Parenting: What To Do or Not to Do

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

Articles and online threads regarding gentle parenting often find themselves subject to a frantic cry from parents who want to do better but don’t know how. “How?” they ask. “You tell us what not to do, but what is it that we should do?”  This is a valid question. If someone was trying to teach you to use a computer and only told you what not to do, it would be difficult for you to figure out what exactly it was . Imagine going to orientation for a new job and only being told what not to do. It would be frustrating at the very least. You might feel like screaming, or crying, or just flat out giving up.

Now imagine a similar scenario except as a child. In families that use punishments, you often find a similar situation, times one hundred. “Don’t hit your brother.” “Stop leaving you stuff all over the house?” While you may be frustrated at work, at the end of the day you get to go home and take a break. If the situation is really bad, you might request a change or even decide to leave and find a better job. But what if you didn’t have any recourse? A child doesn’t have those possibilities. Home is supposed to be their safe place. If all, or even a significant amount of, what they hear is what not to do, they aren’t learning what they should do.

Parents may say that punishments are set up to help children learn responsibility and to do better, but the truth is that punishment is set up to make child feel bad. Punishment, whether hitting (i.e.spanking), time-outs, or grounding, is the easy road for parents. They can feel like they did something while putting very little effort into the situation. Your child hits her brother? Punishment. He forgets to take the dog out? Punishment. She got home later than the agreed upon time, left his homework at home, didn’t take the trash out, questioned an adult, wanted a different pair of pants than you wanted to buy, chose his words poorly, and on and on. Frankly, when you are a child living in such a world, everything you do is subject to judgment and punishment. And you thought the work scenario was bad.

Kids are going to screw up. We, adults, aren’t perfect, either. We screw up quite a bit. Kids haven’t even had the same opportunities we have in order to learn how they should be handling all of these situations. And yet, many adults, parents included, expect kids to be able to handle everything perfectly. It is bad news for the kids who don’t have everything figured out yet. In this punishment mindset, we can just hope they figure it out for next time.

Right about now, you may be thinking to yourself that I still haven’t told you what to do, You would be right, and there is a reason for that. Every situation is different. Every person is different. While punishment takes a one-size-fits-all attitude, life isn’t like that, though. I can’t tell you what you should do in any given situation, because I am not there. I am not you. I don’t know your child or the background. There isn’t one thing you should do.

So, how do you know what to do then? You have to think about it. Sometimes you have to put yourself in your child’s place. Ask yourself why they did what they did (there is always, always a reason behind why a person does something, even if they, themselves, don’t know it). Talk with your children. Listen to them. Work with them. Connect with them. Help them to figure out a better way to do whatever it is. I won’t lie. It is not always easy, especially when you are first starting out and especially if you grew up with the authoritarian mindset. But you know what? No one ever said parenting was easy. But it is definitely worth it.

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.

The Inauthenticity of Anger

Welcome to the July 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Anger

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 anger. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about breastfeeding.

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Feelings…..nothing more than feelings….Anger. It’s a very real emotion and one that many parents have experienced. Anger, even when expressed in healthy ways, is not healthy tough.

How can a real emotion be unhealthy? It is unhealthy because it is a manifestation of our inauthenticity. You heard me correctly. While anger can be very real, it isn’t authentic.

Anger is actually a secondary emotion. It always follows after other emotions. While emotions point us toward our met and unmet needs, as a secondary emotion, anger doesn’t let us know what is going on.

When we find ourselves angry, we have ignored the primary emotions, the ones that were there to tell us about our met and unmet needs. We haven’t been honest with ourselves or with the people we love.

It is important to take the time to discover the primary emotion we are experiencing in order to address what is really going on. When we are being authentic, including with our parenting, we address issues before we reach that point of anger. Sure, there are times that we may be frustrated, sad, upset, or just feel unappreciated. The time to address those issues is when they occur. Bottling up our feelings until they explode into anger isn’t helpful to anyone.

Be kind to yourself and kind to your family. Acknowledge the primary emotions and work together to meet everyone’s needs. Be authentic.

photo credit: Mysi(new stream: www.flickr.com/photos/mysianne) via photopin cc

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APBC - Authentic Parenting

Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss breastfeeding!

 

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

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 27 with all the carnival links.)

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

Simply Living Blog Carnival April 2013 Call for Submissions: Going Green

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.

Going Green Just as simple living and voluntary simplicity have become catch phrases, so too has the phrase going green. How do green practices affect your decisions? Do you find that your simple lifestyle is in tune with environmental issues? Perhaps you have a practice or product which simplifies your life.

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 April 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 April 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.

Supporting Self-Expression in Children

Welcome to the March 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self-Expression and Conformity

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 self-expression. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.

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When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I joked that if nail polish were ever to be involved, he would be in charge. He thought I was joking at the time, but painting nails was never something I wanted to do. My grandmother tried to no avail to interest me in the finer aspects of nail painting when I was little. I hated it with a passion and still do. In fact, until a couple of years ago, our home was a nail polish free zone.

We were walking in a store when my then 6 year old daughter asked if we could buy some nail polish some day. Part of me would have loved to give an excuse as to why we couldn’t buy nail polish, but really there was absolutely no reason I could give. Instead, I told her we would research what brands were better and see about getting some. A few searches later and I had found brands which were less toxic and yet still affordable.

Shortly after that, I made my first ever nail polish purchase in a variety of colors. My children, all four, sat around waiting for their turn to have their nails painted. This happened several times with quite a bit of excitement on their part, trying out different colors, having that one on one time, until for the most part it died down, with only occasional nail painting happening now.

We support our children in their self-expression, whether it is nail polish or something else. Childhood is a time to learn about who you are and what you believe. We have purchased and helped paint finger nails and toenails. We have picked up colored hairgel for washable hair expression. And while I do save hand me downs for my children, they always have the choice about whether they like the clothes and want to wear them or not. Our children have gone to restaurants dressed in costumes at times other than Halloween, much to my mother-in-law’s disbelief, and the dress up bin is for everyone to play with – no sexism here. For now we draw the line only at permanent changes. We will support our grown children’s right to piercings, tattoos, or even cuttings if that is their choice, but we believe it is our responsibility to keep that option for them until they are old enough to make those types of decisions.

Self-expression doesn’t end with bodies, though. We encourage our children to explore new things and see what it is they really like. It’s important to us that they have opportunities to do this, and we have made it work on a budget, mainly in part to my mad organizational skills to get businesses and venues to give us group rates (just don’t remind me of the aquarium trip with 150 people. It’s something I would prefer to forget). As an unschooler and parent, it’s my job to facilitate, not dictate, my children’s learning experiences. Since life is learning, this includes allowing them the opportunity to explore and express themselves.

I think it’s working well. When my then 9 year old son was questioned at gymnastics for wearing hot pink nail polish, he merely turned to the kid in question and asked, “Why shouldn’t I wear pink nail polish? I’m secure enough in myself to wear it. Colors aren’t sexist.” Apparently the other child had never heard such things.

For me, it’s not about allowing my children to express themselves but rather not preventing them from being authentic. It’s about my children being themselves.

photo credit: Melchorseg via photopin cc

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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 March 29 with all the carnival links.)

Embracing Individuality

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

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 spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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hand in hand -  old@new, past@future!

Photo by Christian

It was one of those moments. I was running what was supposed to be a quick errand to the hardware store in the middle of a home improvement project. I was holding the hand of my oldest child, who was four at the time, had my second child in the sling, and carried supplies in my other hand. We had raced through the store in record time and were waiting in line at the check-out. It was at that moment that my almost four year old voiced a question in a normal speaking volume, which at that moment seemed to me to have been blared through the speakers for everyone to hear and stare at me.

“Mommy? Why is that man so short?” He had spotted the cashier at the check-out, a man who may or may not have been as tall as his own almost four year old stature. I felt the internal cringe. Surely everyone was staring at me with my son blurting out such an insensitive, and completely innocent, question. My immediate thought was to say “Shh! We’ll talk about it later.” Years of ingrained societal values of not calling out differences screamed to me that speaking about someone’s difference would be viewed as incredibly rude.

That was when I gave a quick glance at the cashier and realized that even if he wasn’t looking our way, he would hear what I told my son. Saying I would tell him later in an attempt not to embarrass someone didn’t seem like such a great idea. By not addressing the question directly, it seemed like there would be some shame brought to this man’s height or that I might be saying something unkind.

Instead, in that split second after my son asked, I decided to be honest in a normal speaking volume. I explained that people came in all sizes and reminded him how his father was once height but his uncles were another, how his grandmother was another height and so on. I went on to explain that it is our differences which make us unique and that together, our differences make a wonderfully diverse world.  My son was content with his answer, and my heart beat a little faster as we made our way to the check out for our turn. I wondered if I had chosen the wrong approach in order to not offend this unknown man.

And then he smiled at me as he rang up our purchase, and I knew I had made the right decision.

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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 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation— Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations— Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer atHybrid Rasta Mamaexplains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetween — Mrs Greentalks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley atDomestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka atDiary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids— Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer Pressure — Lactating Girlstruggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalisunpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler atUrsula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne ofPositive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica atChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Openness —sustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality— At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire ofCrunchy-Chewy Mamaalso values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free— When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations— Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noisetalks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.