Google+ Authentic Parenting: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Quote Of The Day

A stiff apology is a second insult.... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt. 
 ~ G.K. Chesterton



I am human, and next to my finer moments, I have had dark moments, destructive moments. Times where movies like “Mean Girls” could learn something from me. Moments where I am not proud of, where I hurt those closest to me, those who cared about me most.
I have hurt people so badly that the guilt of it kept me awake years after the fact. So one day, I decided it was enough. I set aside my ego, my fear of judgement and I contacted two people I fret about and apologized. From the bottom of my heart. Not trying to explain. Just stating I was wrong, I had been mean, evil even, and that I had no right to have treated them this way. That so many years later I still think about them.
Both of them responded rather quickly. They were both extremely kind. They agreed I had hurt them, but they were delighted by the apology and they forgave me.
No more sleepless nights. No more fretting.

butupa on Flickr

An honest apology can sweep a dusty mind clean.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quote Of The Day

A positive image of birth is the cornerstone of a safe, happy birth experience. If you believe your body is meant to give birth efficiently, naturally, and without complications and that birth is a joyful event, you are more than halfway to a safe, natural birth. Positive beliefs and attitudes contribute to a happy birth experience, enabling the mother to labor more efficiently and to open for her baby with less effort.
- Carl Jones, Mind over Labor


Book Review: Birthing From Within

Article first published as Book Review: Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz on Blogcritics.

I won a copy of “Birthing from Within” through an online contest. As I am currently pregnant and in a region where birth preparation classes are not available, I thought it would be just the right book for me. Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz promises to be an alternative approach to childbirth preparations. Indeed, it does step aside the usual paths, adding birth art to the tools for preparation and analysis of one’s feelings.

Throughout the first chapter, I had the annoying feeling that the author was trying to sell her course, which, in a book intended for an international audience is quite unsuited. Living in an area where the option would not even be available to me, this was quite frustrating. Moreover, I don’t set out reading a book about birth preparation in order to sit through a sales pitch.
The book gives a few suggestions I hadn’t read before and offers neat checklists.

For a natural birth advocate such as myself, there is too much focus on hospital birth and very little on the alternatives. Moreover, I completely disagree with the way she perpetuates the myth of pain in childbirth. If anything, a book about birth preparation should suggest that it can be different, that pain in labor is not necessary.
I can conclude that this is not a book about birth preparation, but one about preparation for pain.
It’s a sad thing to see that ‘alternative’ books like these still perpetuate such myths and linger on the medicalized model of birth.

Furthermore, the suggestion of using art and group discussions for birth preparation, while a great idea for groups, is not adapted to people who have to prepare for birth on their own, for whom I would think the book would be intended. If one wanted or had the possibility to do group work, one would join a class.

Even though this book was a disappointment in general, I did retain the idea about a labor project and the Leboyer bath and will be showing my husband some of the sections for the birth partner. The book also features some great short lists that are handy to have around.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

“A good example has twice the value of good advice”



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Standardization serves institutions, not individuals.
- Teresa Graham Brett, Parenting for Social Change


Change From Within

I have lots of discussions with people about education - which, as an unschooler, I bet is not an anomaly. People are naturally intrigued when you step aside the common path, sometimes even appalled.
Every once in a while, I have such a discussion with someone who has spend some time considering education options himself and who - in the end - did choose to go along, become a teacher or enroll their children in some sort of formal schooling.
When I then utter that I oppose the entire structure and system of formal schooling, even if there are some initiatives for slight change for the better, a frequent rebuttal is that you can’t change a structure by ignoring it, and stepping out, and that they aim to change it from within.

Image: Dreamstime

While I do admire the effort, and completely agree that lots of things can be changed at the schooling system, so why not start today, I do wonder about the validity of this stance.

Change from within by enrolling your child
I don’t quite see how (much) you can change the schooling system by enrolling your child into it. Sure, if you are a very active parent and if you have a somewhat receptive school, they might make exceptions for your child. If you are truly lucky, some of the points you raise and the changes you try to make (through joining the school board, petitioning...) will be permanent. But in the end, it remains up to the goodwill of the school and their liberties within the larger system and until they do change, your child may well be the one who loses in your battle, as he is the one who will have to submit to the system on a daily basis. If the child has not himself chosen to be schooled, then I wonder why he should be the one taking the risks for your ideals.

Change from within by becoming a teacher
Becoming a teacher, if one has a vision of greater freedom, is a nice thing to do. And yes, you might be able to change some things for the children who are there while you are. The question is how much you will change within the limitations of the structure. How will the structure go along? If you are the only teacher that makes a difference, how much good does that do to the students who see dozens of teachers each year?

Instead of making small changes and hope for a better future, should we not just reform the entire structure. Trying to change a structure that is such a dinosaur as is the ‘modern’ schooling system, is like putting a mere band aid over a diseased leg.
Reforms in the schooling system have been taking place worldwide, but they are merely placebo’s and they don’t get to the root of the problem. The issue is not in the curriculum, or the standard, or the uniformity. The issue is not in globalizing the whole thing so that ‘everyone has the same chances’. Reforms have continuously been looking in the wrong direction. They have been looking towards the future of the student, instead of his very real present. They do not see the child or adolescent as a person, but as something that needs to be shaped and molded into a citizen.

Setting oneself up against the structure does make a change, because when many people start doing this, it gets noticed, and eventually might shake some decision makers to make drastic change.
I will not submit my child to a system I do not believe in and of which I know its negative effects, just because I think that maybe, in some faraway future the system will be better or cease to exist. My child is a child now, and is not to be a mere pawn in a scheme to achieve change for the future.

The system as is can be a lot better, but I aim for more. I do not aim for a reform, I aim for an eradication. Maybe then decision makers can start thinking about something new and inspiring for those who don’t have the time and the means to school at home. Maybe then they will make up something that is part of the times we live in, instead of some archaic structure that lives towards the obscurity of the future. Maybe they’ll think of a dynamic way of integrating children in life, instead of ripping them out and tucking them away.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Quote Of The Day

By placing the use of the energies and talents of our youth in abeyance, by separating children from their parents and thereby undermining communities, and by irresponsibly presuming to know the future, educators participate in folly, the proportions of which resemble a modern form of idolatry.
- Daniel Grego


Unschooling Africa: a Viable Solution to sub-Saharan Africa’s Education Problem?

When it comes to education, sub-Saharan Africa is tagging way behind. Education in these regions falls behind for numerous reasons, leaving a lot of people without the necessary skills to survive in an ever globalizing world.

The failing of sub-Saharan African’s schooling system is caused by many factors. Here are some of them, but there are a great deal more:

School in Gambia, Aurimas Rimsa on Flickr

  • unstable governments: politics for the betterment of the personal wallet instead of the people, which causes education to be inconsistent to say the least
  • lack of resources: Schools depend on the students to bring their own supplies, but since many of them are very poor, the supplies are very basic and few
  • lack of funds: Mostly schools are dependent on tuition to cover costs, but for the general population, these tuitions can’t be very hight, so teachers don’t get paid, there are no supplies and facilities are minimalist
  • No skilled teachers. The failing of Sub-Saharan’s school system is a sobering downward spiral, where you end up in a situation where there is no knowledge to pass along.
  • Based on inviable models. Sub-Saharan countries have often simply copied the school system that was installed by the colonist, without making the necessary changes to adapt to their country’s reality
  • Huge classrooms: since there are so little teachers, and so little money to go around, you end up with a huge student count per teacher, which leaves no room for individuality and generally ends with students just repeating what the teacher says.

From the perspective of the families, sending a kid to school can generate a number of problems:
Schools are often remote, causing children to walk for miles twice a day, or having to stay in boarding schools - which is a big cost for families. Some families resort to schooling only one of their children, most often the boys.
The schools do not offer supplies, so again schooling a child is a big bite from a family’s finances when they have to pay for tuition, books and supplies.
If after overcoming all these thresholds, a child does end up in school, teachers often do not turn up because very often they are not remunerated.
Families don’t see the use of schooling, they think it is best that their child learns to work the land and get more instant results from their efforts as a parent.

So far we have only talked about factors that limit children’s chances of getting to school, and reasons why the organization of the educational system causes trouble. We haven’t even started discussing the quality of education, or what exactly is being ‘taught’, because that would be too lengthy a discussion. Let’s just leave it at the fact that - considering all the above - quality of education is at an epic low.

Learning however is essential to survival in the word. A child should acquire the skills he needs later in life to eventually earn a living to sustain himself (and his family). How this learning occurs is completely open for discussion, but the fact remains that there are some skills the child needs to obtain.

Until colonization, African children were rarely schooled. Only a happy few - those chosen by faith or destiny - would be mentored by the sjaman - the local witch doctor. Other children would learn the skills needed to live from watching the elders of the tribe and from gradually participating in them, as soon as they were developmentally ready for it. Even though such traditional learning did not involve schooling, it cannot be compared to unschooling, because the question of freedom is one to be doubted, and a lot of the passing on of knowledge depended on gender, social class and other rigid structures, sprung out of tradition. It would have been a very continuous life, with little room for change, where young children ended up doing things exactly in the same way their ancestors did.

This worked perfectly until sub-Saharan Africa was first being raided for slaves and tradable goods and later colonized; and a window onto the wider world was opened. Suddenly, the village was disrupted and global economy lured. First, villages thrived from trade with merchants, with products such as Ivory, palm oil, wild rubber, spices and slaves.
Much later, many a young man and women got drawn into the cities into what seemed to be a better life, to the lure of wealth and stature and knowledge. Younger generations coveted jobs in firms and the traditional learning that had continued since the dawn of men suddenly found itself lacking. After the colonists had left, they had bereft the countries of a steady education system, often taking skilled and learned countrymen with them, thus robbing the country of the knowledge it needed to maintain the structures that had now been installed.
The village elders simply did not have the skills that were required in this newly introduced world. And often, tribes had become scattered due to the migration of people, the stealing and selling of slaves, and the acquisition of house personnel. Writing, foreign languages, computers, advanced maths, physics... you name it, they weren’t included in traditional learning before they were introduced by the colonists. Neither had they been necessary up until that day.

Now we can discuss the negative effect of colonization as much as you want, the fact is it happened, there is no way to turn it around again and the people of these regions find themselves highly affected and stuck in a situation with little hope for the future. Many Sub-Saharan countries are actually on a downward slope.

Image: hdpcar on Flickr
It becomes clear that unschooling the way it is applied in the Western World, with parents acting as guides and using existing resources is something that does not work in these parts of the world. Simply because parents do not have the skills or the resources necessary.
However, some parts of the unschooling idea seem very appealing when it comes to sub-Saharan Africa’s situation:

  • unschooling can basically be free or at least very low cost
  • there is no need for teachers
  • there is no government designed curriculum
  • unschooling can go on no matter the situation the country or the children are in (unless they are of course living in fear or danger)
  • children do not have to be grouped in a central point or school

So maybe an adapted version of unschooling may be the solution to sub-Saharan Africa’s problem.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Surf

Peaceful Parenting
Pregnancy and Birth
Natural living 
Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: My Semi-Crunchy LifeAnktangleTmuffinLove Notes Mama and Becoming Crunchy. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
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. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

The trial and error child (rerun)

No matter how hard parents try, no matter the amount of books one read, and googles searches one perfoms, no matter the hours of discussion, it seems to me the first child is always somewhat a trial and error child. You can never quite know what you are getting into when you finally get that first little bundle of joy.
I think this is a universal given, but in our culture it is exagerated. Think about it! How many children did you take care of before your first child was born? How many hours have you babysat? How often did you see a newborn?
Many parents have never even touched a newborn before they have their own, fearful they might hurt it, break it or out of pure awkwardness. But when it's your own child, there's nobody else to hand them over, so your going to have to overcome all these feelings anyhow.
It's a pity our contact with other children before we have our own is so limited. It's a result of a lot of societal changes the past hundred years or so, but I won't go into that here.

For us, Attachment Parenting wasn't something we had heard about at all before we had our daughter I only found out such a movement (or cult as I have seen it being reffered too, lol) existed until my daughter was about 10 months old. Yet by then we were already very much attached parents.
Babywearing, breastfeeding and cloth diapering were things I was sure about before getting pregnant, and you can read here how our cosleeping adventure began. Yet cosleeping was a much bigger mountain to climb than the other parenting choices. Every single person we discussed our sleeping situation with tried to kindly offer advice to move our baby out of our bed, into a seperate room. Most of these 'kind' suggestions included some extent of Crying (CIO). And we folded. We tried to put her in her crib several times when she was tiny, but I could never bare the crying, so each time I got her out as soon as she cried. Yet I can't help but wonder how much damage these few moments may have done.
Now we have grown confident (again, after researching, discussing and finally meeting likeminded people - albeit virtually) and we will never make that mistake again. The next child will sleep in our bed until he or she chooses to sleep in his/her own bed.
And there are countless other anecdotes I can tell you in which I have grown through trial and error, and which I won't repeat with a second child. Let's just hope that first child will forgive our erroneous ways and realize this does not make us love them less.

Going down the trip of worrying how much you screwed up and what repercussions it might have, is easy. But frankly, it's quite pointless to beat yourself up over things that can't be undone. It is of far greater importance to keep researching, keep informing yourself, and work at your parenting skills on a daily basis.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Quote Of The Day

This journey requires us to go inward and examine the ways we learned about being a child when we ourselves were children.
- Teresa Graham Brett, Parenting for Social Change


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quote Of The Day

By the simple, but often challenging, act of redefining our relationships with children, we can begin the process of creating profound social change.
- Teresa Graham Brett, Parenting for Social Change


Should We Ignore a Lesser Evil?

Upon reposting an article about praise, I got a very heated discussion on my Facebook page on the validity of raising the topic. Surely, one of the commenters argued, there are better things to spend our time and attention on as something as trivial and harmless as praise.

Imge: Dreamstime
I won’t get into the details of the praise argument, as I have discussed that topic at length in said article, what I wish to address is the following: It is a fact that there are many things in parenting that we could and should change, to the betterment of ourselves and the living situation of our children. Some of the things advocated in the Western world are proven over and again to cause serious negative effects, on your child’s brain, on their behavior and on their physical being. I’m thinking of physical punishment, or Cry it out, child rape... You name it, the world is full of horror when it comes to parenting.
Should we spend more time highlighting these topics, raising awareness, offering advice and working towards prevention, and overlook ‘minor offenses’ until we have actively eradicated them.
I beg to differ.

I blog 365 days a year (unless the internet gods are against me), with only one day where I post a rerun. The rest is generally (again with the grace of the internet gods) new content, by me or guest writers. I think I spend lots of time and effort highlighting everything hat is wrong with parenting, and I also spend lots of time writing how we can change this. I think it is safe to say the same about my fellow internet parenting writers, at least the ones I read.
Should we dismiss topics just because they cause less harm?

I beg to differ.

It would be a shame to leave things unlighted if they are negative to our children’s mental of physical health. Even if they’re just a little bit bad.
If you as a parent wish to focus your energy on the things that are really wrong with your parenting, and you feel there is no room left to tackle as little an issue of praise, that is of course your good right, and probably a good strategy. One cannot desire to change from mainstream parenting to radical unschooling control-free parenting. That would be unimaginable. Change like this, which infuses life and your every preconception about it, takes time.
I did not find all of this out by reading on book, I did not change my parenting on the lecture of one article... Change takes time and effort and thinking and coming back to something and reading some more and rethinking stuff. It takes time to integrate things in your behavior pattern, especially if you are trying to change behavior that has been deeply ingrained.

But it doesn’t hurt to know what else you can change. Sometimes it takes reading about a ‘lesser evil’ for a bigger pattern of ideas to reveal itself.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three. ~Grantly Dick-Read


Breast Crawl: Another Reason to Rethink How We Birth

Watching a baby do the Breast Crawl is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It is nature at its best. I find it fascinating that a newborn baby, soon after birth will actually lick and suckle their own hands and then crawl from their mothers belly to chest and latch onto the breast completely unassisted.

Sadly, too many mothers and babies have missed this opportunity to witness and bond over the breast crawl because of unnecessary interventions. Washing, vitamin k drops, measurements and the like often take priorities in today’s birthing practices and although bonding is a popular buzz word in many neonatal care units, too often the most important moment of bonding is overlooked and not honored as it should.

I had a c-section with my first born and a much delayed introduction to breastfeeding so although I longed for it, there was no breast crawl. For my second and third children however I was very adamant about having a VBAC and as unassisted births as possible and had two very beautiful “breast crawls moments." Is the bond with my first child harmed because we missed the breast crawl, well no, not at all. He even breastfed for nearly two years, so what’s the big deal?

Several researchers (Christensson et al, 1995; Matthiesen et al, 2001, Klaus 1998, Klaus and Kennel 2001) have found over and over again that the breast crawl is directly related to overall breastfeeding success. It also shows that by doing the breast crawl babies are honing in on their instinct and wiring their brains with sensory and motor information vital for their survival. Here is another interesting finding:

16% of neonatal deaths could be saved if all infants were breastfed from day 1 and 22% if breastfeeding were started within the first hour after birth (Edmond et al, 2006).
Depending on where you birth you might be luckily that allowing this bonding time is already the norm, in many European countries, for example Germany, it is somewhat common to allow newborns and mamas at least two hours of bonding prior to any interventions. And most home births assisted by midwifes allow for plenty of quiet bonding time following delivery.

In the USA however, with my second child, along with fighting hard to have a VBAC I had to pretty much hold my newborn and not let go while explaining why I wasn’t going to let go until the nurses promised to let my sweet baby boy hang out on my chest and delay all the washing and measuring in favor of the breast crawl.

I am fascinated with birth, and follow the movement to change birthing practices, to bring it back to basics, promote more home, natural, midwife assisted births etc...Although birthing in a hospital can in fact save the lives of precious babies and mamas, wouldn’t it be amazing if favoring skin to skin contact immediately following birth and allowing baby to slowly process the ordeal of birth, smelling mama, entering a quiet and peaceful state of alertness to initiate the Breast Crawl and bond would be the norm and not something perceived as a kooky request from “that crunchy” type of mom?

Peace & Be Well,

Ariadne (aka Mudpiemama) has three children, she practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. She believes parents and children should try to have fun everyday and love life.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quote Of The Day

obstetrician: n., from obstare - to stand in the way
- Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary


Book Review: Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Kaplan Shanley

Article first published as Book Review: Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Kaplan Shanley

Laura Kaplan Shanley’s book “Unassisted Childbirth” (1994) was not what I had expected to read when I bought it. I had set out thinking I would be reading a guide to unassisted childbirth, but found something entirely different.
Instead, the book raises awareness about a little known topic and tries to open your mind to the power of nature and the human body. It questions the cultural, technocratic beliefs about births and urges a fresh look on birth and it’s surrounding practices.

Shanley takes an anthropological and historical tour of birth to show us how it can be done differently, and how many women before us have gone through birth without the seemingly prevalent fear and pain. She discusses the power of the mind to control the body and reality, and steer the outcome of events. She takes the writings of the likes of Grantly Dick-Read to the next level, and hands the birthing woman the tool to overcome culture and the way we envision birth.

“I contend that panting, pushing, and pain are not natural at all. There is another way of giving birth. One has only to observe the average house cat in labor to see true natural childbirth in action.”

Even though it was not what I had set out to read, the book was an eye-opener, which refreshed and strengthened ideas that were already lingering in my head, but had never been pronounced fully. Childbirth isn’t meant to be painful, instead it should be a joyous, transcending experience. We make of childbirth what our culture and our preprogrammed mindset determines it to be.

I am really happy to have read this book and have gained new insights doing so. Yet there was a moment in the book where she goes to far over to the God/creator side for an atheist like me. Birth is indeed about spirituality, but when one writes a book for a larger public, one must at least leave the sort of spirituality for the reader to fill in. When reading about childbirth, I am not seeking a lesson about the bible or creationism.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Quote Of The Day

How could youth better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?
- Henry David Thoreau



Trust is one of the key factors in parenting, many parent child conflicts spring out of a distortion of trust in the relationship. But how does this trust work? How do we get it? How do we keep it.

When I speak of trust in parenting, I mean mutual trust. The child must trust his caregiver to fulfill his basic needs and to act in his best interest, and the caregiver, in turn, must trust the child to make his own decisions and to take action at the time fit for his specific development. Already at this simple given, things can go horribly wrong. Western parenting styles tend to not trust the child at all. In this situation, the child will lose trust in his caregiver, through frustration and incomprehension.

Image: Dreamstime
In a newborn, this trust is a given. An infant has blind trust in his mother and in any other person he encounters. Only through bad experiences in life is this inborn trust eroded and do we become the distrusting people we are. As a little side note: a traumatic birth, or in-utero experience can leave a newborn in fear and make him distrusting. We have to let the newborn know every day of his life that he is valued and that we are present, in order to restore his trust and help him deal with a traumatic entry in the world. It is important to be aware of the impact of birth and the womb experience on an infant, and not to dismiss this because ‘they are so small’ or ‘they don’t remember’. Birth is most life changing event the infant has been through, and probable ever will go through, so it would be a mistake to dismiss its impact.

The best way to maintain trust it to be present, to tend to their needs, to react when they are distressed. If your infant is uncomfortable, but there is nothing you can do, then just being present and soothing them is enough to keep their trust. Being present doesn’t mean being interventionist. We tend to want to act all the time, when sometimes simple awareness and connectedness is what is required. Your fussiness can be a huge disturbance and frustration to a child who is just trying to unwind.

Another way to avoid the trust to be eroded is to keep them safe without being restricting. If you are being to restricting, if you are keeping them away from everything, merely out of an irrational fear, or out of parental laziness (I don’t mean this in a bad way. Running behind an active toddler who wants nothing better than to stick his fingers in plugs and eat everything that doesn’t - or does -move, can be very tiresome. This is yet another reason altogether to ensure a safe environment wherever possible, where they can roam free with minimal supervision).
Keeping them safe doesn’t mean they’ll never have a bump. Children grow through bumps, bruises and scratches. It does mean being present and aware, helping them cope with frustration and harm, and guiding them so they will eventually be ready and strong to face danger on their own and make the right choices. Often, their correct decision making springs from having trust in them.

Unconditionality is a very important part of trust, for how can a child trust someone who lets his love eb and flow with the coming and going of situations. Showing your love even in difficult times is a very important step in maintaining that bond of trust.

Having a trusting relationship is one of the most important parts of parenting and it might be one of the hardest. Maintaining trust can prove an issue, since most parents have grown up themselves in distorted trust relationships. Though there is never a time to despair. Trust can be regained, even though it gets harder as they grow up, by making a continuous effort, showing them that your trust in them is unshakeable, and making clear, day after day, that you are there, that you are loving and that you care.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Surf

Peaceful Parenting
  • Learning Through Immersion, or how contact, instead of teaching, is the best way for children to learn, on Diary of A First Child
Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: My Semi-Crunchy LifeAnktangleTmuffinLove Notes Mama and Becoming Crunchy. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
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. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Quote Of The Day

If you understand that the inappropriate behavior of your children is a call to increased consciousness on your part, you are able to view the opportunities they afford you to grow differently. Instead of reacting to them, you look within yourself and ask why you react.
- Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent


Communication Failure

Yesterday my daughter walked into the kitchen exclaiming she wanted to eat the crumbs. I frowned “Crumbs? What crumbs are you talking about.”
Calmly, she added she wanted the crumbs that came with the airplane.
I still didn’t understand and asked my husband for help. But he didn’t know what she was talking about either.
We had an airway delivery of food lately, so I was quite sure it was something that had come that time, but I couldn’t figure out what she meant.
“Do you mean the crumbs of your cookies?”
“No!” she screamed, getting seriously ticked off at our ignorance. “The crumbs that came with the AIRPLANE.”
I was thinking frantically at what she could mean, offering suggestions, opening and peering into the fridge.
 My husband quizzing her, thinking she meant a box of chocolates he keeps at his desk, which he brought the last time we returned from Belgium. “They are finished,” he said, “but we’ll get new ones next time we take the plane.”
Now she was wailing. “I want the crumbs, I want the crumbs! They are not finished.”
I was sure that was not what she meant, and with the rising of the volume, my patience was slowly exiting the building.
“Tell me what you mean, I don’t understand you. I cannot help you if I don’t understand you.”
She shook her head and repeated “the crumbs” falling to the floor and crying. 3I’m going to die, I want the crumbs.”

Image: Chirag Rathod on Flickr
I tried to get a grip on myself and think rationally: “were the crumbs in a bag or in a box?”
She got up from the ground: “a box,” she said.
“And do we keep them in the fridge or in the pantry?”
“The fridge.”
My brain was working overtime, and then it came to me: we had received a little box of chocolate sprinkles, that must be what she was after.
I got it out of the fridge and the storm clouds made way for sunshine. With redness in her eyes, she produced a smile.
I excused myself for not understanding her and told her I didn’t mean to upset her. That it’s best to talk and help each other when we don’t understand, instead of each of us getting angry or worked up.
She nodded, fell into my arms and gave me the cutest hug.

Sometimes communication with a toddler can be really difficult, with them screaming things at you which you don’t understand, and getting worked up as they notice they are not getting any response, or at least not getting what they want.
Sometimes I think it is best to see them as a foreigner who doesn’t master your language. If you can’t come to an understanding, try to get them to use different words, ask other questions. Don’t ask them what they mean, because for them it is as clear as it is gibberish to you. Not being understood is frustrating, especially if they really want something (which is like 98% of the time).

My reaction of getting worked up at our incapability to communicate is obviously wrong We would have gotten much further and with less tears if I had remained rational and had asked the right questions right away.
If she would have been a foreigner, I probably would have, but when it comes to ou children, we se them as demanding, we find their frustration intolerable. Instead of being tolerant and helpful, we get angry and frustrated ourselves, because they don’t behave in the way we think they should.
We start worrying about a million other things instead of getting the communication flowing. What will the neighbors think? Can they hear her? Must this be every evening...
If it were the lost foreigner, we’d probably show much more patience, and anger wouldn’t even cross our minds. Surely we owe our children the same courtesy we do strangers?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quote Of The Day

But one of the ways that I learned not to become my fretting mother was to ask myself what could go right with my daughters’ adventures, as well as what could go wrong. That helped me separate my own fear baggage from reality, freeing me to help them assess each situation and its possible consequences. Often, I realized that the worst that could happen would be them learning how to problem-solve themselves out of a mess!
- Wendy Priesnitz


Book Review and Giveaway: Nursies When the Sun Shines - CLOSED

Article first published as Book Review: Nursies When The Sun Shines by Catharine Havener on Blogcritics. I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Night weaning is an issue many nursing mothers face. Wether it is fatigue, a desire to regain fertility more quickly or conflict of activities, reasons and objectives can be plentiful. But how do you do this in a gentle manner that doesn’t disrupt your attachment to your child? How do you tackle the topic without scaring them or making them feel pushed away?
Katherine Havener struggled with these same questions and noticed there was not much out there to help her and her baby cope with this difficult period, so she decided to write the book herself: “Nursies When the Sun Shines”. A soft and gentle bedtime story, preparing the young child for a different nighttime arrangement.

The story depicts a bedsharing family with a young child. The drawings - delicate watercolors by Sara Burrier - set the mood of a sweet tale about a truly connected family and will bring a smile of recognition to the face of any bedsharing family.
The book tells the child that there will be no more nursing at night (“nursies” go to sleep), but that mommy is still there, and the connection remains. It uses simple language to present the topic.

“I’ll hold you and love you while you drift back to sleep.
You’ll have nursies when the sun shines.”

Children’s books about attached families are rare and this one is a real gem. The rhytmic story is low in text, so it will appeal to the very young, but even the toddler will find pleasure in seeing the images of a family that sleeps in the same connected fashion they do.

Having a children’s book on night weaning is truly a great idea, and will help many a family struggling with the question. I can only applaud the initiative.

“Baby goes to sleep.
Mommy goes to sleep.
Nursies go to sleep... sleep nursies, sleep.”

About the author:
Katherine Havener is a natural and attachment parenting advocate, attorney, and mother to three girls (7, 5 and 8 mo). She is a retired Holistic Moms Network leader and an active member of La Leche League. Her inspiration for Nursies was her daughter Elea, who, for the first 22 months of her life, woke up every two hours to nurse. This is her first children's book.

You can find information about the book by visiting the website Or buy it through my Amazon store.

Or you could win it!
This Giveaway is open to UK, Canada, US and Australia, postage included, and will be closed on the 15th of Oktober
My family will not be able to enter, nor will I (sadly, because I could use a teething necklace for when baby comes)
For your initial entry, tell us about your breastfeeding journey and why you would like a copy of the book. Leave your email address with the comment!

You can have additional entries to increase your chances by:
  • Like Nursies on Facebook - Comment: Liked Nursies on FB, first name, email
  • Follow Katherine on Twitter - Comment: Follow Naturalparent on Twitter
  • Becoming a new fan of Authentic Parenting on facebook - Comment: fanned you on FB in the comment box, plus first name and email
  • 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, 1 entry for each post you shared
  • Blog about this giveaway or this blog (or both) - Comment: blogged about *enter topic*, link to your post, first name, email address, 1 entry per blog post
  • 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


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
Fran Lebowitz


Playing with Food: 6 Ways to make healthy foods fun for children

The food we provide our children as infants, toddlers, preschoolers and beyond influence not only their health, growth and development but also shape lifelong eating habits. Offering our children a large variety of foods and tastes can only help foster a peaceful relationship with food.

Often in the toddler stage and preschool stage food becomes the focus of many battles. How to get over the “beige diet” or the “toddler appetite” is commonly discussed among parents. The more variety and nutritionally sound foods we give them, the better chance they have to developing healthy, balanced lifestyles which foster longer life, health and general happiness.

While still respecting little one’s tastes and their small bellies, these are some fun ways to play with food and help children discover new tastes:

1. Shape it: Cookie cutters are an easy and fun way to present fruits like melons, watermelon and pineapple in shapes ready for eating. We like to use star and circle cutters to make stars and planets. Using a blue plate as the background we then build delicious space scenes. Building aliens by stacking avocado pieces and banana chunks on a toothpick and carving a melon rocket ship by cutting just a wedge on the side and opening the spaceship door in a downwards motion adds to the fun. Cookie cutters also work well for making fun sandwiches like our dinosaur stegosaurus with zuchini noodles and carrots.

2. Freeze it: Fill a freezer approved, closeable container half way with some sliced and diced fruits like grapes, berries, bananas, melon and peaches. Fill water up to three-quarters of the container and then cover it and freeze it for several hours or overnight. Run some warm water on the outside of the container to loosen it up and serve it on a large plate. My boys love to pick the frozen fruit from this big ice block as a snack. I have used this to introduce new fruits like papaya and mango chunks and it worked well. (Credit goes to the tv show “Sid the Science kid” for this fun idea)

3. Blend it: From fruit smoothies to veggie juices, blending is a great way to get a big mix of fruits and veggies served up. Allowing the children to drop the ingredients into the blender and pressing the buttons is a good way to involve them in the blending process making them even more likely to try it. Recently we tried some green smoothies with spinach, I heard so many moms raving about these but truth be told these were rejected – through a lot of laughter, we all agreed they were just awful. Happy that everyone gave it a try, we then whipped up a batch of berry-banana yogurt smoothies and kept laughing about the green yucky goop.

4.Dress it up: We love to use broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, shredded carrots, beans, olives and more to decorate a round pizza into a face or animal or to transform a whole potato into an edible version of Mr. Potato head. Having pre-cut veggie chunks and shapes and setting it up on small plates for the children to pick from and use for their creations usually leads them to eat a lot of the ingredients ahead of time too. A while back I had to chop up extra mushrooms because they had all mysteriously disappeared from the plate and everyone wanted more for their pizza creations.

5. Bake it: Baking with children is just lots of fun. So many great things can be whipped up in the oven, whole grain breads, scones, oatmeal cookies, pies to name a few. One of our favorite things to do in the kitchen is making banana zucchini bread.The more involved children get into the baking process I find the more likely they are to eat the food when it is ready. My three year old recently washed all the blueberries for a pie we made together. We also cut out letters and shapes for the top crust. When it was time to try the pie he was not hesitant at all and really enjoyed it. Using whole grains for dough, reducing sugars and looking for healthy ingredients are all ways to make baking a fun filled and healthy activity.

6. Name it: From Viking chicken to Mikaela Pasta, many of our foods and dishes have fun names. Sometimes they are named after friends who introduced us to the foods, other times they are names my children have come up with. Pirate bananas are cut in a diagonal and Felix bread is a whole grain cracker a friend shared that became a favorite snack. Viking chicken is the name for chicken served on the bone and eaten without utensils. Mikaela pasta is tri-colored vegetable pasta and worms are pieces of bread rolled up. Green goop is the stuff we will not be making again anytime soon.

Our family meals and snacks are lots of fun, mostly healthy and often messy. What about you, what ways do you have fun with food in your family?

Ariadne (aka Mudpiemama) has three children, she practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. She believes parents and children should try to have fun everyday and love life.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Children inhabit a world of "it is", not a world of "it isn't".
- Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent


Monday, September 12, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Ultimately, just as we are reflections of the world, the world is changed through our own transformation.
- Teresa Graham Brett, Parenting for Social Change 


Achieving happiness

Happiness is like a muscle. You need to train it every day in order for it to be toned and strengthened. It is something most people strive to achieve, but what we often forget is how much of it we can control. Happiness is a state of mind, and one you can summon.
Our society is so focused on fear, and frustration and misery that often we forget that we can be happy, just by exercising happiness.
So how do you do this?
Here are ten tips to achieve happiness, they’re just small steps you can take every day, that will greatly lighten your heart and your existence. You control your feeling.

Image: Dreamstime

  1. Laugh. Every day. Laugh together as a family. If you find nothing to laugh about, just laugh about laughter, find the most ridiculous laugh you can imagine, invite your partner and children to do the same. You’ll see, soon, you’ll find yourself rolling over the floor trying not to wet your pants.
  2. Analyze your thoughts. If there are negative ones, let go of them one by one. Shake them off like dust, vocalize them out of your body, find whichever way works for you to get rid of negative thoughts and frustrations.
  3. Be aware of your feelings. Don’t hold on to anger or frustration. Work them through in a healthy manner and then let go.
  4. Be in the moment. Being present avoids worrying about the future or getting stuck in the past. You only live now. In being present when you are with your family, you will find that you enjoy it more then when you are caught up in your head. Don’t cling to what may have gone wrong in the past, don’t fret about what’s to come in the future. The future is a question mark and the past is behind you. If you have severe issues about your past, seek guidance or counseling, if you fret about having wronged someone, apologize to them, however long it may have been. Deal with the knots in your heart and move on.
  5. Spend some time on an activity you like everyday. Choose something small, which you can do for 5 or 10 minutes. A couple rows of knitting, some yoga poses, a walk in your garden, read an article... Do something for yourself every day and enjoy it as you are doing it. Don’t worry about not getting ‘everything’ done, just enjoy the activity. You may not have seas of time every day, but you will manage to spare these 5 to ten minutes.
  6. Enjoy the daily things, your meals, taking a shower, brushing your hair.... These can all be moments of delight if you allow them to be. Again this has to do with being in the present instead of being in your head.
  7. When you get up in the morning, tell yourself this is going to be a good day. Make it so. Even if the weather is bad. Even if you didn’t sleep well. You can make this day amazing.
  8. Wear the clothes you like, and that are comfortable on you. If you have a moment to spare, toss out all clothes that make you feel miserable, that you think make you look fat or ugly, that are uncomfortable, stingy or painful. You clothes are there to follow you, not to make you or shape you.
  9. Sit down to think about what bothers you in life. What makes you sad, what frustrates you, what makes you angry. Is there a way to get around these things? Is there a way to deal with them more adequately?
  10. Get outside, every day. Even if it’s cold. Even if it’s just a few minutes. And when you are, take some time to let it seep in, the air on your face, the sun in your eyes. Even if you’re just walking from the parking lot to the store entrance, notice the tree on your way, hear the birds chirping. Feel the ground under your feet. Connect to the earth.

A happy parent fosters happy children. Work on your happiness now, for you only live today.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Surf

Peaceful Parenting

Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: My Semi-Crunchy LifeAnktangleTmuffinLove Notes Mama and Becoming Crunchy. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
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. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Indoctrination, Alienation, Violence and Consumption (rerun)

As heavy as that title may sound, this post is about something as light as toys, cartoons, kiddie books and children's songs... But are these as light as we think they are? These are the things our children are confronted with on a daily basis, often without supervision, without additional explanation. Still think they are really that harmless?

Toysmith Doll StrollerEver walked through a toy store and looked at it from a peaceful parenting perspective? Notice how many dolls aren't attached dolls? With their strollers, cribs, bottles, pacifiers and what not. Do we really want to indoctrinate our children into that culture of detachement and alienation from the first doll they play with?
Ok, you can get round the bottles by saying thet they're just for water, that the doll will still get her milk from her mommy's breast. But still! I want attached play-parenting, thank you!
How many toys - mainly aimed at boys - are violent? GI Joe, tin soldiers, toy guns... Even pretend play is violence infused (cowboys killing off Indians ring a bell? Hey, at least they're reenacting history, right)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Original Series (Volume 1)Cartoons and TV shows
Cartoons are another vehicle for the propagation of violence. Think about teenage mutant ninja turtles (or whatever it's called), even though they are fighting crime... they are still fighting! Do we want to teach our children to cure violence with violence? And there are many other examples of this kind of TV shows.

My goodness, what text do they have? My daughter has a couple kiddie song CD's and they contain everything from stoning to hitting animals with sticks, putting children in bags... (they're in French and Dutch, so it must be a general thing).

In this list, I think books are the lesser of evils, moreover because you can really pick and discard the bad ones (and there are really bad ones when it comes to alienation and violence). But still, there are way too few attached peaceful childrens books.

My advice to you: think twice when you buy books, toys or sing songs together. And for TV, watch with them, or at least be present, to shed some light on the subliminal messages. We can't shelter them their entire lives, true, but we can at least spare them the indoctrination at an early age. And hand them the right tools to critically evaluate the input they get later in life.

If you did come across some nice AP toys, books, songs, cartoons, let me know, I am always eager to hear from you and to discover new things.
I have come across a blogpost that summed up some AP-friendly childrens books, you can find it at The Baby Dust Diaries.

Images courtesy of Amazon, so if you click on them, I will be rewarded ever so slightly.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Quote Of The Day

A traumatic birth leaves a lasting impression on an infant's mind, setting the tone for future experiences. 
- Laura Kaplan Shanley, Unassisted Childbirth


All About Birth

This week is Empowered Birth Awareness Week, you might already have noticed from my posts the past few days. Find out more about the event on Birthpower. You can participate by blogging and writing etc, anything that creates awareness about empowered birth.

Image: Dreamstime
Throughout my writing about birth and birth choices, I have found that these are often the topics that stir the pot. Women all around seem to have this idea that birth is a fixed given and we are to keep within the norm. We are not to step on anyone's toes, we are to offer the birth experience to our partner, we have to make learning possible for midwives and OB's in training, we have to undergo whatever is thrown at us and bare it with a smile...
It is sad that we have come to this, so this week of raising awareness comes at the right time. Birth is OUR experience as women and we are not to just undergo it. Birth is a life changing event, no matter how it occurs. We can cease our births, regain control and reclaim our power. Because we are powerful.

Here are the post I have written about Childbirth in the past. Pull out a comfy chair and pour yourself a cup of tea, because this is quite some reading. Hope you enjoy!

Birth as a Feminist Issue
"Feminism, Medicine, Consumerism and Vampires" - Why childbirth is definitely a feminist issue
"Secret Oppression: Epidurals"

Birth Options
"Who Will Be Your Birth Partner"-  advocates a woman's right to choose who attends the birth
"Are Alternative Birth Practices Just Decoys" - questions the idea of pain as a marketing point
"Everything You Wanted to Know About Placenta Encapsulation"
"Much Ado About Placenta" - a big load of information about the uses of the placenta
"Why Homebirth?"
"Keeping Your Baby Close After Birth" - 2 scenario's depicting different birth settings from the baby's point of view
"The Secret To A Successful Birth Plan"
"Birth Options" - guest post by Brooklyn
"Choosing the Right Care Provider for Your Pregnancy"
"Red Raspberry Leaf - Natural Pregnancy Relief" - guest post by Tracy Sitchen
"Chance or Choice" - guest post by Cindy Crosby from Birth Smart

Technocratic Birth
Image: Dreamstime
"Intimacy and the Lack Thereof in Hospital Birth"
"Medical Diagnosis in Pregnancy"
"Medical Necessity?"
"Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back and Follow Your Body's Urges To Push" - how the medical establishment works against every natural urge
"New Guidelines for Fetal Monitoring"
"Internal Fetal Monitoring: Not the Way to Go!"
"Get Out" - cute little AniBoom animation
"Authentic Parent, Inauthentic Birth?"
"The Influence of Birth Experience"

Birth Stories
"A Father's Perspective on Homebirth" - guest post by Jeff Sabo
"The Birth of the Little Monster" - My daughter's birth story
"The Birth of Anna Yael" - guest post by Dohiyi Mama

Shiva Rea's Prenatal Yoga
Grantly Dick Read - Childbirth Without Fear
Elena Skoko - Memoirs of a Singing Birth

Aside from all these post, there are also lots and lots of childbirth quotes to be found by clicking the Pregnancy and Birth tag