February Carnival of Natural Parenting

Wel­come to the Feb­ru­ary Car­ni­val of Nat­ural Par­ent­ing: Par­ent­ing Essentials

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 the par­ent­ing essen­tials that they could not live with­out. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other car­ni­val participants.

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I can­not imag­ine par­ent­ing with­out my instincts.

It seems that every­where we look, there is some­one align­ing a par­tic­u­lar par­ent­ing prac­tice or belief with a label.  Are you a breast­feeder?  Bot­tle feeder?  Work­ing mom?  Stay at home mom?  Attach­ment par­ent?  A Baby­wiser?  The labels go on and on.  Each label can lead to assump­tions about other par­ent­ing beliefs and prac­tices that “go with” a par­tic­u­lar decision.

Those labels and assump­tions don’t work for me.  I have three chil­dren, and I have made dif­fer­ent deci­sions with each child based on each of my sons’ indi­vid­ual needs.  Through­out our par­ent­ing jour­ney, my hus­band and I have main­tained our belief in respond­ing to each child’s needs with sen­si­tiv­ity and allow­ing each child to be respected and main­tain dig­nity espe­cially in their more dif­fi­cult moments.  How­ever, each of our sons has had a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity and dif­fer­ent needs.  Breast­feed­ing, cosleep­ing, and nur­tur­ing touch have looked dif­fer­ent with each child.

The beauty of nat­ural par­ent­ing is that while it encom­passes a vari­ety of top­ics and philoso­phies, it isn’t a list of dos and don’ts.  In fact, instead of telling par­ents how to raise their chil­dren, nat­ural par­ent­ing holds the phi­los­o­phy that each par­ent knows his/her child best and is the expert on that child.

Being a new par­ent can be hard.  Read­ing all the par­ent­ing books, mag­a­zines, blogs, arti­cles, and columns doesn’t always make life eas­ier.  In fact, for some peo­ple (like me), it can make par­ent­ing even harder.  When I was preg­nant with my first child, I read both Baby­wise and the Baby Whis­perer on the rec­om­men­da­tions of friends.  As I was read­ing them, I thought they sounded like good, man­age­able plans.  I was wor­ried about know­ing what to do when my son was born, and both of these books gave me a (seem­ingly) easy to fol­low and (seem­ingly) prac­ti­cal plan for par­ent­ing.  Great, right?  Well, appar­ently not for me.  As soon as my son was born, the plans began to fall apart.  We dealt with pre-term birth, jaun­dice, and a sleepy baby who had trou­ble latch­ing.  Almost as soon, I real­ized that those books weren’t going to work for me.  For quite a while (and even once in a while now), I still strug­gle with the feel­ing that I’m not fol­low­ing “the plan.”  I know it’s silly, and I know that it didn’t work for us then, and it wouldn’t work now.  Once in a while, though, I still feel a twinge of doubt about my decisions.

Then, I remem­ber what I’ve heard again and again from oth­ers who also choose nat­ural par­ent­ing.  “Fol­low your instincts.”  “You know your child/children best.”  “Your body was meant to birth and breast­feed.  Trust your body.  Trust your baby.”  Over and over, I have been reaf­firmed by the nat­ural par­ent­ing com­mu­nity in my abil­ity to par­ent my chil­dren.  Nat­ural par­ent­ing and its empha­sis has sup­ported me where tech­niques and plans did not, and it was through nat­ural par­ent­ing that I learned that my instincts are good.  I need to trust them in order to par­ent.  With­out them, I would be lost!

This doesn’t mean that I’m per­fect, that I always make the right deci­sion, or that I don’t need any other help.  When those times arise it’s essen­tial to have friends, fam­ily, blogs, and resources to con­sult, but in the end it comes back to my instincts.  Hav­ing expe­ri­enced the ben­e­fits of using my instincts to par­ent my child has been invalu­able to me, and I know that as my chil­dren grow and we encounter new expe­ri­ences, chal­lenges, and tri­als I’ll be call­ing on them again and again.

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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!

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

  • Not With­out Him — The love Starr at Tak­ing Time shares with her hus­band is the foun­da­tion of her parenting.
  • I Can­not Imag­ine Par­ent­ing With­out B(.)(.)bs — From an une­d­u­cated dreamer to a breast­feed­ing mother of a tod­dler, nurs­ing has for­ever changed Kristy at Strings to Things’s rela­tion­ship with her daugh­ter and her out­look on life.
  • Rais­ing a Child in the Inter­net Vil­lage — When Jenn at Mon­key Butt Junc­tion has a ques­tion or con­cern about par­ent­ing, she turns to the Inter­net. What did par­ents do before Google?
  • Part­ner in Crime and Par­ent­ingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can’t imag­ine par­ent­ing with­out her husband’s sense of humor — he brings her laugh­ter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can’t imag­ine try­ing to mother her babies with­out her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Per­spec­tives Bring New Begin­ningsMJ at Wan­der Won­der Dis­cover, who is a for­mer author­i­tar­ian mamma, has gained per­spec­tive via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Lit­tle Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capac­ity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimag­in­able With­out HimKristina at heyred designs is cel­e­brat­ing her amaz­ing part­ner, with­out whom none of her par­ent­ing expe­ri­ence would be possible.
  • My Par­ent­ing Neces­sityClaire at The Adven­tures of Lac­tat­ing Girl needs “me time” in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Baby­wear­ing As a Way of LifeDar­cel at The Mahogany Way talks about the ben­e­fits of baby­wear­ing in every­day life.
  • Par­ent­ing Part­ner­ship — Some­times Abbie at Farmer’s Daugh­ter doesn’t appre­ci­ate her hus­band enough, but she def­i­nitely couldn’t imag­ine par­ent­ing with­out his help.
  • Par­ent­ing Essen­tialsMomma Jorje loves her par­ent­ing prod­ucts, but she needs you even more.
  • My Par­ent­ing Must-Have: Sup­portJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a let­ter to her daugh­ter about the role that sup­port from friends and fam­ily plays in her mothering.
  • It’s More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Use­less? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Min­i­mal­ist Par­ent — The par­ents at Liv­ing Peace­fully with Chil­dren embrace a min­i­mal­ist per­spec­tive when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • With­out My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can’t imag­ine par­ent­ing with­out her breasts; here’s why.
  • Loves Books, Loves Peo­pleSeon­aid at the Prac­ti­cal Dilet­tante dis­cov­ers that the library is a per­fect fit for her family’s needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama’s next child might be named Maya, because of her fond­ness for the sling.
  • Avoid­ing the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to tes­tify that it takes a vil­lage to raise a child.
  • My par­ent­ing essen­tials, from Tivo to battery-operated mon­strosi­tiesLau­ren at Hobo Mama presents a list of par­ent­ing essen­tials you didn’t even know you needed (and prob­a­bly don’t…).
  • Attach­ment Par­ent­ing Through Sep­a­ra­tion: It Makes It a Lit­tle Bet­terJes­sica at This Is Worth­while talks about how she couldn’t sur­vive her sep­a­ra­tion with­out attach­ment par­ent­ing and the bond it’s afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Par­ent­ing Essen­tialsDeb Chit­wood at Liv­ing Montes­sori Now shares the prin­ci­ples she used to par­ent her chil­dren from infants to adults.
  • My Par­ent­ing Essen­tials — The things that are truly essen­tial to Kim at In Des­per­ate Need of Enter­tain­ment aren’t things at all.
  • I’m No One With­out My Sling — How baby car­ry­ing is essen­tial to the par­ent­ing of Jes­sica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Can­not Imag­ine Par­ent­ing With­out…Isil at Smil­ing Like Sun­shine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • Feb­ru­ary Car­ni­val of Nat­ural Par­ent­ing — Through her expe­ri­ences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has dis­cov­ered her most impor­tant tool for par­ent­ing is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Can­not Imag­ine Par­ent­ing With­out __________.The Art­sy­mama dis­closes the one thing that gave her back con­trol of her­self as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laugh­ing with her sons keeps Aca­cia at Fin­ger­paint & Super­heroes con­nected and grounded.
  • I Can­not Imag­ine Par­ent­ing With­outLuschka at Diary of a First Child real­izes what the one thing she can’t imag­ine par­ent­ing with­out is, and it turns out it’s not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the rea­sons why Jenn at Adven­tures Down Under can­not imag­ine par­ent­ing with­out her fab­u­lous husband.
  • Stop­ping to Lis­ten — Though it wasn’t easy at first, Knocked Up — Knocked Over can­not imag­ine par­ent­ing her daugh­ter with­out lis­ten­ing first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Par­ent­ing — There are many won­der­ful resources that make life eas­ier for Michelle at the Par­ent Vor­tex to par­ent, but the essence is the rela­tion­ship between par­ent and child.
  • What I Can­not Live With­outSybil at Mus­ings of a Milk Maker con­sid­ers her com­puter to be a par­ent­ing lifeline.
  • True Bless­ings: White Noise and Grand­par­entsKat at Lov­ing {Almost} Every Moment can’t live with­out her white noise machine and the sup­port of her parents.
  • The Neces­si­ties! — What “stuff” does a nat­ural par­ent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how par­ent­ing wis­dom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bath­room is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feel­ing touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to inte­grate her many roles through her get-up-and-go par­ent­ing essen­tial, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy real­izes what a relief it is to have her hus­band par­ent along­side her.
  • Grace, Love, and Cof­feeMrsH at Fleet­ing Moments real­izes that life­lines can take the form of the pro­found, or the mun­dane. Both are ok.
  • Sup­port­ive Spouse, Check! — There are so many par­ent­ing tools and gad­gets that are super­flu­ous, but the one essen­tial, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her sup­port­ive spouse.
  • Why I’m a Baby­wearerMered­ith at Becom­ing Mamas reflects on the ways baby­wear­ing has enhanced her mama baby relationship…and made life eas­ier to boot.
  • It’s Mar­velous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Var­ie­gated Life can’t imag­ine par­ent­ing in the big city with­out the mar­vels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Ank­tan­gle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essen­tial for suc­cess­ful parenting.
  • Par­ent­ing Essen­tials Check­list: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on rais­ing global cit­i­zens and say­ing no to soci­etal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama liv­ing in the moun­tains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essen­tial to con­nect to nature and to con­nect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adven­tures of Lime con­fesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTash­mica at The Mother Flip­pin’ Blog reveals her super power, her tal­is­man agains mean mommy.
  • My Price­less Par­ent­ing Resource — What do books, a mag­a­zine com­mu­nity, my mother and the local play­group have in com­mon? Lucy at Dream­ing Aloud tells us…
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to expe­ri­ence the world from her daughter’s perspective.
  • Fol­low the Gig­glesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live with­out the sound of her child’s gig­gles — come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy With­out Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about wean­ing and los­ing part of that the mother/child bond.

Comments

  1. Lovely post! Instincts have really been essen­tial to me as a par­ent as well. And I find that I grow stronger in my con­fi­dence as a par­ent the more I trust them and the less I think I need an out­side expert to tell me what to do.

  2. That is ter­rific that you had such amaz­ing instincts. Things were dif­fer­ent for me. It took me awhile to sep­a­rate the dif­fer­ence between intu­ition and instinct. After start­ing out as an author­i­tar­ian par­ent, my intu­ition had been warn­ing me that my instincts were all wrong. I am happy to say I am rewrit­ing my instincts now :).

  3. I so agree with you! I read Baby Whis­perer when I was pg with Kieran, and it sounded so nice and neat. Then real­ity hit ;) No one can under­stand that “mama instinct” until they have that baby there. Unfor­tu­nately, so many par­ent­ing books take away that instinct. Baby cry­ing? Ignore it = ignor­ing your instincts. Why would that ever be desirable?!

  4. Won­der­ful post! I couldn’t agree more; I wish every new par­ent (and old!) would lis­ten to and trust them­selves :)

  5. Oh, this is wonderful.

    I also have three kids, and I have found that I need to flow with what comes. They are all dif­fer­ent, not only with sleep­ing, eat­ing, and how they learn, but what they are good at, what they enjoy, and what they need. I have to learn with each child, because although the prin­ci­ples might hold up, the details change. Some­times daily. :)

  6. I com­pletely agree with you. I saw myself in your words. I dealt with a lot of what you went through with your first with Lit­tle Man. Noth­ing “fit” us either so we just went with the flow and found hap­pi­ness finally when we stopped lis­ten­ing to every­one else and started lis­ten­ing to each other. Great post!

  7. I had those same books rec­om­mended to me while preg­nant, but just read­ing excerpts online, my instincts kicked in and said no way! I think trust­ing your instincts and treat­ing each child as an indi­vid­ual is key — after­all, we would all balk if there was a book enti­tled, “How to be a good 30 year old” that detailed a rigid sleep sched­ule or worse, out­lined the one way you would be allowed to inter­act with oth­ers, with com­plete dis­re­gard for your thoughts and feelings!!

  8. What a great post that reminds us there is no one answer, no one phi­los­o­phy, no one truth, but that we are all indi­vid­u­als and as such our instincts will never fail us. I loved your line “The beauty of nat­ural par­ent­ing is that while it encom­passes a vari­ety of top­ics and philoso­phies, it isn’t a list of dos and don’ts. “
    Thank you!

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was men­tioned on Twit­ter by Casey, Lau­ren Wayne. Lau­ren Wayne said: Her plans for #par­ent­ing her kids feel through, but @CBerbs fell back on her instincts. #Car­Nat­Par http://ht.ly/3SeF3 […]

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