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 »
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 »
“Spare the Rod…”
[Reprinted from Gentle Parenting: A Christian Perspective due to be released in 2014; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
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. And yet there are no verses in the New Testament that support spanking, smacking, whipping, or otherwise hitting children.
In the Old Testament there are a total of five verses that have been interpreted to encourage, or even command, the use of physical punishment on children. All five of those verses are in the book of Proverbs.
There have been many books, papers, articles, etc. written debating the interpretation of those verses, so I won’t take the time to go into the linguistics other than to mention that the word translated ‘child’ and ‘children’ in those Old Testament verses, when literally translated, means ‘young man.’ (Note: This is not a translation error, simply a language barrier in that, while the original languages of the Bible~Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek~have many words for the same thing, each with a different specific meaning, in English we just have one word for child, so that one word must suffice for my ’small child,’ my ’adolescent child,’ my ’young adult child,’ etc.) So a very literal interpretation of the Bible in those verses means that when a young man stubbornly refuses all other corrective measures, then the punishment of the culture at that time was a lashing. So, applying these scriptures tochildren is not in line with a literal interpretation. It would actually make more sense to apply them to the disciples!
The main issue, though, that seems to get lost in the debate is that Jesus brought grace and mercy as His methods and message for a reason. The purpose of the law in the Old Testament was to highlight the need for a Savior because man simply cannot live perfectly.
Jesus came to fulfill the outward requirements of the law that highlighted man’s sinful nature and replace them with an inner heart change. He demonstrated in many ways that the law (outer governance and control through fear of punishment) was no longer to be a rigid yoke with its heavy burden of cleansing and rituals and sacrifices and punishments, but instead was to be a kingdom of the heart, of mercy not sacrifice, because the sacrifice was Himself!
Jesus stopped the people from stoning the prostitute (which was a command in the Old Testament).
He healed people and traveled on the Sabbath (punishable by death in the Old Testament).
He consorted with ‘sinners’ and ate with them (despite the commands in Proverbs, the same book in the Bible with the ‘rod’ scriptures).
He showed again and again that if we accept Him as our Savior, we are called to be “ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
We accept that Jesus brought a new and better way, a way of the heart (“Not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3b), but don’t seem to want to acknowledge that better way with our children.
We accept God’s grace and forgiveness for ourselves, but often don’t share those gifts with, and model them for, our children.
But we are our children’s first taste of God. Is it any wonder people have such a hard time understanding grace and mercy and unconditional love when they may not have been taught those things by their earthly parents and don’t exercise them with their own children?
Through Jesus’ sacrifice, He tore open the veil dividing man from God and brought a new kingdom, a kingdom of inner governance through the Holy Spirit who’s fruits are “peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Nowhere does Jesus say to follow Him except when it comes to our children. He doesn’t say to offer grace and mercy and forgiveness to everyone except our children. The Bible doesn’t tell us to show the Fruit of the Spirit to everyone except our children.
If we truly believe that, based on five verses in the Old Testament that may not even be interpreted correctly, we are being disobedient to God’s commands if we don’t spank our children, then we must take that belief and walk it out fully.
In other words, if we must obey that supposed command, then we must obey all the other commands such as an “eye for an eye” and stoning adulterers (but don’t we teach forgiveness?), and we shouldn’t feed the homeless because “if a man doesn’t work, neither shall he eat” (but aren’t we supposed to be the heart and hands of Jesus?), and we shouldn’t give Christmas shoeboxes of goodies to prisoners’ children because “the sins of the father are visited on the children” (but isn’t the “kingdom of heaven made up of such as these”?)
My point is summed up in this verse: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) In other words, if you feel bound by those five verses, then you must be bound by all.
If you truly believe that those five verses have been interpreted correctly and that “spare the rod, spoil the child” (Note: There is no verse in the Bible that says ”spare the rod, spoil the child.” That phrase is actually from a satirical poem called Hudibras by Samuel Butler first published in 1662.) refers to an actual physical rod (instead of a symbol of guidance and loving correction…i.e. discipleship) and that the word used for ‘child’ refers to a person under the age of eighteen (instead of the actual linguistic translation meaning ‘young man’), then so be it.
But do you really believe that Jesus’ New Covenant is for everyone except children? That grace, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness are for adults only?
The disciples made that mistake, and Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
September 25, 2011 | Categories: Bible, Christian, Christian parenting, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, grace-based discipline, Jesus, rebellion, teens | Tags: Bible, children, Christian, Christian parenting, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, Jesus, parenting, rebellion, sacrifice | 55 Comments »
The first installment in ~A September to Remember~ is from Jen who writes over at The Path Less Taken. Thank you, Jen, for contributing!
Natalie is a beautiful little girl with long dark hair and huge brown eyes. She is three years old, is an only child, and doesn’t go to preschool. Natalie, her mother and I were sharing a waiting room with Paula, whose favorite thing is reading; Diane, who is a special ed teacher; and Scott, who mostly kept to himself but was very friendly when spoken to. The reason I know more details than normal about my fellow strangers-in-waiting is that little Natalie was serving as the social director, introducing herself to everyone, asking questions, and just generally being a friendly and vivacious three year old.
Natalie’s mom was tired; I could see that just by looking at her. Tired and most likely stressed, and possibly feeling beat down by life in general. I say that with sincere empathy, because I don’t know what kind of hand she’s been dealt. I don’t know her life story, and I don’t know where she’s coming from.
All I know is that she was treating her daughter very unkindly, and her daughter didn’t deserve it (not that any child ever does)
She was short and impatient as she spoke to her, and the first time she actually yelled – when Natalie stood up on her chair – she yelled so sharply and abruptly that everyone in the room looked up from what they were doing.
“Sit DOWN! And leave that poor lady alone!!”
Undeterred, Natalie sat down, and picked up a book.
“Can I read this to you?” she asked her mother.
“You don’t know how to read,” her mother snapped. “Just sit there. And sit there quietly.”
That was when my heart truly broke for her, for this innocent little girl who I’d never seen before and would never see again.
I was called to see the dentist then, but she didn’t leave my mind. Later, when I was at the checkout desk scheduling my next appointment, I felt a tiny presence beside me. A little hand suddenly appeared on the desk next to me, holding a pink ball covered in suction cups. I turned to see Natalie looking up at me. I said hello and told her what a cool ball she had. She smiled at me, stuck her ball on the desk, and plucked it off again.
As I was finishing up with the receptionist, one of the dentists came by and showed her how to throw it against the wall in the hallway. They were playing, and laughing, when her mother came around the corner.
There you are!
Stop throwing that!
I don’t care what he said!
Give me that ball!
The last image I had of little Natalie was of her crying because her mother had taken her ball, and was demanding that she say “please” and ask nicely before she would consider giving it back.
I don’t remember getting reprimanded a lot as a child, but I do remember how it made me feel. Some incidents, as many as 30 years ago, are as fresh in my memory as if they happened yesterday. I still remember when once as a kid I really needed to tell my mother something when she was on the phone. I knew she was talking on the phone, but I also knew that I just. couldn’t. wait. So I “Mom. Mom. Mom”‘d her until she put her hand over the phone, looked me in the eye, and yelled, “Shut UP!” I still remember how ashamed I felt, how devastated. I still remember that sick, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
My husband tells of a time when he was helping his mother change the sheets on the bed. He was holding the edge of the mattress up, and slipped and dropped it on his mother. She yelled at him for the mistake, called him a “little sh*t,” and he was so crushed he ran off to cry. He’d learned not to cry in front of her, because that would lead to his being called a crybaby.
If we can remember these isolated incidents with such clarity, what must a girl like Natalie grow up feeling? How indelibly those negative words must be marked on her soul.
I can’t do anything about Natalie. And I can’t do anything to change my past mistakes with my own kids. What I can do – what we all can do – is to remember that feeling we had as kids, to remember that with each time we yell or belittle or cut them down in any way, we take away a piece of not just their happiness, but of their soul. That each time we’re less than kind to our kids that we risk damaging not only who they are right now, but who they’re going to be. That just because we’re the ADULTS, we have the responsibility to love, nurture, and protect not just our own children, but all children. If we as adults can’t treat them with kindness and respect, how will they treat each other? How will they treat their own kids? When does the cycle stop?
As I was finishing up this blog, I received a comment on Facebook telling me that I needed to stop judging Natalie’s mother. And I’m not. This really has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with an innocent and defenseless baby who did not deserve to be treated that way. We need to stop letting political correctness stop us from saying the things that need to be said.
We need to be adults. We need to start treating our kids better.
Yes, even when we’re sleep-deprived. Even when we’re sick, when we’re fighting with our spouses, or when we’re stressed about finances. Even when we’re having a really crappy day, and the last thing we want to do is be patient and kind to anyone. Because we are the grownups. Because if we don’t do it, no one else will. Because somewhere along the way, someone decided that it was okay to treat kids with less respect than we’d treat fellow adults.
It’s not okay.
Think of the last time someone hurt your feelings. The last time someone said something truly unkind, or unnecessary, or mean. The last time someone really insulted you, or belittled you, or was even just less than supportive. Think of the last time someone said something to you in anger, something that was so cutting that even if you knew they regretted it and they instantly apologized, you will carry the scar the rest of your life. Have the feeling? Now imagine that you’ve gotten that hurtful treatment and you’re 3 years old. Or 5. Or 12. You’re still figuring out the way the world works. You’re still figuring out who you can really trust. You’re still figuring out how to treat people. You’re still figuring out emotions, and self-worth, and social nuances. You’re still figuring out where you fit in. You’re still figuring out your own sense of YOU. How do you feel now?
Let’s break the cycle today. For ourselves, for our kids, and for Natalie.
Don’t forget to check out Jen over at~
And check back all month long for some of the personal favorites from some of your favorite writers!
September 1, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, positive discipline | Tags: attachment parenting, children, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, nature | Leave A Comment »
[Portions reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
”Parents usually need their children to go to sleep earlier than the children need to. Sleep is not a state you can force a child into. It is better to create an environment that allows sleep to overtake the child.”
Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips via PhD in Parenting
“Be reasonable and patient with your child and understand that not every child is the same and also that a child that did once sleep well, may not always sleep well. If a child is teething, growing through a growth spurt, sick, working on a developmental milestone, hungry, didn’t get enough exercise or fresh air, is preoccupied by a scary situation that occurred during the day, or any list of other things, that can wreak havoc on their sleep.”
“Twelve years ago, people told me that I would regret the whole cosleeping thing. I couldn’t give them an adequate reply. All I knew was that I was enjoying my nighttime parenting, perhaps more than any other aspect of new motherhood. I found I was more relaxed at night than during the day. There were no time crunches, no ringing telephones, no urgent chores to complete. No health professionals or well-meaning relations to tell me I was doing something wrong. Just me and the baby and the night.”
Bed to Crib, Moving Baby via Dr. Sears
Night Terrors via Dr. Sears
“It’s the middle of the night and you are awakened by your child screaming from his bedroom. You rush in to see what’s wrong and you find him sitting up in bed with a blank stare but very agitated. You try to wake him, asking him what is wrong but he doesn’t respond, he just keeps screaming. You are scared and don’t know what to do.”
Looking for ways to gently wean your little one into their own sleeping space? Here are a few ideas:
1.) Place a mattress beside your bed and start out each night there with your little cosleeper, then move up to your bed when they are fully asleep. When they wake, be sure to either take them back into your bed with you or join them on the mattress to make the transition as seamless as possible. (You can also start out the night in your bed as usual and move them to a small toddler bed beside your bed once they fall asleep fully if that works better for your space.)
2.) When you feel they are comfortable with the new arrangement, move the mattress a bit farther from your bed, either against the wall or at the foot of your bed, and repeat the same process of starting the night with them and welcoming them into your bed or joining them on the mattress if they wake.
3.) The next step is to move the mattress into their room and repeat the process.
4.) When you feel they are spending enough time in their room each night to feel comfortable with it, you can try staying with them until they are almost asleep and then telling them you are going to the bathroom or to brush your teeth (make sure you actually do what you say you’re going to do!) and will be right back. Come back quickly so they will be reassured that you can still be trusted. If they follow you or get upset, wait and try this step again in a week or two.
5.) When they are happy to stay in bed waiting for your return, start letting them spend a bit longer alone. Always tell them what you are going to do, and always do just what you said. Make sure to return when you are done so they know they can trust you and don’t need to come get you.
6.) Over time, this gradual weaning will result in them falling asleep on their own, and you can move on to the stage of books and cuddles and hugs and telling them goodnight, then leaving them with the reassurance that you’ll be back to check on them in a bit. Of course, always come back and check like you said you would!
7.) I can’t emphasize enough that this is a trust issue. The more that you honor what you say and stay in tune with their needs, the smoother and easier the process will go for both of you.
August 25, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle parenting, parenting guide | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, childhood, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle, gentle parenting, positive parenting, sacrificial parenting, sleep, sleep solutions, toddler | 4 Comments »
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”~Mother Teresa
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”~ Mother Teresa
My original guest post for Little Hearts Wishes Week was going to be a list of things I Wish I had Known Before I Became a Mom. However, the sleep portion sort of took a life of it’s own on and that combined with my total disgust for so called “sleep trainers” created this post instead. So my new wishes blog is“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep”
1. There is no such thing as “Sleeping Through The Night”-
Babies do not just magically start sleeping 10+ hrs a night at 6-8 weeks old like so many claim. The term “sleeping through the night” simply means baby sleeps for a 5 hour or longer stretch at one time, and this does not usually begin until 4+ months. If baby goes down at 7pm and you don’t go to bed until 10, don’t be surprised when baby is back up at 12am.
Honestly, you don’t WANT your baby to sleep for long stretches like that anyways~it increases the risk of SIDS. We now know that babies need the constant stirring and waking to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep that they are then unable to rouse from.
Young children do not completely develop a true sleep pattern until around age 5. Before that the human sleep mechanisms are not completely formed. So from birth until 5 it is completely normal for your child to wake in the night, and they will. Each of my kids do not wake every night, but since I have four, I am up several times a night with someone (and Sariah does wake 1-2 times every night on top of me getting up with the others a minimum of 1-2 times).
Don’t fall into the Mommy Wars of “my baby is better than yours and this is why…”
To quote Dr. Sears: “An important fact for you to remember is that your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of your baby’s temperament rather than your style of nighttime parenting. And keep in mind that other parents usually exaggerate how long their baby sleeps, as if this were a badge of good parenting, which it isn’t. It’s not your fault baby wakes up.”
2. Co-Sleeping is perfectly natural, safe, and NO you will NOT end up with a 6 yr old in your bed still!-
Co-Sleeping, when done safely and correctly, will NOT spoil your baby, and actually INCREASES the success rates of breastfeeding, DECREASES SIDS rates, and will INCREASE the amount of sleep everyone gets. Think about it, baby is right there with you (whether in your bed or in a side car crib) so when they do start to wake you can get to them quickly instead of stumbling around in the dark down hallways and into another room. The faster you can get to baby, the faster baby will return to sleeping.
I promise it will not last forever, and your baby will eventually transition into their own bed when they are ready. Don’t push them because, as crazy as it sounds now, when they are gone you will miss it. I miss snuggling with my Little Man at night. He stayed in our bed the longest of all of our kids (to date, as Sariah is still sleeping with us) and he was 3 when he transitioned into his own bed. A far cry for the 5-6 age range so many warned me I would be “stuck” with (and honestly I would not have considered myself “stuck” anyway).
3. Babies DO need to eat/drink at night and this does not mean only newborns-
Not only do babies need the nightly wakings to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep, they also need the constant night feedings to grow and remain healthy. It is not healthy, and actually can be dangerous, to try and force a baby to sleep through/skip a feeding that they need. Babies, especially newborns-3 months, are at risk of having their blood sugar levels dip dangerously low if they go too long without eating. If a baby wakes to eat, they are NOT trying to manipulate you. A baby cannot manipulate you, and it’s so sad that so many feel that they can.
Children from birth until about the age of 5 can and do need some sort of nourishment in the night. They are small and still growing at dramatic rates. Their systems are different than ours. Honestly, I wake up 1-2 times a night needing to use the restroom and get a drink, so if I am waking up thirsty, why should I tell my kids they have to wait until morning? My kids do not wake every single night asking for something to eat or drink, but when they do wake asking for that, I give it to them. I never ignore them or tell them they are not hungry/thirsty. I would not tell myself I am not hungry/thirsty when my body says I am, yet so many feel that a child’s pleas in the night for food or drink should just be ignored.
4. Please do not fall in the “sleep training” trap-
Sleep Training is harmful to babies, not only increasing their risk of SIDS, but also creating unsecure attachments which can hinder baby’s development. I know it’s hard, trust me I do! I have not slept through the night in almost 6 years now, not ONCE, EVER! Someone is always waking in this house.
I know you can become desperate for sleep, but please do not ever let that desperation go so far that you do things you do not feel comfortable with. If it feels wrong, if your body screams out at you that what you are doing is not right, listen! Trust your instincts, not what some author is trying to sell you. They are out to make money, and that’s it.
There are several so called ”Sleep Trainers” and “Sleep Whisperers” out there, each more ignorant and dangerous than the next. This all started 50 years ago with Dr. Spock (no, not from Star trek!). He was the original CIO (cry it out) advocate and had an entire generation of parents believing their tiny babies were out to “get them” from the moment they were born. These “terrible” little babies were on a mission to break and control mommy and daddy, to “manipulate” from day 1 and parents had to rule with iron fists and learn to ignore those ‘manipulative” cries. Funny how so few realize the Dr. Spock recanted everything he taught on his death bed, stating he was wrong and that babies’ cries should be responded to. He said babies should never be left to simply CIO.
Since then many more quacks have paraded around the same CIO dribble as Dr. Spock in a pretty new packaged selling is as “sleep training” for babies. Currently, the worst one (in my opinion) would have to be Tizzie Hall. She calls herself “The Sleep Whisperer” and her method “Save Our Sleep”. Her so-called methods are what got me in such a “tizzie” that my entire blog morphed into this.
If you have never heard of her, like me, you probably live in the US. She is really big overseas in places like Europe, the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc. The Dangers of Baby Training (from FB) describes her as…
“She does have 2 little boys (aged 3 and 1) but wrote the book before she had children. She doesn’t have any qualifications past a normal high school education. Among other things she advocates crying, a 3 hourly feeding schedule if you BF or 4 hourly if you FF, overwrap babies with excessive bedding (which is what The Analytical Armadillo has been questioning recently), has some very misinformed views and ideas which are all based on her observations and opinions, rather than any that can be substantiated by scientific evidence and had some weird notions that babies can poo and vomit on cue to manipulate their parents. In her toddler book, she advocates the use of the ‘holding technique’ to restrain kids and teach them not to touch things (there’s a video on youtube of her demonstrating this) and thinks babies should only be fed purees until they are 12 months, then mashed food, then only real food at approx 24 months old and thinks BLW is ‘inappropriate.’ She is all over facebook at the moment (and not in a good way)…. “
These are quotes taken directly from Tizzie Hall herself either from her book or her forums/FB page. Ironically she has tried to come back and say many of these things she never said or were taken out of context. I have also been informed that she now charges for answers on her forum and refuses to answer anything on FB because those who were against her so called ”system” would pick apart her answers….
“I often come across a baby who has learnt to vomit at bedtime during failed attempts at controlled crying. If you have one of these babies you will need to teach your child that vomiting will not get your attention or buy any extra time. This is hard, but it has to be done to stop the vomiting. The way you achieve this is to make the bed vomit-proof. Layer the towels in the bed and on the floor so it is easy for you to remove the vomit. When your baby vomits take the top towels away, leaving a second layer in case of a second vomit. If the vomit has gone on her clothing, undress her and put clean clothes on without taking her out of the cot by moving her to the other end. Do not make eye contact or talk to her while you do all this and be calm and confident through out, so you can fool your baby into thinking you don’t care about vomit.”
-This was taken directly from her book but she claims it was “out of context.” You be the judge.
To go along with this, in the article Victoria White: As a mother I take serious issue with the so- called Baby Whisperer Victoria quotes Tizzie about babies “manipulating” their parents by pooping and instructs parents to ignore this and let baby sleep in the poop to “teach them a lesson”
“‘When he pooed instead, they left him lying in his poo because they “realised” it had become “a game” They changed him after he’d gone to sleep. Don’t worry if you don’t get the bottom of your sleeping baby perfectly clean, says Tizzie, ‘a little bit of poo will not do any harm between then and the morning’.”
Or how about this winner, which is what sent me spiraling into this blog:
Question posted from a follower of the Save Our Sleep Program:
Q ~ ‘I’ve recently started my 7 month old on s.o.s routine. Day 4 and our nights are getting so much better. Before starting bub was waking every 2 hours sometimes less. My partner and I were exhausted. The first night he slept for 4 hours before needing to be resettled, second night was 7 hours and last night was 9.5 hours. Praying tonight is 12. Two little issues, first my boobs are killing me in the mornings now- I’m so engorged. And the second issue is that i think he is getting cold at night. I sleep him in a long sleeve onesie, a sleeping bag and a cellular blanket but he manages to wriggle out from under the blanket and when i go in to check on him he is sleeping on top of the blanket, and he is cold to touch.’
A ~ Do you have the bedding guide from the SOS website? It shows you what to dress bubs in for temps in various states. Best $9 you’ll ever spend! Need to make sure everything is 100% cotton (incl. mattress protector) otherwise bubs will sweat. Most of us use many more blankets than the guide, every bubs is different eg. I’m in Sydney and in a room of 24.2C my 6m has 12 blankets on + the clothing, bag and wrap mentioned in the guide.
Check out The Analytical Armadillo for a much deeper look into this issue, she actually asked Tizzie about the increased risk of SIDS in regards to babies over heating from too many blankets, here is some of Tizzie’s reply:
“As all of you know before giving any advice I do countless hours of research so I stand by all of my advice. These ladies don’t seem to be aware of the current SIDS guidelines stating as long as your babies head and face are uncovered and you are using cotton or bamboo bedding then it is perfectly safe to layer up the amount of these blankets to keep your baby warm. My opinion and research shows this in return keeps our babies in the safe back sleeping position. Also it is now clear overheating is only cited a risk factor and not as big a factor as was first thought but we do live in a generation with parents so scared of over heating their babies they are doing the opposite and under heating them which in my opinion a greater factor because a cold baby will roll to his or her tummy and sleep face down in the mattress.”
Click the link above to view her full response and so much more.
Sadly there are many more Tizzie Hall’s out there, people looking to make a quick buck on the desperation of sleep deprived parents at their wit’s end. They prey on this desperation to get parents to do things they otherwise would never even consider.
My wish is that parents would just throw all of this baby “training” crap out the window and trust their instincts! Listen to your baby; listen to your body. If it feels wrong, then it IS wrong. Your instincts are there for a reason. My second wish, that parents would stop listening to society and believing their babies are out to “get” and “control” them. A baby is not capable of manipulation; they have no understanding of that. They have simple, basic needs, and their only way to communicate those needs is to cry. Listen to their cries, respond to them, please do not ignore them. Studies now show that when babies are left to CIO or CC (controlled cry, a so called “nicer” form of CIO where you go in every 2, 4, 6 minutes and comfort baby only to leave again) they release the stress chemical cortisol, which is DAMAGING to their little brains. As little as 5 minutes of crying can actually cause damage and prolonged CIOing can lead to developmental delays later on.
I saw a great comparison the other day that took words about leaving a baby alone to CIO to teach them to stop “manipulating” and replaced the word ‘baby’ with ‘grandma’. It was a mock response to Tizzie Hall, thanking her for saving the author’s sleep. The author thanked Tizzie for giving the her the strength to ignore her elderly grandma’s cries in the night and show grandma who was boss in that house. When grandma vomited from being so upset, the author cleaned it up and left grandma without saying a word. After a few nights, grandma stopped crying, and the author said grandma doesn’t say or do much during the day, either, she just lays there silently. The author broke grandma’s spirit-is that what you really want to do to your child? Do you want to break your baby’s spirit, to teach them that mommy is “boss” and will not be “manipulated”? Sure, CIO seems to work. Babies do stop crying at night, but it’s not because you trained them to stop “manipulating” you, you simply trained them that mommy will not respond to their needs so why bother crying. (See full text here-Dear Sleep Trainer Expert,) It was a great visual to show that we would not treat an adult like this so why is it ok to treat an innocent baby this way?
A HUGE thank you shout must go to Anneke Temmink from The Dangers of Baby Training who provided me with all of the awesome links and quotes about the so called ”sleep whisperer”. She is awesome!
August 5, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, gentle parenting, parenting guide | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, childhood, cosleeping, gentle, gentle discipline, nature, newborn | Leave A Comment »
July 19, 2011 | Categories: children's books, Christian parenting, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting | Tags: childhood, children, children's books, Christian parenting, gentle, gentle parenting, natural parenting, nature, outdoors, parenting, park, play, playground, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Beyond the “Rod”~Sometimes as Christians in our discussions and books on parenting, it appears as if we base our entire parenting philosophy around 5 scriptures in Proverbs that talk about “the rod.” A discussion of those scriptures is for another time – many others have posted different ideas of what these scriptures actually mean. But, Biblical interpretation aside, I feel it is foolish to place so much emphasis on 5 verses, when there is an entire Bible FULL of chapters and passages all about how we are to relate to each other. Many times we don’t automatically think about applying these scriptures directly to our relationship with children. But they DO apply, because a child is a person as fully deserving of love and respect as any adult.
“I believe that God designed us to begin our lives as babies, totally dependent and vulnerable, because He intended the family to be the setting in which His love was modeled.” – Floyd McClung, The Father Heart of God
Isn’t that amazing? God designed the family to be a place where His love is modeled to children. And more than that, He designed children in such a way that their primary way of learning is through modeling. When God’s love is modeled to a child, the child’s concept of love from and for God will not be abstract, it will be real.
“Our job as parents is to reflect God to our children so they will want to know and love Him. “ –Dr. William Sears
So dive in with me, will you? As an example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at Romans 12:15-18 “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
When I read this verse it makes me think of comforting my children – when they’re happy I am to rejoice with them. “Watch this, mommy!” one shouts as he swings across the monkey bars again for the 20th time – be happy with those who are happy – that’s the appropriate response.
What about when one cries? He’s sad, he’s disappointed, things didn’t go his way, or he’s hurt, or he’s so angry all he can do his cry – weep with those who weep -comfort him, that’s the appropriate response. The Bible tells me exactly what to do!
Live in harmony with each other. What can I do that will help us all live in harmony? Keeping calm, not shouting, controlling my responses, being filled with more love and patience will bring harmony to my home.
Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. This speaks to me about enjoying my kids. It tells me to get on the floor and play with them – wrestling, laughing, kicking the ball, giggling. Putting my distractions, my desires, my boredom, my pride aside, making eye-contact and enjoying my kids.
And don’t think you know it all! How many times do I enter a situation where my children are arguing or fighting, and I jump in with the immediate answer. I “know” exactly what will fix the problem. Do I take the time to listen? To help them problem solve? To find out what’s really going on, how each person feels? Or do I just think I know it all because I’m bigger?
Never pay back more evil with evil. Hurting people for any reason to me is evil. When our children behave in an evil way, we should not pay them back with more evil.
So that’s just one verse dissected and applied to our parenting. Hopefully you are beginning to see that being a sensitive parent will help you be a more sensitive Christian. And it will help our children learn about the character of God, laying the foundation for their own personal relationship with God to grow and deepen.
I’ll be sharing some more scriptures, so keep watching!
June 17, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, Christian, Christian parenting, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, Christian, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Ever heard the expression “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”? It’s a line from Disney’s movie version of Mary Poppins. Now, there’s a unique children’s book series which espouses the idea that ”a spoonful of sugar makes the parenting more fun”! The Wisdom For Little Hearts series offers beautifully illustrated children’s books with Gentle Parenting techniques woven into humorous, engaging children’s stories. Parents, teachers, and caregivers will discover simple, positive methods for addressing common discipline issues in the pages of these books as they read them to their little people, and children will be delighted by the vivid colors and gentle humor. The first book in the series, Petey’s Listening Ears, was recently reviewed by children’s product reviewer and mother, Angela of ‘One Smiley Monkey.’ Click on the picture of her sweet little guy to read her review or on the cover of Petey’s Listening Ears to see a product description or purchase a copy! As the series continues with Addie’s Inside Voice, JoJo’s Gentle Hands, Zoey the Happy Helper, and others due out from Lifeway’s publishing division in the coming months, Gentle Parents will be delighted to discover the subtle inclusion of babywearing, breastfeeding, and other natural parenting options in the beautiful illustrations. Beyond the children’s books in the series, other Wisdom For Little Hearts books to be released are age-specific Gentle Parenting guides and Gentle Parent devotional guides, all of which will be available through Lifeway and other retailers as well as Amazon and other online booksellers.
June 13, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, bedtime stories, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian children's books, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
The words were my husband’s, and the day was February 19th, 1997. We’d just gotten our first-ever look at our new son, the son that would transform us at once from simply a couple, to a couple of parents. I remember looking at him, his tiny body buried beneath the full head of black hair and the skin he’d yet to grow into. I remember staring at his face, memorizing its features, almost made breathless by a sudden realization: He was a whole, unique, brand-new person. And he was my son.
We would go on to have three more children after that day, and each time I welcomed them with that same sense of awe. What would they look like? Who would they be? Not just extensions of my husband and myself, they were their own little individuals. They had their own personalities, their own indomitable spirits, and their own beautiful souls.
So much of what mainstream parenting advice has to offer is based on the supposition that children need to be controlled, manipulated, and otherwise forced into behaving a certain way. In effect it tells us that they are somehow lesser citizens who wouldn’t possibly do the right thing unless they were prodded, punished, or cajoled into doing so. Gentle parenting believes very much the opposite. At its core, it is simply a call to return to treating children like people. To move away from a top-down system of rewards and punishments to one of love and partnership. It’s not about trying to be a perfect parent, but about striving to be a connected parent. It’s about placing your relationship with your children first, and about giving them the respect and the consideration that they both desire and deserve.
Every parenting decision I’ve made since that first day 14 years ago has been sent through the same filter: Is this manner of treating someone the same way I’d treat anyone whom I dearly loved? Am I showing them gentleness, kindness and respect? Am I treating them the way that I myself would want to be treated? Will this action or these words bring us closer together or will they pull us further apart?
I have made mistakes as a parent to be sure. But as I look back at the last fourteen years, the moments I’ve wished I could take back have always been the moments when I’ve been too reactive. Too quick to speak, and too slow to listen. Too quick to focus on a behavior, and too slow to focus on the child. Too quick to judge, and too slow to understand.
Not once have I regretted being gentle, or thoughtful, or kind. Not once have I ever thought, “What I really needed was to be more tough with them.” No, time and again, the answer was the same: What was needed was more compassion. More kindness. More understanding.
My relationship with my kids is one based on love, trust, and respect. It is a living, breathing organism that only thrives when it is made a priority. It only grows when it is tended to. And just like any other relationship, I get back whatever it is I put in. The best part about a good relationship with your kids though, is that you get it back ten times over.
June 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, birth, Christian, gentle discipline, homeschooling, positive discipline, pregnancy | Tags: adolescence, attachment, attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, pregnancy | Leave A Comment »