Authenticity through Consensual Living

Welcome to the January 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Authenticity

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through character, emotions, and establishing authentic communication with their children. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Honesty.

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Father and child

Photo by David Blumenkrantz

I once had a parent tell me that the reason she didn’t like consensual living was because she felt that thinking about your response in a situation rather than saying the first thing that popped into your head was “fake parenting.” In her view, contemplating the situation and one’s words was unnatural. It’s a popular belief in our society. Most anywhere you can go where there are parents and children, you’ll hear parents saying catch phrases to their children, threatening kids, or jumping to conclusions about their children’s motives. While these actions may be automatic for them, these are all examples of reactions rather than authentic interactions.

We’ve all had experiences during our lifetimes, and those experiences shape our lives. It’s an inevitable fact of life. However, the extent to which those events shape our lives is up to us. Reacting relies not on conscious thought but on unconscious scripts. If you have ever heard yourself say a phrase which reminded you of your mother or father, you know exactly of what I am speaking. In order to authentically communicate with our children, we need to be willing to push past those automatic responses.

When we react, we allow outside influences to control ourselves. When we react to others, we shut down further explorations of the situation, open communication, and mutual understanding. It is only when we open ourselves to examining our beliefs, words, and interactions that we find ourselves pushing past the hurt and anger of reactionary living in order to live authentically. It is through thoughtful interactions that we allow ourselves to live fully in the moment, to grow as individuals, and to open ourselves to honest relationships with others.

 

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APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 25 with all the carnival links.)

Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival January Call for Submissions: Authenticity

APBC - Authentic Parenting After a month off for the holidays, the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival is back with renewed energy!

We hope you enjoyed last year’s carnival topics. We have some new and exciting topics for 2013.

APBC goes live on the Last Friday of every month and submissions are due on the previous Friday. For January 2013, the deadline to submit a piece is January 18 with all posts going live January 25.

If you’ve followed the carnival closely, you’ll notice that Living Peacefully with Children has recently teemed up with Authentic Parenting for the blog carnival. We hope to make the carnival a hit this year!

This month’s topic is “Authenticity”. Even though the name of the carnival is Authentic Parenting, we’ve never explored what authenticity means to our writers. For this carnival, let’s try to define authenticity and find out how it finds a place in our home, our parenting and our way to interact with the world.

Feel inspired? 

Email your submission to mamapoekie{at}yahoo{dot}com and mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com no later than 11PM GMT on the day of the deadline and be certain to fill out the form. We will get back to you with a piece of code to add to the top and bottom of your post prior to the posting date.

 

Why participate?
Carnivals are a fun way to generate traffic to your blog and create community. You’ll be linked to from many sites and get to discover blogs you didn’t know before. For each edition of the carnival, we will create new commenting groups, so you’ll be able to visit and receive visits from lots of different people. Carnivals also give you a chance to think about a predetermined topic, which can smooth off an occasional writer’s block.

Get a sneak preview from the other topics by checking out the Carnival page. We hope you will consider adding the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival to your monthly blogging schedule.

Simplifying the Holidays

Welcome to the December Mindful Mama Carnival: Staying Mindful During the Holiday Season

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants
have shared how they stay mindful during the holiday season. Please read to
the end to find a list of links to the other carnival
participants.

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Our family celebrates Halcyon and the Solstice, along with some other holidays such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. It’s something that is at odds with the area of the country we live in, where one is bombarded with Christmas every time you step foot out of the door. In previous years, I think I have, to some extent, tried to normalize my children’s experience, one based on a need for authenticity, by trying to do too much – making all of our gifts by hand, planning fun activities to go along with our solstice calendar, finding all-inclusive activities in which we can participate without the insistance that everyone must celebrate Christmas.

An incident this summer, in which several people told me that I should not expect all-inclusive winter events and activities to be accepting of everyone participating, had me re-evaluating things. I realized that I was trying to find community in the wrong places. I looked at the 5 dozen blown out eggshells I had collected with plans to make lovely hand-painted krysanky ornaments and realized how ridiculous it all was. I began cutting things out – ornament exchanges, card exchanges outside of our normal list, large group events, etc.

Then I reminded myself that simple living isn’t only about handmade. So, while I have made most of my children’s stoclittle items and gifts, I decided it was okay to not make everything myself. I don’t have the energy to do everything, and I was the only one who really expected it of me. So, I purchased comfortable pajamas to give our children on Solstice Night rather than sewing them. We found a $9 gingerbread house kit which took so much work off my back and was more affordable then if we had purchased supplies for the kids to decorate a homemade version. WE ordered fewer holiday cards this year to mail.

We scrapped coming up with something special to do everyday and vowed to celebrate just our family and Halcyon however we saw fit each day. It’s been relaxing and calming, and our little family has enjoyed the season just as much; I have enjoyed it more. So, we make our special treats together, play games, watch movies, snuggle, share our memories and talk about everything important to us and forget about the rest of the world. Sure, we still make gifts for others and donate to families  in need, something we do regardless of the time of year. However, we are remembering that we aren’t about the holidays – the holidays are about us.

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Mindful Mama Carnival -- Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ Visit The Mindful Mama Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Carnival!

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #MindMaCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Mindful Mama Twitter List and Mindful Mama Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Honoring Belief and Authenticity during the Holidays

Photo by Scott Vuocolo

Before my husband and I had children, we discussed how we planned to handle various aspects of holidays. We aren’t Christian and don’t celebrate Christmas, so it only seemed natural to me that we wouldn’t bring the commercial aspect of Santa Claus into our home for the Solstice.

It wasn’t something I would miss. Not only was there the overly commercial aspect and the blatant lying, but I didn’t have fond memories of the jolly old man. I have the obligatory pictures of me sitting on Santa’s lap, tears streaming down my face at having been forced to sit on a strange man’s lap. At the age of four, I informed my mother that I didn’t believe in Santa Claus. I knew she left the gifts, and I wanted to appreciate her effort and thought rather than some mythical stranger.

However, my husband did have fond memories. He enjoyed the magical aspect as a kid and actually pretended to believe in  Santa Claus long past when he actually quit believing in order to receive an extra gift.

There were discussions. In the end, we compromised. We would discuss the spirit of giving with our future children and Father Time, a representation of that spirit, would leave gifts. I was a bit unsettled by this but recognized the need to honor my husband’s wishes, too. And then we had children…

Gazing into that tiny face, so trusting of us, we knew we couldn’t lie to him. We had no desire to break the special trust held between parent and child. So, life went on. We celebrated our solstice traditions and thought nothing more of Santa Claus or Father Time for five happy years.

The year our oldest turned five years old, he brought up the topic. We had read books about what other people believed and what other holidays people celebrated. We were surrounded by the commercialism of Santa Claus every time we went out.

One fateful day the question came. “Mommy, does Santa Claus exist?” There was an internal cringe, I’m sure. I explained that some people believed he did. Others didn’t. Some people believed in other forms of a spirit of giving. And then I asked him what he believed. He told me that he thought Father Time would leave presents for him and his siblings.

The morning after the longest night of the year, as we got up to open gifts, there were three unwrapped presents sitting on the sofa. My husband and I said nothing about them. We neither claimed to have given them nor that they were from Father Time. While we wouldn’t lie to our children, we also didn’t wish to squash any magic from what they wanted to believe.

The next year, at the age of six, he asked is Father Time was really real? I told him that I could answer his question and that the answer would be one of two – either yes or no. If it was yes, life would go on as it had and he would still believe. However, if it was no, would he be happy no longer believing? I asked him a hard question. Which was more important to him: knowing for certain what the answer was or believing regardless? He chose to continue believing, knowing that at any time he could ask me and I would answer truthfully, whatever that may be. His four year old sister piped up that she didn’t believe and that she thought that when I filled everyone’s stockings, I also left the gifts on the couch. I replied that different people believe different things.

We now have four children, ages 8, 6, 3, and 7 months. Listening to their conversations about the subject is interesting. I still stick to my need to be authentic and refuse to lie. I also will not force my beliefs on someone else and tell them they are wrong. Honoring honesty and authenticity doesn’t have to conflict with honoring the magic of childhood.

Edited to add: After that first year, the gifts have all been digital media for our library - either movies or music cds. Its a tradition we plan to continue, regardless of what our children believe and one which we can feel honest about.