Someone’s Hero

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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My “S” emblazoned T-shirt is covered in spit-up. The tail of my sling, aka cape, has dirty little handprints, and we won’t hazard a guess as to what exactly those crunchy items that resemble boogers are. The Mom-mobile (van) looks more like it belongs to a suburbanite, with ice skates, cloth grocery bags, and extra towels in the back. I could use some super speed to take care of everything on my to-do list which seems to grow as though it was in a vortex.

My super powers are limited to making breastmilk (and humans) and throwing together edibles from whatever is on hand, along with some mad organizational/planning skills and the ability to multi-task like no one’s business. I can nurse a baby, answer the questions of my children, churn out a bit of work, and keep the household from tumbling into a chasm all at the same time.

Overall, I don’t feel much like a hero. Sometimes I become frustrated and flustered. I make mistakes. Really, sometimes I just want to quit pretending I’m a grown up. I want to cry. I want to step back and let someone else deal with the bills, the laundry, the groceries, and dealing with all of the problems that moms (and dads) deal with.

And then someone puts their arms around my neck and gives me a slobbery kiss. I watch one of my children make a breakthrough in something they were struggling with. I see them mimic my behavior, whether good or whether making something right. They tell me they love me.

It challenges me to find myself, not only for me but for them, and to work toward being a better person every day because they deserve that. So I put on my tights and my cape. I look in their eyes, and I step up because I am someone’s hero.

 

photo credit: paurian via photopin cc

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn’t have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of “superheroes,” ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte‘s little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she’s learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone’s Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone’s hero. Read Mandy’s lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter’s superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don’t Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka “Hot Mom”) asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It’s not heroic when you’re living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Helping Kids Simplify

Welcome to the July edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - With Kids cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about keeping things simple with our kids. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

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I considered writing about many different aspects for this post, but one of the main questions I hear from parents is about how to get kids to let go of things. This isn’t what they really want to know, but feeling overwhelmed, this is what comes out. What they really want to know is how to raise kids who want to live a more simplified life free from a need to hoard material objects. They want to know how to help their kids from drowning in stuff. To some extent, they want to know how to help their children, and their families, to not turn to items and let stuff rule their lives.

Is it even possible to raise children who are not obsessed with stuff in a society which revolves around the acquisition of the latest and greatest new toy, whether that is a talking doll or a smartphone? Yes. The world may have changed, but children haven’t. Children are born full of love and acceptance, and learning from the most important people in their lives – you! The most important way to help your children keep things simple is to be there along the way.

  • Embrace simplicity. So many parents complain about how their kids keep everything under the sun, but a lot of those same parents are modelling just that. Learn how to hang onto what is important and let go of what isn’t. Model it. Talk about it. And if you are one of those minimalist parents who is feeling overwhelmed by your child’s desire for stuff, remember, he is a child. You have a had a long time to reach the place you are. He is just learning and figuring things out. Look to help and guide rather than force. And then, to some extent, you may just have to let go.
  • Listen. It isn’t bad to want things. It’s okay for your children to look at an item and think it is really cool or mention how they would like to have it. In fact, it is healthy to feel that you are worth something. Talk to a child who thinks she doesn’t deserve anything because her life holds no value, and you will see exactly what I mean. That doesn’t mean you need to buy everything your child wants, but you can acknowledge her feelings. An item may really be cool, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it fits within your budget, your home, or with your goals. You can still wish, and if something is really important to your child, it will probably come up multiple times. You might even suggest that she add it to her wishlist or that she save up for it.
  • Explain. We know the reasons why we don’t purchase items or even bring home a bunch of free items, but does your child? If you don’t  talk about your reasoning, don’ t assume he understands. Listening to others’ thought processes can help us develop our own reasoning skills. The next time you are faced with a potential purchase, getting rid of items, or some other decision about stuff, say your reasons out loud.
  • Be there. To this day, my children do much better at tasks such as cleaning out their special shelves in their closet if I am there. My involvement may only be holding items up while they make decisions, but having me there seems to help. They feel less overwhelmed about going through items, and sometimes they need to not touch the items. A friend, when listening to me explain this, pointed out an article which she read that claimed that it was easier for people to get rid of things if they didn’t touch them. Once the individuals touched the items, there were more likely to become sentimental and keep the items in question. From my experience, that seems to be true.
  • Fit the space. We have a certain amount of space in our home, and if our stuff is overflowing, we know that it is time to declutter. When we rotate toys, we gather up all of the toys together and my children go through them, deciding what they really want out to play with for now, what they want to pack away for the time being, and what they are willing to let go of, whether it is to the garbage bin or to someone else who can use the item.
  • Keep it manageable. While we have always been good about keeping toys manageable, I admit that I didn’t always do as good of a job with the art supplies. I wanted the kids to have access to everything so as not to stunt their creativity. By having to much stuff out, I was stunting their artistic inclinations. I have since recognized what I was doing and now we have a pretty good system set up. We have staple items available at all times, with some items up higher where older kids can access them but younger kids need help. Other items are brought out and rotated so they are new and exciting, inspiring new creativity, and others are up out of reach but visible and can be brought out at any time by request.
  • Don’t bring it in. As much as parents complain about how much stuff their kids have, if your children are young, it didn’t just magically appear. Most likely, some adult made that purchase. If this is the case, there is a simple solution: STOP! Don’t do it. When well-meaning adults ask for gift suggestions, give other ideas. Memberships make great gifts, as do magazine subscriptions, time with the said adults, consumable products such as art supplies, or quality books for your home library (still stuff….but hey, I’m a bibliophile).
  • Give them your presence. You have probably heard the saying that children want your presence and not your presents. It’s true. You are the most important people to your kids. Be there for them to help navigate life. Explain and model. Teach by example, and talk about your values.
  • Let go. At the end of the day, your child is her own person. While minimalism may be your ideal, you can’t force that on someone else. Give your child a space that is hers and let her keep her stuff there. Don’t throw away someone else’s stuff. That is bound to backfire on you with your child trying to keep control by keeping even more items. Recognize that different people do things differently and work together to meet everyone’s needs. Remember, it is not about stuff.

 

photo credit: Shagamaroo via photopin cc

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Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple living and parenthood. We hope you will join us next month when we discuss celebrations!

 

 

Simply Living Blog Carnival July 2013 Call for Submissions: With Kids

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month.

With Kids Despite what the media may have us believe, many families are finding that simplifying their lives is very important to keeping life with kids running smoothly. Many families are cutting back on the number of activities. Others are cutting back on the number of possessions. Still others are insanely organized. What does your family do in order to simplify your life with kids? 

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com anddelilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by July 9. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on July 16.

We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.

Hitting Out of Fear

 Today is National Spank Out Day, I’m sad to say. In a society where we speak out against the hitting of women, against the hitting of racial minorities, against the hitting of animals, against the hitting and bullying of anyone, there are still a large number of people who think hitting children is perfectly acceptable or even necessary. It boggles my mind.

The thing is, parenting can be scary. We go through pregnancy with the child secure inside its mother’s womb, and then suddenly this little person is on the outside, completely dependent upon….us. Children depend on us for food, shelter, warmth, guidance, and love. It’s a lot to take on. The fact is that while some people who hit their kids really don’t care, most of the parents hitting their children actually love them and do so because they are afraid.

They are afraid….

  • that by not hitting their kids, society will deem them unfit parents.
  • that their children won’t respect them.
  • that their children will be hurt even worse.
  • of losing control.
  • of the pressures of life.
  • of not knowing what to do.
It’s a scary world out there, full of unknowns, but when it comes to parenting, you don’t have to be afraid! Your children come into this world knowing only you. You are everything to them. They look up to you. They love you. They just want to spend time with you and learn with and from you.
Forget about what other people might think. The only people who matter are your kids. Besides, haven’t you heard that you shouldn’t jump off a bridge just because your friends did?
You won’t gain respect by hitting someone. In fact, you will lose it. Hitting a person, especially a smaller person, in order to control them is called bullying.
Hurting your child will not protect them in the future. Helping them navigate life and giving them tools and techniques to deal with life’s situations will.
There are a lot of things in life you can’t control, and that includes other people. Accept it. Deal with it if you need to, and then help your children to learn to control themselves.
Life can be rough, but that idea that your kids are born loving you? Still there. Come home to your kids and remember that no matter how bad life gets, they love you.
If you don’t know what to do, don’t resort to violence. Learn a new way. Learn how to help your children navigate that allowing your hurt to rule your actions.
In the end, no matter why some parents hit, they still make that choice. With every day and every situation, you have the opportunity to choose not  to hit. Your children love you. Live up to that love. Be deserving of the respect they want to show you. Be deserving of the love they freely give.

 photo credit: dhammza via photopin cc

5 Ways to Kill Your Child’s Love of Reading

Please note that this public service announcement is brought to you by Bibliophilic Satire.

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Who Needs Books?

Photo by Nate Bolt

I’d like to take a moment to discuss an issue that is pertinent to every parent out there. Children and books. There. I said it. I know. We try to avoid such topics, but the fact of the matter is that every child is born with an inherent love of stories and books. Without proper intervention, you may find yourself in the position of a parent who has a child who…..reads. Yes. The big elephant in the room is out there for all to see. However, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to put a stop to this habit before it really takes a hold. Here are a few suggestions to save your child from a life time of reading:

 

 

  1. You may decide to go with the method that “gets  it out of their system.” If this is your preferred strategy, force your child to read in a controlled setting. If they are going to be reading, make certain they are reading on your terms. Take away their choices.
  2. Make them read what you choose. Sure, they are going to hear about books from someone, but if you can make it seem like books aren’t enjoyable, you lessen the likelihood that they will become readers. As part of this method, you may find it beneficial to pick out the most boring books you can find. If your child begs and pleads not to read them because because he “doesn’t like those books,” stick with them. If there happens to be someone nearby (such as…..another mother) who is in the vicinity when you force your child to read the really boring book, it’s okay. Any adult should be willing  to make the sacrifice to listen to a horribly written book read haltingly by a child in tears. After all, we’re here for the kids. This public display will also help re-enforce the lesson to any other children in the area that reading should, under no circumstances, be enjoyed.
  3. Negative re-enforcement. When you catch your child in the act of reading, do something negative. You want them to associate the very act of reading with an unpleasant experience. Tell them they aren’t doing it correctly. Ridicule them. Yell. Make other loud sounds such as monster noises or sound like an alien laser. Whatever you do, do not let them enjoy the experience.
  4. Time limits. Whether you are trying to gently wean your child off of this habit by placing arbitrarily short maximum time limits on enjoyable reading sources or placing large time limit minimums on the boring pieces (see above reference), you should control the amount of time your child is exposed to such potentially harmful substances.
  5. When it comes down to it, you need to do what you have to in order to prevent this habit from escalating. Threaten to take away something your child loves if she doesn’t follow your strict guidelines. Already at gymnastics but she isn’t reading your prescribed reading material? Threaten to take away her gymnastics class. Sure, you’ve paid for the gas to get there. You will be paying for the class whether she participates or not. Gymnastics has nothing to do with reading, but it strikes deep. It shows your child that you are serious about not letting her waste her life away in a book.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Board books lead to picture books, which lead to chapter books. If you don’t do something about your child’s love of books right away, you may be facing a child who is carrying around a 3 inch thick book, laughing and giggling, and enjoying herself to no end. Books are dangerous. They lead to information, independent thinking, creativity, and even worse….knowledge and wisdom.

 

I Want to be an American

God Bless AmericaThis election season has been fraught with meaningful conversations with our children. Last week, a conversation between my children about political parties ensued. I wasn’t party to this particular discussion, but I was privy to listening to it. Discussion about what they thought of the different political parties turned into a conversation about which political party they might want to join when they were grown. My eight year old replied, “When I grow up, I want to be an American.”

Apparently the adults in our family are not the only ones who are tired of the bickering and name calling that has ensued in this presidential election. Many citizens seem to have forgotten a fundamental ideal, one  pointed out by the innocence and wisdom of a child. We are ALL Americans, and we should all be working together to help one another. Let’s work together, as a community, as a country, and as a world to make this this a better place for everyone, ensure the rights of everyone, just as my own rights have been fought for by others before me, and to remember that we are in this together.

Attachment Parents Get Real: Melissa from the Happy Mommy Blog

Welcome to Attachment Parents Get Real! Today I am featuring Melissa of the Happy Mommy Blog. Attachment Parents Get Real is a series featuring real life attachment parents and caregivers  in an effort to help normalize attachment parenting, dispel myths, and help others identify with attachment parenting and gentle discipline. We would love to have you join us. If you are interested in being featured on Living Peacefully with Children as part of the Attachment Parents Get Real series, please read more about the initiative and fill out the form. 

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Melissa didn’t set out to be an attachment parent. In fact, until about 1 1/2 years ago, she didn’t even know that attachment parenting existed. When she began her parenting journey, she did so without the tenets of attachment parenting in mind. However, she did have  her own ideals. Melissa knew that she didn’t want to ever leave her children alone to cry it out or to hit them in any fashion.

The tools and techniques Melissa and her family uses have changed as they have grown on their journeys. They have moved from a more authoritarian style of parenting, which included  time outs or use parentally imposed consequences, to a more authoritative, gentle discipline style. As their children have grown, Melissa and her husband realized that if they were always imposing consequences, their children would not have experience dealing with situations on their own. Decisions would always be based on fear of consequences rather than genuine decisions based on what the child believed was the correct thing to do. They realized that childhood was an opportunity – one of learning with loving parents.

Attachment parenting became even more important to Melissa when her second child, and then her third, were diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, sometimes referred to as Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Their family has found help with therapists and a special sensory diet, but it has been their parenting decisions that have made the most difference. All of the family benefits from their attachment parenting choices. Melissa, herself, feels calmer now than when she utilized punishments and rewards. She has given herself permission to take a moment to gather her thoughts and feelings when faced with parenting challenges. Doing so allows her to act in the manner which will be of the most help rather than reacting to the situation. Her children have learned that whatever is happening, their mother will be there for them to help them. She is their ally rather than their adversary.

Family life has changes in other ways, based on the needs of the family. Melissa became a SAHM a couple of years ago in order to start homeschooling their children and help her children with special needs. Prior to that time, she worked outside the home after receiving her master’s degree. They have practiced safe bed sharing for as long as each child desired, which also helped when her son was having issues breathing at night. Extended nursing has helped all of her children to calm down after active days spent playing and learning or with the hyperactivity sometimes associated with Sensory Processing Disorder. Through it all, Melissa and her husband stay connected with their children through both family and individual time together.

Melissa is the author of the Happy Mommy Blog, where she shares her trials and tribulations in her journey toward peaceful parenting. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page. She is a human rights activists and is taking life one day at a time, working together with her family. She considers herself a “work in progress.” She isn’t perfect, but her children are proof that attachment parenting works. Melissa encourages parents to find others who are supportive and tries to support other parents in any way she can. Attachment parenting, just like any type of parenting, isn’t always easy, but the effort, just like our children, is worth it.

 

Looking for more information on SPD? Check out some of these posts and resources:

NPN Blog Blitz: The Best of Babywearing

I am proud and honored to be a volunteer with the Natural Parents Network (NPN), a community of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be where you will be informed, empowered, and inspired.

When you visit the NPN’s website you can find articles and posts about Activism, Balance, Consistent Care, Ecological Responsibility, Family Safety, Feeding With Love, Gentle Discipline, Healthy Living, Holistic Health, Natural Learning, Nurturing Touch, Parenting Philosophies, Practical Home Help, Preparing for Parenting, Responding With Sensitivity, Safe Sleep, and so much more!

Today I would like to share some bookmark-worthy posts that highlight all aspects of babywearing. These posts were featured on the personal blogs of the Natural Parents Network volunteers and are some of my favorites.

We hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. We are always looking for new volunteers so please, contact us if you are interested. Just a few hours per month can help other mamas in a huge way!

Benefits of Babywearing/Reasons To Babywear

Types of Carriers/ Choosing A Carrier

Babywearing Safety

Babywearing How-Tos

BabywearingToddlers/More Than One Child

Personal Babywearing Stories and/or Photos

Babywearing Series/Multiple Topics

Babywearing – Other Interesting Topics

A special thank you to Erika Hastings of the blog Mud Spice for creating and sharing her babywearing art with the world!

TV: a Tool or “The Devil”

365:32 - Television

Photo by Sarah Reid

As more of our society has become screen driven, the controversy over children watching television has increased. On one side you have companies specifically marketing television, movies, and all sorts of related products to children. There are companies targeting commercials at children in hopes that those children will then bug their parents enough to buy the products, shaping our society from a young age into a consumerist society, while some parents say they just need a break or how the look forward to family movie night. On the flip side, you have organizations saying television is bad, detracting from time which would be otherwise be spent doing other activities, adding to childhood obesity and other health problems. There are parents crying out that TV is the devil (said jokingly in reference to the mother in Adam Sandler’s movie The Waterboy) and banning all reference of television or movies from their child’s existence. Both of these sides tend to take the topic of television to extremes, when there is a middle ground. We are a middle ground family. We have direct tv . In graduate school, my husband really wanted to watch his beloved Red Wings hockey games. It seemed a minor issue to promise him those games out of grad. school. For a long time, hockey games were pretty much the only thing our television was used for, much to the astonishment of my in-laws who have a television (on) in every room, as I’m not one to sit down and surf channels to find something to watch. Later, when we upgraded to a DVR, I found that we could actually plan to record items to watch later, without it interferring with life (hence, I would actually be able to watch something without trying to remember to turn the television on). Since that time, we have found quite a few wonderful documentaries and shows to record and watch. We have seen things that we would never have otherwise seen (deep sea adventures, historical documentaries, erupting volcanoes, and more). There are also the occassional family movie nights. We are able to use this technology as yet another tool for learning rather than something that rules our lives. Just like anything else, it’s not an all or nothing thing. It’s what you make of it. For families worried that television may take over, keep a few things in mind:

  • Given the opportunity, children are quite good at self-regulation. Something which is currently forbidden now may capture their attention at first, but in every family I know who allows self-regulation, the kids do actually regulate themselves in various life areas, often much better than adults (says the woman who turns to sweets in times of stress while my kids have a heathly relationship with food).
  • Kids would rather spend time with you. If you feel that the tube is on too much, offer an alternative. Go cook together, garden, read books, make a craft, go for a walk, or play a game.
  • Turning on the screen doesn’t mean it can’t be turned off. That’s what the power button is for. Don’t be afraid to use technology as a tool for your family where there is benefit. It’s not permanent and you control how much you let it into your life and how it fits. If it doesn’t fit, that’s fine. Just remember that there can be happy mediums in life. If you choose to watch television, continue to be present with your children to help them navigate those messages presented. Child need your presence in life.

Just as with anything, a tool is what you make of it.

Disclaimer: Links to www.dx3.net are not an endorsement for the site or for directtv.

Bodily Autonomy and Personal Hygiene

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children’s personal care choices.

Innocent Child Protected By Arms

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

More than 30% of children in the United States will be sexually abused, few of which will be reported. In most of those cases, the perpetrator will not be a stranger. It will be someone you and your child know: a trusted babysitter or neighbor, a friend, a coach or teacher, your beloved Uncle Charlie, or another person whom you thought would never do that to your child.

Knowing the warning signs of sexual abuse is important. It allows you to quickly assess possible telling behaviors and take action to prevent possible further abuse. However, as parents, our goal is to prevent the abuse before it happens. There are many ways to do this. We can be honest with our kids about sex and bodies, answering questions as they come up in age appropriate ways. We can teach our children the proper terminology of their body parts and cultivate an atmophere in which our children feel comfortable talking with us about anything. We can talk to them about tricky people and how to get help. We can also empower them by honoring their personal bodily autonomy.

Individual should be allowed to have control over what happens to their bodies. In our family, we have made it clear to our children that it is not acceptable for anyone to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or without permission. This includes well meaning relatives who expect children to give hugs and kisses on demand (check out the great discussion at Vibrant Wanderings about this). It includes other children (who pass on abuse in a large percentage of cases). It includes doctors and even my husband and myself. We believe that if there is a valid reason for touching a child, in the event that a doctor or parent must aid in personal or medical care, that reason should be able to be explained to the child and permission given.

To that end, our children own their own bodies. We don’t force diaper changes, teeth brushing, baths (although the only problem our children have ever had with baths or showers is getting out), nail cutting, hair brushing, or anything else. This doesn’t mean that we have the dirty children on the block , walking around with uncombed hair, dirty teeth and diapers sagging with excrement. It just means that we talk to our children about why we believe it is implortant to do various aspects of personal hygiene. We give choices to honor their individuality. We are open and direct. We model personal hygiene and let them do as much as they can on their own.

Forcing a child to do something to their body against their will does not only destroy the trust they have in us. It also destroys the trust they have in their own bodily autonomy.

Learn more about the sexual abuse of children and what you can do to prevent it at Stop It Now! and Safely Ever After

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)