Google+ Authentic Parenting: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Mama and Baby LoveGems of DelightEnjoy BirthBreastfeeding Moms Unite, Domesticated Women, This Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"What's the difference between a bright, inquisitive five-year-old, and a dull, stupid nineteen-year-old? Fourteen years of the British educational system." 
- Bertrand Russell


Coming Of Age Series #2: Nourish Your Girl's Soul

By DeAnna L'am

This post is a part of the coming of age series. Menstruation is such a taboo in our society and is hidden under a veil of shame and myth, yet it is a big part of what make us women and should be discussed properly. Many parents shy away form this topic, or cannot find the words. Coming of age is something Western society has deprived of rites and traditions, for either gender. If you want to share your approach to your children's coming of age, or your own experiences with your first period (or, if you are a man, your thoughts on this subject), please email your story to me.

My daughter and I are going away this weekend, to be together without interruption” wrote to me a Mom of a 9.5 year-old girl, “I have some special things planned: We are riding bikes together, having adventures along the coast, getting a mother-daughter massage, riding the roller-coaster, can't wait! Just wanted any good suggestions to enhance the already special connection we have, and bring her as high as I can!”

I had to gasp!
Imagining a weekend packed with bike rides, adventures along the beach, and roller-coaster rides, what could I possibly suggest to “bring her as high as possible” and why would this be desirable?

What compels us to believe that adding thrill and excitement will enhance our time with our children? Why would we want to bring them as high as possible,instead of deeper?

I wrote back to say that I would balance the high-energy activities with quiet ones, such as collecting shells on the beach or making crafts together.

Balancing exciting activities with peaceful ones, will not only allow you and your girl to breath easier, it will convey the message that relationships are a rounded thing: heights are followed by depths… Being together consists of many facets, and we can enjoy them ALL!

We easily plan exhilarating and stimulating activities for our girls (or boys), but have you sat down to think what can you do together to nourish her soul? To let her explore deeply, rather than soar?

Mother and Daughter on a Swing (Happy Times),
Robert Walker Mac Beth
One of the most meaningful, satisfying, and special things you can plan is to share with your girl stories from your life. The time you were her age is a treasure chest of stories, and your daughter will love hearing them!

Try gathering photos from the time you were her age, and let yourself reminisce while doing this. You can share the photo-gathering and reminiscing with your daughter, or prepare the collection of pictures and memories ahead of time. The important thing is the intimacy being created between the two of you. Being real and authentic with your daughter is something that a roller-coaster ride, with all its fun, could never provide...

Focusing on sharing inner landscapes, not only outer (in an age-appropriate way) is one of the best (and lasting!) gifts you can offer your daughter or son.

A different, yet enchanting way for Mom and girl to spend soul-nourishing times together is to share what you are each grateful for in your life…

What do you give thanks for? If you are out in nature, you could create (jointly or individually) an offering to Mother Earth or Mama Ocean, by gathering natural materials and weaving them into a basket of thanks, a bowl of gratitude, or a free-form sculpture that you leave behind as an offering.

The possibilities are endless!
All you need do is turn off the cultural imperative for “fun” and tune in to your soulful sense of gratitude and appreciation. The rest will freely flow from you, and between you, to feed you to your core.

© DeAnna L'am, 2010

DeAnna L’am, (B.A.) speaker, coach, and consultant, is author of Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood. Her pioneering work has been transforming women’s & girls' lives around the world, for over 20 years. DeAnna specializes in enriching women's lives at any age, helps Moms develop ease & confidence about their girl's puberty, and inspires them to become conscious role models for their girls. Visit her at: 
Previous posts in the series:

How to discuss menstruation with your daughter (or son)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quote Of The Day

What is the task of higher education? To make a man into a machine. What are the means employed? He is taught how to suffer being bored." 
- F W Nietzsche


Unschooling Ourselves

A couple of days ago, my husband told me that it seemed as if I am unschooling myself. It was a funny remark, but it holds true. Ever since I became a stay at home wife (I never worked in Africa, so I stayed home without having children for almost a year and a half - can you imagine the shame ;) ) I had to seek out a path I wanted to follow, since I am not the kind of person who can sit home and just be. I’m actually a rather ambitious person by nature.

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
The first six months as a stay at home were really really difficult. I was alone, in a country I didn’t know, I didn’t have any friends and I had been told not to bring too much stuff because I could find everything there (that was in Cameroon) - which of course wasn’t true. The books I had brought finished quickly and I got lost in my own house.
So I started taking long walks, cooking for hours a day and eventually got a crappy mechanical sewing machine. I was busy and doing stuff. I hardly watched tv at all.

When I got pregnant, I started reading a lot about pregnancy and babies and childhood. First magazines and later online. And then eventually I started this blog, for which again I read and write. And I still sew. Sometimes I craft or tricot or do some crochet or...
Ultimately, I am just following my interests, as they occur. That’s the luxury I have being at home.

I think in order to unschool successfully one must unschool/deschool oneself first. Because how can we model Authentic interest and joy of learning if we are stuck in a rut we’d rather escape from. I think to model the attitude we want our child to adopt toward learning, we ourselves must first seek to adopt that attitude towards life. We must find joy in what we do on a daily basis, we must portray that joy and eventually it will catch on in our child. If we expect our children to be active and interested in order to learn, we must first get active and interested ourselves.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves."  
- Harriet Tubman


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men's natural abilities as to restrain them." 
- Baruch Spinoza 


Holidays: Breaking The Myth Or Maintaining The Lie

The next edition of the Enjoy Life Unschooling Carnival focuses on Celebrating. Strangely, the day I got the topic in my mailbox, I had been discussing that same topic with a fellow plantation mom.

In celebrating with a small child, a parent must ask him/herself wether to perpetuate the myth or to tell the truth and possibly lose some of the marvel.
This can prove a hard nut to crack.

On the one hand you don't want to lie to your child, on the other you don't want to rob your child of his childhood fairy dust.

As a child, the mother I talked to had been made to believe some myth about Easter eggs (that easter eggs are different from normal eggs because they are laid by the cock) and in Sinterklaas (from which you Anglosaxons have ripped off Santa Claus). She had experienced a rather traumatizing episode in school when all her classmates knew the truth and she didn't (resulting in everyone - including the teacher - laughing at her ignorance), and a few months later, with Sinterklaas, the story repeated itself, since her parents had only told her that the thing about the cock and the Easter egg wasn't true.

I on the other hand found myself at the complete opposite of the spectre. I had told my class that all their beliefs about Sinterklaas were wrong, that the presents they got were left there by their parents, as my parents had always told me the truth.
I spent the rest of the afternoon standing in the corner.

Image: Phil Fenstermacher on Picasa

My daughter won't be schooled, so all these peer issues won't ose a problem. However, I think the story plantation mom told me has a deeper ground than the shame she felt from her peers, I think she felt especially betrayed by her parents.

I have always felt that hanging up these stories about easter bunnies and old men on horses throwing gifts down the chimney isn't being Authentic to your child. Especially when the parents try to maintain the myth no matter the cost (Why did I see Santa in the mall and now he's standing outside?)
I think being respectful to your child means that you don't lie to them.

Yes, I mighht read a story about Sinterklaas to my daughter. I might even withhold some details until she asks about it, but when she asks I wont lie.
And I won't lie on purpose.

For Easter, I told her we would be welcoming spring by doing an egghunt. And I told her I would go and hide the eggs we had painted together.
For Sinterklaas, I will tell her it is the holiday of sinterklaas. I will tell her the story and why we celebate, and I will tell her that she will receive a present if she leaves her little shoe outside the door. I won't ask her to write a letter to sinterklaas. I won't tell her Sinterklaas will come to our house and bring the gifts.

I hope this way I have found a middle ground


Monday, October 25, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"If you treat an individual ... as if he were what he ought to be, and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be."
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe



This post was written as a submission to the Bilingual blog Carnival. If you want to find out more abou the Carnival, visit their page and sign up for the newsletter.

When we knew we were going to have a baby, I was terrified that - in time - our child would pick up the local accent and expressions. Can you imagine a little white child one day arriving in a school in Belgium and speaking French with an Ivorian or Cameroonian accent? That's completely unheard of.
You must know that the French Ivorians speak is nowhere near what's spoken in France. It takes a lot of decipering and immersion to actually understand what they are saying.

So we said we would never get a nounou (what we call a nanny in these parts of the world) and we would certainly never have our child in school with a local teacher. When it comes to playing with the local kids... we were undecided.

We moved to Ivory Coast (after havig lived in Cameroon for almost two years) when my daughter was 8 months old. Disregarding what we had agreed even before she was born, my daughter took to our cook immediately. She was always smiling at her, later crawling to her and the plain running into the kitchen to go play. So she adopted our cook as her part time nanny. I must say it came at a right time, because when she started alking, it was almost impossible to take her on the hour drive to the shops and then in and out of shops once a week.

But back to the accents. My daughter speaks her French fluently. She is learning new words every day but she speaks full sentences and has an amazingly elaborate vocabulary (especially since she's bilingual, French is her first language). She doesn't have a pronounced African accent, but she uses a lot of Ivorian expressions and catch phrases.
This does cause some confusion when we are in Belgium. My inlaws - who also speak French to her - often haven't got a clue what she is telling them.

But in the end, this matters little. we all carry our cultural background with us in our language. Maybe my daughter will have an Ivorian accent - which I doubt because we'll be moving to another country in a couple of months. Maybe she'll have a Congolese accent. Maybe she'll end up speaking English wih a Liberian accent (wouldn't that be cute... I like African English as much as I dislike African French). What matters is that she speaks the language. She can speak to the locals, and she can speak to European people as well.
In all honesty, after two years here in Ivory Coast, even my husband and I have adopted some of their expressions.

C'est quoi meme?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Mama and Baby LoveGems of DelightEnjoy BirthBreastfeeding Moms Unite, Domesticated Women, This Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."
- Coco Chanel


Motherhood and Spiritual Practice: An Impossible Combination?

written by Morgan Nichols

Spiritual practice and motherhood. Yoga and motherhood. These things can seem contradictory and even impossible to reconcile. As the only mother, I have sat in tears of frustration and grief at sangat (spiritual community) meetings as others talked about working through their issues through regular meditation – because I seemed to barely be able to find time to breathe and go to the toilet, let alone to sit down and devote my full attention to where I was at emotionally. I remember my yoga teacher saying to me: “This is your path. Motherhood is your spiritual discipline.”

baby yoga work by Judy 
Of course, at first I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to escape motherhood: escape the endless challenges of two-year-old tantrums, the feeling of being stuck in an endless Groundhog Day of the same repetitive tasks of nappy changing, cleaning and taking my child to the park. I wanted to fly free and experience the ecstatic oneness I remembered from pre-motherhood, when I had only myself and my own process to focus on.

But as Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn point out in the wonderful book 'Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting', parenting is like an eighteen year spiritual retreat. When you approach it that way, a new opening is created: a way of seeing parenthood as a tremendous privilege which allows for more spiritual growth than possibly any other path.

The concept of 'seva' is one that helps me. In various spiritual traditions, seva, such as cleaning toilets, scrubbing floors or cooking for others, is performed as a way of serving others selflessly and purifying one's own ego. Parenting is the ultimate selfless devotional service – it is a task that never ends, a relationship that constantly tests us to purify what is not real and honourable in us.

Often we think we have to climb some dramatic inner mountain that requires a lot of space, silence, and retreat from the everyday world, in order to reach inner peace. I think there are definitely times and places for silence and getting away from it all, and at least once a month I try to do a half day of silence when my son, now three, is at his dad's.

But I find my current spiritual practice is to do what I can to stay connected, and to be mindfully present with what is happening moment to moment. My formal practice looks very different now: it has gone from 2 ½ hours of yoga and chanting each morning, to a little yoga in the morning if I'm lucky, since my son sleeps and wakes with me, and 15 minutes meditation in the evening. For much of my child's life formal practice has been almost nonexistent.

The broadest intention of my self-development work has always been to operate more from the heart and less from the head, so it was wonderful to hear from a friend in my spiritual community that motherhood had 'opened my heart' and that she had seen so much growth in me. Sometimes, continually struggling to 'be somewhere else' – somewhere more peaceful and 'spiritual', which early parenthood with all its noise and messiness hardly embodies - we can't see where we're really at from the inside, and it takes someone else to point out that we are exactly where we need to be.

As Vimala McClure says in 'The Tao of Motherhood', to really be a mother is to be at the centre and source of all life - and by being in the centre, you show your child how to be at centre. You help to bring them back there when they are not, simply by being that – not by trying to change anything. This has been my practice over the past three years – learning to accept what is, to let go of how I think it should be, and trying to hold myself and my child in a compassionate space. A naturally impatient, goal-driven person, I am learning – slowly - how to slow down and to 'be' rather than 'do'. I certainly still long to devote more time to spiritual practice, but I have come to a point of accepting that I have chosen this path, and even though I didn't really know what I was letting myself in for, I am open to seeing how motherhood can help me to blossom into the human being I was meant to be. 

Morgan Khalsa Kaur is a writer, Kundalini Yoga teacher, and mother to three-year-old Jude, her biggest teacher. She loves writing and performing poetry, walking in nature and rediscovering it with her son. She is passionate about parenting and birthing consciously and is also a trainee Breastfeeding Counsellor. Her blog is at Mind the Gap and some of her poems appear on My Space. Morgan lives in Brighton, England, and is currently working on a novel. Read Morgan's previous article on Attachment Parenting


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. 
- William Shakespeare


The Things We Have Lost Because Of School

There is this article I want to write, but every time I think of it, it becomes a book in my head even before I get to put some words onto virtual paper. On of the sidetracks of this topic is me thinking about how much gets lost by schooling.

I can see a raised eyebrow already, but please keep an open mind and bare with me. Think back to your eldest living relative - maybe this is your grandmother, maybe someone else - think about all the skills she has that you have not. All the times you say “how do I do that” and you have to reach for the phone and this 80 plus woman just whips it up out of her head. I’m thinking recipes, cleaning secrets, sewing, embroidery, gardening skills... Then think about the skills your mother has (or had) for which you never had the time to learn (After all, you were to busy being in school).

Image: creative commons

A little anecdote - one of many I could tell you of this phenomenon - is when I moved to my grandmother, I found out her whites were way whiter than my moms. So I got on the phone with my mom and told her to take a washing course with my grandmother, and ever since my mom’s whites are sparkly too.

These are pieces of knowledge and skills that get lost, they probably end up dying with the person that holds them and all we have is the internet to spend hourlong searches on how to get our laundry as white as our grandmother’s was. A couple hundred years ago, these skills were passed down from mother to child, from father to son. But recently, school has replaced this exchange, and the more children had to go to these institutions, the more they were worn out when they got back and the less of these skills got passed down.

These skills are skills we all need one day. No matter how high you are on the corporate ladder, you will want to wear whites that look white. Even if you’re a nuclear physicist, you might one day want to bake a cake for your child or significant other.
Yet instead, we got long division and physics. We had to memorize things we’d forget in a heartbeat and would never use again.

To this day, I cannot reproduce my grandmother’s delicious biscuit birthday cake. And I’m sorry for that. However, I am all the more ardent to show my daughter all of the little skill I have left, if she is willing.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quote Of The Day

It is an equal failing to trust everybody, and to trust nobody. 
- English Proverb


The Hunter And The Prey

During the week I spent in Belgium, I got into this conversation with my sister in law - you probably know this kid of conversation, the one where you tell ever stronger stories of things that happened to you and to your friends. The common denominator is that it is about women being assaulted by men. Sometimes these stories might seem funny, because they seem to strange to be true and of course because the victim got out safe.

But there is not much fun in the nature of these stories. They are stories of victims after all. And this is what’s the worse part: it happens every day and it happens to all women. Generally more than once.
In my short lifetime I have seen 3 exhibitionists, I have been chased by males many times, I have felt coerced and manipulated by the other sex. And this is true for many many women.

It makes me think about that scene in “Six Feet Under” where some guys want to play a prank on a girlfriend of them and she ends up being hit by a car: she rather chose the insecurity of running into a street without looking than what was behind, a group a men chasing her.
This is the sad reality of women. I could give you statistics, but they would speak little, because many of these crimes are never reported. The women who got out of these situations are happy to have it over with and tell the story. Often these crimes are not even perceived as such.

Yet they are. Any situation in which a human being is being treated like an animal should be a crime. And being stalked and hunted, being held against your will, being coerced and manipulated and forced into things are inhumane.
They are crimes. They are not funny. They happen way too much. As long as we keep laughing at them, they will just pass by unaccounted for. As long as we keep finding excuses for these crimes, they will continue to happen.

And it doesn’t matter if the girl was wearing a skirt or a Burqa. It doesn’t matter if the girl was tipsy, straight out drunk or only had two peanuts and a coke. We shouldn’t ask what she was doing in that part of time at that time of day. It is not HER fault, so don’t treat the women as the criminal.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Take care of your body.  It's the only place you have to live.  
~ Jim Rohn


Birthday Suit Bandit – The Toddler and Undressing

written by Karen Du Toit


I am an older mom, who had my second child after 15 years, over the age of 40. It has been a whole new experience all over again. We live in South Africa in an urban setting. You can’t believe how much things have changed in 15 years with regards parenting. Now we have information at our fingertips (Internet), where I used to have only magazines, books and off course family and friends. We are able to make informed decisions, but we also have so much more options to choose from...

My toddler, Mieka, loves getting rid of her clothes. She is now 21 months. She has one word “AF” (Afrikaans for “off”) that covers it all. The clothes must come off! We let her run around in the nude in the house. I work during the day, and the toddler is at day care. So it is only early evenings and over weekends that she has the opportunity to undress.  

It is even better when she can zip or unbutton the clothes, and try and put it back on. To immediately take it off again…

We live in urban Johannesburg, so she cannot roam naked outside in our townhouse complex. I am also struggling with the idea. Somehow it makes me uncomfortable. Especially when she starts exploring with her fingers... On this side of the world we are not as open with regards nakedness. 
But we ignore, or redirect to other games… (Which I know is the correct way of handling it!)

We try not to inhibit this behaviour, and hope that our own inhibitions won’t rub off on her. It is the most natural thing in the world; being in your own skin! (So I believe!)

I also think that it is a great way to potty train. She learns about her body and how it behaves…

We also give her positive feedback about her body when she is naked.
“Look at your beautiful stomach!” Etc. She loves walking up to the mirror to look at her own reflection with us giving her more positive words of encouragement. The look on her face when it opens up into a smile says it all!

I had a look on the Internet, and apparently this is very common behaviour for toddlers. Baby Zone calls it “birthday suit bandits”, which is a very cute term! I am lending it for this post.

I am being taught new things every day by my toddler. We as adults are only there to make it possible for them to grab each opportunity with inquisitive interest and to create a safe space for them to do so. The same with undressing – as long as it happens in a safe environment which we have to ensure. Toddlers need enough space and time to go through each phase in their development.

About Karen:
I am an older working mom, with a toddler of 21 months. I got remarried again 6 years ago. I have a teen of 17 from a previous marriage. We live in urban Johannesburg in South Africa. We are enjoying our new mixed family life, especially with the toddler who makes us look at life in new ways.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime. 
Herbert Ward


Don't Give Child Abuse The Silent Treatment

This might prove to be a difficult article for me to write... It has been on my (extremely long) to-write list for a while now, and I think I should just get it out and see where it goes.

When I was about twelve, my father punched me a black eye. I have forgotten (repressed) the event, but have vague recollection of it and I distinctly know that my mom kept me from school. There must have been other episodes like this. Enough for my chiropractor to notice (I was receiving treatment for what we assumed to be growth pains, but later turned out early signs of my Bechterew), and contact my mother about the bruises I kept showing up with. Of course I wasn't there when they talked to my mom, but I bet she said there was no problem or it was only a one time thing or... Anyway, nothing came of it.

At school, nobody noticed, since my mom kept me off school, until one day I wrote the first chapters of a book and had a teacher - who I liked and trusted - proofread. The story talked about a girl whose father was on the road as a sales manager and she got beaten... My teacher asked me if there was any autobiography in this story and of course I said it wasn't so. Nothing came of it.

One day, after a long conversation with a friend - I must have been 13 at the time - I gathered all my courage and went to the police. I told them I wanted to report child abuse. They told me the person responsible of that department wasn't there. I never had the courage to go back. Nothing came of it.

Much later - I think I was almost 16 by then - I slept over at a friends house and her parents touched my arm when I came in. I cringed and squeeked and they found my arm covered in bruises (I had placed a tin of sardines on the table instead of getting them out on a plate - this I do remember). Again, they contacted my mother and I don't know what was said. Nothing came off it.

Our family doctor(s) all knew I grinded my teeth, I bit my nails until they bled, had severe stomach problems, migraines, depressive episodes. They sent me to do tests and then some. They prescribed antidepressants. They ended up deeming everything psychosomatic. Nothing came of it. Strangely, all these symptoms dissapeared once I went to university and after a while even the depressive episodes vanished.

A lot of the time during my teens, I wondered if I made it all up (I didn't, don't worry). Maybe I did 'bring it on myself' as my mom used to say. Maybe I should 'be smarter' as she says. Maybe it wasn't that bad, really, was it?

But of course I was abused. No child 'deserves' to be treated this way. No parent should behave this way towards their children. Period.

Image: Quinn Anya on Flickr

What I wanted to say in this article is that confronting parents when you suspect child abuse is generally not the way to go. When a child is physically abused, most often both parents know and will cover for each other (we'll leave the reasons for this behavior in the middle). Even confronting the child proves difficult, because that child will probably feel shame, and guilt and will not want to talk about this, might want to protect the perpetrator and the family. The child might not see any decent outcome ('till this day I do not see how it could have been changed - or how it could still change).
One could argue that reporting child abuse would put an unnecessary strain on parents who are wrongfully accused, but what if it saves some?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Learning is NOT the product of teaching, learning is the product of free exploration made by biological organisms, and is by design and intent a mechanism for improving the habitat for all life.....
- Corneilius Crowley


Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Mama and Baby LoveGems of DelightEnjoy BirthBreastfeeding Moms Unite, Domesticated Women, This Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Shameful Breast (rerun)

I have been thinking long and hard about how people can be offended by breastfeeding. It is often said that it is a direct result of sexualization, that it generated out of everything becoming sexual, which leaves no room for a baby to feed on the oh so sexual breast.

But I fear we might have it wrong.

I got to thinking about Cameroon. Cameroonian women might just be the most sexual human beings on this planet. Seriously. But that is a topic for another post, because that might get long winded and completely beside the point.
In general, Africans are very much in tune with their sexuality. To us prude Europeans, they might even seem a little obsessed (but that is just us trying to impose our religiously inspired worldview on them). They have a lot of sex, with a multitude of partners, from a young age and they don't stick to close to marital or relational fidelity.
Yet, in these countries, where women at age 13 have sexual relationships - where this is tolerated and they might even get pregnant and have a baby and nobody bats an eye - you cannot drive a mile without seeing at least one women breastfeed her child - up to the age of two -  alongside the road. Nobody stops and stares. Nobody feels the need to yell at her, or tell her to go and hide somewhere.

These offended reactions Westerners - Americans - have about breastfeeding, they are not a result of everything being sexual. They are a result of suppressed sexuality. Of parents telling their teens to keep it for a special occasion, of people attaching so much importance to sex that it is placed on a pedestal. Sex is something so secretive, so exclusive, so coveted, that anything that bares any relation to it must be too.
Since the entire human body is involved in the sexual (and then I won't even start about the mind in this equation), this poses a problem however (burqa anyone?).  You must bare in mind that we are in fact recovering from a culture where the female body was covered in a way that is not so dissimilar to the burqa. Not 100 years ago, the ankle was quite the sexy body part.
People obsess about what is hidden, what is secret, what is outside of the eye's reach.

That's why sex sells. That's why so many magazine covers are borderline Hustler. But that is all surreel, they are mere images. They are enhanced and airbrushed. They are the fringe and the borderline accepted gateway to the hidden sexuality of the human body in our culture.
But a live, real, breathing woman with an exposed breast and - oh my - a baby attached to it, that's not imaginary any more.

In a culture where some people have never ever seen a naked breast apart from their own, or their wives' (hidden under the covers with the lights dimmed), or plastic/paper enhanced versions, being confronted with a live sample might be shocking indeed.

Image: WinterWolf


Friday, October 15, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. 
- Booker T. Washington



A while back, a fellow plantation mom visited my daughter's room, which is only being used as a playroom, as we're still all snugly sleeping in the family bed. My daugher had gotten a new play kitchen and everything that comes with it (plates, cups, glasses...). The woman came out of the room with a look of horror on her face.
"I took a long hard look at your daughter's kitchen set", she said, "you've gotten her breakable pottery!"
I responded positively, they were indeed made of normal kitchen ceramics.
"But how..." she said with a reveal all look on her face.

By now my daughter has had this playset for over three months. She only broke two cups when she started playing with them, just enough to find out that they could break and that were not the same as plastic ones her friends use. She hasn't broken anything since.
She has also been eating off ceramic plates and drinks from real glass - and this from before she was one year old. And all this time, I can count the items she has broken on one hand.

Not letting your child have the 'real thing' tells them you don't trust them. It is belittling. Yet it doesn't take a lot of effort to not have them break every plate in your kitchen. It just takes some explaining, some being there.
They are not as clumsy or hopeless or helpless as you think. If given the trust and confidence, they can easily handle these things.
And what if they do break something? It's not that bad. It's just a plate, you can always get new ones. Just clean it up, reassure your child, but don't make a big deal of it. Surely you've broken things in your life, even as an adult. How would you have felt if someone had screamed at you then?

Image: CarbonNYC on Flickr

Isn't it better they break a plate then you brake their hearts?


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quote Of The Day

High-tech tomatoes.  Mysterious milk.  Supersquash.  Are we supposed to eat this stuff?  Or is it going to eat us?  
~ Annita Manning


The Missing Piece of the Conservation Puzzle

written by Kori Bubnack

Image: Di the Huntress on Flickr
“In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage,” states US Ecologist Gary Nabhan in a recent interview. Nabhan is a ethnobotanist/gardener whose promotion of biodiversity has caught the attention of many over the years. He is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist. Since Coming Home to Eat was published in 2001, the local food movement has ignited, causing a worldwide green epidemic.
The number of organizations and businesses that have contributed to the promotion of sustainability through conservation has greatly increase in the last couples years, in large part due to The Earth Day Network. Conservationist and green enthusiasts alike have come together, sharing ideas and discussing new ways to support the planet. Other large organizations and non-profits like Doug Band and the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) have been working on successful emission reduction projects in the San Francisco Bay area. While climate control has continued to worsen, collaborative and individual acts are vital for any successful green campaign. As human beings, we’re constantly told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let’s take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that Gary Nabhan strongly suggests.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization confirms that only about a quarter of crop diversity is left and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.
Nabhan suggests that eating foods that are home-grown will have a greater impact on sustainability for our planet as a whole. Also referred to as “eat what you conserve,” is a well-established theory in that by eating the fruits and vegetables that we are attempting to conserve/save, we’re promoting the granular dissemination of various plant species.
Agriculturist Marco Contiero also mentions that “biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change.”(1) Conterio's theory suggests that as individuals we tend our own crops/plants, and should make sure to purchase localized farm products at supermarkets and groceries. In the end, this condenses export/import reliance, thus reducing our carbon footprint.
These theories both depend heavily on an action oriented approach at conservation and sustainability. With an abundance of green movements following Earth Day 2010, organizations and individuals have taken a stronger following to expert opinions like the ones demonstrated by both of these highly influential agriculturalists. Make sure you stop by your local farmers markets and apple orchards for your fresh fruits and vegetables! Don't be afraid either to stop the next time you drive by a yard stand with fresh crops.

About Kori
I'm a political science graduate and currently attending grad school.  After taking a few different classes in undergrad on environmental issues and how they relate to politics I sort of feel in love with the subject.  I recently came across the mommy blogging network and realized how many moms are out there that have an interest in this too.  I decided I wanted to start reaching out to them because they can really make a difference.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." 
- W. Churchill


Why We Say No

I was thinking about the 'no' issue again. I have said it before, and for the sake of repetition will say it again: I believe 'no' is best kept for rare occasions, such as when a child is in danger.
Effecting this theory in real life can prove rather trialing.
But that is not what I wanted to write about. What I want to write about is the psychology behind saying 'no'. All of us, excepts perhaps those who are really disciplined, say 'no' way to often, but where do those no's come from?

What I want you to do today is find out what things exactly you are urged to say no to, and then ask yourself why.

You might find out that a lot of those 'no's' stem from personal gain: something you don't want broken, not wanting to be bothered while performing a task, too lazy to seek other options such as diversion. (note: the laziness remark is not an insult, it is a common denominator in mankind to seek out the easiest route, and saying 'no' often is).
You might find that the 'no' is very rarely in your child's interest.

So if you have investigated when and why you say no, let me know in the comments below.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Nature does nothing uselessly 
~ Aristotle via @GreenMedInfo on Twitter


Where Are The Children?

I have often wondered why Westerners have such a problem with children. Why they expect them to behave in a way that is completely against their very nature, to sit still and shut up and basically not be noticed. Now I have a child and every once in a while I am with my child in Europe, I think I understand the problem.

Hitchster on Flickr
There are no children anywhere. All kids get tucked away neatly in daycares and kindergartens and schools, with certified professionals to take care of them.
People who don't work in such facilities hardly get to see children at all. There are no children on the streets or in the restaurants or even in the parks. Not during the day, because then they are confined elsewhere, not during the night, because that would be too dangerous.

Moreover we all grew up in age seperated settings and were groomed to not understand and not even know those younger or older than ourselves.

Children become obnoxious to the public because the public simply doesn't know how to handle them.

Don't believe me?

In Europe, when a person sees one ant in his house, he will get out ant boxes, spray cans, poisons, cleaning products... anything it takes to get them away.
I live in Africa. There is simply no way to get rid of the ants, no matter how hard I would try. So we happily co-exist. I don't think about the ants. I hardly notice them any more, they're just a part of life.

Children in the Western world are pretty much like ants, except that we haven't resulted to poisons (just yet?).


Monday, October 11, 2010

Quote Of The Day

It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it. 
- Jacob Bronowski 


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty. 
- Jacob Bronowski 


Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Gems of DelightEnjoy BirthBreastfeeding Moms Unite, Domesticated Women, This Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quote Of The Day

To me, being an intellectual doesn't mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them. 
- Jacob Bronowski 


And The Winner Is...

The winner of the Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm, as given by Natural Pure Essentials and drawn by is...

comment 28: Kendra (kenakit at yahoo)

Winner's details have been communicated to Natural Pure Essentials.



Friday, October 8, 2010

Quote Of The Day

To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves … but most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.
- John Holt


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"Education is not filling a cup but lighting a fire."
- W.B. Yeats


Coming of age Series #1: Emma's First Period

Written by Emma Hartwell

This post was written as a part of the Coming Of Age Series, if you would like to contribute, feel free to email me ( mamapoekie at yahoo dot com). Anything about coming of age and menstruation is welcome, but these are the topics I am specifically looking for:

- rituals and traditions surrounding coming of age
- the story of your first period
- how you plan to celebrate you child's transition into adulthood
- coming of age for boys
- what to tell your child about his/her coming of age

When I was at primary school I remember having a sex education lesson, this was the first time I had been told about menstruation and all the girls happily chatted about it, because it seemed so exciting, and tampons looked almost like sweets in their colourful wrappers. It was a much anticipated event, a threshold into adulthood, but the reality wasn't exactly what I expected.
Image: ecastro on Flickr
Despite my regular knicker checking and symptom spotting it was many years until my first period occurred. Then in secondary school at the age of 13, I discovered what I thought might be blood in my knickers, although I still wasn't sure if this was it, so I asked my sister and mum, much to their amusement. My mum advised me to wear one of those ultra thick towels, the ones that make you feel like you're walking like the Michelin man. I went to school the next day wearing one and felt really self conscious, whenever I walked anywhere or sat down, it felt like it was going to fall out at any time. It turned out to be light spotting, the real thing happened months later, which was agony. The arrival of my periods signalled the beginning of my eventful and difficult teenage years, as I struggled with hormones and PMT. With the perspective you get through the years that follow you realise that it's something that all us girls have to go through - but at the time it feels like the whole world is against you.

Emma and Edward
About Emma:
I am married and a mummy to an 11 month old boy. I love everything about child rearing and am eager to learn as much as I can about natural parenting. This has led us to practice Attachment parenting, breastfeeding, blw and we use cloth nappies.