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 »
In the 2004 movie, The Butterfly Effect, 20-year-old Evan (Ashton Kutcher) goes back in time to try to change events from his traumatic childhood in an attempt to change his dysfunctional adulthood. The movie’s title is based on a mathematical prediction concept in chaos theory.
“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.
Although the butterfly effect may appear to be an esoteric and unusual behavior, it is exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position.
The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate, or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.” (Wikipedia)
So what does chaos theory have to do with parenting? Besides the obvious connection between chaos and parenting, it’s about understanding the concept of “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” in other words, the power of early parenting choices to affect a child’s future.
It is a well-documented fact that early childhood experiences powerfully influence later adulthood. A childhood marred by abuse, violence, trauma, has profound implications in adulthood. From continued cycles of abuse to depression and other mental illnesses to relational and life-satisfaction issues, the negative effects are often far-reaching and destructive.
Not so well-documented is how the smaller differences in ‘initial conditions,’ or early parenting choices, can have significantly divergent outcomes. In these cases, it isn’t abusive or neglect-filled childhoods versus normal childhoods that create the different outcomes, but instead more subtle differences in parenting that may have differing and often unforeseen long-term effects.
One family may breastfeed, another formula-feed. One family may bed-share, another room-share, while another sleeps entirely separately. One family may homeschool, another chooses private school, while another chooses a public education. One family may discipline through connection, another through negative or positive reinforcement, while another may focus on punitive behavioral controls. Each parenting choice is a different ‘initial condition’ which can affect the overall trajectory of a child’s life in powerful ways with the resulting ‘valley’ of adult behavior, relationships, career choices, etc. varying widely.
It is beyond the scope of this article to go into the many studies that have connected specific parenting choices with their statistical outcomes. Here are some links to studies on the long-term causal effects of breastfeeding, spanking, and a Harvard study on health as it pertains to early childhood experiences. But just the understanding that our decisions as parents do have a long-range impact on our children’s futures is enough to encourage careful consideration in making those decisions.
The goal in parenting, however, can never be perfection because we are imperfect people raising imperfect people in an imperfect world. So, while being aware of the import of our decisions and making wise, educated choices is important, it is just as important to expect and account for parental missteps. Our mistakes can, in fact, become a vital part of raising our children to be gracious, forgiving adults. If we model taking personal responsibility for our mistakes along with forgiving ourselves, then our missteps can become virtual ‘butterflies’ on the slope into adulthood, redirecting the trajectory of our children’s lives in a positive direction.
That concept, the redirective effect of the ‘butterfly’ on the slope into adulthood applies elsewhere, as well. If we find that parental choices we’ve made in the past have sent our children in a direction we are unhappy with, we can redirect by setting in motion a butterfly’s wings, in other words, we can shift our parenting style and reroute the trajectory of our children’s lives.
Here are a few illustrations of The Butterfly Effect as it applies to parenting redirections…
A young girl with dyslexia comes home from school day after day in tears, exhausted and overwhelmed, only to have to spend hours at night struggling through homework, more tears, and then get up the next day to do it all over again. Her father realizes that with his daughter’s unique learning style, traditional schooling is like teaching a butterfly to swim, with the result that his little butterfly’s wings would be forever damaged, and she’d never learn to fly. He turns his life upside down to make the time to homeschool her and find ways to emphasize her strengths and turn her weaknesses into gifts. His daughter transforms from a withdrawn child with low self-worth into a confident young lady soaring into a bright future.
A young mother brings home a precious newborn she loves with every fiber of her being. She wants the absolute best for her child and has read book after book saying that proper training of a child has to start right from the beginning. It hurts her all the way down to her soul as each night she gently and lovingly tucks her sweet baby into his crib and walks away, closing the door on his cries and sliding down onto her knees in the hallway to spend night after sleepless night crying right along with him. After the first torturous nights, she finds that her baby isn’t nursing well on the strict schedule the books suggested, and her milk supply hadn’t come in as expected. The pediatrician diagnoses failure-to-thrive and suggests supplementing with formula. As the young mother leaves the doctor’s office in tears, feeling like her body has failed her, an older mother sees her distress and approaches her in the parking lot. When the young mother pours out her story, the older mother shares her own struggles and discoveries over the years, ending by encouraging the young mother to bring her baby into her room at night and nurse him on demand to see if her milk supply increases. The young mother is relieved to hear there are alternatives to the rigid training methods she’d read about. She takes the older mother’s advice and, over the next days discovers that not only does her milk supply increase substantially, but both her and her new baby are finally getting some sleep! She tosses the parenting books and spreads her parenting wings, parenting from the heart, making every parenting decision by first asking herself how she would want someone to respond to her if she were the child. Her son grows up strong and healthy, with a deep respect and empathy for others.
A father is struggling with his three-year-old’s temper. He has poured himself into raising his daughter ‘right’ from birth, reading her stories every night, feeding her nutritious foods, getting her into the best preschool, correcting her with carefully controlled spankings dealt in love and followed by hugs and kisses. As he heads to pick up his daughter from preschool, his stomach tightens in dread. For the second time that week they’ve called him to report another incidence of aggressive behavior by his daughter, and he knows when they get home he’ll have to punish her. He sighs in discouragement. She used to be such a sweet, bubbly little girl. Now she just seems to simmer, anger hovering just beneath the surface ready to burst out at the slightest provocation. He signs his daughter out, then reaches out to help her into her coat. She flinches at his touch and flings her tiny hands up instinctively to protect herself. For one moment, their eyes meet, and the father’s heart freezes. Fear. Ever so briefly, instead of that too-familiar anger clouding his little girl’s eyes, fear had stared back at him. Feeling sick, the father gently helps his daughter into her coat and picks her up, hiding his tears by hugging her close as he walks to the car. Never again, he vows. Never again will his precious daughter look at him in fear. At home, he sits his daughter down and tells her that he’s sorry, that hands are for helping, not hitting, and that they’re going to work together to find better ways to handle things when people don’t do what they want. His daughter’s anger eases over time and trust returns. She grows into a compassionate young woman, serving her community with a gentle passion that wins hearts everywhere she goes.
In each case, the parent was faced with the reality that the track their parenting choices had placed their child was on wasn’t optimal, and each parent responded by shifting course and altering the trajectory of their child’s lives, in turn altering their child’s future in immeasurable ways.
The message here is this…our parental choices matter. They matter in life-defining ways that we can’t even imagine when we wrap those precious new lives in the cocoon of our love and set them on a path which we hope and pray will help them to spread their wings and fly. Choose wisely, parents, and don’t be afraid to change course in mid-flight if the winds are blowing in the wrong direction.
On the importance of early childhood experiences:
March 31, 2012 | Categories: abuse, attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, childhood, children, cosleeping, diversity, family, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, meltdown, natural parenting, newborn, nursing, parenting guide, positive discipline, positive parenting, preschooler, rebellion, soothing, spanking, stress, toddler, Uncategorized, wisdom | Tags: attachment parenting, breastfeeding, childhood, children, cosleeping, discipline, family, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, positive parenting, preschoolers, sacrificial parenting, toddler | 10 Comments »
Filled with wading pools, sidewalk chalk, springy-time things
Bubbles and babies and bear-bottomed rompers
Mudpies and magpies and jump-rope trick jumpers
Swinging and sliding and climbing and running
Learning, discovering, growing, becoming
No time to waste they are seizing the day
The work of a child is simply to play
On a Winnie the Pooh style ‘long explore’ my little Pooh Bear discovered the world in The Many Adventures of My Little Pooh Bear
Children who love to read…READ! Engaging children’s hearts in the wonder of reading instead of just training their minds in its mechanics. Raising Bookworms
Think homeschooled children are unsocialized, over-controlled, locked-away-from-the-world misfits? Think again! My Renaissance Girl
In the world of a child wonders are as simple as sticks and sheets, leaves and books, boxes and giggles, and the promise in a rainy day. The Seven Wonders of the World of Childhood
There is such a rush these days to get children sleeping through the night, weaned off the breast, eating solid foods, potty trained, reading independently, and on and on, that we seem to have lost the ability to simply enjoy life as it happens and let our children do the same. A Return to Childhood
Parenting choices strongly impact the level and type of attachment a child develops and, by extension, the development of a love of learning. A love of learning grows when it isn’t stifled by fear or stress or regimented by over-structuring or a focus on achievement or competition. Parents fostering a healthy attachment are thus also fostering a life-long love of learning in their children. Live to Play~Play to Learn~Learn to Live!
Successful reading means far more than possessing the ability to read. Engaging the hearts of students moves reading success beyond a life skill and turns it into a life style. And graphic novels are too powerful of a tool in our arsenal to be disregarded because of pride or prejudice. Raising Super Readers~The MARVELous Power of Comic Books!
If you give a toddler a book
He’ll climb into your lap
While he’s in your lap
He might lay his head on your chest
When he lays his head on your chest
He’ll hear your heartbeat
When he hears your heartbeat
He’ll probably ask if you can hear…
March 29, 2012 | Categories: childhood, children, homeschooling, kindergarten, learning, life, literacy, natural parenting, play, preschooler, toddler | Tags: homeschooling, learning, natural parenting, nature, outdoors, play, preschoolers, toddlers | 1 Comment »
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 »
According to the man whose name is synonymous with genius, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” ~Albert Einstein
And when it came to his genius, he said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein
Preserving the passionate curiosity that is a natural part of childhood, then, seems to be the most logical and effective mode of early childhood education. And it is as simple as encouraging the wonder of imagination…
In the world of a child wonders are as simple as sticks and sheets, leaves and books, boxes and giggles, and the promise in a rainy day.
- In the hands of a child a stick is a king’s scepter, an adventurer’s staff, a knight’s sword.
- In the eyes of a child a sheet is a fort waiting to be built, a sea waiting to be sailed, a cape waiting to be worn.
- In the fingers of a child a leaf is a tiny ship to blow across a puddle, a mini parasol for a snail, a triumphant flag atop a mud-castle.
- In the heart of a child a book is a map to a fairy forest, a flight on an alien spaceship, a ride on the back of a dragon.
- In the mind of a child a cardboard box is a boat sailing rough seas for China, a bridge over a raging river, a cave full of lost treasure.
- In the mouth of a child a giggle is an invitation to play, a mini song of happiness, a tiny voice of comfort.
- In the footsteps of a child the rain is a puddle to be splashed in new shoes, mud to be squished between little toes, a rainbow to be chased to the golden end.
In the wonderful, beautiful world of childhood, the morning wakes with trees that need to be climbed, holes that need to be dug, and mudpies that need to be made. The world’s classroom teaches them that problems can be solved and obstacles can be conquered. When imaginations soar, everything becomes possible.
It is in the small moments of discovery that big dreams are born. When little fingers are buried in the earth, an archeologist has made his first dig. When curious eyes peer at stars through a paper-towel roll, an astronaut has made her first spacewalk. When chubby hands wrap a washcloth cast around a cat’s tail, a doctor has healed his first patient.
Just as letters of the alphabet on their own have no meaning, but used in concert with each other can create poetry, literature, and song, so learning the mechanics of words and numbers alone has no purpose, but placed in the context of life being lived can create wonders as yet unseen.
‘Let the children play’ has become a clarion call in some parenting circles in recent years, and with good reason. With childhood obesity, illnesses, and depression rates all on the rise, examining the way we raise and educate our children is vital for the health of our children, our nation, and our future.
We need to find a place in our busy lives for children to be children, to enjoy the simple pleasures we enjoyed as children, to dream and imagine and create and become. Life is for living, and children are experts at living life to the fullest. We would do well to learn from them.
My little funnyface enjoyed the movie version of The Lorax when we saw it last week, but then forgot all about it. But when we read the book together a few days later, it captured her imagination! She painted her face orange with face paints this morning, drew on a yellow Lorax mustache, and spent the entire day outside building a Lorax forest out of odds and ends she gathered from around the yard.
My sick baby has pneumonia and has been spiking a fever of up to 104 degrees the last few days. She’s been laminated to me, too sick to even hold up her little head, poor thing. But today when she saw a cardboard box she immediately climbed down off my lap and into the box where she played happily for a few minutes for the first time in days. Mommy’s heart was happy to see a little spark of my playful girl again, for sure. The power of a cardboard box knows no bounds!
Don’t believe in the wondrous power of play? Check out the next Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Donald Trump in the making! Here’s the story of a nine year old boy, an old parts shop, and a cardboard box arcade:
Children who love to read…READ! Engaging children’s hearts in the wonder of reading instead of just training their minds in its mechanics. Raising Bookworms
Think homeschooled children are unsocialized, over-controlled, locked-away-from-the-world misfits? Think again! My Renaissance Girl
On a Winnie the Pooh style ‘long explore’ my little Pooh Bear discovered the world in ways only a toddler can do in…
March 8, 2012 | Categories: books, childhood, children, children's books, fort, homeschooling, kindergarten, life, literacy, natural parenting, play, preschooler, reading, stress, toddler | Tags: childhood, children, children's books, homeschooling, natural parenting, nature, outdoors, parenting, park, play, playground, preschoolers, toddler | 29 Comments »
[Portions reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost now available on Amazon]
A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three. ~Grantly Dick-Read
Breastfeeding, like exercise, is one of the most highly preventive and cost-effective ways to protect the health of mothers, babies, the population, and the planet. Yet, the U.S. has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding among industrialized countries and one of the highest rates of infant mortality. Our rates of breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, and asthma are growing at an alarming pace. It is estimated that normal breastfeeding rates could save the U.S. $13 billion and 911 lives annually on health care & associated costs for just 10 diseases.
Sweet, milky giggles
Baby’s trusting eyes look up
Forging bonds that last. R.H.
Excellent information from Kellymom about how to get a comfortable latch and position for nursing.
We have breasts to feed our young but we also have brains that tell us this is more than nutrition.. this is comfort, bonding, the original Soul food!
“Breastmilk, unlike formula is a living organism. When one looks at breastmilk under a microscope there is plenty of movement. Contrast that with formula, where the petri dish reveals a stagnant state. Formula is dead. It cannot change to meet the needs of a particular infant. It does not change during a feed…”
Lovely thoughts from a breastfeeding mama.
An amazing array of women from every walk of life who share their breastfeeding journeys~Compiled and shared by The Mule
Low Milk Supply~Set up for failure
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Asthma, Childhood Leukemia, Diabetes, Gastroenteritis, Otitis Media (ear infections), LRTIs (pneumonia, bronchitis, etc), Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Obesity, and other potentially life-altering or fatal conditions…
If you knew that there was one medicine or vitamin or herbal supplement that has been proven, PROVEN, beyond a shadow of a doubt in study after study by mainstream, published, respected doctors, researchers, and scientists, to significantly reduce the risk of every single one of those things listed above, would you give it to your baby?
Breast cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity…
What if that wonder drug could also drastically reduce your risk of each of these health threats?
13 billion…BILLION…dollars lost in the U.S. alone in PREVENTABLE medical costs.
If you knew that there was one thing you could do to save billions of taxpayer dollars that could go to feed the hungry, house the homeless, research cures for other devastating diseases, provide health care to the poor, would you do it?
The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study in April of 2010 detailing just what that one medicine/vitamin/herbal supplement is…and the ‘miracle drug’ is none other than BREASTFEEDING. The study concluded that, “The United States incurs $13 billion in excess costs annually and suffers 911 preventable deaths per year because our breastfeeding rates fall far below medical recommendations.” And those numbers are only based on breastfeeding benefits for the first six months of life! The World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, and others recommend breastfeeding for the first two years of a child’s life. Imagine the tally if the researchers had looked at the little lives lost and billions of dollars spent unnecessarily in a two year breastfeeding scenario instead of a six month scenario!
In 2009, the CDC released a Breast Feeding Report Card which showed that, while 74% of women start off breastfeeding, only 33% continue to three months and just 14% are exclusively breastfeeding by six months.
Clearly, then, the majority of women at least begin with the desire to breastfeed!
So why are breastfeeding rates so dismal in the United States? For one thing, U.S.hospitals scored a low D (63%) in their compliance with recommendations to provide breastfeeding support for women in a 2007 CDC survey. One issue is that hospitals routinely send home ‘failure’ packets of formula with new mommies “just in case,” which sit temptingly in pretty, complementary diaperbags waiting for the inexperienced new mommy to face her first breastfeeding hurdle, her first feeding worry, her first sleep-deprived need to find any reassurance that she’s doing a good job feeding her baby during those first weeks. Another issue is that hospital lactation consultants are typically stretched far too thinly amongst many patients and are only available for a few minutes to get new mommies started, and then most insurance companies don’t cover follow-up lactation support after mommies leave the hospital. Other issues in the hospital include delaying the new mommy’s ability to begin breastfeeding immediately by removing the baby to a warming bed instead of laying the baby on the mommy’s tummy, and too early interventions such as eye ointment, bathing the baby, and taking the baby to the nursery to be evaluated in the absence of medical necessity.
But, even so, 74% of American women triumph over these issues and leave the hospital having established breastfeeding with their newborn. So what happens then? Why does that number fall so dramatically by more than half to 33% by three months and by nearly 80% down to only 14% of women by six months?
Some contributing factors are mothers who must return to workplaces which don’t support breastfeeding with long lunches to return home to breastfeed or flexible schedules which allow for frequent pumping, and insurance companies which don’t cover lactation consultants or breast pumps, and, in a small percentage of cases, health issues with the mother or baby.
All of these issues certainly need to be addressed by hospitals, insurance companies and businesses, and the government can be of service in these areas by providing tax incentives, education, and support.
But there are still more subtle issues that negatively affect breastfeeding rates. Some of these include older mothers relishing in telling horror stories about cracked nipples, thrush, clogged ducts, etc; pediatricians who use weight charts based on formula fed infants and scaring new mothers into thinking their babies aren’t gaining enough weight; and the pervasive, but false, belief that formula is just as good as breastmilk for babies.
One issue, though, that seems to crop up far more than others is low milk supply. Somehow, even though mothers’ bodies are capable of miraculously growing a human being for nine months and bringing that precious new life into the world, those same life-giving bodies are failing to provide life-giving (and saving!) nutrition to those precious babies. Why? For some, it is certainly just fear-mongering by those pediatricians using the formula fed babies’ charts or by grandmothers who believe that all babies should be chubby that lead new mothers to believe they have low supply, but there does seem to be an ever-increasing number of babies legitimately labeled as failure-to-thrive with low milk supply labeled the cause.
One crucial piece of false information can be blamed for the vast majority of low milk supply issues in the absence of a documented medical cause.
That false information? New mothers are told their babies should sleep through the night.
That is one of the most pernicious lies ever foisted on new parents. Babies biologically should NOT sleep through the night. Not only is the deep sleep required to sleep through the night actually a recognized factor in SIDS deaths, but babies who sleep through the night are also not nursing to stimulate breastmilk production, thus their mother’s milk begins to dry up. Clearly, that’s not a healthy biological design!
Here is a picture of what this vicious cycle can look like:
Lydia battles the lack of breastfeeding support at the hospital and triumphantly goes home a breastfeeding mother, formula ‘fail’ packet tucked securely in the chic little complementary diaperbag in the trunk along with stacks of information about how healthy formula is and lots of lovely formula coupons.
She gets her precious baby home and settles in for her twelve week ‘babymoon’ before she has to return to work because that’s all the time her work allows. She’s already nervous about how she’s going to handle the return to work, leaving her sweet baby in someone else’s care, and trying to pump to maintain her milk supply and provide milk for her baby while she’s gone, but she pushes those thoughts aside and suppresses the anxiety as much as she can. The first few nights are pretty easy because her baby sleeps most of the time, so Lydia is able to get a little rest in between feedings. She reads up on some parenting advice in a couple of popular magazines and discovers that she should be working to schedule her baby’s feedings at 3-4 hour intervals. That makes her feel a bit worried because she’s just been feeding her baby whenever he seemed hungry, so she gets a notebook out and writes down a schedule.
Over the next couple of weeks, things get a bit more difficult as she walks and bounces and rocks her baby, anxiously watching the clock until she can satisfy her baby’s cries and nurse him. Her baby seems to be crying more and more often. As her stress level increases, she pours over parenting books and magazines, trying to find solutions to her baby’s distress. Over and over again, she reads that babies need to be on a strict schedule and be trained to self-soothe and sleep through the night.
Lydia desperately wants to be a good mother, so she braces herself and begins to stop nursing before her baby falls asleep and laying him down on his own to fall asleep alone. She cries listening to his screams, but confines herself to occasionally stepping into the room to pat him gently for a moment, tears streaming down her cheeks as she leaves him to cry himself to sleep.
A few weeks later, her pediatrician expresses some concern about her baby’s slowing weight gain, but cheerfully assures her that she has just become a ‘midnight snack’ for her little one and needs to begin cutting out night feeds so her baby can learn to sleep through the night.Lydia feels sick to her stomach as she leaves the doctor’s office, but is determined to put her feelings aside and be a good mother.
Lydia experiences some engorgement issues for the first few nights, but the discomfort is nothing compared her heartbreak at listening to her baby cry. Over the next few weeks, she notices a perceptible decrease in the volume of her breasts and her let down reflex feels weak. Her fears are confirmed when she takes her baby back to the pediatrician who is alarmed to find that Lydia’s baby has actually lost weight. Lydia leaves the pediatrician’s office with a diagnosis of failure-to-thrive for her precious baby, low milk supply for her, and a feeling of utter failure as a mother.
At home, Lydia searches for the chic little diaperbag with the formula ‘failure’ packet and mixes up a bottle, tears falling as she becomes just another statistic.
Feeling forced to ignore her natural mothering instincts because of prevailing mainstream parenting practices, Lydia’s anxiety steadily increased in her baby’s first weeks, negatively affecting her milk supply. Nursing on a schedule prevented her from receiving the stimulation of milk production inherent in the frequent suckling of a baby allowed to nurse on demand. But the breastfeeding coffin was sealed when night nursing ended and with it the loss of hours and hours of milk stimulation resulting in that modern epidemic ~ low milk supply.
November 22, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, Bible, birth, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, cosleeping, food, gentle parenting, natural parenting, pregnancy | Tags: attachment parenting, Bible, birth, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, food, gentle parenting, natural parenting, nature, newborn | 16 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 my parental rights!
“Protecting parental rights is not a right wing movement or a left wing movement…it is the correct movement.”
John Patrick Julien
This video is very uncomfortable to watch, but if you do watch it, watch all the way to the end. It’s not about what you believe…it’s about your right as a parent to raise your child in accordance with your beliefs~ whether those beliefs are homeschooling or cosleeping or extended breastfeeding or holistic medicine or spiritual, religious, or moral beliefs. It’s not about giving parents the right to abuse their children…it’s about not lumping good parents in with abusive parents. It’s not even about deregulation…it’s about strong, directed laws to protect children from abuse and neglect instead of blanket laws stripping parents of their rights and giving those rights to faceless government officials who don’t know or love your child.
My purpose in sharing this is simply to raise awareness of how precious, and how vulnerable, our rights are. If we don’t continually seek to learn and grow and understand the world around us, it won’t just leave us alone. The decisions made across the ocean cause ripple effects that can and will affect our lives. If you support those decisions, so be it…that is your right. If you don’t support those decisions, do something about it…that is your responsibility.
November 18, 2011 | Categories: adolescence, attachment parenting, Bible, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, communication, cosleeping, family, homeschooling, Jesus, natural parenting, teens | Tags: adolescence, attachment parenting, Bible, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, homeschooling, Jesus, natural parenting, parental rights, parenting, teens | Leave A Comment »
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 »
Our next guest for ~A September to Remember~ is The Twin Coach . If you enjoy her post (and you will!) don’t forget to check out her website!
I had the good fortune last night to attend a meeting at which Sara Schuelein Perets, the director of our children’s preschool, was speaking. I have written about her and the school in previous posts and am truly a huge fan of hers. The topic of the meeting was using empathetic communication to avoid power struggles with our children. As parents we all want our children to have good self-esteem. But it is not where they go to school or what gadgets they have that gives them this; it is a relationship with their parents that is full of honor, respect and optimism that allows our children to grow up into the adults we envision them becoming. Our language, and the way we choose to communicate with children, reflects who they are and how they see themselves. For me, that is the key to self-esteem; the way we speak to our children is more important than anything we do or even what we actually say.
Understand Your Child’s Needs
So how do we build this honest relationship with our children? According to Sara, it all begins in getting to really know your child. As a preschool director as well as a parent and teacher educator, she knows that in order to do this you must learn to observe your children well. At every moment every child (in fact, every person) has a need. It is your job to figure out what your children’s needs are. Do they need to construct? Do they need to feel powerful? Do they need to figure out how things work? That is, ask yourself “in this moment that my child is (having a meltdown, banging a pot on the table, arguing with his baby sister etc.) what does he need?” Does he need a hug? Is he needing to understand how things work? Does he need to be understood? Is he in physical discomfort? If you are able to step back and consider what need is being met or what need is not being met, you will have a better idea of how to connect as opposed to simply reacting.
Learn About Child Development
Sara’s advice for the second step in building your relationship with your children is to really learn about child development. By this she doesn’t simply mean the “flavor of the month” latest in pop psychology, but by beginning with the real theorists such as Eriksson, Piaget and Skinner [note: if these seem too intimidating, or you don't agree with these theorists' views, I highly recommend the series "Your One Year Old", "Your Two Year Old" etc. I have "Your Three Year Old" highlighted in my "Great Parenting Books" section]. When you really understand a child’s stages of development you know what is age appropriate and you can accept what is happening much more easily. There is less anxiety as a parent when your 2 year old is biting if you know that this is actually a developmentally appropriate stage.
Reflect The World Back To Them
The next thing discussed was using reflective language. This allows your children to experience things through their own eyes as opposed to coloring it with our value judgments. If we can avoid evaluative statements such as “that’s a beautiful painting!” or “you did such a good job!”, we avoid raising children who become reliant on praise and who look to us to know whether something is of value. Instead, reflective language such as “I see you are painting a picture. Can you tell me about it?” allows them to reflect their place in the world and their experience as they see it. Additionally, as parents we need to reflect emotions that are varied, subtle and which move beyond just “happy” and “sad”: “I see that you are very frustrated/disappointed/lonely now. I’m sorry about that.” Be in the emotion with them as opposed to trying to solve it. Instead of saying, “Don’t cry”, let them know that all emotions are fine, but all behavior is not. Really let your children feel the fullness of their emotions. If you are constantly trying to fix things for them you don’t allow them to feel the full range of emotions and they don’t learn to work through these emotions. I always point out (to women in particular) how frustrating it is for us when we complain about something and someone (usually our husbands) immediately launches into “fix it” mode; sometimes all we want is to be heard, to feel felt, to complain. The theory is the same when it comes to our children. You don’t need to solve everything for them; it is often better to just reflect what they are experiencing (“you’re having a hard time getting that puzzle done”) and then sit back and see what happens next.
Family Mission Statement
We’re all somewhat familiar with the idea of a mission statement from college term papers or even resume writing. Sara’s idea in this case is quite similar. Write one or two sentences that capture what you want to achieve as a family or what values you want to instill. In some ways, without this declaration of intent, you are just drifting through your days. So give it some thought; what things do you believe in? What do you stand for? What rituals have meaning for you? An example of a family mission statement is “To treat each other with love, respect and honesty and to always listen to each other”. Once you have your statement, frame it, hang it up, put it on the door of your children’s bedroom; basically, show that this statement has some value and importance to your family. And don’t forget, you’ll want to revisit your statement from time to time, as your children get older to see if it needs updating.
Sara spoke about a few key ingredients for diffusing power struggles and building self-esteem, in particular “I” messages and tone of voice. Imagine that your child has thrown all of his toy trains around the room and is refusing to clean them up. You might feel like saying: “You are making such a mess! You never clean up and you’re making me so frustrated!”. The problem is, this type of language, and the tone in which you would probably would say it, succeeds in making your child feel small, weak, powerless and very defensive. This is a perfect scenario for a power struggle. If, however, you use a calm tone of voice and say something like: “I’m really frustrated. It looks like there are too many toys here; maybe we need to get rid of some” you are instead setting up a situation in which they have some power and they feel respected. When they feel this way they want to cooperate. When your children do what you ask them to do, don’t use “good job” as a way to praise or say thank you. Instead, say something along the lines of “I’m so happy that you remembered to clean up; that makes me so happy”. This way of speaking shows that you appreciate them. Additionally, it is specific enough so that they understand what they did to make you happy, thus giving them a clear idea of what they can do the next time.
Empathetic Listening and Being a “Big Boy/Girl”
The last part of the evening Sara spent discussing these last two concepts. When we set boundaries and our children experience natural consequences, they will probably be upset, angry, sad etc. We must be empathetic about these emotions. By saying to them “Don’t cry, everything will be OK,” we are telling them that their feelings are not ok to have. You want to comfort your children but not coddle them. Additionally, teach them to cope and sort out how they feel. For example, if your child were to fall down you could say, “Did you fall down? That must have hurt! Let me make it all better” which is a very natural reaction for most parents. However, you might want to draw out their experience by letting them tell you what happened and, as described above when I was talking about reflective listening, don’t add your judgments into it. Perhaps it didn’t hurt. Maybe they were startled or embarrassed or scared. Let them figure out their emotions and then, perhaps, offer an empathetic “I’m sorry you fell. That must have been scary (or whatever the emotion was). What would you like to do now?”
As for the “big boy”, “big girl” comments which many parents use as praise or a way to encourage cooperation, Sara’s belief is that this can actually backfire. For most children the world feels really huge and, in comparison, children can feel awfully small. Constantly referring to your children as “big” when they don’t feel that way can result in the child acting out in an effort to feel powerful. Additionally, when you label a child “big”, she then feels that she has to live up to that label which can cause regression in some instances. For example, Sara brought up the “big girl bed”. When your child moves from the crib to a big bed it can be really scary for them. If it is loaded with all sorts of “encouragement” about how the child is now a “big girl” and gets to have this wonderful new thing because of it, the child may think along the lines of “if I do something where I’m not acting big, will I have my bed taken away?”. Better to just call it a new bed or a big bed but not label your child as “big”. Another example Sara used was in reference to potty use. “Look at Johnny! He’s such a big boy, he goes pee pee in the potty!” and the there’s Sam who has felt like a big boy up until now but begins to wonder if maybe he’s not big after all because he’s not quite ready to use the potty. Better to just say Johnny must feel so proud of himself for peeing in the potty and Sam will go too, when he’s ready.
And so the evening ended. I think we could have gone on talking to Sara for hours more. I am a compulsive note taker when I go to these types of workshops. In part because I anticipate being able to write a post which I hope will interest and enlighten those who read my blog; I’ve also noticed that in taking these classes, attending these lectures and writing these posts I am able to take information I am somewhat familiar with already and make it fresh in my mind once again. Thus, today I noticed myself being much more patient and more in tune with our children. I think, for me, the act of writing about parenting keeps me in the moment and in the best frame of mind to be the kind of parent I want to be. Thanks for indulging me!
If you are interested in private parenting consultations with Sara Schuelein Perets or to put together a group workshop with her (6 weeks, 10 person maximum), she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. We feel truly blessed to have found a school run by such a remarkable woman. If you have the chance to work on your parenting skills with her one on one or in an intimate group, I highly recommend it.
Thanks for reading!
-Gina, The Twin Coach
September 13, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, family, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: attachment parenting, childhood, children, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, positive parenting | 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 »
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 »
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 »
Beyond the “Rod”~Sometimes as Christians in our discussions and books on parenting, it appears as if we base our entire parenting philosophy around 5 scriptures in Proverbs that talk about “the rod.” A discussion of those scriptures is for another time – many others have posted different ideas of what these scriptures actually mean. But, Biblical interpretation aside, I feel it is foolish to place so much emphasis on 5 verses, when there is an entire Bible FULL of chapters and passages all about how we are to relate to each other. Many times we don’t automatically think about applying these scriptures directly to our relationship with children. But they DO apply, because a child is a person as fully deserving of love and respect as any adult.
“I believe that God designed us to begin our lives as babies, totally dependent and vulnerable, because He intended the family to be the setting in which His love was modeled.” – Floyd McClung, The Father Heart of God
Isn’t that amazing? God designed the family to be a place where His love is modeled to children. And more than that, He designed children in such a way that their primary way of learning is through modeling. When God’s love is modeled to a child, the child’s concept of love from and for God will not be abstract, it will be real.
“Our job as parents is to reflect God to our children so they will want to know and love Him. “ –Dr. William Sears
So dive in with me, will you? As an example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at Romans 12:15-18 “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
When I read this verse it makes me think of comforting my children – when they’re happy I am to rejoice with them. “Watch this, mommy!” one shouts as he swings across the monkey bars again for the 20th time – be happy with those who are happy – that’s the appropriate response.
What about when one cries? He’s sad, he’s disappointed, things didn’t go his way, or he’s hurt, or he’s so angry all he can do his cry – weep with those who weep -comfort him, that’s the appropriate response. The Bible tells me exactly what to do!
Live in harmony with each other. What can I do that will help us all live in harmony? Keeping calm, not shouting, controlling my responses, being filled with more love and patience will bring harmony to my home.
Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. This speaks to me about enjoying my kids. It tells me to get on the floor and play with them – wrestling, laughing, kicking the ball, giggling. Putting my distractions, my desires, my boredom, my pride aside, making eye-contact and enjoying my kids.
And don’t think you know it all! How many times do I enter a situation where my children are arguing or fighting, and I jump in with the immediate answer. I “know” exactly what will fix the problem. Do I take the time to listen? To help them problem solve? To find out what’s really going on, how each person feels? Or do I just think I know it all because I’m bigger?
Never pay back more evil with evil. Hurting people for any reason to me is evil. When our children behave in an evil way, we should not pay them back with more evil.
So that’s just one verse dissected and applied to our parenting. Hopefully you are beginning to see that being a sensitive parent will help you be a more sensitive Christian. And it will help our children learn about the character of God, laying the foundation for their own personal relationship with God to grow and deepen.
I’ll be sharing some more scriptures, so keep watching!
June 17, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, Christian, Christian parenting, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, Christian, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Ever heard the expression “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”? It’s a line from Disney’s movie version of Mary Poppins. Now, there’s a unique children’s book series which espouses the idea that ”a spoonful of sugar makes the parenting more fun”! The Wisdom For Little Hearts series offers beautifully illustrated children’s books with Gentle Parenting techniques woven into humorous, engaging children’s stories. Parents, teachers, and caregivers will discover simple, positive methods for addressing common discipline issues in the pages of these books as they read them to their little people, and children will be delighted by the vivid colors and gentle humor. The first book in the series, Petey’s Listening Ears, was recently reviewed by children’s product reviewer and mother, Angela of ‘One Smiley Monkey.’ Click on the picture of her sweet little guy to read her review or on the cover of Petey’s Listening Ears to see a product description or purchase a copy! As the series continues with Addie’s Inside Voice, JoJo’s Gentle Hands, Zoey the Happy Helper, and others due out from Lifeway’s publishing division in the coming months, Gentle Parents will be delighted to discover the subtle inclusion of babywearing, breastfeeding, and other natural parenting options in the beautiful illustrations. Beyond the children’s books in the series, other Wisdom For Little Hearts books to be released are age-specific Gentle Parenting guides and Gentle Parent devotional guides, all of which will be available through Lifeway and other retailers as well as Amazon and other online booksellers.
June 13, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, cosleeping, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, parenting guide, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, bedtime stories, breastfeeding, children's books, Christian, Christian children's books, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
Six inches of arm flop over my breast as you
press your face in close to nurse.
Each night you scoot and wriggle,
telling me with your body
no space is allowed
An ache rises up and my fierce love for you chokes until it
hurts to breathe.
The little baby body that won’t roll over yet
somehow manages to curl from her back to her side
stretching chubby legs to kick at me as you did in the womb.
Your daddy marvels at your instincts
your hunger for connection
“She needs you”
with awe and tenderness
I wrap around you and graze your wispy hair with my lips.
Your face close to mine
your heavy eyes gaze at me and blink long and slow.
Noses touching, I breathe in your
sweet milky breath and we
June 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, cosleeping, gentle discipline, homeschooling, positive discipline | Tags: attachment, attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, Christian, Christian parenting, cosleeping, gentle parenting, natural parenting, parenting, positive, positive parenting | Leave A Comment »
The words were my husband’s, and the day was February 19th, 1997. We’d just gotten our first-ever look at our new son, the son that would transform us at once from simply a couple, to a couple of parents. I remember looking at him, his tiny body buried beneath the full head of black hair and the skin he’d yet to grow into. I remember staring at his face, memorizing its features, almost made breathless by a sudden realization: He was a whole, unique, brand-new person. And he was my son.
We would go on to have three more children after that day, and each time I welcomed them with that same sense of awe. What would they look like? Who would they be? Not just extensions of my husband and myself, they were their own little individuals. They had their own personalities, their own indomitable spirits, and their own beautiful souls.
So much of what mainstream parenting advice has to offer is based on the supposition that children need to be controlled, manipulated, and otherwise forced into behaving a certain way. In effect it tells us that they are somehow lesser citizens who wouldn’t possibly do the right thing unless they were prodded, punished, or cajoled into doing so. Gentle parenting believes very much the opposite. At its core, it is simply a call to return to treating children like people. To move away from a top-down system of rewards and punishments to one of love and partnership. It’s not about trying to be a perfect parent, but about striving to be a connected parent. It’s about placing your relationship with your children first, and about giving them the respect and the consideration that they both desire and deserve.
Every parenting decision I’ve made since that first day 14 years ago has been sent through the same filter: Is this manner of treating someone the same way I’d treat anyone whom I dearly loved? Am I showing them gentleness, kindness and respect? Am I treating them the way that I myself would want to be treated? Will this action or these words bring us closer together or will they pull us further apart?
I have made mistakes as a parent to be sure. But as I look back at the last fourteen years, the moments I’ve wished I could take back have always been the moments when I’ve been too reactive. Too quick to speak, and too slow to listen. Too quick to focus on a behavior, and too slow to focus on the child. Too quick to judge, and too slow to understand.
Not once have I regretted being gentle, or thoughtful, or kind. Not once have I ever thought, “What I really needed was to be more tough with them.” No, time and again, the answer was the same: What was needed was more compassion. More kindness. More understanding.
My relationship with my kids is one based on love, trust, and respect. It is a living, breathing organism that only thrives when it is made a priority. It only grows when it is tended to. And just like any other relationship, I get back whatever it is I put in. The best part about a good relationship with your kids though, is that you get it back ten times over.
June 9, 2011 | Categories: attachment parenting, birth, Christian, gentle discipline, homeschooling, positive discipline, pregnancy | Tags: adolescence, attachment, attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, Christian parenting, discipline, gentle, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, homeschooling, natural parenting, newborn, pregnancy | Leave A Comment »