Google+ Authentic Parenting: August 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Parenting Myth Busted: They Never Stop Breastfeeding on their own

Welcome to the August edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding awareness month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Even though I always knew I would nurse my daughter, I had never considered the duration of this nursing relationship. Back then, I hadn't heard about child led weaning, and 'extended' breastfeeding was something that was only done by strange hippy people...

Guess what, I have become one of those moms and with my daughter now 4 years and 2 months old, we are still nursing. I nursed through pregnancy and continued tandem nursing both my kids after giving birth to our Little Buddha.

Pretty quickly - about when she got over a year - we got silly remarks on breastfeeding from family, friends and even complete strangers. One of the silliest ones, and probably the one we heard the most was: "She'll never stop nursing".

So here's our little story to the day, just to show you that yes, kids do wean on their own, and no, I'm not going to be nursing her the day she leaves for college...

Nursing both kids in the early weeks
Even though my daughter was still nursing on a daily basis up to the birth of her little brother, the days following his birth made it difficult to continue this, and gradually, she started nursing less and less.
It's become so rare that I find myself asking her if she doesn't want to nurse anymore, from time to time. This while I was actively discouraging her in the months after Buddha's birth! Now, she nurses maybe once a week, if she accidentally lands next to my bare breasts. And soon, the last time we nursed may be the actual last time.
I will probably miss nursing my child once she is done, but I won't have been hard, as it just came when it had to come.

Child led weaning does work. It is a gentle process where both parties get to decide without artificial boundaries or age marks. It is a process where the tight, almost fusional bond between mother and child doesn't get hacked through, but gradually becomes looser.


APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Easy Ways to Involve Kids in DIY Projects

Can you bring the family together over a busted furnace? You bet!

Written by Katie White

Working together as a family is something of a lost art. For most of human history, parents and children have worked side by side to make ends meet, because parents simply couldn’t do without the help; and while modern conveniences have largely eliminated the need for kids to help out around the house, it’s still a great way to bond with your children and teach important life skills. Here are a few ideas to involve your kids in home projects.

Select projects with a loose timetable
If you want kids to learn skills and the enjoyment of hard work, it’s important to start with plenty of time for teaching and recovering mistakes. Just like anyone starting a new job, kids need a training period where they’re free to make mistakes and learn new skills; but you’ll be surprised at how capable kids can be, given time. No matter what age you start at, you’ll need to make room for mistakes—so don’t let yourself procrastinate. The earlier your kids make those mistakes, the more time they’ll have to build skills and become real contributors.

Find an age-appropriate role for your child
This study from the University of Minnesota shows big boosts to later success in life for kids who start helping out around the house from the age of 3 or 4. Kids are willing and able to help, and it does them a great deal of good; all you have to do is fit the task to your child’s maturity. The youngest children can water plants, dig with a trowel, pick up loose screws, or even help paint the undercoat of a wall.

Starting out, assign simple, repetitive tasks
Most kids genuinely enjoy helping out, but they don’t have the attention span to sit quietly waiting for orders. If you can keep your child continually busy with little errands, they’ll feel useful and involved. This makes jobs like painting or gardening ideal for kids—there’s plenty to do, and most tasks are simple to master. Kids can also be assigned to cleanup detail, sweeping, raking, or bagging up debris.

Give them the fun jobs—even if it takes a little longer
Smashing through walls, pulling out nails, and breaking apart pallets is fun, and if you have older kids, it’s a great way to make working together a treat. Obviously, you should make sure your child is mature and able to follow instructions first, but it’s a great way to have fun together while you get important things done.
Think about your child’s individual character and preferences—organized kids might enjoy cleanup and sorting, while kinetic kids will flock to the demolition jobs. I always loved “quality control”—it made me feel important to check my parents’ work with a bubble level and give it my approval. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out what’s exciting to your kids, with a little attention.

Notice the development of skills, and “promote” your kids when they’re ready 
While your children’s contribution might not be very helpful at age four, you’ll be surprised how quickly they can become a real help. As your kids become more competent and skilled, make sure they know that you’ve noticed, and entrust them with more sophisticated tasks appropriate to their age and skill level. Move up gradually, from driving nails and using a level, to basic assembly of bookshelves, entertainment centers, etc. It might be nerve-wracking to have your child using power tools, but it’s an important time to teach safety and good practices.

I remember how it felt the first time I was trusted to use the power drill (I think I was eight or nine)—I stripped a screw and accidentally chewed into the side of the bookcase we were assembling, but everyone has to start somewhere. Learning from those mistakes, and being allowed to grow into bigger responsibilities, is how I acquired the passion and skill for home improvement that sticks with me to this day.

About the author
Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What to do When a Child Would Rather Make Music

Content provided by Alex S.

When it comes to extracurricular activities, many parents encourage their children to engage in sports. Some parents do this without any thought to what their children may prefer to do. This can be quite upsetting for kids who are interested in other things activities. Music is one such activity. If a child is interested in pursuing music as an extracurricular, consider the different options.

The Kid in the Band

Image: John-Morgan on Flickr
Some children who are musically inclined prefer to try their hands at playing instruments. While the school band is a great option, not every school has a band anymore. If a child is in a school where the band is an option, he may still not want to join it. Most school bands focus on orchestra music. As such, they contain string instruments like violins and wind instruments such as clarinets.
Not every kid likes the idea of having to lug a tuba around in the name of learning how to play an instrument. They may also only have an interest in the two instruments that are rarely available: drums and the guitar. That isn't a problem though. Most communities have private instructors that will usually teach kids for reasonable prices.

Parents will have to purchase their kids' instruments if they choose to go with a private instructor, but it might be the only way for a child to play the instrument she has her heart set on.

A Voice to Rival Angels
When a kid loves to sing, there are generally only three options available: the school choir, the church choir and singing lessons. A choir is an excellent option for parents who have children that love to sing. Choir leaders, whether at school or at church, help students train their voices for specific choir positions. This is valuable when a child would like to move on to sing professionally.
However, some children don't want the unfortunate stigma that is often associated with being a member of a choir. Another issue could present itself in terms of the style of music choirs lean toward. A child may prefer to be taught with more popular music. That is where private lessons come into play. They are usually affordable and can be fit into most schedules without issue while teaching children to sing with music they enjoy.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same?

The Taboo Carnival
Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this summer is PLAYING FAVORITES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on favoritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Growing up, my father had the rule that all three of his kids would get the same, at least financially. Maybe because he wanted to avoid jealousy or maybe because money is measurable and it would be ‘easy’ to provide the same for all. So there was calculating of inflation, age proportionate allowances, clothing budgets and so on. Yet in reality, treating all of your kids the same, even if just in the measurable, financial sense, is not easy. With a son from a first marriage, different ages and obviously different needs, even with the most advanced calculations, giving the same turned out to be tricky.

Image: 401(K)2012 on Flickr
With me living on another continent and my middle brother working in the family business, it is obvious that he gets to spend the most time with my parents. With spending time comes going out for dinner, and shopping together, and asking to go and get this or that from the pharmacy or wherever...
If we did have to do costs and balances, my middle brother will win with by large. But these are things that get overlooked when doing the calculating.

On the other hand, my middle brother - being closest - is also the one who gets called on to water the plants, to come and clean the filter for the pond and to be around my parents when they’re in a foul mood, yet again things that aren’t calculated in the big balance.
I don’t mind that he gets more, financially. If anything, I think he more than deserves it. Than again, I’m not the jealous type, nor the money-asking one, nor do I crave financial compensation.

Personally, I do not see the need to get anal over money, to check and count each penny you spend on your kids, to make sure they get exactly the same. They’ll never get exactly the same in the long run. But that’s okay. Their lives will be different, and if they are raised in a wholesome manner, if they have sibling connection, they won’t mind.
I think it’s more important to give when you can and where needed, even if it is not exactly the same for all.

Need an example? I studied at university and had to get lodging. My studies lasted 5 years. My brother, being 2,5 years older than me was given the choice of either a car or lodging, but never took the exams and kept the car. He then started working. Comparatively, I have cost my parents more with the studies and the lodging, yet my brother got to keep the car he got in order to drive himself to school. He also got a salary from the get go, so over the four and half years up to when he was 23 he got to save money, while I finished studying at 23 with nothing, not even a car (or a driver’s licence for that matter). Equal?

I don’t know. Is there a way to know? How can one make costs and balances of something as complicated as life? Is life even about being fair?

Now obviously with our kids being young, this issue really isn’t an issue yet. I used to stress about how to go about providing the same for all of our kids, but now I’m thinking this is something that will settle itself. If one child needs more than another, I’m hoping the other one will understand, or better yet, that they are detached enough of monetary matters to not make the balance.

So what about you? Have you considered the financial treatment of your kids?

Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!
  • What makes a favorite? — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders what caused her grandparents and parents to choose favorites. She also considers possible causes for her own favoritism.
  • Taking Longer to Fall in Love with My Second Baby — Dionna at Code Name: Mama fell helplessly, powerlessly in love with her first-born. Love with her second-born has not been as easy, but does that mean #1 is her favorite?
  • Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy? — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro guest hosts about every parent having faults. Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders why she would prefer one parent over the other and whether this applies to every situation or can it vary?
  • Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same? — At Authentic Parenting, Laura investigates whether or not we should provide exactly the same for our children financially.
  • More Than the Kid Sister — Amy of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work always felt that she lived in the shadow of her older brother's accomplishments, until her parents made her aware that her personality and passion have always brought them joy and pride.
  • Playing Favourites — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school looks at how her intense parenting style has created what 'looks' like favourites but is more causal than reality.
  • There Are No Favorites (I Hate You All The Same) — Amy at Anktangle guest hosts about it being easy to see how a cycle of conditional love can make a mother keep her children at arms reach.
  • Yes, Parents Have A Favorite Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her thoughts on parents having a favorite child and how this may have long term effects on both the favored and unfavored child.
  • On having two kids & not playing fair — Lauren at Hobo Mama learned from her mother that you don't raise children based on what's fair but on what's right for each child.
  • My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at tries hard not to play favourites with her kids - but they make no secret of which parent they prefer.
  • The Ugly Side of Favoritism — Shannon of Pineapples and Artichokes shares a guest post warning: Don't favor one child over the other.


Raise a Child, Educate a Community (rerun)

Last week, I wrote about how people comment on children’s behavior and education without being consulted, or without even as much as an introduction.

I often feel - when these situations occur - that in raising my daughter lovingly, respectfully and peacefully, I’m also urged to educate the community at large.

People simply aren’t loving, respectful and peaceful towards children, and certainly not when they are stranger’s kid’s (well at least rarely).
It goes from blatant remarks towards the child or the parent to sad attempts of ‘us against them’. The latter generally well meat, but nonetheless demeaning to the child.

As I have long decided not to just take it anymore and to stand up for my child, I feel compelled to respond to these remarks.

“Shouldn’t your child be wearing x or y?”
My child has decided she wanted to wear that skirt over those pants, after all, it’s her body, who is to decide what she puts on but she?
“No icecream before lunch.”
If my daughter wants to have icecream first and then lunch, that is her choice. SHe is more than welcome to do so.
“Bad girl”
My child is a person too, sir. Would you say the same to an adult who accidentally bumped into you? I think not!”
“She’s three? That’s a difficult age!”
There is no such thing as a difficult age, sir, it’s our incapability of treating them as human beings and respecting their emotions.
“That’s ugly! You should wear clothes.”
My daughter is beautiful just the way she is. Clothes do not add or diminish her ‘value’. There is no reason for her to be dressed when she is indoors amongst her family, unless she decides she wants to, or she’s cold.

Do you feel like you are educating the world while parenting?



Monday, August 27, 2012

Say it Now, Say it Loud (rerun)

Written by Jeff Sabo, originally posted at "Just a Bald Man"

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy that now seems far away, before we had ever even heard of unschooling, our parenting practices were pretty far out of the mainstream. Cloth diapers, washed at home? Check. No vaccinations, no circumcision, breastfeeding? Check. Baby slings? Yep. And more, much more.

One of our least conventional choices has been our decision to co-sleep. We sleep in a family bed, a giant room-consuming contraption composed of two queen-sized mattresses pushed together to form one giant mega-bed. We've been doing this in one form or another from the beginning, and it definitely works for all of us. After a number of different combos over the years, we settled into an sleep order about three years ago that we're all comfortable with: me on the left, followed by Kai, Ging, and Kade. The boys have an option to change, or to have their own room, but they are very happy with the current arrangement. So we're happy, too.

The other night, Ginger was out very late, Annie went to bed relatively early, and the boys and I were flying solo as midnight turned into 1:00am, then 2:00am, and finally 3:15am before the yawns began. As the three of us climbed into our family bed, we quickly realized that Ginger's absence would leave an open space between Kai and Kade. That doesn't really work for either of them; they have always enjoyed having someone to touch while they fall asleep. So I took my seven pillows and quilted blanket over to Ginger's space, and we talked and told stories and held hands until we were all finally and thoroughly on our way to the land of Nod.

As they began drifting off, I found myself enjoying the comfort of being surrounded by these two amazing boys with whom I have shared so much. They have seen me at my worst, for sure, but they have also inspired me to be at my best on so many occasions. And while their love and presence have been comforting to me, I like to think that I have comforted them a few times too. Once they were asleep and I was lying there afraid to move lest I wake them up, I began thinking of all of the times when I was at my best, and I could not help but feel a strong tinge of pride at all that I have been able to do as a father, even though I am far from perfect.

In a culture which, in many way, values quiet humility over pride, allowing yourself a moment or two to be proud of your accomplishments can be a very rare luxury. We are taught to focus on what could be better about ourselves, on all of the things we need to change, and on all of the things we do wrong that prevent us from being perfect. When we do something well, we are taught to be humble about it. Don't get me wrong, humble is good; but when humility and a desire to improve provide an obstacle to being able to see and appreciate your own goodness, not only does that hinder your own self-image and self-worth, it sets a potentially negative example for your children. Think about it; how will your kids ever be satisfied with the amazing things they do if they are not allowed to take pride in them, to celebrate what they are and what they do? I'm not saying that we should demonstrate cockiness, but there is something very relieving and rejuvenating about taking pride in a job well done.

So as I lay there surrounded wrapped in a blanket of security woven by the love of my children, I allowed myself a few moments to remember some of the things I did right in the early years - and I took pride in them.

I am proud of all of the times that I went to sleep with just the boys, reading a few books and telling a few made-up stories, sometimes falling asleep along the way, and sometimes staying awake to hold their hands and caress their heads while they fell asleep snuggled close to me.

I am proud of all of the times I was able let go of my expectations and my arbitrary "must do"s and focus instead on what everyone's needs were.

I am proud of hunting down our pediatrician and knocking on the door to her house when she blew us off about a diagnosis; bet she still remembers that visit.

I am proud of silly songs, crazy dances, dressing up, and weird voices.

I am proud of eating the cookie on the Oreo while the boys ate the centers.

I am proud of the times when my head gave up thoughts of the past and the future and allowed my heart to live in the present.

I am proud of the times when I was the only one who could put my boys in a sling, walk them gently around the neighborhood softly humming lullabies or show tunes, and get them to fall asleep. And I am proud that when we got back home, I would usually sit in a comfy chair and fall asleep myself with them still slung to my body, our breathing patterns falling in together.

I am proud of losing a brand new $60 shirt to a giant milk burp without the slightest concern.

I am proud of the times I lost at races and wrestling, of all the times I played Fire Trucks or Space Destroyer on a piece of playground equipment even though I was the only Dad at the park, and of all of the times I let them bury me in the sand.

I am proud of the times when I said "yes" when I felt "no", when I said "more" when I felt "less", and when I said "thank you" when I felt "you're welcome."

I am proud of giving up an amazing Army career because they wanted me to leave my wife and baby for 12 months.

I am proud of seeing mud and mess and temporary and fixable.

I am proud of the fact that I usually never raised an eyebrow during the thousands of books we read, stories we told, and episodes of "Thomas the Tank Engine" and "Dora the Explorer" we watched.

I am proud of skipping in malls, taking off my shoes in the library, and cuddling little boys who were scared of Santa.

I am proud of riding carousels like a cowboy, shouting "Yee Haw!!!" for three minutes straight while the other grown-ups avoided making eye contact.

I am proud of never resenting changing a diaper; I didn't enjoy it, really, but I didn't resent it.

I am proud of always going back and admitting a mistake, and asking for forgiveness while never expecting it.

I am proud of listening instead of speaking, following instead of leading, learning instead of teaching, and moving instead of digging in.

I am not perfect and I will never be perfect; frankly, I'm not really sure what a "perfect" parent is. I have warts, I have quirks, I have things at which I both excel and absolutely suck. But I appreciate the amazing gift of being a parent, of helping these children through their good times and bad, of being allowed the privilege of watching them grow each day. And even on the worst days, I cannot wait to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.

And I am proud of that, too.

Jeff Sabo is a dad and partner who lives with his family and friends in Corvallis, OR. When he's not following his various passions or hanging out with his kids, he writes a blog about parenting, partnering, and unschooling at Just A Bald Man.


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Kitchen Classroom (rerun)

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen
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 kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

The kitchen is the most complete learning experience everyone has readily available in their house. It invites our children to play, to experience and to taste. In this first post of the series, I want to focus on the skills your child will be practicing, just by watching and helping in the kitchen.

Image: WoodleyWonderWorks on Flickr
It’s evident that cooking, especially baking is mathematics in practice. Without noticing it, we handle numbers all the time in the kitchen. We add, we subtract, divide and multiply. From simple counting to more advanced calculations, your child will pick these things up gradually if he is invited to work alongside you in the kitchen.
When you drop an egg, it falls to the floor. Just as Newton with his apple, your child will experience physics in action, just by participating in the kitchen. Your child will learn about volumes when measuring liquids or flower, about weight when baking a cake, about shapes when rolling dough and filling moulds. She’ll find out how coagulation works and how to dilute substances. Your child will start grasping concepts such as weight, length, height, volume, pressure, time and temperature.
Participating in cooking on a regular basis, your child will see several chemical reactions occur. Fermatation, making yoghurt, making vinegar, they’re all biochemicall processes, occuring right in your kitchen.
Obviously, being around fruit and vegetables and maybe meat and dairy, your child will ask questions from time to time, but will also experience first hand what a stem like when you cut it through, what’s inside a chicken, what do bones look like and much more. When you’re cooking spinach, your child will see that it reduces and liquid comes out, thus concluding that much of what makes up spinach is water.
Who would have though that the kitchen would even invite your child’s artistic skills? But what else is decorating a pie? Being in the kitchen alongside mother or father, your child will learn to handle lots of artistic tools (a brush, a moldable dough, knives...) and different media.
Gross Motor Skills
Carrying bowls from one side of the kitchen to the other, climbing on a chair or step to help alongside you, crawling over the floor to pick up fallen bits of vegetable clippings... there are no limits to your child’s exploration of space in the kitchen, and the best thing is that they all happen naturally, no prompting!
Fine motor skills
Just think “decorating a cake” and you have a scoop of the many many ways in which your child can improve his fine motor skills.
Smell, taste and texture
The kitchen is first and foremost a field of exploration for a small child, a way to sense and taste, to feel and observe. Your child will explore a field of flavors and a panoply of textures. Don’t be afraid to bring different things into your kitchen, try things you never ate before, even if you don’t know how to cook them or what they taste like (if you know what it’s called, you’ll quickly find a multitude of recipes online).
Try different kinds of cooking: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Hungarian, English, African... Let the table be your lab. You’ll get to learn different cultures and their cooking habits alongside your child and you might discover some exciting tastes you didn’t know before.
Language skills
Along with some neat cooking lingo, your child will pick up the names of vegetables and fruits, discover how nuts and seeds are called, what cow’s meat looks like. They’ll also pick up numbers and materials (give me the glass bowl please)...
Healthy eating habits
Being in the kitchen and able to participate in creating healthy meals for the whole family, your child will inherit respect for the food he eats and a deep connection to wholesome food, which can only be beneficial to his eating pattern later in life. Aren’t the sweetest childhood memories those of the cookies grandmother baked? The pancakes we consumed together as a family and the jam made from freshly picked strawberries?

I deliberately placed the scholastic skills first and then the ones that aren’t taught explicitly, just to show you that you really don’t need to step further than your kitchen for your young child to get just as much education as they would in school (and then some). And instead of seeing these things chalked on a blackboard, they’ll get to feel and experience it. Isn’t experience richer than paper?

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 live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)
  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter's suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • "Mommy, Can I Help?" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food - it's a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn't cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa's making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won't eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children's favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What's Next? panicks about passing on her food "issues" to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family's relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M's first adventures with food.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Setting them up for failure (rerun)

How often do we as parents expect our children to fail, and - even worse - tell them we do. I can hear you think: I never... But think about it a little harder; when they engage in a dangerous, or trying activity, do you warn them? What words do you use?
"You are going to fall!" "That glass is going to break!"

It is stronger than ourselves, in the face of danger, guided by fear, it is all the more difficult to pick the right validating vocabulary. Next time your toddler runs around with scissors, don't expect them to get hurt, just accept it as one of the possibilities, he might actually put them back before anything happens. (I am not suggesting you give it a try, though)



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rivalry to Harmony: Promoting Peace Among Siblings (rerun)

Sharing, holding hands, helping tie shoes, sibblings can share a lifelong bond of trust, love and friendship. They can also have many fights, brawls and squabbles.
Recent studies on sibling relationships seem to show a pattern relating to sibling relationships and parental affection, attachment and attention. Children that reported having to fight for parental attention and being forced to share belongings were generally unhappier later in life than those who have maintained a strong bond to their parents and siblings throughout childhood and early adulthood. Those children who felt their needs were attended to by parents early in life and in the teenage years, report more happiness later in life than children without siblings.
So if having siblings can actually be good for overall happiness how can parents create an atmosphere that can lead ever lasting sisterhood/brotherhood?
These are three ways to promote sibling harmony in the home:
Team Work: Getting siblings to work together, to solve problems, overcome challenges can be a great way to form early bonds of a lifetime of friendship and trust. Having pillow fights for example can be a great playful way to create a pretend atmosphere of “us” against “them” bringing siblings closer in their attempts to defeat mom or dad. Just recently all three of my children waited sneakily (giggling up a small storm) under the covers just waiting to pounce with a handful of pillows. I threw myself onto the mattress, over dramatizing the total defeat and watched as the children gave each other high fives and yelled “We are the coolest team ever.”
Special Time: Maintaining individual and group special times each and every week (or daily) is a wonderful way to show every family member that they matter and have their place and space in the family. For my family, we try to rotate special times just with mom or dad for each child where the children can for example choose to run an errand or play a game just with one parent. Special times in our family have even grown to include times that are reserved just for the boys to do something together or with their sister. On Monday morning, my five year old spent about twenty minutes reading a board book to his sister, showing her shapes and animals and upon finishing the board book he told me “That was special time for just me and Bella, she likes to hear me read even if I can’t read all the words yet.”
Respect: Creating an overall atmosphere of respect in the family can go a long way to promote sibling harmony. In our family we try to respect our children’s feelings when they are not ready to share a beloved toy or snack. We also have moved into accepting that after an incident involving hitting or hurting our children might not be ready to apologize to a sibling right away. Recently, my three year old grabbed a toy car out of my five year olds hands. My five year old was livid and hit his brother on the arm. My three year old threw the car down and walked away crying and wanted a hug from me. Two minutes later he went back and the boys had a conversation sort of like this: “Are you ready to share that now?” “No, I’m mad you threw my favorite car.” “You hit me” “I did. Do you want to borrow this car instead; you can be the police car and catch the bad guy.” “Ok.” They continued to play. Ten minutes later my five year old said completely unprompted: “I'm so sorry I hurt you, want to borrow the car now? I’m done.” "Thanks brother." Said my three year old.
How do you promote peace and friendship among siblings? Do you share (or wish you did) a special bond with sibblings?
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.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Quote of the Day

Image: dsasso on Flickr
"When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself." 
- Jean Piaget via The Natural Child Project


Who Will Be Your Birth Partner? (rerun)

I have been known to say that birth is not a place for the father, to the great dismay of many women. I have to admit that I should rephrase.
I can tell you who your birth partner should not be. He or she should not be someone that brings fear or doubt into the birth room. Such a person will only make labor and birth harder, no doubt through ill placed good intentions. You need someone to enter the birth phase who is in the same state of mind as you.

Suggestion of pain is conveyed by the atmosphere of the labor room; it emanates from doctors, nurses and relatives. They believe in pain; subconsciously or consciously they suggest, expect and even presume pain. Upon the sensitive mind of a woman in labor such authoritative (suggestions are) a powerful adjuvant to painful sensations.
- Grantly Dick-Read, Childbirth Without Fear

Image: Adam Borkowski on Dreamstime
Another thing I can tell you is that you are strong enough to do it alone. Your body was made to give birth and all you need is yourself. Being alone makes it easier to birth undistracted, and to find that inner eye, the trance that brings you to the ultimate high of birth.
Solitude, it appears, may actually be beneficial to the laboring woman. When she has no overly concerned observers to "comfort" her, she can be free to look within herself for support and direction.
- Laura Kaplan Shanley, Unassisted Childbirth

A woman should only chose to have a birth partner when she feels she WANTS to share the birth with someone, when she trusts that person fully to enter or at least not disturb her meditative state and/or when she feels that she herself will benefit from the shared experience.

I understand that not all woman want to birth alone, I understand that these strong emotions, if shared, make a beautiful moment. Birth can be a joyous communal experience. But one should not choose a birth partner out of convention, or because he wants to be there. Yes, you have made the baby together, but the birth is yours to own, so be honest to yourself how you feel about having anyone present and choose wisely.
If a woman decides to share her birth with others, however, it should be because she chooses to - not because she feels she has to, out of fear of pain and problems.
- Laura Kaplan Shanley, Unassisted Childbirth

If you are insecure, or birthing in a hospital, a partner can be a good advocate for your desires, but make sure that he/she knows your desires and your wish for him/her to advocate them. Thoroughly talk your birth partner through his role at your birth. Tell him what you envision and what you want and do not want him to do.

So is birth the place of the father? Or anyone else except the mother? It depends on the mother’s desires and the partner’s state of mind. I have read beautiful birth stories from couples who were so attuned that they both went into that meditative state together and there was not a misplaced word, but that requires you both be in the same state of mind, and hold the same beliefs about birth.


Childbirth Without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read (2004)
Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Kaplan Shanley (1994)


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Call for submission: Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival of Breastfeeding

Authentic Parenting and Positive Parenting Connection, will be hosting the August Carnival of Authentic Parenting on August 31st.

This months topic: Breastfeeding

August is Breastfeeding awareness month, we welcome you to share with us your breastfeeding journey. Have an inspiring story to share? Did you face any challenges on getting started 
or somewhere along the way? Tips, Tricks and Ideas to help other moms have a successful breastfeeding journey? What are your breastfeeding victories? 

We invite you to share a post and or pictures on any and all things Breastfeeding.

Submission date: August 24th.
Carnival date: August 31st. 

To enter, please compose a new post on the chosen topic and email mamapoekie {at} yahoo {dot} com and info {at} positiveparentingconnection {dot} net no later than 11PM GMT on August 24th 2012. Once you have emailed your submission please fill out the submission form:


Monday, August 13, 2012

Seventeen Tips to Become and Stay a Peaceful Parent

If you haven’t been raised gently and positively, parenting peacefully can be quite a challenge. Some days, it seems like you’re totally lost and find yourself going in a downward spiral, simply repeating what’s been hardwired by the way you were raised, and not finding your way back. Parenting gently requires commitment and daily practice, in order to rewire your system. If we are able to continue this practice, and get up again after falling, we will eventually be able to overcome and effectively change the hardwiring.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you on your way:

Image: Martina Photography on Flickr

  1. Surround yourself with people who parent in a way you look up to - or if they’re not parents, who are gentle and loving with your kids. When you are surrounded with gentle people, this will reflect on you and your behavior will change. This effect is called mirroring in psychology. Be careful, because it also works the opposite way, so shun people who are harsh and authoritarian. This may sound harsh, but keeping aggressive people away from your children is in their - and your - best interest. If you want to remain in contact with people who think differently about the subject, see them when the children are not around, so you don’t invite conflict and frustration.
  2. Make a playlist of soothing music. Put it on whenever you feel overwhelmed, or whenever you and your children can need some soothing. Add music you like and make sure the playlist is readily available. This is a very simple tip, but it is very effective. Music reaches parts of our brain reasoning doesn’t go (or at least not as fast).
  3. Breathe deeply. Breathing fuels your blood with oxygen, thus also your brain and you’ll effectively feel better in a mere instant. It’s a good idea to teach your children from a young age to breathe through their overwhelming emotions.
  4. Envision yourself parenting in the way you would like to parent every night, before you go to sleep. this takes just a minute, but envisioning it every day will make it so. Your mind is very powerful and you are in charge of your actions, however hard it may seem some days on the spot.
  5. React differently. When you notice a knee jerk reaction in a certain situation, mark it in your brain and force yourself to a different reaction the next time. It’s a simple as getting up and giving a hug instead of screaming. Do it once, and repeat it the next time... with this behavior modification, you will end up rewriting standard actions.
  6. Don't make big statements or promises, take it one day at a time. If you fall off the wagon, commit to doing better next time, not forever. Making grand statements will only result in guilt when you fail. 
  7. Evaluate. If you feel like your day hasn't gone by as gently as you wish, you may have been bouncing off your children, you may have yelled, you might have handled a situation in a way that wasn't as loving as you intended... Go over your day and figure out what went wrong, envision how you could have handled it differently, and figure out the triggers. Were you nourished? Did you have enough sleep? Was your child irritable? Did you show patience?What could you have done differently to have things roll out in a more peaceful way?
  8. Stay clear of negative influences. Just as great parenting rubs off, negative feelings rub off too. Have a friend or family member who's not gentle or kind towards you or your children? Stay away from them. Their negative emotions will spoil your day. 
  9. Spend time together doing things you both like. If you find an activity you can both get into, you will be connected on a deeper level. If you can both reach a state of flow, a state of complete presence, your relationship with your child will deepen.
  10. Make a point of spending time in nature every day. This can be as simple as taking a stroll through your garden, or walking through the park instead of along the street. Connecting too the earth will naturally make you feel stillness and peacefulness. 
  11. Meditate. Meditation is a great way into mindfulness. And it shouldn't be hard. Just sitting in stillness every day for three minutes is enough. Just make sure it is a daily practice, instead of a sporadic event. If you have never meditated, just sit in a relaxed way and smile. You can have your eyes closed or open. Smile with your whole being.
  12. Daily affirmations are a good way into rewiring your brain. Pick a time of day when you can say them, repeat every day. Pick a couple of simple active phrases. You can even print them out and hang them on the spot where you are saying them.
  13. Eat well! A balanced diet is the key to good health, physical and mental. If you are well nourished, tackling challenges will be much easier. Try to eat foods as close to nature as possible, avoid or limit grains and dairy and steer clear of processed foods. 
  14. Nurture yourself. Often, we get so caught up in nurturing others that we don't make time for ourselves, but just as an empty motor won't run, we have to fuel ourselves to be able to take care of others.
  15. Cuddle. Physical closeness releases endorphins and fosters connection.
  16. Schedule daily physical activity. Mild sports are a perfect way to release tension. Don't aim for rock climbing if your body isn't used to it. A vigorous daily walk is an easy, affordable way to meet your daily activity needs.  
  17. Make sure needs are met for the whole family: have you all slept well? Have you had a good meal? Have you engaged in some sort of activity? Are you connected?
Many of these tips don't seem immediately related to peaceful parenting, but these are the keys that enable you to grow. Mens sana in corpora sano. A healthy mind in a healthy body. 
If you are not doing any of these, don't feel overwhelmed! You can set yourself a goal of adding one of these tips to your routine every week. It will take time, but you and your family will reap the benefits. 
What have you found to be helpful on your journey to peaceful parenting?


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Common Goods - Personal Responsibility (rerun)

Whenever I’m in a more interaction dense situation than the fairly isolated one here on my hill in Congolese nomansland, I am astounded at the way people think children are common goods.
People you haven’t even spoken a word to, are not embarrassed to make remarks to your child, often demeaning and harsh things. Strangers will comment on your parenting and store clerks see no harm in ‘educating’ your child.

Image: G(wiz) on Flickr

“You are a bad girl! Why are you such a bad girl?” - stranger sitting next to me on the plane when my daughter accidentally pushed him with her smallish foot.
“First lunch, then ice cream!” - Waitress at the museum when my daughter told me she wanted an ice cream for lunch.

Probably this is a remainder of the times when humans actually lived as a community and it was the community’s role to raise the children (hence: It takes a village...). However, despite stranger’s eagerness of jumping in to educate other people’s children, when it comes to taking responsibility, eyes are diverted to the sky, hands are interlaced and an eery whistling sound emerges. When it comes to actually helping out a struggling parent, all is quiet on the Western Front.

Not so long ago, in Charleroi, a highly industrialized city in Belgium, where the crime rate is one of the highest, a two year old wandered the streets for days. Being spotted on several occasions, nobody intervened. Nobody took this desperate little child by the hand and actually helped him out.
When I last travelled to Belgium, I was visibly struggling to manage my three year old, with my already huge belly and take the suitcases of the luggage carrousel. I had a man standing on each side. But I had to get those suitcases of myself anyway.
On another plain ride, my daughter got upset when she had to buckle up for landing and started wailing, no way to calm hr down. Instead of one nice word, a ‘lady’ behind us commented, loud enough for my husband to hear: “Good thing we never had any children”.
And I could go on sharing these anecdotes, from my life as from friend’s lives.

We would all benefit staying away from the educational high horse and helping each other out instead.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Anger: 10 Ideas on How to Stop Reacting and Focus on Responding

It’s nearly impossible to parent and not get angry at some point. Sometimes, as parents we must deal with quite some annoying, difficult, stressful situations. It's not unusual for parents to feel angry.  Sometimes in anger we react. Sometimes we react badly!

A few weeks ago, it was taking longer than usual for the kids to go to sleep. I thought I had finally settled everyone and then I heard the pitter patter of my four year old coming up the stairs..."I can't sleep!" he offered with a sweet smile.  It was the end of a long day and I needed time for myself, and was not keen on settling four kids into bed yet again. I wanted to yell "go to!!!!!!"  I started off in a bad direction, I crinkled my forehead and said, "you know I am so tired of.." but before I could go any further I realized something.  I was reacting...not responding!

Often, it is stored anger and stress that trigger reactions, strong reactions that we later regret. It can feel really difficult, nearly impossible at times to overcome the urge to react with yelling or threats and consequences... Just like children get angry and need an outlet for their anger, adults need outlets too.  Anger is a complex emotion and we simply should not ignore it!

While there isn't really a quick fix, learning to stop reacting in anger and start responding instead to our needs, our child's needs and reduce conflict is possible! Here are several ways to cope with anger and stress:

Write it out:  write down all the things that are bugging you on a piece of paper. Just being aware of what is making us angry or stressed is a great first step. This doesn't need to be a detailed account, even just jotting down key words works well.

Unload: find someone that  is willing to listen to you. Someone that will really listen, not judge or try to fix your problems but simply listen so you can get whatever is bugging you off your chest. If parenting is bringing you a lot of stress, it's really ok to seek someone out that can help you sort out your thoughts on parenting and the challenges that you are facing. If you have a friend that is willing to truly listen great! Otherwise, finding a counselor or coach and meeting with them once a week or once a month can also be very helpful.

Learn to pause: a huge distinction between reacting and responding to our children is that when we react, we do it immediately, with our first thought. This can be great in situations of danger or urgency. But in non-urgent situations when we can pause, evaluate our options and then respond instead of react, we can consider all sides of the story and create a plan of action that is going to work for everyone involved.  Just because we are pausing, It doesn't mean we should suppress our anger.  We can acknowledge our feelings and then take our own time in to sort our feelings. It's like a time in for us parents, and very much something we can model for our children.

There are many situations where taking a break before responding are in fact more advisable then regretting your immediate reaction.

Learn some breathing exercises: Long steady refocusing breaths are essential when faced with a toddlers and preschooler who just dumped out a bottle of glue...short breaths can be very grounding. Another great breath exercise is to breathe in like you are smelling a flower and then blowing out a candle. Often in a moment that is challenging, breathing can really guide you back to a place that is calm so you can respond instead of react. 

Stick to your limits but don't engage in an argument that is going nowhere:  It is great for children to have and exercise critical thinking, yet,  a back and forth of twenty "but please, I want it" and "I said no" is not going to help anyone.  State your final decision and then help your child move on, they may need to cry, be frustrated or cope with anger of their own, that is all fine, but don't engage into back talk or everyone's frustration will escalate into anger with no resolution in sight.

Exercise:  This is another great way to release anger and maintain inner harmony. Many people find that a daily run or long walk is very centering.  Yoga and meditation work wonders for me. Making time for yourself, even if it seems impossible is really important. By taking time for yourself, you are also modeling the importance of self-care to your child. 

Rethink the motives:  Chances are that whatever is making you angry may not be that terrible to begin with. Often children act in ways we deem badly but really they are just exploring or expressing a need. If we rethink the motives, baby is crying because he has a belly ache, not to drive me nuts....Johnny  just spilled the glue because he is curious, not because he wants me to spend 30min scrubbing it away... plus we can clean up together…Rethinking helps us respond to the actual need and not react to how it made us feel.

Nourish yourself:  It's tough being a parent...lack of sleep, sometimes no time for one self...hurried meals…rest and a healthy diet are so important. It may feel unrealistic with a newborn and toddler to find any time to rest, but really ignore the dishes and the dust and make resting a priority. Encourage your children to play independently, find activities that are low key but engaging and find ways to rest, eat regular meals and try to take small breaks.

Accept help:  If you are really finding yourself reacting at every little thing, it’s ok so seek out some help. It may be help in the form of a baby sitter so you can get that rest, it may be a cleaning person so you have less on your to-do list, a friend with whom you can swap child care or just a cup of coffee and some laughs while the children play... maybe you can get your partner or family a little bit more involved.  Which ever way you can accept help is worth it!

Finally, having a glass of wine while soaking in a bubble bath, practicing positive alternatives to traditional punitive parenting like giving choices, adjusting expectations and striving for cooperation and harmony can really reduce the amount of struggles, stress and chances of anger festering.

Learning to respond instead of reacting is not about ignoring emergencies or becoming permissive, but rather trusting that learning can take place at a moment when everyone is actually ready to communicate; that place rarely lies in anger. 

Do you ever feel so frustrated, stressed or angry...which of these ideas might work for you?

Peace & Be Well, 


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