Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Want to be a Natural Parent...

But I don't think I am! Shoot! I like to be able to join ALL clubs! I'm serious. I am a joiner.

I'm trying to decide if I qualify to join the Carnival of Natural Parenting, a monthly series of posts on a chosen theme. I really want to participate by writing my own post on the theme of Parenting Resolutions, but I fear I will be rejected because I don't cloth diaper or spend a lot of time in nature.

Well, let's see if I am a natural parent. Maybe I am. This is from Dionna at Code Name Mama's site- she and Lauren at Hobo Mama run the monthly carnival.

What is Natural Parenting?

“Natural parenting” is based on a desire to live and parent responsively and consciously. While no two families who practice natural parenting may define it the same way, there are several principles that are widely agreed to be part of this lifestyle. These are ideals that natural parents tend to hold — even if we don’t always live up to all of them, we keep them in mind as goals.

1) Attachment/Responsive Parenting: Attachment parents prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting; practice exclusive and full-term breastfeeding if possible, and feed with love and respect regardless of whether it is at the breast, with a bottle, or beyond; respond with sensitivity; use nurturing touch (including babywearing and skin-to-skin contact); ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally (including bed sharing and co-sleeping, responsive nighttime parenting, and no “crying it out”); provide consistent and loving care; practice positive discipline (with no physical punishment); and strive for balance in personal and family life.

CHECK! I do all of this.

2) Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature: Families strive to reduce their ecological footprint by living consciously and making Earth-friendly choices, such as by choosing organic when possible, using cloth diapers or practicing elimination communication, supporting local economies, and so forth. Parents may choose to find toys and clothing made of natural fibers and materials. Families spend quality time outside enjoying the natural world.

I do try to go organic and shop locally. Check. But I don't mess around with cloth diapers. The husband forbid it. If I had a husband who was into that, I'd totally do it. BECAUSE I AM A JOINER. And cloth diapers are cute.

However, I also drive a gas guzzler and do not recycle. Thus, I fail at #2, and should probably work on the recycling to set a better example for my baby. Also, my husband and I rarely spend time outdoors. We are always on our laptops- me blogging, him writing computer programs. We probably need more balance with this.

3) Holistic Health Practices: Parents research medical choices and make educated decisions regarding all health care (vaccinations, medical interventions, medications, etc.). Many families choose to use alternative or natural healthcare such as herbal remedies, chiropractic care, natural childbirth, and so on.

I do this. Baby is going to daycare at ten months, so needs all his vax, but I researched, and we staggered the vax. I don't see homeopaths or anything, but I don't scoff at them. My BFF is a holistic doctor in Portland OR, and I do whatever she tells me (use NoseFrida, try acupuncture) so I think you can see I am hooked up into holistic health.

4) Natural Learning: Families spend time together, and children learn through everyday activities. Parents try to facilitate learning without “teaching,” to help children ask questions that develop thinking, to develop consideration for others without shaming or training, to give choices while guiding the children, to listen to instinctual cues, to honor emotions and desires, to allow development to take place in its own time, and to engender cooperation and harmony without manipulation. This might include the decision to pursue uncommon methods of education, such as alternative classrooms, home schooling, or unschooling.

I certainly do all the stuff in the first part of that paragraph. And I'd love to homeschool my little pookie poo, but there's the small problem that I am a public school teacher. We can't really afford to live in this area if I quit my job to homeschool my kids. This makes me think that to be a hard core "Natural Parent," I have to move somewhere cheaper. I married a guy from Long Island who is afraid of trees and open space, and we want to stay near his parents, so I'm pretty much in the NY-CT-NJ area for a while.

I do think I'm into Natural Learning though. I try to run my classroom in a very open-minded way, letting them choose their books, encouraging kindness, and not expecting all kids to learn the same way. I think that's kinda natural. I try to run my class like a little family- calm, busy, respectful, work hard on fun things that we enjoy- that's reading and writing, two things I love, and I model that for my students by showing them that I read and write in my daily life.

Incidentally, my sister is homeschooling this year, which I think is so cool.

Above all, natural parenting is making the choice to develop a deep bond with your children and family based on mutual respect. An attached child grows into a mature and interdependent individual who understands how to develop healthy, secure relationships with others.

Well I do that. So am I a natural parent? I think so. Who are these unnatural parents though- the ones that sleep train, spank, shame, and pack the kids off with a nanny? I'm not that, for sure. I'm not sure I completely fit the natural parent mold, but it's certainly one I admire and count among the best styles.

I think I am gonna try and join this carnival! I really want to post about my parenting resolutions, and I'll use my failures with #2 to start off.

Oh, is the husband gonna have some opinions about this.

I'm still not sure I'm a natural parent. I don't ACTIVELY strive for these values- the ones I do are the ones that match my personality, and the ones I don't do are things I don't feel passionate about, like nature or recycling. Hm.

OK, I know I need to recycle, but I have to like, call and order my town's special recycling bin, which involves looking up a number, and last I heard there was a wait list. OK. Fine. I'll get the bin. It's actually not a bin. It is a HUGE, rolling trash can almost as tall as me. And truly, we don't even have room for the bin in our driveway, so I have no idea where I'd put it. Sigh. Honestly, 4 adults could fit in that recycling can. It won't fit in our garage, and the (enormous, rolling, town-issued) trash can takes up the only space in our driveway, and even then, I always almost hit it pulling out of the garage. Can you sort of see why I don't recycle?


Dionna @Code Name: Mama said...

But what about this paragraph:
"“Natural parenting” is based on a desire to live and parent responsively and consciously. While no two families who practice natural parenting may define it the same way, there are several principles that are widely agreed to be part of this lifestyle. These are ideals that natural parents tend to hold — even if we don’t always live up to all of them, we keep them in mind as goals."

*even if we don't always live up to all of them*

Nobody's perfect, hell, even if someone did every single thing on that list they still wouldn't be perfect, b/c it's not a perfect list. :)

We'd love for you to join us! I look forward to your first post :)

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Oh, my, this was excellent. I don't live up to all the ideals, either. I think of them as values to aspire to, rather than a checklist that excludes anyone not practicing them.

To take your example of preferring the indoors — I'm right there with you! I'm a writer, most at home when I'm on a laptop on the couch. And I eat a lot of fast food. There, I said it.

But I know that I should go outside more, and encourage my son to as he grows, and I know I should choose healthful, sustainable food. So I'm reaching toward that. We're ideally all learning and growing and changing and not closing ourselves off to what might be demanded of us in the future, while not feeling undue guilt today.

So, anyhow, yes, please join us and we can all learn from each other, even if we're not perfect! That recycling thing does sound annoying, by the way. Hope you can figure it out. Maybe it won't be as bad once you get it set up. We have the annoyance of our building's recycling dumpster always being full, so we have to drive our recycling to the recycling center. Wasted gas = more green? Who knows!

KOR said...

WOW ladies thanks for the positive support!
Already thinking of my resolutions, and how to write about them in an interesting way. I truly do love writing.
The town-issued Toter cans truly are marvels in plastic. I do not joke when I say that several adults can comfortably fit inside. I'll try to get that bin and see what happens. Although maybe not, because in the summer, the can will attract bees. That's not safe. (We have very small backyard.) Hm.
Hobo Mama, read the New York Times article about ammonia-treated beef fat in McD's burgers... that'll end your fast food habit. I read that last night and it was hard to stomach!