Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is Natural Parenting to a Witch Mom?

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What is natural parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


A natural parenting philosophy, as outlined at the above link, is something that resonated with me, even before I had an all-encompassing term for it. Rowan was insanely planned and thought about before he even entered this world. His father and I talked about what it would mean to have a child, how our lives would likely change, and how we wanted to raise him/her.

And while I thought I was having a girl, when I found out that I was having a boy, I took that information and used it to my son's advantage: I learned all about circumcision and decided against it.

Now that he is here, in his first year, I think carefully about everything that affects him- and plan accordingly. For example, there is so much conflicting information about vaccination (and yes, I know that the link between autism and vaccines have not been proven. I am talking about umpteen other problems.) that I have postponed getting any for him until at least after a year of age, if at all. In the meantime, I read all I can to try and understand both sides of the vaccination issue and what it means for my family.

Rowan will never be an isolated or coddled kid. I am not going to over-schedule his activities and hover over him the way I see so many other parents doing. While I am considering homeschooling with a group of like-minded parents, that is not because I don't want him to leave my side. Rather, it is because I have been a public school teacher myself and I did not like what I saw there in terms of educational standards, bureaucracy getting in the way of learning and fairness issues, and bullying. I want him to have the social interaction that school affords (which to my mind is the main thing that school does), so I have created a playgroup for him. He has regular playdates (about twice a week right now) and I hope to increase this soon.

I also feel that it is extremely important that Rowan get interactions with the natural world every week- he experiences open air, sunshine, rain, the ocean, dirt, grass, flowers, trees, and the like as part of his regular life, and animals are of extreme interest to him. Because he is such an animal lover (and mommy is so very happy about that!), he gets interactions with animals all the time (pets, petting zoos, pet stores, zoos, farms, and more).

In terms of family life, I have decided to extend my grad school education by going part-time so that I can be with him as much as possible, and his father works part-time so that he gets at least one of us almost all the time. While this has meant living on a severely fixed income that includes public assistance, I feel that this is better for him than both or one of us working full time and never seeing that parent. He has only been babysat thrice in his 9 month old life, and those are times when mom and dad wanted to go somewhere together without a child (novel!).

Most of the time, we go places where our son is welcome- not because we have to, but because it feels more genuine. I want to live in a world where all generations congregate and socialize and there is room at the table for everyone. Places that aren't like that feel artificial to me, even more so now that I am a parent. I strive for an authentic-feeling life. Yes, there are times when we want adult time. And we take it for ourselves. But more often than not, I want to cuddle and play with my son. Show him the world in all its glory. And simply BE with him.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit 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. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):
    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (@myzerowaste)
  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism


  1. Beautiful post. I admire the way you and Oberyn are conscientiously raising Rowan. It isn't easy what you do; it's probably like being an army general with a troop to take care of...The little tyke will be quite a man someday.

    (I am not a parent, but I have cousins who were babies once. We worried about them learning the wrong things from their environment and, thus, growing up to be brats and bullies. It was like being on world crisis half of the time.)

  2. What a lovely post! I love that you are already looking out for those ideals for your son such as socialization, being in touch with the out of doors, and loving animals. Giving a child time, love and interaction are some of the best gifts we can bestow.

  3. It's always interesting to hear about the experiences of public school teachers who decide to homeschool. Jenn from Connected Mom is also a former teacher who plans on HS'ing, and she's very confident in her decision. We are blessed here in KC with a marvelous HS'ing community - plenty of opportunities for socialization, group activities, etc. Thanks so much for sharing in our Carnival!

  4. Hello everyone. Thanks for the feedback- bloggers LOVE comments, so keep 'em coming!

    I am excited to participate in this blog carnival and intend on doing the subsequent months as well. Natural parenting, as a philosophy is something near and dear to my heart.

    As a former public school teacher, I just cannot in good conscience send my son into that morass! There are far too many experiments done with curriculum (that result in kids not being able to read, usually), the teachers are underpaid and overworked, and there bullying that I believe comes from kids not getting enough nurturing and having too much exposure to violence (real and digitized).

  5. As a pagan mom myself I also make sure my kids spend lots of time outdoors learning to fall in love with, understand and respect Mother Earth. I am homeschooling this year and while it is great for where we are at right now as a family I am undecided if we will continue indefinitely. But I so understand all the great reasons to continue with homeschooling. I am just not sure it will work for us after a year or two. Thankfully there are a couple schools here that are nature-based programs and while nothing is perfect we may look into enrolling her there to see how it goes either Sep 2011 or the following year.

  6. It's quite the interesting social "experiment" choosing to work less and be with your children more despite the drastically reduced income. We've done the same and I find a lot of people regard the decision to work the hours they do as a "have to", rather than a choice...when really it's only a "have to" because of the consumer choices they make.
    Regarding public school and bullying, I highly recommend Gordon Neufeld's book Hold Onto Your Kids.
    I also know some teachers who made the choice to homeschool and they've told me it is something their fellow teachers have an easier time understanding than the parents of their sturdents do.

  7. So glad to have you with us this month! I love the confidence radiating through your writing. Your last paragraph especially resonated with me, because we seek out the same sort of opportunities to be together with groups of different ages. I really appreciate having my son be part of our community and love it when that comes together.

  8. @Melodie: Welcome! Would love to hear more about your pagan parenting. Consider joining the witch Mom forums, where we can have discussions!

    @BlueBirdMama: interesting indeed! I actually have found living with less to be less stressful. And while we struggle at times (and these days, who doesn't?), having time with our son is such a rich reward! I forgo fancy haircuts, new clothes, and many other things- but we work it out to afford what we need.

    @Lauren & Dionna: Thanks so much for all the obvious work that goes into your blog carnival! It is super well-run and organized, and that does not go unnoticed by me!

  9. BEing is the best. :)

    (found you via the carnival...)


  10. I love it. So often other parents, regardless of AP inclination or not, don't understand our family, as our children always have access to a parent, even when they are busy with something else. It just feels right for us, and our children are thriving. We like hanging out with one another, and the kids like knowing that if they need us, they can get to us. It's not a judgement; it just works for our family.

  11. I am also a public school teacher (not former-yet). Although I think our system is pretty good and firmly believe in public education, I don't want it for my twin girls. They are in JK now and they like it, but I feel that it won't meet their needs as they get older and I am working on figuring out how to manage homeschooling (financially).

    I'm loving this Carnival, I'm learning so much and "meeting" so many people.

    I love your background graphics!


  12. Welcome, carnival peeps!

    @Erin: Some of our public schools are excellent, depending on where you live. I went to public schools in my hometown- but it was a fairly affluent suburb- not in a city like where I live now. I believe in the ideals of free public education, but feel that that ideal and goal gets mired down in politics and experiments that have nothing to do with being effective as an educator.

    My background graphics are awesome, I love them- they were done by a woman that I met through the mothering.com boards (we were in the same due date club, and became friends!) and she does this work professionally. Her website is here: http://violetscribe.com/

    @livingpeacefullywithchildren: I'm a big fan of if it works for you- keep doing it. We are also going to live with less, if it means more time with Rowan.


Comments are welcome but moderated. Please be respectful when leaving a comment.