to ‘taste-test’ foods, learning through oral exploration about the textures and tastes of foods other than breastmilk. This progresses to a decrease in need for mommy’s milk for nutritional purposes, but is often accompanied by an unexpected and dramatic increase in demand to nurse which can be quite disconcerting, not to mention annoying!
Parents have a tendency to assign motives to their children’s behavior, typically based on their own childhood experiences and/or their adult perception of the circumstances. In the case of the increased demand for nursing which seems inversely proportional to the need for nursing, the motives parents often assign to their toddlers are ‘testing’ or ‘pushing boundaries.’
But think of it from the toddler’s perspective. They have been gradually moving away from their ‘source’ of all things and exploring what can be a big, scary world for a little person. No longer are they completely helpless, entirely dependent on another person for everything, but, as their independence has increased, so has their awareness of the world around them and their smallness by comparison. It is at this point that the all-important source of nutrition shifts into a support role, becoming, literally, a touchstone of security. A toddler’s increased need to nurse is, in fact, a need for reconnection and reassurance, not discipline!
Obviously, nursing every five minutes isn’t practical and can be downright uncomfortable, especially with the accompanying toddler ‘gymnurstics.’ But this is an excellent time for a parent to learn how to remain in tune with their child as the ages and stages go by. Paying attention to the needs behind the behaviors is an essential element in a healthy parent/child relationship, and, once a little one progresses beyond the basic needs stage, that learning curve can get pretty steep. This is a time when parents can begin experimenting with new ways to engage with their children to meet those reconnection needs in age-appropriate and relationship-building ways, an important skill that will serve parents well in the teen years!
Here are some things to try when faced with a toddler insisting on nursing every few minutes:
- Babywearing is one of my best tools, and I have a sling nearby for any time my toddler seems to need some closeness.
- Reading picture books is also a daily (actually, multiple times a day!) standard at our house, and when my little one toddles up to me, book in hand, I’ll plop down on the floor in whatever room I’m in and take a few minutes to read a book and talk about the pretty pictures.
- Sitting down together in the chair my toddler is used to nursing in and cuddling, reading, playing pat-a-cake, watching a DVD together, or even offering food or snacks to share, gives them a sense of sameness that is very reassuring.
- Playing games, making silly faces in the mirror, playing dress up together, taking walks, going to the park, anything that assures my toddler that I’m still available to her and enjoy being with her helps to meet the underlying need driving the nursing demands.
- Oddly enough, offering to nurse my toddler several times a day is very reassuring and actually decreases the frequency of the demands!
The main message here is to try different things until you find what works for you and your child, always focusing on staying connected and responsive to your little one’s needs. Change can be difficult for both parents and children, but it can be an exciting time, too, as you get to grow with your child into the next stage of life!
December 15, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, baby led weaning, babywearing, books, breastfeeding, children's books, communication, food, gentle parenting, natural parenting, nursing, toddler | Tags: attachment parenting, baby led weaning, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian children's books, food, gentle parenting, nursing, parenting, play, positive parenting, toddler | 7 Comments »
Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. ~ Fred Rogers
Coining new terms for parenting styles seems to be all the rage these days, from ‘helicopter parenting,’ defined as overprotective and over-involved parenting (often associated with over-indulgence and passive parenting), to ‘tiger parenting’ which is defined as strict, authoritarian parenting with rigid expectations (often associated with harsh consequences for not meeting those expectations). So, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon, so to speak, and offer a new term to describe the 99% of us who fall somewhere between those two extremes.
And so, with no further ado, introducing~Reasonable Parenting!
Reasonable Parenting is so popular because it’s just so very…well, reasonable! The Reasonable Parent is available to their children and responsive to their needs, but doesn’t smother them, take over every project, stymie independent thought or creativity, or screen potential employers with background checks and fingerprinting via their FBI contacts (contacts made, of course, for just such a purpose!). On the other end of the spectrum, the Reasonable Parent does have certain expectations about their children learning to cooperate, adopting common courtesies, and achieving an education, but doesn’t force independence, control every aspect of their children’s behavior, punish every infraction, impose excessive pressure to succeed, or start preparing their future Ivy Leaguers for filling out those do-or-die college applications with occasional ‘pop quiz’ applications on evenings and weekends.
Now, in that ‘somewhere’ in between these two extremes, there is a lot of space for individuality and flexibility. Some Reasonable Parents, myself included, cosleep (aka bedshare) while others practice an arms-reach approach and still others are comfortable running back and forth to a separate nursery to meet their little person’s needs at night. Some of us breastfeed for two plus years, others don’t for various reasons. Some use time-ins, some time-outs. Some circumcise. Some don’t. Some babywear. Some homeschool. Some spend lovely days filled with crafting and nature walks and making wonderfully healthy meals together, while others must work outside the home and instead spend lovely evenings piled on the couch under flannel blankets watching a movie and eating popcorn and having tickle fights.
My point is this; we in the parenting community agree that children are individuals and should be treasured for their uniqueness, but then so often act as if parenting is a one-style-fits-all approach. The truth is that families are as unique as the individuals who create them, and parenting is a living, growing, evolving relationship that is only successful when it is molded to fit that uniqueness.
If there are any ‘rules’ to Reasonable Parenting, they are
1.) Listen, really listen to your children.
2.) Stop, Think, and then Respond. Don’t just React.
3.) Never, ever hurt your children. (No hitting!)
There are many parenting tips about how to accomplish those three core Reasonable Parenting values (see Related Posts below), but the main point here is to understand and accept and support each other as we share this parenting journey together. We have so much we can learn from each other, but in the end we each need to discover our own unique parenting styles for our own unique families!
December 12, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, communication, family, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, life, positive discipline | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, childhood, children, cosleeping, discipline, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, parenting, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
The concept of using consequences, physical or otherwise, as a deterrent for hitting is based on the misconception that small children have the capacity for forethought (i.e. If I hit, I will get in trouble. Therefore I will not hit.) and that they are choosing to disobey. The fact is that the prefrontal cortex, where reasoning, logic, and forethought take place, is highly immature in toddlers and preschoolers and actually doesn’t develop fully until the mid-twenties! Small children act instinctively and impulsively even when not stressed simply because that is what they are developmentally capable of, but when they are stressed even the small amount of self-control they may have attained flies right out the window, and before they know it (literally!) they’ve reacted physically to their stress. Read more
Typically, I advise parents to use Time-Ins instead of Time-Outs in order to connect-to-correct, but there is one area that I advise the use of Time-Outs…the ‘Time-Out Toy Box!’ When a toy is misused (i.e. thrown, used to hit, drawn on, fought over, etc) and a gentle redirection has been given, the next step for the toy is to be put in the ‘Time-Out Toy Box.’ Little ones generally find the concept of a toy being put in Time-Out rather humorous and go along with the removal without a fuss (the toy can be returned after an exaggeratedly stern warning to the toy letting it know what is expected of it and that it must listen to ‘the boss’ ~the child, lol. They love that!), but remember to communicate, listen, and be flexible. If the removal of a toy brings about a strong negative response, it may be that the inappropriate behavior was more than just…Read more
Few things ignite a parent’s temper like defiance. It feels like a slap in the face, a direct challenge to our authority. Power card…played. Gauntlet…thrown. Challenge…accepted?
Time out! No, not time-out as in punish your child, but time out as in hit the parental pause button, take a step back, assess the situation, and get some adult perspective.
There are three things to consider…Read more
Punishing them, yelling at them, sending them to their room, or putting them in time-out disconnects them even further from their source of security and not only delays a resolution of the issue, but misses an opportunity to equip them with the tools they need to handle future problems.
One effective tool for use in helping little ones cope with big emotions is a Calm-Me-Jar…Read more
I-spy Water Jars, Quiet Bags, Calm-Me-Jars, Cozy Corners, Punch Bags, and more…Read more
Almost from the moment a baby is born, parents teach them not to share. “No, no, sweetie. That’s mommy’s” and “That’s daddy’s, not yours” accompanied by the removal of whatever the forbidden item is are daily realities for little ones. This is unavoidable, of course, since bacteria-ridden keys don’t belong in little mouths and iphones don’t work well when soaked in drool.
But the challenge comes when our little ‘reflectors’ are expected to share their toys with anyone and everyone who takes a liking to them…Read more
One of the hot-button issues when it comes to discipline and children is spanking, and the more Christian and conservative the audience, the more hot the debate becomes! There are no verses in the New Testament that support spanking, flogging, whipping, or otherwise hitting children. In the Old Testament there are…Read more
Your Baby isn’t Trying to Annoy You; He’s Trying to Communicate! From the moment a child enters the world, they are trying to communicate. Crying, grunting, making eye contact, mirroring expressions, all of these things are the instinctive tools built into infants to reach out into a brand new world and make contact. They can do no more. It is entirely up to the parent to make the connection, to respond, to build those all-important ‘lines of communication’ that will be so vitally important to parents in later childhood. Communication is not something that just happens. It is not something that begins when a child becomes verbal, and it’s not a product of a child’s advancing maturity. Communication is a process, a relational building block, a result of intentional and responsive parenting. Read more
The evolution of children’s communication proceeds at a steady and relatively predictable pace, though the timing is influenced by factors such as individual personality, cognitive development, home environment, etc. Here’s what to expect through the ages and stages…
Babes and Boundaries~A Gentle Parenting Perspective Gentle parenting doesn’t mean parenting without boundaries! Believe it or not, the foundation for discipline (guiding, leading, teaching…NOT punishment ) begins in the newborn and infancy stages. When parents respond quickly, consistently, and gently to their baby’s cries, the trust relationship that the parent is establishing becomes the cornerstone for later discipline. Boundaries need to be established for a child’s safety and growth into a successful citizen of our world. A child who is secure in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to fight to be heard or to have his needs met is more open and adaptable to limits. And when the ‘limit-setter’ is a person the child trusts, the enforcement of those boundaries becomes a matter of connection and communication instead of conflict and struggle. So, what might setting and enforcing boundaries using gentle parenting look like in real life? Read more
Parenting in Public~What’s in Your Quiet Bag? More and more public places are becoming child un-friendly with snarky signs saying they’ll give your child an espresso and a pony if you don’t control him or charge you extra if you dare to enter their establishment and support their business with your hard-earned money or even flat out ban you altogether if you bring ‘the beast’ out in public with you! So what’s a parent to do? Read more
Discipline & Behavior via Dr. Sears
You probably never thought of attachment tools, such as breastfeeding and babywearing, as being acts of discipline, but they are. Attachment parenting is like immunizing your child against emotional diseases later on. Your knowledge of your child becomes like a sixth sense enabling you to anticipate and control situations to keep your kids out of trouble. Discipline is based on building the right relationship with a child more than using the right techniques.
Parenting toddlers made simple. via T.E.A.C.H. Through Love
Toddlers can be loud, boisterous, erratic, funny, messy, witty and smart all at the same time. They soak up everything they see and hear and that includes our reactions to their actions.
What Children Need Most When They Deserve It The Least via Happy Families
Parents prefer not to have their authority questioned. So rather than considering why a child may be resisting, they up the ante, doing their best puffer-fish impersonation, and make threats.
Positive Parenting in Action: Exploration/Danger via Positive Parenting
Don’t mistake independence for defiance. Some toddlers are more strong-willed and independent than others. My first son was very mellow and content under my wing, while my second wanted independence early. He doesn’t want to hold my hand in parking lots (we’ll address that one!) because he says “I can walk by myself!”
With a healthy relationship based on open, honest communication, issues can be addressed as they arise and in a respectful and timely manner instead of a teen feeling the need to go ‘underground’ with their behavior or problems. Here are some practical tips for raising teens in a respectful and peaceful manner.
Gentle Discipline: So what DO you do? via The Path Less Taken
Some people, for any number of reasons, do not know about alternatives. They don’t know that there’s another way. Some people want to do things differently, and want to break their cycle, but they honestly do not know where to start.
Proactive Discipline and Well-behaved Children via Gentle Christian Mothers
Most people seem to think that physical punishment is the only way to elicit good behavior and assume that children who aren’t given prompt and regular spankings will be out of control “monsters”. Well, my kids are not perfect little robots. They have to be reminded to do things and they fight with each other. But my focus is not so much on obedience (do what I say right now!) as you might have expected. Instead my focus is on raising kids who are generally polite and content and care about how those around them feel. And that’s what I’ve got, kids who are noticeably considerate to adults and other children alike.
6 Steps to Stop Yelling Dr. Laura Markham/Aha Parenting.com
We all know that our kids respond better if we don’t yell. Instead of escalating a difficult situation, if we can stay calm, it settles everyone else down. Our relationship with our child strengthens. They cooperate more. They start to control their own emotions more. Bottom line: How can you expect your child to control his own emotions if you don’t control yours?
The One Thing You Can Do That Will Drastically Improve Your Interactions with Children via Real Child Development
If there was one thing you could do differently that would drastically improve your interactions with children would you want to know? Would you like to know the key that would increase cooperation, reduce tantrums, fighting and negative behavior?
Gems via Mothering by Grace
This is a FAST way of making your child feel loved, valued and secure. GEMs help your kids feel affirmed and noticed, so their need to get your attention in negative ways decreases. Your energy levels will rise as you enjoy your child and remember what it’s all about. By focusing on your child and meeting their emotional needs for connection you are actually taking care of yourself at the same time. It takes only a few minutes to have a GEM, yet the positive effects last for ages.
Why Spanking is Never Okay via Peaceful Parenting
Scientific research shows that physical punishment does not work in the long run, is associated with an increased risk for many behavioral and psychological problems, and is simply unnecessary given that we have non-violent discipline techniques that are very effective.
Gentle, effect tools for your parenting toolbox!
November 21, 2011 | Categories: adolescence, attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, birth, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, Jesus, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: adolescence, attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, breastfeeding, childhood, children, Christian, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, Jesus, newborn, parenting, play, positive, positive parenting, rebellion | 38 Comments »
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 »
[Reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
So, your precious baby has finally arrived! After a perfect pregnancy and blissful labor and delivery, you’ve come home (in your pre-pregnancy clothes, of course!) with your beautiful baby, ready to start life as the perfect parents of a perfect child. Yeah, right! Actually, after a pregnancy in which you threw up more times than you can count and yet still managed to gain an embarrassing amount of weight, and where your feet swelled to unrecognizable lumps at the bottom of your legs, you finally suffered through a hideously long, painful labor and delivery only to arrive home (in your largest maternity outfit which barely fit!) with a screaming, vomiting, miniature human being who can’t tell you why he’s upset and who poops what can only be described as TAR! What are you going to do now?!?
First, call your mommy! No, really, if you have a mom or a grandma or an aunt or a good friend who has any experience with babies, ask for help! As long as there have been babies being born, there have been women gathering around to help new mamas through those first intense weeks with a newborn. Experienced helpers can make all the difference in how well you survive the sleepless nights, crazy hormones, and vast uncertainties that come with being a new parent.
Beware, though, the experienced helpers who are a bit too helpful and try to push you out of the way even to the extent of trying to guilt you into leaving your baby behind to go on a walk or a date-night ‘for the good of your marriage.’ In the first place, having to leave your baby behind to preserve your marriage isn’t a great precedent to set with your husband. You two are in this together and setting a precedent of family first is a good idea! And secondly, the whole point of having help is not only for you to recover, but also so you can become experienced yourself in taking care of your baby. And on that note…
Second, while accepting help is vital, make sure that everyone knows that this baby is YOUR baby and YOU will decide what is best for you and your child. Listen to all the advice; take what makes sense to you; and chuck the rest. Let your helpers do the housework and the cooking and the errands while you take care of and get to know the new little addition to your family. If your instincts tell you to hold your baby, even while she sleeps, then hold your baby even while she sleeps! If your instincts tell you to nurse your crying baby even though you just nursed fifteen minutes ago, then nurse your baby! God gave you those instincts for a reason, so don’t ignore them!
Third, I know we’ve all heard the ‘sleep when your baby is sleeping’ advice. Listen to that advice! Short little naps may not seem all that helpful in theory, but they can be lifesavers when getting used to the rigors of new parenthood. And keep reminding yourself that it will get better, because it will!
Fourth, whether you’ve chosen to breastfeed or bottle feed, expect your little one to eat erratically right at first. Remember, babies nutritional needs were met with a constancy and lack of effort in utero that can’t be fully replicated outside the womb. Their tummies are only about the size of a walnut in the first days, so they can’t eat enough at a feeding to last them more than two or three hours at most, and often far less! Also, if you’re breastfeeding it’s common to worry that your baby isn’t getting enough milk, but if you keep in mind how itty bitty their little tummies are, you’ll realize that it doesn’t take much to fill them up. Things to consider with breastfeeding are getting a good latch and establishing your supply, among others, and it’s often helpful to consult a lactation specialist for guidance. There are excellent resources available in most communities through your local hospital as well as online resources such as La Leche League and Kellymom.com.
Fifth, while bathing baby may be fun, it really isn’t necessary and might be rather traumatic for them. ‘Topping and tailing’ is a term that means taking a warm, wet cloth (no soap) and gently washing their eyes (inner corner to outer corner to avoid infection), face, ears, head, and neck, and then washing their bottom, being careful to clean out all the little cracks and crevices. Follow that with cord care (gently cleaning the cord area with a cotton swab moistened with alcohol), and you’re done!
Sixth, birth is a huge transition for a baby. From a warm, dark, weightless environment where all their needs are met, sounds are muffled, and mama’s heartbeat lulls them to sleep, they are abruptly ejected into a cold, loud, bright world where they experience hunger and discomfort and loneliness and fear for the first time. You can help your little one cope by easing the transition for him. Keeping the lights a bit dimmer and the sounds a bit more muted right at first is helpful in welcoming your baby to your world. Also, it’s helpful to wear your baby in those first transitional weeks (and often far longer when you discover how convenient it is!). Babywearing is a term that refers to using a baby carrier, wrap, or sling to keep your baby close to you where he can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth and closeness in an approximation of your womb. All of these things will help to reduce your baby’s stress as he acclimates to his new environment, and a less stressed baby tends to result in a less stressed mommy!
Seventh, there is a big divide in parenting circles between the ‘co-sleepers’ and the ‘crib-sleepers’ so be aware that whichever choice you make will probably be challenged by more than one of your friends or relatives or even complete strangers who seem to have no issues with giving advice to someone they don’t know! Bottom line, if you choose to co-sleep, check here for ‘safe co-sleeping’ options, and then follow your instincts! If you choose to put your little one in a crib or bassinet, do yourself a favor and put it next to your bed to reduce your travel time in the middle of the night. You’ll thank me, I promise!
Eighth, your baby is completely and totally helpless in every way. Her main mode of communication is crying. Medical experts agree that it isn’t possible to spoil a newborn, and you are just at the beginning stages of building a trust relationship, so respond promptly to your little one’s cries! Your immediate response to your baby’s needs will help her begin to learn that she can count on you when she needs you and that she doesn’t have to ‘fight’ for your attention. Babies left to cry-it-out often do sleep through the night sooner 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 long-term consequences of a child giving up on her parents simply aren’t worth it.
Ninth, baby yourself! Whether you’ve had a c-section or a vaginal birth, your body has been through the wringer; your hormones are all over the place; and your lack of sleep is not helping matters! Have someone make you a ‘survival basket’ with water bottles, granola bars, minty gum, hand sanitizer, diapers, baby wipes, burp rags, and, most importantly, chocolate! It needs to be small and light enough for you to take from room to room with you while carrying your baby. Also, have someone make a comfy area in your living room for you to nurse (with your survival basket within reach!) and a changing area so you don’t have to go back and forth to the bedroom or nursery throughout the day. Take showers when you can. Accept casseroles and other offerings of meals from friends and church members and co-workers. And, if you don’t have help for the housework, just do the bare minimum so you can rest and recover and focus on getting to know your precious new baby!
Tenth, baby your marriage! This is a huge, huge, huge transition for you and your husband, so both of you apologize to each other in advance for any temper tantrums, thoughtless words, or unmet needs that might (will!) occur in the foreseeable future. You are going from ‘the two of us’ to ‘we three’ and, just as with anything else, change isn’t easy. Husbands, it’s not about you right now, period. Yes, you have your own issues to deal with in becoming a parent for the first time, but you need to put that aside for the first weeks and concentrate on your wife and child. Your wife isn’t just having to deal with becoming a mommy, but her body has been through an incredible transition during the previous nine months followed by the trauma of labor and delivery followed by crashing hormones, the trials of learning to breastfeed (or deal with engorgement issues if choosing to bottle feed), and the exhaustion of dealing with a newborn’s erratic sleep patterns. If she’s also had a c-section, you can add major abdominal surgery to that list! So, husbands, put your own issues aside and baby your wife and baby for the time being! Wives, a little verbal acknowledgement goes a long way with husbands, so try to muster up enough energy to tell your husband that you appreciate him and understand that he is trying to figure out this new life just like you are, and assure him that eventually you will be you again! (Yes, you will. It just takes time!)
Final thoughts: One of the things that has kept me going through giving birth to six children (and losing several others along the way) is the assurance that ‘this too shall pass.’ As with all changes in life, it takes time to adjust, but reminding yourself that this ‘will pass,’ and you will adjust, and life will go on is very, very helpful! Also, take time to enjoy the little things–the sweet smell of your newborn’s tiny head, the soft sounds of his breathing as he sleeps, the sight of your spouse staring into your beautiful baby’s eyes–because too soon this time will pass and these precious moments will become mere memories. Congratulations and God bless!
November 20, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, natural parenting, newborn | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, newborn, positive parenting | 23 Comments »
I am thankful for freedom!
~Facets of Freedom~
We are a co-sleeping American family. Our newest little family members go from my womb to my room, from being held in warm comfort inside of me to being snuggled up beside me. We follow safe co-sleeping guidelines, of course, but feel our tiny new additions are far safer sleeping in our family bed than in isolation. Most naps are taken right in my arms or a baby sling after being nursed peacefully to sleep. Is it inconvenient? Yes, sometimes. But we didn’t have children for our convenience, and this time is so fleeting I miss it already as my sixth baby slumbers contentedly on my chest while I write these words. Conversely, in Spain young mama Habiba only recently had her baby, Alma, returned to her after Spanish authorities removed the 15 month old for concerns over ‘chaotic’ breastfeeding and co-sleeping patterns. The Spanish authorities first tried to coerce Habiba into weaning Alma and using a crib, but were angered when Habiba continued to “use breastfeeding as comfort” and “sleep with Alma in her bed while using the cot [crib] to deposit items such as toys and clothes.” While I’m thankful that little Alma is safely back in her mama’s arms, my mama’s heart can’t stop hurting for all the other Habibas and Almas whose lives are being ripped apart by intrusive and restrictive governments worldwide.
We are a homeschooling American family. For about 14 years now, my husband and I have made the decision to educate our children at home. I have full autonomy to choose their curriculum, to make (and break!) our own schedule, and to center our school on our Christian faith and conservative values. We can spend an entire school year solely exploring space and the next immersed in archeology. We can take the month of December off and then ease back into school with short days and abbreviated weeks as we recover from the holiday whirl. I can let my children read what they love, write creatively, and pursue their talents and interests. Conversely, in 2008 a 17-year-old girl, Melissa Busekros, was forcibly removed from her parents and placed in the child psychiatry unit of a Nuremberg, Germany clinic. “Homeschooling was first banned under Adolf Hitler, and that ban is still enforced today,” says the homeschool legal defense association (John-Henry Westen). And that is just one case among many of a parent’s choice to homeschool being met with government interference in, or outright severing of, families.
We are a non-vax’ing American family. I, like the majority of young mothers, trusted my children’s pediatrician and suffered through injection after injection and ‘mild’ reaction after ‘mild’ reaction to vaccinations (none of which were ever reported to the CDC as required by law~just another drop in the massive under-reporting bucket), believing I was doing what was best for my children’s health and well-being. Then came the terrifying seizures when my #5 was six months old. And then came the brick wall. None of the doctors at the hospital, including our pediatrician, would even consider the multiple vaccinations my baby had received a couple of days before as a cause of the seizures. They put that poor baby through test after test after test, and even when no other explanation could be found, they still wouldn’t look at the vaccinations as a possibility and just listed the seizures as “of unknown cause.” That experience taught me to be wary of the medical establishment and set off a massive vaccination research project in my life that resulted in two words: NEVER AGAIN. And I am so very thankful to live in a nation where I have that right, that freedom to make informed choices for my family! Conversely, in 2009 seven year old Domenic Johansson was snatched from his parents’ custody by officials of Gotland, Sweden. They were accused of not vaccinating him and of homeschooling him. No other accusations or charges were brought against them, but to this day he has not been returned to their custody. Once every five weeks they are permitted a one hour, supervised visit. Unbelievable, and so heartbreaking!
We are a church planting American family. Through the years our family has been involved in planting several new churches~from helping to grow one or two-year-old churches, to being a part of core groups starting a new church, to actively hosting a brand new church in our own home. In the United States, this is our right, and we have the freedom to exercise it without fear of reprisal or government intervention. Conversely, Iranian pastor, husband, and father Youcef Nadarkhani has been in prison in Iran since October 2009, sentenced to die for his Christian activities. The appeal of his death sentence was rejected by the Iranian Supreme Court in June of this year. He is to be executed by hanging (Voice of the Martyrs). Stories of religious persecution and the restriction of religious freedoms can be found from every corner of the globe, and the stories are chilling.
We are an American family. Our nation is by no means perfect and our freedoms are by no means free, but here in the United States our Constitution stands resolutely proclaiming, and overseas our troops stand tirelessly protecting, our precious freedom. We thank God for our country and our military. God bless our troops, and God bless the U.S.A.!
*Originally written for Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered‘s blog carnival, Parenting in America
November 13, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, nonvaxing | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, nonvaxing | 1 Comment »
I am thankful for my big, happy family!
“A happy family is but an earlier heaven”~ George Bernard Shaw
I am thankful for my illustrator!
(Who also happens to be my oldest son and the Pastor of our church!)
Here’s a sneak preview of the concept art for the next three books in my Wisdom For Little Hearts gentle parenting children’s book series:
ADDIE’S INSIDE VOICE
Follow little Miss Addie as she shrieks, shouts, and squeals her way into one problem after another with her stuffed mouse, Pip, until her mommy and daddy step in with some silly games that help her learn to use her ‘Inside Voice’!
JOJO’S GENTLE HANDS
Poor little JoJo and his monkey, Moe, keep getting into scrapes with their rough and tumble play until JoJo’s mommy and daddy make a game out of using their ‘Gentle Hands’!
ZOEY THE HAPPY HELPER
Sweet Zoey is a bit of a day-dreamer, which gets her and her ducky, Squish, into trouble as she forgets one task after another until her mommy and daddy help her see how being a ‘Happy Helper’ can be lots of fun!
Concept art is also in the works for Poppy’s Smile, Benji’s Big Manners, and Nikko’s Not Nice Words!
November 6, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, food, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, Jesus, natural parenting, newborn, parenting guide, positive discipline, pregnancy | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, bedtime stories, Bible, breastfeeding, childhood, children, children's books, Christian children's books, Christian parenting, cosleeping, discipline, food, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, nature, outdoors, parenting, park, play, playground, positive parenting, pregnancy | 1 Comment »
Such a sweet ‘attic find’ from Zoie @ TouchstoneZ!
~~I’ve Gone to the Dork Side~~
Nat has a fairly decent obsession with Legos right now. So, we took the family to a Lego convention in San Jose. Being Legos and being in Silicon Valley, the convention was filled with a variety of nerd species. There were steam punks, Star Wars and Star Trek (avoiding one another of course) and even a few self-created Sci-fi-ish creatures. The majority were those I affectionately call garden variety geeks.
I love nerds. I wish when I was younger that I had recognized their coolness. I would have made much healthier choices in boyfriends and girlfriends if I had gone to the dork side earlier. Most of the kids in my circle were more concerned with vying for social status than in being kind or understanding of other people. It was not something I enjoyed, so I hopped around from friend to friend every few weeks when the back-biting got to be too mean for me. I have found most geeks to be genuinely interested in understanding one another’s diversity in a more organic way than the garden variety un-geek. There are of course many exceptions on both sides of wherever that arbitrary dork-line is drawn. I tend to be attracted to those who have that quality of acceptance and really, even the un-geeks are still freaks, they’re just better at appearing normal (cliché alert: whatever normal is)
I’m married to a self-named geek. I’m not entirely certain that his high school classmates would agree if his yearbook is any indication. But he does have the hallmarks, such as, being a techie, loving SciFi, and having a few embarrassing photos of his 12 year old self, involving a Blues Brothers hat and shorty-short shorts. Aside from that, he’s self-confident although quiet. He’s very open to his much more emotional wife’s hare-brained ideas about crunchy parenting and green living (except backyard chickens, but I’m working on that.) He’s down with wearing a Star Wars shirt and rocking an Ergo.
We went from display to display of intricate lego builds with Nat extolling his wonderment. Gan had an excellent view from the carrier on his Dad’s back, so was also entranced. Bud was getting squirmy and needed a feed, though. I spotted an empty hotel conference room style chair pushed against the wall and quickly pounced on it so I wouldn’t have to breastfeed sitting on the floor. Sitting on the floor to breastfeed can be nice because fewer people glance at me (unless I position myself accidentally at a hallway junction or something, as I’ve been known to do when distracted by a rooting bub) But I’d prefer not to directly expose myself or my nursling to the unknown level of cleanliness of or the industrial cleaners used on a hotel conference hall carpet.
So, I breastfed on this hotel chair with my back to the wall, sandwiched between some worn out grandparents and I noticed something. I was being looked at. A lot. But, not in the way you’re probably thinking. It certainly wasn’t something I was used to.
There were many moms there trailing behind their gangly teen sons who overtopped them by a foot. And they would each smile fondly as they passed by. I could see in their faces that they remembered their boys as babes at the breast. I felt uplifted by these wordless connections. It’s not often I have such an overwhelmingly supportive experience breastfeeding in a crowd of strangers.
I smiled at my own nursling and imagined him overtopping me by a foot by the time he’s a teenager. I hope I’m lucky enough to trail behind him at a Lego festival and smile wistfully at another mama breastfeeding a future dork.
Thank you to Zoie @ TouchstoneZ for her generous contributions to ~A September to Remember~ and don’t forget to check out her blog!
September 17, 2011 | Categories: adolescence, attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, life, natural parenting, teens | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, childhood, gentle parenting, parenting, positive parenting, teens | 2 Comments »
This week’s guest post is from Melissa of The New Mommy Files! Don’t forget to check out her site after you fall in love with her post :0)
|Photo Used by Creative Commons License
Credit: Kevin Harber (Kevin H.) on Flickr.
|Taking some time to climb the stairs at the mall
before picking up groceries
- Leave plenty of extra time to get things done, so that it’s easy to move at Annabelle’s pace without becoming stressed or frustrated.
- Allow time before and after going into a place where Annabelle cannot safely walk about (such as a crowded grocery store), to allow her to walk and explore. I let her wander around on the lawn outside the grocery store for awhile before going inside, for example.
- Have more than one plan. When we go out shopping, I bring a sling and our shopping cart cover with a favorite object and a snack tucked inside the pocket. When Annabelle tires of riding in the cart, I place her in the sling instead. This respects her need for a change of scenery, and also gives her two separate places from which she can have a bird’s eye view. We don’t use a stroller, as it keeps her from being able to interact with me and others around us. When we’re in a place where she can safely walk, I allow her to do so.
- Empathize and speak respectfully. Occasionally Annabelle becomes frustrated at points when it’s hard for me to step away and tend to her immediately, such as when my groceries are already half checked and I need to pay for them. When this happens, I simply do my best to acknowledge her needs and let her know that I will meet them just as soon as I can. Her feelings of frustration are valid and she needs to know that she is heard.
Melissa started blogging at The New Mommy Files when her firstborn was just three months old, but has found that no matter how familiar the mommy label becomes there is always something new to discover. She shares stories, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration from her journey on facebook and twitter as well as on her blog. In addition to mothering, topics that come up often include Montessori philosophy, elimination communication and cloth diapering, veganism, and finding a rhythm and balance in everyday life.
September 16, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, children's books, cosleeping, gentle parenting, life | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, childhood, children, cosleeping, gentle discipline, sacrificial parenting | 4 Comments »
September 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, family, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, newborn, positive discipline | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, childhood, children, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, play, positive parenting, sacrificial parenting | Leave A Comment »
This has been such a full year for our family. I find myself wondering often, though, about my little boy. At two and a half, what will he remember of this year? Anything?
Will he remember the wonderful four months we spent with his grandma, grandpa, and four aunties this summer? Will he remember the time he got to spend with his daddy during the day, the fun they had together, the way it strengthened the bond they already shared?
Will he remember any of the first three houses we’ve lived in so far this year? His very first home in Ottawa? The beautiful house in Manitoba, with acres of land to run around on and a bountiful garden that he watched us dig, till, plant, water, weed and harvest? Will he remember the place we’ve called home since our arrival in Vancouver this fall, the place we had hoped to live in for our four years here, the place we will be saying goodbye to in only a couple short weeks?
What of the other people who have been a part of his life? How long will he continue to remember his first friend Luke? Will he recognize those relatives we see rarely – great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins? If only we could all be together, always, instead of so far flung from each other.
Will he remember those experiences that he talks of so often and so fondly right now? Trips to the aquarium, the farm, the theatre. Riding the train at the mall. Dancing with his mom in the snow at the park, his hands buried in her sleeves to keep warm. Visits to the midwife, listening to his baby brother or sister’s heartbeat, endless conversations – “talk more about the baby, Mom!” Will he remember that tiny baby being born?
What will he remember?
What will he forget?
Sometimes I feel sad over the thought of all that will slip from his mind over the years. I’ve long felt that way over my own life. A box full of journals from my teenage years doesn’t seem to be enough. What about the little everyday things, the moments I failed to record, the milestones I didn’t notice at the time, all the things I have already forgotten? I wish I could record all of these happy moments of his own life, both for his sake and for mine. I want him to remember, and I want to remember them myself.
Other times, though, I worry about what he will remember. Will he remember that I sat by his bed every night, singing to him as he drifted off to sleep? Or will he remember instead the times I spoke harshly, wanting him to just go to sleep so I could go do other things (as though washing the supper dishes was more important than being a comforting presence to my son)? Will he remember the trips to the park, the library, the farm – or will he remember instead the times I was overly anxious to get back to the comfort of our home, rushing him along instead of allowing him to linger and explore as long as he liked? Will he remember the times I dealt with him lovingly, patiently, respectfully, discipling him into greater maturity – or will he remember instead my moments of failure as a parent, treating him roughly, speaking to him harshly, failing to hear him, allowing my selfishness to come first, badgering him into submission rather than discipling him into true obedience?
Sad that he will forget, worried that he will remember, I become increasingly conscious of the memories I am creating for this little boy, aware of their significance.
And so we bake gingerbread moose and shortbread trains. He kneads his own small piece of dough as we make our weekly bread together. We avoid daily television and instead snuggle together for a special movie treat. We read endless piles of books together. I warm up a glass of chocolate milk when he wakes one night, allowing him to climb into our bed and join us as we sip our own hot cocoa. I offer comfort in a daily routine and excitement in the occasional deviation from it.
And we talk. Days filled with conversation, recalling the good times that have passed, praising the people we have grown to love, anticipating the good that lies ahead.
This, in hopes that some day down the road, he’ll say, Mom, remember when…, and I will smile, because he remembers, and I remember, and the things we remember are all the best moments of our lives.
Cynthia is the mother of two little boys, an inquisitive preschooler and an energetic toddler. She blogs at The Hippie Housewife, where she shares her thoughts on attachment parenting, natural living, life as a Jesus-follower, and more, all tied together through her journey towards a more intentional life.
This article was previously published on The Hippie Housewife.
September 2, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, birth, Christian parenting, gentle parenting, Jesus | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, bedtime stories, Bible, childhood, Christian parenting, gentle parenting, Jesus, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Here’s a sneak preview of the concept art for the next three books in the Wisdom For Little Hearts gentle parenting children’s book series!
ADDIE’S INSIDE VOICE
Follow little Miss Addie as she shrieks, shouts, and squeals her way into one problem after another with her stuffed mouse, Pip, until her mommy and daddy step in with some silly games that help her learn to use her ‘Inside Voice’!
JOJO’S GENTLE HANDS
Poor little JoJo and his monkey, Moe, are getting into scrapes with their rough and tumble play until JoJo’s mommy and daddy make a game out of using their ‘Gentle Hands’!
ZOEY THE HAPPY HELPER
Sweet Zoey is a bit of a day-dreamer, which gets her and her ducky, Squish, into trouble as she forgets one task after another until her mommy and daddy help her see how being a ‘Happy Helper’ can be lots of fun!
August 17, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, food, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, Jesus, natural parenting, newborn, parenting guide, positive discipline, pregnancy | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, bedtime stories, Bible, breastfeeding, childhood, children, children's books, Christian children's books, Christian parenting, cosleeping, discipline, food, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, nature, outdoors, parenting, park, play, playground, positive parenting, pregnancy | Leave A Comment »
Dr. Sears is considered the leading authority on gentle/attachment parenting and is a proponent of co-sleeping. Here he examines the research linking decreased SIDS risks with the increase in co-sleeping rates. Dr. Sears~ ”Here are some ways to educate parents on how to sleep safely with their baby.”
“While many theories are flying around about the cause of SIDS, most focus on the deepness of sleep and how it affects the child’s breathing…Another theory which you may not be familiar with is that the crib mattress itself is to blame for SIDS cases…Arsenic, phosphorus and antimony are intentionally added to crib mattresses by the manufacturers as fire retardants. SIDS was very rare prior to the 1950s when these additives became standard.”
August 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, food, gentle parenting, natural parenting, newborn, parenting guide, pregnancy | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, childhood, children, cosleeping, gentle parenting, natural parenting, nature, newborn, positive parenting, pregnancy, sacrifice, sacrificial parenting | 8 Comments »
Thank you to all of my awesome guests this week for Wishes Week 2011! You gave me a very special birthday gift I will never forget by sharing your wishes with me. Here’s a ((hug)) for each one of you! And now, the ‘wrap up’~
Glimpses My opening contribution to Wishes Week 2011~Glimpses of hope and healing
Meanderings by Rosemary Jones Gritty urban prose by one of my favorite writers…powerful!
I wish that I were the Mother that I play at the grocery store. Here is a quirky look at the realities of mommyhood by Jessica, author of Parenting Wild Things!
“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep” This wins the prize for most viewed post of the week from Adventures in Mommyhood over at Instinctual Mamas. This is a passionate, informative, and convicting article on meeting babies’ needs gently. Beautiful!
~My closing post for Wishes Week~
Thank you to everyone who joined me for Wishes Week 2011! Your comments and ‘presence’ (lol) were much appreciated!
August 7, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, birth, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, food, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, Jesus, loss, miscarriage, natural parenting, newborn, orphans, parenting guide, positive discipline, pregnancy, pregnancy loss | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, Bible, birth, breastfeeding, childhood, Christian parenting, cosleeping, food, gentle parenting, Jesus, loss, miscarriage, natural parenting, nature, newborn, orphans, parenting, positive, positive parenting, pregnancy, sacrifice, sacrificial parenting, stillbirth, Uganda | Leave A Comment »
Many, many years ago (more that I will admit to!) a small, scared, pregnant, teenaged girl walked down the aisle to her tall, scared, clueless, young man and they said their “I do’s.” But what were they going to do? No earthly idea! They didn’t have the internet to surf for blogs about parenting and marriage, couldn’t afford the few paltry magazines available on those subjects at the time, and weren’t convinced the way their parents had raised them was exactly what they wanted for their unexpected little blessing. So, they just joined hands and hearts and figured it out the old-fashioned way~through trial and error.
The young girl gave birth prematurely and, after a terrifying NICU stay, brought home her barely 5 lb baby boy. Since the young couple were living on one income and barely able to feed themselves, it made sense to them to breastfeed their little one. Neither one had ever even heard of a lactation consultant and no one at the hospital had mentioned breastfeeding at all, so the two young people just kept working through the cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement, over-supply, and other issues until they got it figured out~and then they were breastfeeders!
The young girl discovered their first night home how much easier it was to simply take her baby boy into bed with her and breastfeed him when he was hungry~and then they were cosleepers!
Neither one of the young couple had ever read a parenting book and had never even heard the words ‘cry-it-out,’ so the two of them just did what came naturally and picked up their baby when he fussed or grunted or just looked cute and finally found it easier to just pop their little preemie into a baby carrier and tote him around with them wherever they went~and then they were babywearers!
As their precious little guy got bigger and began to explore his new world, the young couple delighted in everything he did and simply moved him and distracted him with songs and toys if he got into things. They couldn’t bear the thought of hurting their son, so just pulled him into their laps for a ‘time-in’ cuddle and chat if he got upset or needed to settle or be redirected~and then they were gentle discipliners!
As time went by and more children entered the family (six, to be exact!) other issues such as education and vaccination decisions had to be made, and, while at first the young couple followed the norm and the first two of their children started out in public school and fully vaccinated, it just didn’t sit well with the parenting style they’d developed. Neither one of them had ever known anyone who homeschooled, so that was a truly scary idea, but public education wasn’t for them and they were just too ’economically challenged’ to afford any kind of private school. So, they did what they’d always done and withdrew their children from school and figured it out as they went along~and then they were homeschoolers!
After a terrifying pediatric intensive care unit ordeal following vaccination-induced seizures in one of their little ones, the young couple ran head-long into the medical establishment’s refusal to report the reaction, and that prompted them to start researching vaccines~and then they were nonvaxers!
Now, this journey might sound like an easy one when summed up this way, but I can assure you it wasn’t! The young couple, my amazing husband and I, encountered strong criticism of our parenting choices over and over through the years from many, and a refusal to accept or accommodate those choices from some. We were warned that our marriage would suffer at the very least, and our babies would suffocate at the worst, if we slept with them in our bed instead of putting them in isolation to sleep. We were informed that my breasts would look like deflated balloons and reach my knees by my thirties if I breastfed beyond a couple of months. We were admonished that our children would grow into spoiled brats if we responded to their needs instead of teaching them to ‘deal with it’ on their own, and would end up criminals if we encouraged and guided them instead of spanking them. We were advised that our children would be uneducated social outcasts (i.e. homeless or still living at home at forty!) if we homeschooled them instead of putting them into the institutional public education system. And we were cautioned that our children would be at risk and put other children at risk for dread diseases such as chicken-pox if we didn’t vaccinate them. These challenges to our parenting style were difficult at the time, and they sometimes even resulted in people choosing to de-friend us (not facebook de-friending, silly, in real life!), but they had the powerful positive effect of making us really examine what our beliefs were and, as a result, strengthening and solidifying our beliefs and our family.
As for the dire warnings listed above: Our beautiful, strong, loving marriage is in it’s 25th year; our children all survived cosleeping (our littlest, 14 months, is still safely and contentedly sleeping in our bed); my breasts are, well, normal except for being a couple of cup sizes larger at the moment since I’m breastfeeding, lol; our children are, in order, a 24 yr old pastor (our firstborn son mentioned in the story above who is expecting his first son!), a 22 yr old family therapist, a 17 yr old entering his third year of pre-med, 12 and 5 yr old beautiful and well-behaved homeschooled girls with lots of friends (soooo not social outcasts!), and a sweet and happy 14 month old baby girl. They are healthy despite (or because of?) being unvaccinated (and I would contend that considering them a danger to vaccinated children calls into question the efficacy of vaccinations, period!).
Our journey to gentle parenting has had another, somewhat unexpected, effect. While we may not agree with others’ parenting choices, we have been on the receiving end of criticism far too long to not have learned this lesson: Gentle parenting is for parents, too! We have learned to respond gently to our friends who don’t agree with us, even when they don’t respond gently to us. Responding with harshness and criticism doesn’t work with adults any better than it does with children! Responding gently to those who disagree with us may or may not affect their parenting choices, but what it does do is model respectful behavior and conflict resolution to our children and, most of the time, preserve dear friendships.
So there you have it~our journey to a breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing,
gentle disciplining, homeschooling, nonvaxing, happy family of eight! Well, including our awesome son-in-law, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson-on-the-way, I guess I should say family of 11 2/3! One boy, one girl, and one baby have come a long way, Baby!
July 6, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, newborn, nonvaxing, positive discipline, pregnancy | Tags: attachment parenting, baby, babywearing, birth, boy, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, girl, hearts, little, newborn, nonvaxing, positive parenting, pregnancy | 7 Comments »
I am a breastfeeding American woman. As a mother of six who has nursed all of my children, some well into the toddler years, I can assure you that my breasts have been exposed publicly more than once! Now, I am not a militant public breastfeeder and always strive to be discreet in my nursing out of simple courtesy, but the flailing arms of a newborn and playful ‘peek-a-boo’ removal of a nursing cover by a toddler have occasionally caught me off guard. While I don’t consider nursing publicly a constitutionally guaranteed right, I do believe that our government is set up to protect a mama’s right to feed her baby and to allow for public demonstrations such as ‘nurse-ins’ to promote breastfeeding awareness. Conversely, in October of 2009 Islamic militants in Mogadishu attacked and beat Muslim women for not wearing socks and others for wearing bras. The militants claimed that bras are deceptive to men and therefore dishonor them. Time and time again stories surface of Islamic women flogged for exposing a wrist or ankle, beaten by husbands or fathers for public indecency such as speaking with a non-relative male, and stoned or stabbed to death in ‘honor killings’ for dishonoring their families by being raped.
We are a co-sleeping American family. Our newest little family members go from womb to room, from being held in warm comfort inside of me to being snuggled up beside me. We follow safe co-sleeping guidelines, of course, but feel our tiny new additions are far safer sleeping in our family bed than in isolation. Most naps are taken right in my arms or a baby wrap after being nursed peacefully to sleep. Is it inconvenient? Yes, sometimes. But we didn’t have children for our convenience, and this time is so fleeting I miss it already as my sixth baby slumbers contentedly on my chest while I write these words. Conversely, in Spain young mama Habiba only recently had her baby, Alma, returned to her after Spanish authorities removed the 15 month old for concerns over ‘chaotic’ breastfeeding and co-sleeping patterns. The Spanish authorities first tried to coerce Habiba into weaning Alma and using a crib, but were angered when Habiba continued to “use breastfeeding as comfort” and “sleep with Alma in her bed while using the cot [crib] to deposit items such as toys and clothes.” While I’m thankful that little Alma is safely back in her mama’s arms, my mama’s heart can’t stop hurting for all the other Habibas and Almas whose lives are being ripped apart by intrusive and restrictive governments worldwide.
We are a homeschooling American family. For about 14 years now, my husband
and I have made the decision to educate our children at home. I have full autonomy to choose their curriculum, to make (and break!) our own schedule, and to center our school on our Christian faith and conservative values. We can spend an entire school year solely exploring space and the next immersed in archeology. We can
take the month of December off and then ease back into school with short days and abbreviated weeks as we recover from the holiday whirl. I can let my children read what they love, write creatively, and pursue their talents and interests. Conversely, in 2008 a 17-year-old girl, Melissa Busekros, was forcibly removed from her parents and placed in the child psychiatry unit of a Nuremberg, Germany clinic. “Homeschooling was first banned under Adolf Hitler, and that ban is still enforced today,” says the homeschool legal defense association (John-Henry Westen). And that is just one case among many of a parent’s choice to homeschool being met with government interference in or outright severing of families.
We are a non-vax’ing American family. I, like the majority of young mothers, trusted my children’s pediatrician and suffered through injection after injection and ‘mild’ reaction after ‘mild’ reaction to vaccinations, believing I was doing what was best for my children’s health and well-being. Then came the terrifying seizures when my #5 was six months old. And then came the brick wall. None of the doctors at the hospital, including our pediatrician, would even consider the multiple vaccinations my baby had received a couple of days before as a cause of the seizures. They put that poor baby through test after test after test, and even when no other explanation could be found, they still wouldn’t look at the vaccinations as a possibility and just listed the seizures as “of unknown cause.” That experience taught me to be wary of the medical establishment and set off a massive vaccination research project in my life that resulted in two words: Never again. And I am so very thankful to live in a nation where I have that right, that freedom to make informed choices for my family! Conversely, in 2009 seven year old Domenic Johansson was snatched from his parents’ custody by officials of Gotland, Sweden. They were accused of not vaccinating him and of homeschooling him. No other accusations or charges were brought against them, but to this day he has not been returned to their custody. Once every five weeks they are permitted a one hour, supervised visit. Unbelievable, and so heartbreaking!
We are a church planting American family. Through the years our family has been involved in planting several new churches from helping to grow one or two year old churches, to being a part of core groups starting a new church, to actively hosting a brand new church in our own home. In the United States, this is our right, and we have the freedom to exercise it without fear of reprisal or government intervention. Conversely, Iranian pastor, husband, and father Youcef Nadarkhani has been in prison in Iran since October 2009, sentenced to die for his Christian activities. The appeal of his death sentence was rejected by the Iranian Supreme Court in June of this year. He is to be executed by hanging (Voice of the Martyrs). Stories of religious persecution and the restriction of religious freedoms can be found from every corner of the globe, and the stories are chilling.
We are an American family. Our nation is by no means perfect and our freedoms are by no means free, but here in the United States our Constitution stands resolutely proclaiming, and overseas our troops stand tirelessly protecting, our precious freedom. We thank God for our country and our military. God bless our troops, and God bless the U.S.A.!
July 2, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, nonvaxing | Tags: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, nonvaxing | 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 »