Google+ Authentic Parenting: September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quote Of The Day

“Few healthy, low-risk mothers require technology-intensive care…Yet…the typical childbirth experience has been transformed into a morass of wires, tubes, machines and medications that leave healthy women immobilized, vulnerable to high levels of surgery and burdened with physical and emotional health concerns…” 
– Maureen Corry (quoted in Lamaze International‘s journal) via Talk Birth


Breastfeeding and Weightloss

It is often said that breastfeeding helps you obtain your prepregnancy weight more quickly. This is not an absolute truth. Some breastfeeding mothers struggle to get back to their normal weight all the same.
For me, I remained the same weight I had after giving birth for twenty months, and then quickly lost the other kilo's. Strangely, that was at the same time my cycle started up.

Image: D Sharon Pruitt on Flickr

So I have this theory that weightloss in breastfeeding has a correlation with the onset of the menstrual cycle. How was it for you? Do you see a relation between your cycle starting up and weightloss? Or is this just a personal thing?


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included. 
Karl Marx 


Un- homeschooling, Does It Exist?

I often read people say that they un-homeschool (yup, I don't hear them say it since I don't have these conversations IRL) , or they homeschool with some 'un', or they 'un' certain subjects. I started wondering if that is even possible.
Isn't the whole point of unschooling to chuck out the concept of curriculi and subjects?

Image: katiescrapbooklady on Flickr
Don't get me wrong, I completely endorse any amount of child directed learning, given that any is better than none. Furthermore, I can understand that unschooling is not for everyone, for a variety of reasons, and an adapted way of unschooling (or even a carefully selected school) might be more convenient for some parents.

But back to the unschooling. Can we speak of unschooling when there are curriculi and subject and lessonplans? Unschooling is about learning from life, and life in itself is not divided into neat subject matters. (well, actcually even subject matters aren't divided into neat subject matters, a simple example is that you do need math for physics).
Secondly, unschooling is about following your interests, if one follows a lessonplan, trying to cover all the subjects, how much of these 'interests' remain?

Telling your child that they can choose the language they learn, or the book they learn from or the grade they'll be in, is leaps away from unschooling.

Call it child led homeschooling, and I will agree, but I see little 'un' or in homeschooling. It remains a form of schooling, albeit better adapted to the child's rhytmn and learning patterns than formal education.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quote Of The Day

To be social is to be forgiving. 
Robert Frost 


Smelly White Men

Image: Warburg
Africans often say that white people smell. I found that a very strange statement when I first arrived in Africa. I mean, how can we smell bad, when we use detergents, wash our laundry with scented soaps and softeners, burn fragrant candles to make our houses smell like wet plains or rose gardens, wear perfumes and wash ourselves with soaps and shampoos and conditioners. Slather our faces and bodies with gently perfumed lotions and creams...

Then I had a baby and changed all my washing detergents to soap nuts and vinegar, and have since switched to eco ash balls. I started cleaning with home made natural cleaning agents. I changed all cosmetics to natural organic ones. I rid the house of toxins...

My baby, my house and I, we all smell great. Natural products have an odor too, so we're not 'perfume' free. But we're happy with the smells around us. Before the switch, I did have to burn incense and candles etc, because I was unhappy with the way our house smelled.

Now, every so often, I dig up a pre-'all natural' conditioner (living in tropical Africa means we have to bring all of our cosmetics from Europe, which means we have quite the stash). Just by opening a pot of cream or a bottle of shampoo (which were great quality salon-type products), I get nauseated. If I dare to use those products, the nausea remains for several days because my skin or hair will smell artificial, pungent.
When I do my laundry done at my in-laws house, with the mainstream detergents and the like, I get sick. My clothes really stink of chemical smells.

So are Africans right? Do white men smell? I believe they do. While they might not reek of dust and sweat and jungle moisture, they smell of artificial, unnatural fragrances... A whole batch of them. Once you've weaned of chemical smells, the cocktail of smells that linger in an average Western house feels like someone poured half the perfume section over the floor.

How numbed are our senses if we don't even smell that anymore? More so, even think that it really smells fresh and delicious.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote Of The Day

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.


Baby Snatching

A while back, I took my daughter to the fruit and vegetable market. As usual, the place was buzzing with activity, most of which was generated by mothers carrying small infants on their back.
My daughter was extremely interested in the baby on the back of the girl I buy my fruit from.
It was a tiny baby girls, about two months old, and she was sound asleep, cuddled up to Kadi's back (that's my fruit and veg girl's name).

Little One got all excited and wanted to hold the baby.
"Hold baby, take baby! Take baby home."
We all had a laugh at her wanting to take the baby home, especially because she also wanted to take the next baby she saw home. (Ever since I think she wants to take all babies home)

Why I am writing this is that - next to the fact that it is extremely cute - I wanted to take those babies home. It's with mixed feelings that I admit, that if one of those mothers had said yes, I would have taken the baby home. That secretly, I wish that some unhappy mother comes and leaves her baby on my doorstep.

But I feel guilty for thinking those things. How can I want a baby that bad that I'd take it from someone's arms? How can I stop wanting a baby that bad? How can I stop thinking about it 24/7?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Enjoy 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.

Happy surfing,


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. 
Mohandas Gandhi 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Quote Of The Day

For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
- Winsto Churchill


Judgement And Mankind

I have been watching the Ascent Of Man the last couple of weeks, which is a 1973 series from the BBC about the history of the evolution of science, commented by Jacob Bronowski. Bronowski was a mathematician, a poet and a historian.
Alongside quite a few intelligent remarks, he says something very interesting in one of the later episodes: One cannot communicate any idea, without passing some judgement on the subject. This is not a direct quote, but it is quite similar to what he said. He was in fact talking about quantum physics at the time, but I think that this statement applies to all things in life.
One cannot have a conversation without weighing the matter at hand. It is simply impossible for a human being. If we were to converse in a neutral manner, we would not be the emotional animal we are. Moreover, everything we see, feel, hear and experience is tainted by our assertion of the matter.

So maybe it's time to stop throwing the judgement arguement back and forth and accept that we are a judging species, and as long as we judge and do not condemn, it isn't all that bad.
As long as we keep conversation open for arguement, and our judgements open for revision, we must be doing a decent job.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Once you start replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.
- Willie Nelson


Out With The Negative... In With The Positive

As parents, we all get to deal with comments about our children and the way they are raised. When these comments are negative, they never fail to hurt us. No matter how strong one is as a person, negative remarks about your child's behavior or their upbringing sting. They make us wonder if we are failing as a parent, if maybe what we are doing might not be the best choice after all. Even if we're really secure about our parenting choices, destructive criticism stings.
However, when we get a compliment about our child's behaviour, more often than not, we attribute it to the child itself. We say it's genes or character, that our child is amazing.

Why is it that we don't accept merit and always experience defeat? Why does the negative always outweigh the positive?

Your child being well behaved is as much your merit as it is its own. Accept the compliments, and reject the negativity. It's not even a matter of weighing the positive against the negative.
You are the only one who can judge your parenting. You are the only one who gets to mae the choices and own them.
If you are made to feel insecure by comments, mayne it's time to evaluate your parenting. If you are convinced that you are doing the right thing, ban the negative, if not, work on it.

Image: wadem on Flickr

But cherish the positive too.

There is no one true path in parenting, there is only a journey. As long as you are moving ahead and learning from your mistakes and contemplating your parenting behaviour, you are doing a good job.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.
- Oprah Winfrey


Natural Pure Essentials Giveaway

I am very pleased to host this giveaway from Natural Pure Essentials, on occasion of their fanpage reaching 200 fans.

Natural Pure Essentials is a natural online baby store that is family owned with mama being the head of the business. They sell cloth diapers, real natural skin care for babies, breastfeeding and postpartum skin care products, baby carriers ete.
The product for this giveaway is an earth mama angel baby bottom balm 

Earth mama angel baby bottom balm is a clinically tested natural vegan (no beeswax) salve use to soothe babies diaper rash, scrapes and cradle cap. It also soothes itchy cradle cap, bug bites, scrapes, chicken pox, minor rashes, burns and, yes, more scrapes. Made from a natural blend of shea butter, infused with olive oil and other natural essentials oils.
Entry- They can visit my store and comment on what they like and for an additional entry like us on facebook. 

The giveaway is open to US only and closes on Friday the 8th of Octobre. The winner will be drawn using

To enter, visit the Natural Pure Essentials store and tell me which product you like, along with your first name and email adress

You can have additional entries to increase your chances by:

  • Becoming a new fan on facebook - Comment: fanned you on FB in the comment box, plus first name and email
  • become a fan of Natural Pure Essentials on Facebook
  • Become a new follower - Comment: became a new follower, first name and email
  • Become a new follower on Twitter - Comment: follow you on Twitter, first name, email
  • Suggest my fanpage to some friends - Comment: suggested to friends, first name, email
  • Share this giveaway or any other post on you facebook page - Comment: I shared *enter post title* on facebook
  • Tweet this or any other blog post - Comment: tweeted *insert title* + add link to tweet
  • Blog about this giveaway or this blog (or both) - Comment: blogged about *enter topic*, link to your post, first name, email adress
  • Link to this or any post on this blog in a group or forum you attend - Comment: I linked to *this post* on *this forum/group*, name, email


Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote Of The Day

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
- Winston Churchill


Citizen Of The World

This post was written as a submission for the carnival on bilingualism.

When I was born, my parents - who are both Belgians too - lived in Greece. Later, they moved to Italy, only to move back to Belgium when I was a little over two years old.

Image: DMahendra on Flickr
Belgians are very much a local folk, they are first villagers before they are Belgian. So if you ask a person who lives in the village I grew up in, they'll be Koekelarenaar first, then West-Flemish, then Flemish and only then Belgian. Even though I have lived in my village for 14 years, and in my province for 16 years, so you can say most of my youth. I even spoke the dialect. Yet my family and I has always been and always will be foreigners in the village.
All through my life I have felt like I lacked roots. To me, that's a good thing, it makes that I can travel and move from country to country and never grieve leaving. But in conversations it is always difficult. When people ask me where I am from, I will say Belgium, but I can't identify with any specific region, and I wouldn't want to live in Belgium either.

Will my chilld have the same feeling of not belonging? She has lived in three countries so far and she's only two and four months. She will probably live in a great many more. Will she experience this worldliness as a good thing, or will she resent us for it?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Enjoy 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, September 18, 2010

So very masculine – How to survive the gendered world (rerun)

In our modern day of ultrasounds and advanced medicine, gendering your child often starts before birth. Gender is a very prominent thing in parenting, ableit subconsious, a thing you cannot avoid. The way you dress your child, what type of toys you buy, the activities you organise... Many of these choices are gendered. Now it seems that there are different ways to handle this. Either you can deliberately break the genderisation patterns to any extent, buy the boy a doll and the girl a truck or you can blindly follow the paths made up before you, or even more obiously push the gendering upon your child.

I don't think you can break gendering patterns altogether, neither do I think you should. In my humble opnion, some thing really are a bridge too far, (Like say, putting strappy gold and pink flowery girl shoes on your boy - but that's just me) but you can also go to far out the other way. I think it's important to remember that much of the gendering we do in the early years has to do with our expectations as parents, not with the childs inner world. And no matter what your mindset is about this topic, as they grow older, you should really respect their wishes. Again, it all comes down to a question of respect. If you respect your child, you won't force your desires upon them. If you really respect your child, you'll fullfill his wishes (up to some extent) even if they are somewhat against your expectations.

In having a child, we better say farewell to our expectations alltogether, failed expectations lead to dissapointment and frustration, and sometimes even resentment... Our child is a unique person who should pick his own path. We can still expect our child to grow up to be a good person, but in the end, it is he who has to make the decisions. All we can do is point out the way and guide them if they so desire.
Something that really bothered me is that newborn clothes are already very much gendered. We decided not to find out the sex of our child and had a really hard time finding unisex clothes for a newborn. You can only wonder why. It can only be uncomfortable to put your newborn in a dress, right.
Couple1 I know is very crossgender with their little girl, to the point where they didn't want to buy her a doll and only had farms and trucks (until she got a doll for christmas from her grandma and is now inseperable with it). They did have to revise their attitude towards clothing and toys upon request. To their great dismay, their daughter really likes dolls and ruffled skirts.

And couple2 is going really all out the other way. And this is the main reason why I started this post. I constantly hear the mom saying: "Oh my seven month old is so girlish! Your daughter really already makes girl noises! My son is such a boy, he's so agressif!"

When he was playing with a stroller car at couple1's house, she said: "Well he's always playing with those bikes and cars, how very masculine." Me and Mom1 both pointed out that he pretty much likes playing with the kitchen set too (maybe even more so than with the truck and car - he seemed to just want it when my daughter was on it). Mom2 got rather upset.

Same thing happened the first time Couple2's son came over to play. I told her he really liked playing with my daughters' doll. She seemed annoyed and answered that's because he doesn't get to play with dolls at home. I told her to buy him a doll, to which she responded that that would just be weird and her boy was not to play with dolls.
Made me think... Where does this fear of genderbending come from? Why would we blatantly follow stereotypes. What makes mothers force dolls up their girls and trucks up the little boys? Is it fear? Fear that their boy or girl might turn out different?
My family is somewhat on a middleground. Most days you can see my kid's a girl, but she does wear blue, and pants. And we did conciously buy her a garage... I think genderisation of toys is quite stupid. We just get her what she likes, not what fits her gender. She plays with little cars and rocks and sticks as much as she plays with dolls... No scrap that, she never plays with dolls here because I forgot to bring the one she liked and she's mostly playing outside now.

I don't think it's healthy to only raise our girls as weak gentle creatures, neither do I think boys should be all tough and macho. In my humble opinion, it is important that both parents have a role to play in a family, and that we teach that to both our girls and our boys, for one by giving the right example and also by having them play the part... And what better toy to reenact family life than dolls?

I also think it is important for girls to know they are entitled to their own opinion, that they are as capable as boys are and that they are not 'just a girl'. So why not go out and buy them a toolbox? Or better, a set of cars, let's break the female driver stereotype while we are at it!

I truly believe undermining patriarchy starts at home and we can change society by raising our children right. One child at a time.

How about your family? How do you treat this issue? Is it a conscious thing? Do you think about it much? Please share your thoughts on the subject.
Read on:

A nice blog that discusses the gendering issue: Raising My Boychick
Real boys play with dolls


Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote Of The Day

When you try to formalize or socialize creative activity, the only sure result is commercial constipation. The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.
- Charles Bowder


Social Skills And Character

I wrote about collective care and social skills in a previous post, but there is so much more I would like to say about these wonderful, magical social skills we are so worried about.

Image: DesheBoard on Flickr
A lot of how we interact with people may come from the environment we grew up in, the social behavior we got modelled, the way we were raised, socially. But that is not all. Wether and how an individual acquires social skills is also highly dependant on character. And that's not something any form of daycare or no daycare, schooling or no schooling will change, nor should we seek to change this.
The world needs introverts and extroverts, leaders and followers, people who thrive on their own and people who need large groups of friends.

Out of the same 'nest'children can grow up to have entirely different attitudes when it comes to being social (or not). Comparably, children who have followed the same academic path turn out completely different when it comes to people skills.

I think the fear about socialization is highly overrated. People will seek out the amount of interactions they need in order to thrive, for one person this will be massive amounts, for another little or none. Is either person worth less? Will one of them 'achieve' more in ife then the other, purely based on the way they interact with their environment? Is socialization a measure for succes?

Even if we would take the definition of succes that our modern society holds, a lot of socially handicapped people go very far in life by these standards. (I personally know a fysicist who has achieved a lot academically and has a nicely paid job, but who has no social skills, or friends or any other form of close relationship whatsoever.) So why then is this such a big concern? If socialization isn't a part of the equation that leads to fulfill the big dream according to western society, than western society should stop worrying about it altogether.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself. 
John Dewey 


Unschooling and Interests

When one explains unschooling to people who are not familiar with the concept, most often, one comes across the point where one explains that children learn the most when they are interested in something (the same goes for adults).

A response to this is often
a) how can you find you're interested in something if there's no curriculum to show you the possibilities
b) school opened me up to interests I never knew I have

In effect, these remarks are quite demeaning for the parents of these unschooled kids. I know most often people don't think of them as such, they just don't see any other way, since they were raised in the system, and probably have never challenged themselves to think out of the box. Furthermore you can't expect everyone to be knowledgeable about the mechanics of selfdirected learning. Thus we camnot blame them for these ignorant and even hurtfull remarks, for they do not know any better.

But how then does one acquire interests without schools or curriculi?

Image: Mykl Roventine on Flickr
Interest need to be sparked by something to occur. For schooled kids, these sparks are indeed often generated by the course material, as they spend about 60 percent of their waking hours in school and often spend the other 40 either doing homework or being washed out from the tedious school hours. (these percentages are just a rough measure and do not represent any scientific study, if you have numbers for these, feel free to add them in the comments below)

Unschooled kids are not at school and do not follow curriculi. However, they do not just sit there doing nothing all day. They play, they go for walks, they do various activities, they enjoy nature, their friends, their parents, their siblings, they linger in the garden, they wach tv and play video games, they read, they go on shopping trips, they run errands with their parents, they meet people.

For an unschooler, a trip to the doctor's office might spark an interest in genetics, or biology or medicine or...
A walk in the park might get them interested in birds, or different kinds of flowers, or the mating behavior of lizards, or geology, or the history of the hotdog.
A swim might make them want to learn about fluids, or fysics or coagulation...

And if interests don't spark from life itself, they can be helped along by parents. We can bring stuff in the house and have it lingering around for eager minds to pick up (or not).
If we would be worried that our kids aren't getting enough astrofysics, we can get them a poster of the starsystem, or some books about astrofysics, or star shaped stickers.
This is called strewing and every parent does it, intentionally or not.

Thus saying you need school to spark interests is a little short sighted. It is as if you assume that unschoolers keep their kids locked up in a room with nothing but tv and video games. Well, actually these might spark interests too, but if you still believe school is acountable for all interest in all children all over the world, then I think this conversation might be lost on you.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions. 


The Joys Of Toddlerhood

Image: Axel Bührman on Flickr
Toddlerhood, same as puberty, is often looked upon by parents as a dreaded period, something best passed as quickly as possible. But it needen't be so. Toddlerhood isn't all screams and cries and tantrums; same as every period in your child's life, toddlerhood has wonderful aspects you won't have when your child grows up.
Here's a little list to show you that toddlerhood is terrific, instead of terrible.

  1. You can have real conversations with your child. Ok, they might sometimes be abstract, they might be really funny, but at least you're interacting verbally.
  2. They like to be read to, you can start reading long stories even you like to read (we're currently reading Greek and Indian mythology).
  3. They start doing pretend play
  4. They can play on their own for long stretches
  5. You can watch cartoons together
  6. They love imitating grown-ups, so that's another assured piece of comedy right there
  7. They're like miniature people, which is incredibly cute
  8. Everything they do is sprinkled with extra toddler cuteness
  9. They are really bossy and like to boss around everything and everyone.
  10. They pretend read
  11. They make up entire languages
  12. They have really big theatrical emotions
  13. They have oodles of imagination
  14. They're out of the diapers (at least somewhere within this period)
  15. They can express their needs, and - rest assured - they will
  16. They start wearing real people's clothes, no more onesies (though that's also kind of sad)
  17. You get to buy shoes for someone other than yourself
  18. They have learned/are learning something new every time you look at them
  19. They are totally honest
  20. They will forgive your every mistake in an instant
  21. They have a lot to tell and sometimes they lack the words or are in a hurry to tell you so many things at once, then they stare at you with those big toddler eyes to make sure you understood, and if you didn't they'll tell you all over again
  22. You will recognize your own words and gestures in them
  23. They have really soft hair
  24. They can burts into outbreaks of pure love, where they overwhelm you with hugs and kisses
  25. They have the sleep  of angels
  26. They have the energy of a pack of wolves
  27. They want to share every experience
  28. Everything is marvellous and interesting in their world
  29. They have the funniest pronunciations
  30. They say inappropriate things at the wrong time
What do you love about toddlers?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quote Of The Day

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
- Carl Gustav Jung


Learning From Life

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: We're all home schoolers
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how their children learn at home as a natural part of their day. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I read this month's topic for the Carnival of Natural Parenting, I kind of had a chuckle. If you ask an unschooler what their children learn outside of school, the answer is very simple: everything. My husband and I often joke that our daughter is learning too much and that we might have to put her in school to stunt that learning.

So I wondered if there was any use in me participating in this month's carnival. I found there is, because a lot of parents do struggle with the idea of learning outside of school, so here it is.

Children learn with everything they do, even the silliest, seemingly non-educational things they do add something to their knowledge.

Little child playing in a swimming pool. Work by Dutch artist Peter Klashorst. 
When my daughter and I go for a swim, she can learn about the weight, mass and the ability to float (physics), she is also learning to swim (physical education), she might learn to try staying under water and learn about her lung capacity (biology). And then there are probably ten other things I forgot to mention, all of which she learns from an hour's worth of splashing in a pool.
The same goes for any other thing we do or don't do during the day, wether it is cooking or going for a walk or watching TV or reading a story... Learning is everything and everywhere.

This is why unschooling 'works'. Children learn from life, from experience, and with unschooling, they get to choose what they're experiencing and benefit from their genuine interest in that experience.

At two and three months, my daughter will continue learning the way she always has, no matter if school has started for other kids, no matter the place or setting or structure she's in. She will continue to make giant leaps that never cease to amaze her father and me.

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 September 14 with all the carnival links.)


Monday, September 13, 2010

Collective Care and Socialization

Many believe that children who did not 'benefit' from some form of collective care in early childhood will miss out on the foundations of socialization.
I firmly believe, however, that collective, age-separated care, such as preschool, daycare or kindergarten often rather stunts the development of socialization skills than to nourish them.

Of course, it would be entirely possible to isolate children who are kept at home, but this is something few parents will seek to do, even if it were only to maintain their own sanity.

Most stay at home parents actively seek out other people, of which some will be children, to converse with and to have their children interact with. They will generally end up with an age-diverse groups and several adults.
Even if a parent would not actively seek this interaction, they would still get out of the house, may it just be for shopping, and meet people.
Thus, these children will learn to socialize with numerous people of all ages and both genders; in small groups at a time and in the comforting presence of a parent.

Image: Woodleywonderworks on Flickr
Children who are in collective care have to deal with a big and age-homogenous group of children all at once. A scary incentive and one where they have little or no adult supervision (in Belgian daycares the rate of adult per child is one in six and in kindergarten one in 25). Moreover, this supervision is performed by a stranger, rather than a trusted person.

Even most adults get uncomfortable in big groups, so imagine a small child who hads the skills, nor the defences to deal with this kind of situation. Often, children react by turning inward, or becoming agressive, territorial. They may have seemingly made many friends, but they did not gain special skill they could not have gained while at home. They certainly haven't become more sociable by chucking them all together.

Collective care does not build real social skills, rather mere defense/survival mechanisms. Children who stay at home do not become social outcasts.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Surf

For more Sunday Surfing, visit Breastfeeding 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, September 11, 2010

Do they really have to sleep through the night? (rerun)

The fun part of living in a prison with golden bars with a few other couples who don't share your parenting view, is that I get frustrated on a daily basis. Now that might not seem so nice, but it gives me plenty of material to write about any way.
This week major frustration (and it has been for quite a while) is the sleep through the night-issue (STTN).

Let me first draw out the situation for you. My daughther is now 20 months old. She has always been a difficult sleeper and a frequent night nurser. This doesn't really pose a problem, as we are bedsharing, so our awake time during the night is rather limited (except for those odd nights she just wants to nurse and nurse until the early hours). We did have some fertility issues (which I won't discuss here, because I'd be going way off topic), so we pondered on nightweaning. We gave it a couple of tries, but in the end we concluded that a) I am way to lazy to nightwean, b) if she's nursing at night she might need it (ok, maybe not from a nutritional point of view, but at least for comfort, which, to me, is equally important).
To cut a long story short, we did well to go with our onstincts, because now, the fertility issue resolved itself and the nightnursing too. Now of course that's just how you see things. My daughter falls asleep around eight PM and wakes up to nurse around 4.30 AM, she dozes off again and takes her morning boobie when the alarm wakes us up. Of course there are still nights when she wakes more frequently, or nurses around the clock, but all and all, we're ok with it and I believe she does so for a reason. From where I stand there is no point in pushing her to sleep for 10 hours straight.

Now, this week, I was yet again asked for advice on the sleep situation of another woman's 8 month old. Quick sketch: Baby's sleeping in a crib in a seperate bedroom, and hurray!!!!, she's still breastfed. Baby falls asleep around 7 or 7.30 PM. Smart as she is, she wakes up a few times per night to call on her mommy for some delicious boobie. And this is where it itches.
So the mom asks me what to do. Luckily, we're all against controlled crying (ouf!). I tell her about the Jay Gordon method (see below) and try to explain in short. I tell her she should pick the six hours of sleep she prefers. "Oh," she says: "she sleeps six hours straight, that's not the problem." Confused, I ask her what the problem might be, adding that six hours in a row is already tremendous (I would have signed for that at eighet months!!!). She replies:"that's all well, but by now, she's big enough to not need the milk during the night. It's not like she could be hungry."

You can imagine how this conversation drives me crazy (more so because it's not the first time I've had it with this woman and she still does not see we'll never see eye to eye on our parenting ways).
Is it so crazy that the poor kid calls for his mother in the middle of the night when she wakes up alone in a dark and unfamiliar room far far away? Would you want to leave her there in fear? Knowing a fluctuation in serotonine (caused by stress) might cause SIDS?
Why would a baby only require nursing when she's hungry (if that were true why on earth did people invent a pacifier?). How on earth can you expect your baby to sleep twelve hours in a row? Just have some patience, she might well do that when she's a teen (at least I hope so with our daughter, so we can catch up!). And maybe, njust maybe,m the kid is actually hungry. Some babies just have a smaller stomach and need more frequent feedings, some women have a smaller storage capacity, so they need to nurse more frequently.
And even more infuriating when I told her - as consolation - that my daughter wakes up for a feed at four, she almost screamed: "Oh hell, I won't be feeding her at night when she's that old!" Thank you, please come again.

What is all this fuss about sleeping through the night anyway. We ourselves sometimes get up to pee. And if you're concerned about your own sleep, think about all the night you went out untill the early hours. Were you complaining then? Forget pacifiers, blankies, teddies, just let them go at it at their own pace!
I agree, it can sometimes be frustrating, and there are those days that you're just exhausted, but why would we try to mold our children into what we want them to do all the time? If we just let nature take its course, they'll sleep through eventually. You think they'll come and ask you for boobie at 2AM when they're 18? I think not.
If you wanted something you can turn off at night and put back on in the morning, on your schedule, you should have bought a TV. Parenting doesn't stop at night. Here in West-Africa, children sleep in bed with their parents until they're two at least (or until there's a younger nursling, then they move to older sibling's beds), they stil wake up at age two and nobody screams bloody murder. That's the way it goes, that's how nature made us. If we had to be scheduled, the schedules would be delivered with that baby at birth.

Read on:
If you are set on having them sleep through the night, this might be the easiest peaceful way: Changing the sleep pattern in the family bed by dr. Jay Gordon
Cosleeping is a biological imperative


Friday, September 10, 2010

EC: It's About Communication

written by Maria

Just as our babies know their own bodies, and their needs for food and breast, they also know the bodily sensations that go with the need to pee and poop, and they can, and usually do, communicate these needs. A baby is very much aware of the pressure associated with full bladder and the rumble tumble of a stinky on the way.*

Image: Tostadophoto on Flickr

I can recall that from birth my baby was clearly expressing her need to go pee or poopy. Or, if I was too late, that she had just eliminated (excreted biological wastes, urine or feces). Grandma and her father were cramming pacifiers in her mouth every time she whimpered, cried, or mildly complained those first three weeks of life (when Grandma was visiting). I would promptly go behind them, and try to determine the cause instead of allowing them to "shut her up" with this artificial device without trying to determine the cause of her distress. Guess what? Each and every time, her diaper was HOT from her fresh urine. So, I changed her diaper and she was happy.  
Within the first two weeks of my baby's life, I learned that every cry means something. She can communicate that she has a wet diaper and quite clearly. My baby doesn't want to sit in her own urine for any length of time and she was clearly expressing this.  I just had to listen.  
It took a few more weeks for me to realize that she was communicating that she needed to go pee/poopy BEFORE she actually went (not merely after the fact).  At 8 weeks old, I was sitting on the toilet with her as she made a stinky. 2 or 3 times later, I determined I needed an infant size potty.  Sadly, it didn't occur to me on my own to take her to the potty for Pee Pee also. It is so engrained in Western Culture to allow babies to pee on themselves in their portable sewage containment system that I didn't think twice about it.  I put her on the toilet for stinkies so I didn't have to clean and wash a horribly soiled cloth diaper. 

EC began for me for selfish reasons yet, at the same time, I was also trusting my instincts. So, when my daughter was 12 weeks old, I asked on a local website where to find an infant size potty and was lead down the path of elimination communication.

About Maria:

I am a 34 year old mother of an 18 month old wonderful daughter.  The day she was born, I knew I wanted to understand her every cry, whimper, and whine.  I wanted to be there before she even knew she needed me. That she knew she could come to me, day or night, sick or healthy, sad or happy - no matter what.
I came from the state of North Carolina in USA, from a mother too young for children, absent father, basically living with violent, abusive alcoholic grandparents.  Luckily, I was not physically harmed, but what I saw left a scar. All I knew was disposable diapers, don't spoil the child, use the rod, formula fed, cry it out in the crib separate room babies. My lucky break came from seeing a breastfeeding mother when I was 30 years old. So, as they say, the rest is history.

*Mothering mindfulness and baby's bottom on Peaceful Parenting


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Hiërarchical School System and its Effects: On Worth, Separation, Class, Equality and Freedom

In this money driven world, it seems as though every aspect of life is infused with the concept of 'worth' or 'value'. All things in life, material or non-material are measured, weighed and categorized. Some things are worth more than others, some choices are valued higher than the alternative.

This is equally true for our education system
(speaking of Belgium here), some courses are deemed more important than others, some directions one can take are valued more and some directions are clearly labelled as the trash cans of the education system.
Belgian's secondary schooling system is hierarchical - also called the cascade system. Students generally start as high as their 'mental capacities' allow them to, and - depending on their grades - they can cascade downward towards less worthy directions.

We have four categories of schools

Arts (which is actually part of either technical or professional education, but is generally taught at seperate schools)

So one might start off at General and end up in Technical school or Professional. Most students try to start off in general school, unless they had proven to be really 'dumb' or 'slow' in primary school and then they start of lower. (arts students are most often there by choice, if allowed by their parents).

There is also an internal hierarchy within the different school types. The more mathematical/scientifical or ancient languages are valued higher than the directions with a lot of languages.
I won't go into detail about the different directions and when one can choose those, that would make up an entire book.

Let's state it simply that Math/Science is the most valued directions a student can be in, because they can choose any college or university BaMa they want to be in.

What I am trying to get to - excuse my deviations, is that this system also places value on the students. Those who end up in general studying Math are thought have a brighter future than the ones who study hairdressing in professional. Feelings of superiority and inferiority are created, as are seperations between the 'classes' (as they are put in different physical schools - even on the rare occasion that one school has the four categories, there will be seperate buildings and students will have little or no interactions with other categories). This leads to high degrees of intolerance both ways. General Education students will think the professional ones are ignorant, vice versa, they will think the general students are snobbish/intellectualist.

How can countries claim to be egalitarian, if they separate children into different boxes who are worth more or less from early childhood. (there are also two systems in primary school)? How can we intend the child to choose freely if so much worth is placed in the choice they make (if at all they are able to make a choice themselves)? How can we expect a student who slips down to keep his selfworth intact? Or a student who has to start at the bottom, with no possibility of moving up.

Isn't it unconstitutional to treat children this way from early infancy? All Belgians are legally equal and
Belgian constitution does not separate the classes... Then why does their schooling system?

And then you'll tell me unschooling is madness.