Google+ Authentic Parenting: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Quote of the day

"...it is now apparent that the recidivist male delinquent who was never struck with a belt, board, extension cord, fist, or an equivalent is virtually nonexistent. Even after 10 years, the full impact of this discovery is still difficult to comprehend."
- Dr. Ralph Welsh


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Spank Out Day, USA

Today is Spank Out Day in the USA, an initiative initiated in 1998 to create awareness of the need to end the use of corporal punishment. On this day, parents, caregivers and guardians are urged to refrain from using spanking as a punitive measure.

Wonderful as any initiative aimed at minimizing corporal punishment might be, one can wonder how this can be a one day event. What happens after this day to families and caregivers who have partaken in the event? Do they just become their spanking little selves again? Do you go about spanking your kid 364 days a year and than on Spank Out Day, for this one day, you don't?

In fact, many countries have already adopted laws that forbid corporal punishment, leaning on the idea that it is in fact a violation of international human rights law.

Yet voices rise against making spanking illegal. People tend to see it as conflicting with a family's freedom of choice. But why would this be a valid choice, any more than murder, rape or


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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quote of the day

I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again.
- Bart Simpson


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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quote of the day

Routine physical punishment such as spanking teaches a toddler that might makes right and that it is fine to hit when one is stronger and can get away with it. 
- Alicia F Lieberman 


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bilingual in Belgium

This post is written for the Bilingual for Fun Carnival, Hosted by Bilingual For Fun. I originally wanted to write something lighter, but given my countries current political situation, I thought it called for a related post.

Being Belgian means we come from a tiny country, where the longest drive from one point to another without crossing an international border is 3 hours, yet there ar three different language groups. Yes, three. People tend to forget that there is a small German-speaking part of the country. We tend to ignore that part of Belgium to the extent that they aren't even included in the political debacle.
I distinctly write political debacle, because the Belgian crisis is little more than a crisis created on the political level.

The Belgian people, for the most part, couldn't care less. And for those who actually know people from the other side, there is little or no friction whatsoever. There is no such thing as ethnic trouble... for we are etnically confused. We're not much of anything really, so we don't think about it much and just go about our day. Are we one people? Two peoples? No people? All of the above? I don't know, and frankly I couldn't care less.

Me, I am Flemish, my mother was Flemish and my father too, although he spend the integrity of his youth on Walloon territory, in a French-speaking school. My mom's mother's parents were from Brussels... Kind of messes up things, as Brussels is bilingual and we don't really know what it belongs to (the very modern day Belgian politics thing to do was to split that off to and have it as another seperate territory).
My husband is bilingual (French/Dutch). Born in Brussels from a Flemish kind of bourgoisie mother (they historically tend to speak French because that's classier) and a Walloon father. He was schooled in the Flemish part of Belgium and also went to a Flemish university, and that's where we met.
My eldest brother married a Walloon girl, too, and lives close to Brussels.
My daughter was born in Brussels and is raised bilingually. She speaks mostly French, because that's the main language here in Ivory Coast. She speaks Dutch with me and our family's carrier language is Dutch, but for the rest of the day, it is only French.

We are but one family, but there are many others like us, interlaced and intertwined. Truly Belgian. If the country would seperate, what would that make us? Would I have to go and demand amnesty in Brussels? Would I be a political refugee? What would my daughter be? Or my husband? Would we just get to pick?
How arbitrary and truly trivial this all is.

If we'd all just be one bilingual country there would be no issues. Even more daring, trilingual! Imagine the benefits! Imagine the advantage one would have internationally. Is it so difficult to just have the kids learn all of the countries' languages?


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Monday, April 26, 2010

Quote of the day

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.
- Meryl Streep


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Musings On Motherhood

This post is written as a submission for the All About Parenting Blog Carnival. This month's theme is motherhood. Find the rules for participation here

You never know how much motherhood will change your life until you hold that tiny newborn in your arms. And even then, it will take a few moments to have the scale and scope of it sink in.


First there is this overwhelming love. A love you never knew you could feel, you never even knew existed. A love that is never-ending, unconditional, infinate, overpowering, transcendental... I can continue to sum up adjectives, but not one can describe how it feels to love your child, it is something you must experience first hand.
It seems a silly thing to say. Surreal maybe. But I can bet there are some mommies out there reading this knodding their heads off.

And then there is the life altering experience of it. It sips in slowly, steadily until one day, you realise it's there. Your life will never be the same.
There will be things you used to do before you became a mother that you'll never have the time for again. There might be things you never considered doing before. You might just find yourself covered in paint and dirt playing hide and seek in the garden and spending an hour trying to catch snails, and suddenly wonder whatever happened to the pre-mommy you.

You will never be carefree again. You'll always wonder how your little one is doing. If you find the luxury to have some private time, some long desired me-time, you will catch yourself thinking about your baby. Maybe you'll even feel a little guilty for indulging yourself. You'll never be alone again, for there will always be someone else to consider.

Becoming a mother puts things in perspective. It sheds a different light on All Things Formerly Known As True. Not only does it alter your lifestyle, it alters your thoughts and perceptions. What you held dearly before seems futile now, and things you found silly before may very well become the summit of your day.

Becoming a mother, it changes all. There might be a few things you will miss, but you'd miss so much more if you didn't.



Image:


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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Surf

In the light of current attacks on unschooling, I thought this post by Boheime on Living Peacefully With Children would be just what the doctors ordered.

The Unnecesarian has written a wonderful opinion piece in Opposing Views, where she urges women to stand up for themselves and complain if they have been manhandled in childbirth.She says truthfully:
"until women complain, and complain loudly, for a long time, in ways that anger people and make them uncomfortable, nothing ever changes."
I found a very well written article on Cherish the Child about the safety of baby skin care products.

Julie at He Who Laughs Last writes a nice post about how dating and relationships have changed through the sexual revolution. And Free Birth has a post about how everything is sexual, yet sex is shameful in our 'modern' culture.

If you have read or written a particulary good post this week, link it up here, if you are participating in Sunday Surf, add your link below. And again, don't mind the green thumb thingy.

Surf's up!



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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Quote of the day

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.
- Oscar Wilde


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Mommy Blogs vs Serious Journalism

A while back, mommy blogs were being smeared in the NY times. They were painted 'expensive hobbies' for bored suburban mothers. Now, while the term mommy blogs does not offend me as such - I am a mom, I blog - the connotations of it being a futile hobby for white middle class American women does bother me. The idea that all mommy blogs would represent one big pile of crappy internet content also bothers me. There are many many different kinds of 'mommy blogs' out there, each having their own audience and their own style, so don't throw everything on a pile and call it crap. Sure there are rather trivial 'mommy blogs' out there, but who are we to judge? And what is it about crafts or cooking that would make blogs less interesting or relevant? The fact that they are being read, that they have their audience, does that not validate those blogs?

But I'm deviating here.

On the other side you have 'serious journalism'. Yet, nowadays, a lot of that serious journalism takes the form of blogs. Some of them are written by women, of whom some are even mothers... Most of them are even white, middle class and American! Does that make those blogs mommy blogs? Or is the mere fact of getting paid for blogging enough to shed the 'mommy blog' label? Do you have to be associated with a big publishing company to be a serious journalist/blogger?

At least we can be sure of one thing: it is not the content that makes the label.

'Serious Bloggers' sure don't do any more - I might say often even less - research than 'mommy' bloggers. That's being proven over and over by the flood of crappy opinion pieces originating from the 'radical parenting' TV show. I have discussed one of those very crappy pieces of journalism a while ago. Lately, my inbox (I have a google alert set for unschooling) is flooded with those poor quality 'opinionated' pieces of 'journalism', some of them on major publication's websites. They all have two things in common: they are highly judgemental and poorly researched.

Isn't that ironic? I can give you a list of 'mommy blogs' that do real research for their posts. That write scientifically funded articles, yet they are doomed to remain mommy blogs... Moreover, most of the 'mommy blogs' I read are very openminded and not at all judgemental... so maybe that's what sets the difference, the adherance to hegemony.

The sad thing is that those crappy pieces of internet content do matter, they shape minds, they influence opinions. Readers think becaue it is featured on a well renowned platform, it m,ust be solid an believe every closeminded word that is published. So when they say unschooling is crazy and should be illegal, a large part of their readership swallows that, knods and goes about their day. Not only is that sad, it should be illegal ;)


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Quote of the day

Birth is not only about making babies. It's about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and believe in their inner strength.
- Barbara Katz Rothman 


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quote of the day

Hospitals are only an intermediate state of civilisation.
- Florence Nightingale


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quote of the day

I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.
- Friedrich Nietzsche 


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Little white lies

We all want our children to grow up to be truthful people, to not tell lies. But how many times do we ourselves lie to our children? How often do we change the truth to obtain something we want, or to avoid a confrontation? Maybe we even make our children lie for us? Or maybe are words are true but our actions are not.

See if you recognize yourself in these examples:

  • Oh, mommy can't open that bottle, it's stuck (in fact you can open it, but you don't want the content to end up smeared all over the place)
  • We can't go to the park today because it's closed (the park is open, but you are too busy to go)
  • When your kid answers the phone: "tell them I'm not home."
  • You tell your kid:"I'm on a diet" and then drink a regular coke.


How do these little white lies influence our little ones? Aren't we sending them mixed messages when we tell them not to lie, but then twist the truth ourselves.

Small children do not grasp the subtle nuances of irony and sarcasm. For them there is only the truth and non-truth, which to them, is a lie. It is very disturbing for them to have a parent twist reality, for whatever reasons.

Consider your words and actions more carefully, and become a truthful person yourself. Model the behavior you want your child to adapt.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quote of the day

That is the war I have referred to, of man against woman. There is a demand that women should be kept in ignorance of the truth of childbirth and that they should be unquestioningly submissive to the recommendations and demands of the orthodox obstetric profession. They do not know that this submission may expose them to routine interference and physical injury without any clinical indication that can justify such assault upon their bodies.
- Grantly Dick-Read, Childbirth Without Fear 


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Secret Oppression: Epidurals (rerun)

Some feminists advocate that pain in labour and birth is a thing of the dark ages and should be avoided at all cost. These voices claim it is completely backward for a woman to want anything but a painfree birth.

I beg to differ.

First, feminism is all about choice, not about one group of women oppressing another group, because that would be really backward. But this choice should be an informed one, and not one bestowed upon women through societal indoctrination.

Secondly, and now we are hitting the core: Epidurals were invented by men to numb pains they did not and will not ever understand, for they can never experience anything than comes close to it (No, the australian guy having his abdominal muscles electrically stimulated does not count and does not come anywhere near the experience a women has in childbirth). Frankly, epidurals are just another way to have women take it lying down and shutting them up in the process.

Feminism should be all about embracing femininity. Reclaiming birth would be a huge step for feminism. Childbirth is probably the most prominent, important, empowering, life-altering, transcending aspect of femininity.

Why then would we have anything or anyone meddle with that experience. Why would we allow ourselves to be drugged and manhandled? Why would we be numb to the most amazing sensations of life? An informed women should not willingly have this taken away from her, and with it all the beauty and the love and the high of the hormones that come with it.

So my dear fellow feminist, instead of going for the oppressive illusion of painfree birth, inform and prepare yourself and shed the victorian / highly mediatised view of fear and pain and terror in childbirth. You and you alone are in control of your emotions at the time of birth, so let fear and pain not be part of them.

Not convinced, consider this:
Having sex can hurt a little, there can be some unwanted friction before the vulva is sufficiently lubrified. If one is fearfull, like for for instance when it is her first time, it can be even more uncomfortable. Would you therefor trade the pleasantness and the orgasm for a quick shot that would make it all pain- (and therefor also pleasure-)free? I think not.
Childbirth is quite similar, except all these feelings are magnified. There is a bit more pain, which I'd rather call discomfort, but there's also the burst of love and pleasure that's larger than life. Don't let anyone steal that away from you. Don't be tricked into believing it's in your own advantage.

No matter how you turn it, an epidural is - in most cases - an unnescessary medical intervention. And one leads to another...


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Quote of the day

I don't know what 'moss' stands for in the proverb, but if it stood for useful knowledge... I gathered more moss by rolling than I did at school.
- Ernest Shakleton 


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Unschooled From Birth

Most people never think about this when they wonder about unschooling, but every child has been unschooled to some extent for at least a part of its life.
From birth to the first schooling experience, all children spend the phase of their lives in which they learn the most outside the confinement of the classroom, away from the teachers eye. Often without any externally applied force, course or direction, even in the most conventional families. Yet this is a time where children learn to walk, talk, eat, use the toilet... in short everything that lays the path upon which they will walk for the rest of their mortal lives.
If these tremendous steps come so natural and without guidance to every child on our planet, is it then so hard to imagine they can learn all other skills they might possibly need in life in the same manner?


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Surf


Through the wonderful carnivals this week, I've discovered a lot of nice blogs: Earth Mama, The Man-Nurse Diaries and The Feminist Breeder are certainly worth a visit, if you don't know them yet.

Selecting the articles for this week's surf was kind of difficult with all this carnival activity going on. More so because I think I've spent more time reading blogs this week than writing my own (I had a lot of autoposting going on). So there were lots and lots of really good articles to choose from.

Bring Birth Home is rapidly becoming one of my favorite spots to hang around, I loved this week's post about unassisted homebirth. It is something I would like to read about more in the near future.
Reality Rounds writes about the misogyny of religion when it comes to childbirth.

I can also recommend EverydayRebel's post about Facebook status updates if you want a good laugh. I must admit I recognise myself a bit too much in that post. Another fun one on The Leaky Boob talks about children as miniature breastfeeding advocates.

On the topic of breastfeeding, I read an insightful article on related traditions and beliefs in Haiti.

If you have read or written something spectacular this week, feel free to add it to the Mr. Linky. (Don't mind the green thumb Sunday, I couldn't make one for Sunday Surf, since I had not acquired Silver status).



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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Quote of the day

My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school.
- Margaret Mead


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Book Review: The Unschooling Handbook

I finally finished The Unschooling Handbook. Finally, not because it's a slow read, rather because I hardly make time to read, being busy with well, the internet most of the time, and some parenting aside *wink* and then some  (read hundreds) little projects on the side. So I thought I should share this with you.
I will be reviewing the books I read as I go along, you can find what is awaiting my attention in the bottom of the left column.

A comprehensive guide to unschooling essentials
The Unschooling Handbook is a light and rather fun read. The author's words are interlaced with exerpts from interviews with unschoolers and their parents. These real life testimonies are often fun to read, and add to the lightness of this book.
For the novice unschooler, or anybody just diving into the idea of unschooling, this book might be just what you are looking for. It takles the most important questions one has about unschooling and offers huge amounts of varied ressources for further reading and for connecting with fellow unschoolers. If you are already familiar to unschooling and have read a lot about it before, it might not give you any new insights. Yet you could make use of the lists of ressources and the interviews are quite fun.
For me personally, the book took away any remaining doubts - if any - I had about unschooling and was very reassuring, to say the least.

Quote from the book:

Unschoolers are a different breed from those who have had more conventional education and way of life. There is this aura that surrounds us, and most people are very jeaalous of it. We are confident and self-assured even when we are nervous. We have a much better handle on who we are and who we want to become than most people have.
- Chase, Florida, as quoted in The Unschooling Handbook 



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Friday, April 16, 2010

Quote of the day

It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.
- From: The Golden Girls


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And the winner is...

The winner for my 100th post giveaway (drawn using random.org) is *drum roll*
Jana from astitchinlime (comment number 6)

Jana will be receiving a beige handknitted diaper cover.

Congratulations, Jana!


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Quote of the day

There is more difference within the sexes than between them.
- Ivy Compton-Burnett, Mother and Son


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'Radical' Parenting

Apparently there is this TV show on parenting that's been stirring the pot quite a lot recently (must be, because even I, far far away under my palm trees, have heard about it). This show supposedly depicts 'radical' forms of parenting, among which: elimination communication, attachment parenting, homeschooling and radical unschooling.

As I subscribed to google alerts on unschooling, I got a link in my inbox to an opinion piece inspired by this show. You can find it here, but I must warn against it if you don't want to get worked up.
In a way that shows a lack of research and frankly, general intelligence she throws all these parenting types on one big pile and trashes them, based solely on the viewing of this tv show.

Now there are many things wrong with the way she approaches this, and I could go on and on about how media pick and light subjects so that they shock and thrill their audience, or how she should research her topic  before writing anything, but let's keep that for another time, because otherwise this post will become endless.

What I wanted to talk about today is people's eagerness to trash views that are different from their own, and more specifically parenting ways. Throughout my time as an alternative parent I have discovered some generalities in this bashing I would like to discuss here.

The piling of very different parenting choices into one big group


Cloth diapering, elimination communication, homebirth, freebirth, placenta eating and planting, homeshooling, unschooling, radical unschooling, attachment parenting, breastfeeding, cosleeping, bedsharing, babywearing... they are all thrown on one big pile of parents who do 'those weird crazies'. Yet if you just take one second and have a closer look, you can see that even within this so-called craziness, there are choices to be made. Some of these 'radical' choices can in fact not coincide.
'Radical Parenting' isn't the big homogenous group it is made out to be. They are in fact extremely heterogenous, and seem to come from about every religion or non-religion, every social layer, every culture or origin. And even within their 'strange parenting ways' they differ: two homeschooling families will not be the same.  It is not a big cult as it is being portrayed by some (sadly, because wouldn't that be nice :) LOL).

'Radical' Parents as superior and the guilt arguement

Being accused of feeling superior to others is something breastfeeders, unschoolers, attachment parents and the like get confronted with almost on a daily basis. Not one study of the benefits of breastfeeding or the detriment of spanking foregoes the comment that we should stop making people feel guilty.
Where does the guilt and superiority arguement come form, save from them feeling attacked, inferior and guilty?
As Uncommon Momsense nicely describes it in this wonderful post

 No one could ever make me feel bad for breastfeeding, and for as long as I will.  No one can make me feel less than because I co-sleep with my babies.  No one can make me feel inferior that I am a stay at home mom.  Why?  Because I know with all of my heart and soul, that when it comes to my babies, I have done my homework, I have listened to my heart, and I am absolutely making the best most selfless decisions for my babies.
And:
If you are unsure of your decisions, start doing more research, it is never too late to do better.  But if you don't want to, don't blame it on me.  And don't blame it on any mother who happens to be confident and say so. 
You can only feel bad about your choices if you are insecure about them, if you think that by having made those choices you really are doing something wrong.

I didn't *insert parenting choice here* and my kids are just fine

First it is statistically incorrect that stating that one child (or even two) being fine is proof of a decent parenting method. That's the same as saying: I jumped off a building with no parachute and I am just fine. It doesn't prove anything.
Secondly, how can you be sure that your child is 'just fine'? Of course I hope that my child grows up to be a happy secure person, but I cannot be sure of that until the day she is grown and tells me she is. I worry about doing it right, making the right choices, every single day, so the fact that you are not worried at all just makes you disinterested, not confident. A parent who never worries is a machine, not a parent.
Third, what is your measure for saying your child is just fine? I've seen formula feeding parents say their kid is doing just fine on formula, while the kid has been in and out of the hospital several times during its first year of life. I've heard a time-out parent saying time-out work miracles, yet her kid had to do them several times a day.

Compared to *'radical parented' kid* my child is better behaved


Well, compared to Hitler, I am a saint, yet we were both spanked as a kid. Nuf said.

Tip of the day: Stop bashing others for their parenting choices out of insecurity and ignorance. Use your computer wisely instead, do some research, maybe change something. Join the revolution!



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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quote of the day

New parents quickly learn that raising children is a kind of  desperate improvisation.
- Bill Cosby


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Itsy Bitsy Biter

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
***


Dearest reader,

In todays post, which will be included in the Carnival Of Natural Parenting, instead of giving you parenting tips, I am asking for your advice. We all need a little input at times.
When my daughter was teething, she was quite the little biter, occasionnally having a go at the breast. She also used to bite when she was overflowing with love. She would first hug us, give us lots of kisses and all of a sudden bite us. She used to do it out of what seemed an overflow of emotions, either love or anger. We overcame that behavior using the tips I described here.
A while ago, we got a dog, and with it, the biting returned. We're thinking she picked up the biting behavior from the dog when he was younger. There is no pattern to her biting, she just suddenly bites the dog, her daddy, her little friends, babies... We tell her she is hurting the person she is biting (or the dog) and take her off them (she's a real pitbull), but that doesn't seem to work.
Now she knows she is hurting them or her dog (she even sometimes says 'hurt' and then goes off biting the dog), she bit herself a couple off times and said it hurt. But there seems no end to this behavior.
So I was wondering if any of you ever had a biting problem and how you handled it. Any advice is welcome.




***

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 the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)


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Monday, April 12, 2010

Quote of the day

Biology is the least of what makes a woman.
- Oprah Winfrey


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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Surf

On Sundays, I will now be posting the most remarkable posts I came across during the preceding week while surfing the blogosphere.

In Two Kinds Of Society, Corneilius writes about detached and attached societies, detached not only vis-a-vis children, but detached or attached in a more general sense, as to their relationship to nature, other people and innate human capacities.

I read a couple of good articles on Bring Birth Home this week, where I am also following the homebirth emails - if you are considering a home birth, they are definately worth your while. I specifically liked Morgan McLaughlin McFarlands guest post that states there is more to birth then a healthy baby.

Public Health Doula writes a great post about the sillyness of the 'guilt' arguement when discussing the benefits of breastfeeding.

If you are wondering about the effects of the cry it out method on children, I suggest you go over to Baby Dust Diaries, where Paige wrote a clear and to the point entry on CIO's effect on the infant's brain.

Don't hesitate to use the comment form below and let me know what you thought about the articles, and how you like this new concept.

Happy Sunday!


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Body Image Carnival

This post is participating in the Body Image Carnival being hosted by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and MamanADroit who will be posting articles on themes pertaining to body image all week! Make sure you check out their blogs everyday between April 12-18 for links to other participants' posts as well as product reviews, a giveaway, and some links to research, information and resources pertaining to body image.

I used to be very insecure about my body when I grew up. Physically, I was all grown up by the time I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t look that much different from what I do now. Often people thought I was at least ten years older. I did not look like other girls my age and that was probably as scary for them as it was for me.
I felt like my breasts were too small, I was too tall, too fat and plain awkward. I longed to be bulimic or anorexic, but failed at both. Looking back, I was never ugly, but it sure felt that way.
I think I only started accepting myself for who I am when I went to university. I was rather high profile being president of a student’s union and a lot of people thought I was quite a beautiful girl, so there must be some truth to it. My student’s baptism did a lot of good for my body image isuues, too, strange as it may seem. Yet I still felt fat and was on a continuous diet. By that time I had overcome the breast issue and was actually quite happy not to have to log around a large chest or wear bras all the time.

I moved to Africa three years ago and from then on, things really started to change. Over a period of six months, I had gained back all the weight I had lost through years of dieting. Our cook was trying to do a good job, which meant that his bosses needed to be well nourished, and every time I tried to explain how to cook healthy meals, he added oil or sugar when I wasn’t watching. At that time we were living in Cameroon, where really fat people are considered beautiful. This led to horrifying cultural clashes: the plumber coming over telling me Cameroon did me justice, because I had gotten so big! That’s probably the last thing you want to hear if you are living with the ‘thin is beautiful’ mindset we are raised by.

And then I got pregnant. I had not succeeded in losing the weight again. Pregnancy added on another couple of kilo’s I couldn’t get rid of even if it killed me. We moved again, this time to Ivory Coast. By the time I write this we have been living in Africa for three years and a month.
Now you must understand that Ivorian women are really beautiful. They are brown and firm and strong and have wonderful faces. The Ivorian standard of beauty is pretty much the opposite of the western image of an unhealthy skinny blonde with enormous breasts. A beautiful woman here does not necessarily have big breasts, and she is certainly not skinny. What is called fat in Europe, they call ‘en forme’ here. Now don’t you just love that?

I have lost the weight I gained through pregnancy, and even a little more. I have gotten older, start noticing a couple wrinkles, my breasts have gotten a lot bigger (sadly, I do have to wear a bra all the time nowadays, isn’t that irony for you?). I will never be exactly the same as before I had a child., neither do I want to be. My body has changed, in a Western Society view probably for the worst. I’m sure there are some TV-shows out there that would say I can have some work done.
I still want to lose a little more weight, but this time from a health perspective. But other than that? I’m a happy, healthy woman. I am content.

I’ve been told a couple of times: “Vous avez la forme Ivoirienne.” But now, I see it as a compliment, not an insult.


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Quote of the day

I am beautiful as I am. I am the shape that was gifted. My breasts are no longer perky and upright like when I was a teenager. My hips are wider than that of a fashion model. For this I am glad, for these are signs of a life lived.
- Cindy Olson, Co-owner of the Body Objective


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Friday, April 9, 2010

Quote of the day

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
- Anonymous


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Be wary of the word 'because'

When it comes to technical explantions, the word because is just fine. When it comes to parenting however, one should refrain from using it as much as possible.

The word because often takes away any room for discussion, it kind of works as a full stop. 'Because' is also used as a way to avoid responsability, or to evade the question it tries to answer.

Situation 1:
Boy: Mom, why do I have to wear that sweater?
Mom: Because I said so!


Why we must avoid this situation:

  • the boy's question is not answered, which shows little respect to the child's genuine interest and only teaches him that his current conversational partner is not a person to turn to, and that his questions don't matter, so he'd better shut up in the future.
  • In saying "Because I said so!" the mother in this example abuses the mental and physical power she has over her child. It is in fact pure coercion
  • "Because I said so" is a masked threat, what it says is: 'don't argue with me, and do as I tell you to, or else'
  • There is no possibility to open up a dialogue in this example
  • The child has no rights and has to go along meekly
What should the mother say instead?
It's very cold outside, I think you might need a sweater. You can check for yourself if you'd like, or we can pick another sweater if you don't want to wear this one.

Situation 2:
Mom: Everybody! Come down to eat!
Boy: Why can't I finish watching?
Mom: Because dinner is served.

In this situation, the mother does not take responsability, instead, she places the weight of the world on the dinner that magically served itself. Of course, the boy knows that in fact it is his mother who cooked and served dinner, so it also pushes the child into feeling guilty. Nowhere in this situation is anybody allowed to think. 

Situation 3:
Mom: Put on a sweater when you go outside.
Kid: I don't want to?
Mom: You have to, because it's cold outside.

Again, the mother evades responsability by putting the blame on the weather. In this situation, there is the inherit possibility of future shaming. (If the child catches a cold, the mom might say: I told you so, completely demeaning the child's choices). And again, there is the coercion in this example.

You might recognise the exampes I have given, for these are communicational patterns that are being used by parents all the time. In defining what is wrong with these current practices and tackling how we can change them, we can try to make changes in the way we talk to our children.
Non-violent communication can give you an alternative for the communication dynamics within our family.



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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quote of the day

Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.

- Jim Rohn


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Unschooling: Opening Up A Window Of Opportunity

This post is written as a submission to the Enjoy Life Unschooling Blog Carnival. This carnival is hosted monthly (soon twice monthly) at Enjoy Life Unschooling. This months theme is "To Open".


Unschooling has certainly opened up a land of opportunity for my entire family. Imagine the freedom a family gains when they are not bound by school schedules, homework deadlines. When there are no ties to school holidays and there is no dropping off and picking up and days regulated by a loud and obnoxious bell.

School used to be a great worry our family had. We became expats so I would be able to stay with the kids, but by becoming expats, we had created a totally different set of problems when it comes to our kids education. Why?

  • There are no good schools in our proximity when living on a plantation in Africa
  • We move around quite often, which is problematic when you have your children in school
  • The countries we have lived in so far follow French school systems, of which I am not a great fan
  • If there is a school available, it's often at in the nearest city; which would mean I'd have to move to the city, and my husband would remain on the plantation, which is not an option for our family
  • The schools that are available often only have a handful students and are based on some kind of correspondence system, of which, again, I am not a big fan
  • Conventionally schooling our children would also have a huge impact on our holidays, since you cannot just take your children out of school whenever you feel like it (now doesn't that just seem odd to you, they're your children, after all), now we are on a one month every five months schedule, if we were schooling, we'd have to adapt to school holidays
  • There is no possibility whatsoever to have your children go through high school here
All this considered, it was pretty clear we weren't going to school our children this way. This left two choices:
  1. Sending them off to Europe (either with me or at their grandparents) when they hit high school age
  2. Homeschooling
Now you can imagine that neither of those solutions attracted us, being a very tight family that doesn't like to be seperated for extended periods, but ot wanting to play the teacher for my kids all the time either.

But then there was unschooling!!!

Image courtesy of The Unnamed on Flickr
Finding out about unschooling has erased all the worries we had about school, and more. We had always thought my husband would be employed for the entire duration of our children's schooling, otherwise, how would we pay for it? Even though we really want to be self-employed one day; we'd put off that option until we have provided our children's education. Now we have discovered unschooling, that won't even be necessary!
Our children will be able to learn wherever we are, whatever they want and without it costing us an arm and a leg.

Can you imagine the possibility? The excitement? We're already making plans of travelling the world until we find that place we want to settle in.



So what about you? What possibilities has unschooling opened for your family?


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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Becoming And Staying A Work At Home Mother

By Sharon Aguilar



After staying home with my daughter for almost 9 months, I noticed that I needed more “adult communication”. Here’s how I found what I was looking for and more by starting a home business.
It all started with my mom asking me to order her favorite vitamins. When I called to order, the representative was so helpful and knew so much about nutrition. Yet I was skeptical.

As a teen, I had used Shaklee products to help me overcome difficult menstrual cycles. After getting off the products, though, my painful periods resumed. I bought similar products in a local natural foods store, but found no relief. I attributed my issues to my body getting older and did not associate them with the difference in vitamin brands. Over the next decade, I used many “natural” products for various health goals that honestly just did not work. I saw no results but just “felt” like I was doing something good for my body because I bought them at an expensive organic store, the clerk told me they were popular, and the label made them sound like the best thing under the sun.
I quickly learned, though, that advertising is not science. It occurred to me while talking with the Shaklee distributor that maybe there was something to this Shaklee stuff. I agreed with her science and gave it one more try. My very next menstrual cycle went back to the way it was in my teen years – no problem whatsoever.
Simultaneously, there was the business opportunity. What if I took the next step: not just using the products for myself, but jumping in to the business side.

So I did. I took a jump and went from stay-at-home mom to work-at-home mom. I don't feel like my life changed much in terms of my workload, but it has changed a ton in regards to health and income. Now I have lots of "adult communications" teaching moms how to create healthier homes, raise healthier children and make a better life for their families. 

I am also a part of a group called Project MAHMA. This stands for Moms At Home Making A difference and a lot of money. The group’s founder discovered that in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the average mom who left home to work made only $400 a week. After childcare and other related expenses, less than half of this remains. The purpose of the group is to help moms be able to make a difference while making more money than they would by leaving home and joining the workforce. 

I have a passion for moms to stay at home with their children. Breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, attachment parenting, and all the other beliefs I have concerning raising my daughter just do not work for so many other moms because it can be next to impossible if you are spending most of your time away from your children. Even moms who are away from home only part-time still struggle, especially if their little one is still young. Being a mom is not an easy job, to add more stress to that picture with financial concerns is not ideal.  

In addition to my parenting beliefs, I also believe in putting the most nutritious foods and supplements in your body, washing your home with non-toxic cleaners, and using beauty products that are safe for your body.  Not only did Shaklee offer all this to me, but they offered me a lifestyle that far exceeded my expectations. Now, not only can I financially continue to stay home, but I can help other moms do the same thing.
  
Sharon Aguilar is an independent distributor for Shaklee corporation. She is a stay-at-home mom who left the long hours of law practice to raise her daughter. She still hopes to resume her law practice and help those without a voice in the legal field, but can do so when her children are much older and her family is ready for her to put in the necessary hours. 
Shaklee has provided her a way to continue staying home with her daughter while helping other mom’s stay home and provide the best care for their children. To join her or to contact her for more info, go to her website at www.sharonaguilar.myshaklee.com


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Quote of the day

All mothers are working mothers.
-Author unknown


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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quote of the day

If we are to heal the world, we must begin by healing birthing.
- Agnes Sallet Von Tannenberg


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5th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival: Avoid Giving Birth On Your Back And Follow Your Body's Urges To Push

Long before I gave birth, before I got pregnant, and even before I met my husband, I knew I was not going to birth on my back. No. Way. In the same way I knew I was going to breastfeed and I was not going to birth in a hospital. I had always been fascinated with birth and had read up about it, even in my early teens.
Yet, due to the course my life had taken, I did end up birthing in a hospital. I thought it was a small  concession to make our lives a little easier. Moreover, when we got the tour of the maternity ward and delivery rooms, the midwife assured us that you could choose your birthing position and that aids to birth in a position other than lying down were provided (like a birthing chair). So I felt confident my birthing in the hospital would not stand in the way of my wish for a natural birth.


Alas, faith (read: the medical system) had decided otherwise, and I ended up having an induction because I had gestational diabetes (company policy euh.. I mean standard procedure). Labour went fairly well and I enjoyed a nice bath that helped a lot to get through the contractions. I started feeling pressure and had to get out of the bath (the hospital didn't do waterbirths). As I walked towards the birthing bed, she slipped straight down and I had to push. I was standing all alone in the middle of the room (the midwives had scattered and my husband was MIA), and I panicked. I cried out it hurt and they should come help me and I distinctly remember the midwife yelling not to push and me replying there was no way in hell not to push.
When the contraction subsided, they led me to the birthing bed, positioned me on my back and had my legs in the stirrups before I knew what happened.Everything was kind of a blur, but I remember wondering where everybody came from, because all of a sudden, there were three midwifes, two OB's and my husband miraculously reappeared.
I had not the strength to fight the position I was in and my husband was shaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm.

I found it strange they kept reminding me to push (as if I could do anything but push) and felt like they had to add HOW I should push (like there was any other way). In retrospect, this is probably because most women do get an epidural and do need some guidance. I was getting more guidance than an airline pilot at take off and was urged not to scream. Nothing about that second stage felt natural to me and instead of completely allowing the emotions to overflow me once my dear daughter was born, I was anxious.

So I have decided to have the next one at home. (Read my article 'Why Homebirth')

My tips for having the second stage the way you like it:

  • Be informed: on the available positions, on how you would want the room to be etc. (If you want to find out which positions you can adopt during second stage, have a look at this.)
  • Write up a birthplan and hand it to all people involved in your birth, even if that's not a custom where you are, stick it on the door of the delivery room if you are giving birth in a hospital.
  • Inform everyone of your wishes before you are in labour, and if possible, again at the 'moment supreme'.
  • Make sure your birth partner is drilled at being the guard dog for your birth plan, so you don't have to worry about that.
  • Try out different positions while you are in labour to find out what suits you best (you might have had an idea before, which turns out completely counter intuitive)
  • Maybe the most important tip I can give you: Follow your instincts 
This post is written for submission to the 5th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival, hosted by Amy Romano on Science And Sensibility.


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Monday, April 5, 2010

100th Post Giveaway

This is my 100th post already! So I thought that was a great cause for celebration, and what better way to celebrate than with a giveaway? Luckily, Susan Betke was kind enough to donate a beautiful knitted diaper cover. The winner gets to pick one of these wonderfull covers. Susan has a blog titled The Life And Times Of Susan B.

They are made of a wool cotton blend. They have been knitted with love by the grandmother of this beautiful baby boy, named Ben, based on a pattern from Near Sea Naturals. Contest is open until Saturday 10th of April, and I will announce the winner on Monday the 12th.
Pictures provided by Susan.



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Quote of the day

Diaper backwards spells repaid. Think about it.
- Marshall McLuhan 


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Quote of the day

Well pleaseth me the sweet time of Easter
That maketh the leaf and the flower come out.
- Betran de Born


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Bunnies, Bells, Chicks and Eggs: The Truth About Easter

Happy Easter!

I hope you are feasting on those chocolate eggs, sugary chicks and marshmallow bunnies. Maybe you've organised an egg hunt and have a flock of little ones running around your garden carrying wicker baskets. Or you might have spent the last couple of weeks making and decorating an easter tree. Maybe you told your kids the easter bunny has hidden those eggs in your garden, or maybe you said it was the bells that came from Rome.
But have you ever stopped to think where all this easter madness comes from?

Easter eggs // Ostereier '''Photographer''': Lotus Head 
You're probably thinking: "Well, we're just celebrating the ressurection of Christ, what else?" Actually Easter goes well beyond that. As with Christmas, Christianity has conveniently replaced an age old pagan feast with their own - more recent tradition. As many a pagan rite, Easter was all about fertility.But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Easter is not mentioned in the bible. The word simply appeared in Christianism out of a mistranslation of the Greek word Pasha, meaning passover. Easter actually refers to the godess of spring (Eostre - Aglo-saxon, Eostur - Norse, Ishtar or Astarte - Near East or Astoreth in the Bible). the rite surrounding Easter was one of rejuvenation and reproduction. Of the earth and its creatures regaining its fertility, of the return of sunshine to the world.

Seen in this light, the symbols of Easter, which are still in use today, start making sense. In ancient Egypt, given its high reproductive capacities, the hare was the symbol of fertility. In some European countries, however, the eggs are brought by bells that come from Rome.
The egg is also a strong symbol of fertility and rebirth, and the egg hunt is simply a reproduction of insemination.
The Easter tree is a clear return of spring-symbol, since newly green branches are brought into the house and decorated.

So let spring be fertile to you and your family!


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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Quote of the day

In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have thaught them to do for themselves that will make them succesfull human beings.
- Ann Landers


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Autonomous babies, babied children

photo credit: Lotus Carroll via photopin cc
There's quite the paradox in the way children are cared for handled in Western society.

On the one hand, babies just can't be autonomous enough and have to be squeezed and pushed to become individuals right away (if possible the day the are born).


An entire set of training practices exist to ensure the autonomy and individualism of newborns.


  • Having them cry it out in cribs in separate rooms, in order to have them finally be able to self settle. Just never ever ever put them in the bed with you, because you'll never get them out. 
  • The push for having them sleep through the night in early infancy. 
  • Don't pick them up too much, you'll spoil them. 
  • Don't carry them around, they'll get too attached to you. 
  • Leave them with a secondary caregiver as soon and as often as possible, because otherwise, separation anxiety will be hell and they'll be on you like a post-it. 
  • Ignore their crying, they're just manipulating you! 
  • Have them potty trained at 2,5 years old, have them walking and talking as soon as possible. 
  • Whatever happens, just make sure they're not behind (behind on what, one asks oneself). 
  • Please don't breastfeed them beyond six months, once they have teeth they are ready to eat solids, right. Nursing beyond one year old? Hey if they're old enough to ask for it, they shouldn't get it, and anyway, if you continue like that, they'll never wean.

They are to sit still, shut up, be quiet, don't mess around and be 'good' by the age of one.
All of this to make sure they're out of your hair as quickly as humanly possible (and preferably even quicker).

Courtesy of memekode on Flickr
Yet on the other hand...

Children are being babied way beyond infancy, into childhood and even into adolescence.

  • They are being spoon and bottle fed way beyond a reasonable age. 
  • They get a pacifier jammed in their mouths and a blankie in their hands until they are off to primary school. 
  • They get mush for dinner and puree for lunch. 
  • They may not eat with decent cutlery, even in primary school. 
  • They are not allowed real scissors, real paint or art supplies.
  • They are not allowed choices, responsibility or decisions and they are not to be trusted until they are out of you house. 
  • They have no rights.
  • They may not speak when grown-ups do. 
  • They can't do anything unless it is age appropriate. 
  • They sure as hell shouldn't mix with anyone older or younger than themselves.


Now doesn't this strike you as odd? Why do so many fail to see the discrepancies in this way of child rearing?  How do we expect these children to grow up responsible, secure and unique individuals? It's completely mind-blowing.

Want to read more? Take a look at these amazing books through my affiliate program at Amazon:



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Friday, April 2, 2010

Quote of the day

Doctors give drugs of which they know little, into bodies, of which they know less, for diseases of which they know nothing at all. 
Voltaire


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Natural Healing - Athlete's Foot

Tinea Pedis or athlete's foot is a fungal infection that affects mostly men. It can also appear on the hands. Affected areas can be: between the toes, the soles of the feet and toenails.
Athletes foot fungus is very contageous and can develop rapidly in areas where dead skin is shed. If you have caught Tinea Pedis, you should rid yourself of infected shoes, for the fungus can run rampant in closed shoes (like tennis shoes).


Athlete's foot can be cured easily with every day products and essential oils:

  • Tea tree oil has been scientifically proven effective. It is best applied diluted in a 50% solution. Tea tree oil is such a wonderful thing, one should always have a bottle handy!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Soak your feet in a lukewarm vinegar and water bath or spray a vinegar-water mixture on the feet, let dry. It also acts as a natural deodorant and does not leave a vinegar smel when dry.
  • Raw honey can be applied on infected area before going to bed, leave overnight and rinse off in the morning.
  • Find several additional natural remedies here



Even if you take traditional treatment or antibiotics, you can greatly benefit by altering your diet:

  • Get the body back to an alkaline state by eliminating foods that promote acidity, such as red meat, soda, sugary foods, fried foods.
  • Eat yoghurt with active cultures
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Up your garlic intake or take garlic capsules

If you are prone to developing athlete's foot, it might be wise to follow these preventive measures:
  • keep your feet dry at all times
  • wear cotton socks, which you change daily (even more frequently if you are in an extremely hot climate of sweating excessively)
  • avoid tight, closed shoes as much as possible
  • Use baking soda to keep your feet dry, sprinkle on affected area and in shoes.
  • Spray the inside of your shoes with white vinegar or disinfectant
  • wash your socks on a hot cycle
  • After taking a bath or shower, spray your feet with rubbing alcohol. This will dry them quickly and prevent you from catching Athlete's foot fungus.
  • wear flipflops in areas where people take off their shoes such as locker rooms or swimming pools

NOTE: If you notice any swelling of foot or leg, develop a fever or pus in the affected area, contact your doctor.

Image source: cstrom on Flickr


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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Quote of the day

Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.
- Chinese proverb


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Learning to Live: Our Journey to UnSchooling

By Jessica Martin-Weber


When people would suggest homeschooling to me I would start to itch, head to toe.  After the itching would come the sweating and I would find it difficult to breath.  Homeschool?  Me?  I couldn’t think of a more terrible idea. Before having children I articulated in no uncertain terms that I was not homeschool mom material.  At. All.  Our children would go to public school, private school if the public schools weren’t good enough and that would be that. we participated in the annual back-to-school shopping and hoopla for several years.

Then came 2nd grade.  Two weeks into the year our 7 year old hated school and every day she came home with a tear streaked face.  Our energetic, beautiful, enthusiastic child who loved learning and reading along with insects and dance, was now a stressed out, angry, sullen little girl who didn’t want to participate in anything, cried over homework and had a tummy ache every morning before school. I had multiple meetings with her teacher and the school administration and one thing became clear: school was to get everyone ready for the testing that would begin in 3rd grade.  A child’s learning style was irrelevant.  Her natural curiosity was considered a distraction.  Grades were crucial.  The literature she wanted to read was replaced with required reading lists.  And the stacks of photocopied worksheets sent homework was not going to go away.  It was a deeply flawed system and I began to understand that the school system and I didn’t even want the same thing for my daughter.  My daughter’s former 1st grade teacher suggested we homeschool.

I began to itch.

Desperate, but not that desperate, we settled on a private Waldorf school nearly an hour a way that we felt was perfect for us. That only lasted a few months before we realized there were problems in the 2nd grade classroom and there were issues in other areas of the school as well.  The situation suddenly grew increasingly unhealthy and we felt we needed to withdraw our eldest daughter for her emotional well-being and to preserve her love of learning.  But withdraw her and put her where exactly?

I went to my friend, the 3rd grade teacher of the school.  This art teacher, homeschool veteran and the most creative teacher I had ever seen made a radical suggestion.  Take her home. Prickles started all over my skin, I knew I was about to start itching very badly.  This was the second teacher that had suggested this to me.  Take her home?  I can’t homeschool.  I don’t have any materials or any plans or any experience or any desire to do that!  She really blew my mind when she said then don’t, unschool.  The teacher explained that after recent school experiences our daughter probably needed to just relax and be, to rediscover the joy of learning, to figure out for herself what she needed to learn and to have the safety of her own home to do just that.  Try it, she said, just try it for a week or a month and then see.

So went home.  We didn’t have a plan other than to rest and recover.  At first she didn’t want to do much of anything I would consider schooling and I would get nervous.  Acting out of my own preconceived ideas of education and convinced I would get in trouble if we didn’t do something, I’d try once in a while to encourage workbooks or teach a lesson.  I was met with resistance each time.  My daughter’s idea of a perfect day was to hang out together.  Do the laundry, make muffins, plot out our garden, catch and observe bugs, raise butterflies, visit the zoo, go to the park, sweep the floor, go to the Fine Art Museum and more.  Following her lead we ended up in the library every week, writing stories and putting on plays, painting and labeling flowers, visiting Greece and Egypt in our imaginations making hieroglyph tablets and trying cultural foods and more.  We had numerous conversations that often started with “Mommy, why...” and since I often didn’t know the answer we’d go in search of it. I still didn’t know what I was doing but made it up as we went along.

Because I felt the need to have some kind of record of learning happening, my third grade teacher friend, who, by this point, had also pulled her second grade daughter from the school and quite teaching there to stay home with her daughter, helped me to see how my daughter’s education was now flowing naturally.  At the end of each day I wrote in my planner what we had learned for the day.  Oddly enough, it seemed to make sense and follow a progression, I could trust my daughter.  Her stressed melted away.  Now she was free to listen to herself and interact with the world around her.  She was not only learning, she was living!  With a big sigh of relief I had a paradigm shift and let go of my predetermined expectations for education.  By the end of 3 months our lives were over-flowing with beauty, joy, peace and learning.  Exactly what I had hoped for my children in their education.  And it was happening in our very own backyard. 

I don’t itch any more and I don’t stress, though I might if I actually had to go to a traditional school.  The following year none of us participated in the back-to-school mania that gripped so many of our friends.  Instead, we went on and lived.

Living in Houston, Texas, Jessica Martin-Weber writes about refusing to accept the status quo in life at Everyday Rebel and hosts a breastfeeding pub at The Leaky Boob.

This post is part of a post swap, you can find my post 'How I Became An Extended Breastfeeder' at The Leaky Boob. I hope you enjoyed her story. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. With Guest posts, I hope to get fresh views on the topics this blog covers. If you are interested in swapping posts or doing a guest post yourself, contact me.

Photo courtesy of Avolore on Flickr


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