I’ve been reading a lot about the natural parenting “movement” – I hate to call it a movement because essentially it’s not a move forward but instead a move back to the original state of parenting. It resonates strongly with me and my own instinctual parenting, it also resonates strongly with my husband as has elements that are very similar to how children are parented here in the village (with a few personal exceptions of course). If you’ve read much of my blog before you would know that I’m not into labels, in fact I hate them… So perhaps this is a bit odd for me to say, I kinda like this one. The label Natural Parent, is really an anti-label, because at the end of the day, it’s what each and everyone of us are. Regardless of what methodology you do (or don’t) follow, you are a natural parent, different and completely unique compared to any other parent.
I think the best way to discover the parent you truly want to be is to start by looking inward. By stripping back all of the day to day stuff that our modern world puts on us. Our unreasonable self expectations, our material desires, our societal push to always be bigger, better, richer, prettier… if we remove all of that (even for just a moment, completely would be ideal but unrealistic) and remember that right now, we are doing the most important thing in the world. Forming a human being. A human being who may one day go on to influence, affect and create human beings of their own and so on. As parents today we play an enormous role in the shape of the world in the future. Responsibility much?
Like with any social movement of any kind there are of course radicals and extremists, and I don’t know if I would recommend that to anyone. We certainly are not either. I have spent a lot of time looking inward to find the answers to some pretty big parenting decisions. When it comes to sleep training, breastfeeding, weaning, the introduction of solid foods, general bonding and relationship building with Bo – I’ve devoured as much information as I can (because that’s just the sort of person that I can). I go to blogs first, because a persons actual experience as they are experiencing it I find the most “real.” We had decided right from the beginning to respond to Bo’s needs as humanely as possible. To respond to her as her individual person – and no parenting book or methodology can do that. But what I never realised was how hard it really would be to do that, not to respond to her but to trust myself. We have had to create our own ever changing, ever fluid, ever flexible way of doing this. And every day we learn more about who she is and as her needs change we (often after a little struggle) change along with her. One could easily spend their entire lifetime on the study of bonding and attachment, some people do…
It can be so hard to trust ourselves as parents. I struggle with it every day. It is in our nature to yearn to subscribe to some sort of dogma, to but our trust in someone else to tell us the right way to do things, to follow the lead of someone else – to invest our authority in them. But at the end of the day only my husband and I are the authority on our child. We are the only people who truly know her, and even then we are still (and forever will be) learning her.
I look within to find strength to trust myself to be the right parent for my child. To give her the respect and love that she needs to develop into the amazing person that I know that she is capable of – all she needs from me is support. In the simplicity of our life, a life without flashing toys or educational aids or baby entertainers… Bo has just us, her parents, and her larger community as her entertainment and her education.
This parenting is a bloody hard gig and I think sometimes we absolutely forget how powerful we are in this small persons life. How everything we do, the way we react, the way we behave is shaping this young person who is forever watching us. With great power comes great responsibility, indeed. I think we should all give ourselves a break, remember what it is in the day that is truly important, put down our phones, pick up our babies and go back to basics, even if just for an hour…
On that note, I might go and scoop up my baby and tuck us both into bed and attempt a well deserved nap after yet another sleepless night with Bo the night owl.