Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I wrote a bio blurb for this blog, back in the days before Rowan walk or express himself in language (and mothering was more of a theory than it is now), I wrote this: "(My) parenting philosophy is to raise (my) child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others. Raising a child in a religious context that is anathema to the dominant culture can be challenging and a struggle. But aren't all things of value difficult to achieve?"

Looking in on it these 18 months later, I see this blog carnival as a perfect opportunity to expound upon what I mean. So here, I break it down.

Compassionate: I have expounded on my ideas regarding compassion in other blog posts before. I feel that compassion and empathy go hand-in-hand and that are entwined in a way that I would not want to separate. I want Rowan to be able to "suffer with" others (the literal meaning of compassion)- to truly understand their motivations, grief, desires, and emotions. Empathy means that Rowan will be able to discern how others may feel and be able to relate to their emotional state- be they human or otherwise. This emotional intelligence is something that I think is one of the most important things we can pass on to our children. I am using a language that talks about emotions and acknowledges them as valid and important with Rowan- his, mine, everyone's.

Loving: I am raising my son to be loving- to other people, animals, plants, all of creation. This means that I am modeling loving affection, loving care, and loving words as much as possible. He is picking so much up from watching his mama and daddy right now. If we didn't "walk our talk" in this regard the effects would be obvious later on, I am sure. I am delighted that he shows his affection and love for us, animals, his toys, and his friends. He kisses things that he loves and it is adorable. (My parents kitty, however, did not find it so cute.)

Questioning: We live in a world that does not value this trait and often eyes people that question authority and the status quo with suspicion. But that is not the world I want him to inherit, nor is it one that I am particularly comfortable with, as a marginalized person myself. I was always a questioning child, and while it made me an outcast at times, it served me well. I do not take things at surface value and I am teaching my son to question and discern, too. Even without language, he asks questions, mainly the names of things right now. I always supply answers, even when he asks the same freaking question, over and over. His latest things is pointing to the three or four things on his high chair tray dozens of times: "Grape. Blueberry. Graham cracker. Juice." He wants me to supply the names of things over and over, so I do.

Decision-Making: Being well-equipped emotionally and mentally to make decisions is an important trait for anyone, particularly a Witch, to have. To make a well-informed decision, one must have a clear vision, weighing all the options. Then you must have the courage to manifest your will and take the plunge! I am already supplying Rowan with choices: "Do you want to eat this or that?" or "Do you want to wear the blue one or the red one?" He will be included in family plans, such as deciding what meals we make and groceries we need to buy, where we spend our fun days, and what we will plant in our garden. I will model how to make a good decision by talking him through all the variables: "Well, if we want to eat lasagne, what ingredients do we need?" and "If we have lots of spinach left over, what should else we make this week with that so it does not go to waste?"

My little flower fairy.
Avoiding Harm: There is no way to avoid all harm, as I like to tell my vegetarian and vegan friends. All life involves the taking of lives and the deaths of others to sustain your own- be they animals or plants. This is something that Rowan will learn- life and death are a never-ending cycle for all involved and no one escapes this. But hunting for sustenance and hunting for sport are two very different things (worthy of different language- I wish we had it!) and this analogy points out the difference of what I hope to instill in my son. Getting pleasure from harming others is NOT OK. Respecting and honoring others for the sacrifices they make, especially if you benefit, is a sacred duty.

What is in your parenting philosophy? How are you teaching that to your children?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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 July 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.


  1. Ah, the questioning - does that ever end? ;) But you're right - it's so important to answer those innocent questions, so we don't dampen the spirit to explore, question, discover later on. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I love these points! Compassion and empathy and questioning... all of those are dear to our hearts as well. I love how you bring your son into all of the basic decision-making at a young age. We've found that when we give our daughter (8mo) the opportunity to make choices for herself (baby-led bedtimes, eating, choosing her own toys to play with) things fall into place beautifully. :)

  3. This is a beautiful reflection on how your journey as a parent has unfolded and how your core philosophy has not waivered. You have such an inspiring approach to parenting and I am so happy to have found your blog through the Carnival! I will be reading more!!!!

  4. compassion and empathy - that is our struggle. is it the age? my daughter is 3 turning 4 and currently in her selfish stage. I would love for her to understand how her actions affect others and that is what we are working on now.

  5. Oh, to raise a Questioner! That is my goal, too. I raised NOT to question anything (strict, fundamentalist Christian background) and so I always held it all inside. NOW I feel confident enough to question every thought and assumption around me and I can happily provide an environment for my children to question their experiences.

    Oh, and the Decision Making! This exactly explains why I don't want children who OBEY!

    And isn't it wonderful to reflect on our philosophies as our children grow? If only I could parent in reverse because already I know so much BETTER now than I did when my first daughter was born.

    Freedom and Joy to you! ((hugs))
    (And your website is BEAUTIFUL, BTW.)

  6. I love your expounding of your philosophy. Questioning has become very important to me as well. I grew up not questioning much and feel like I missed out on a lot of growth. I want better for my kids (and for myself, now). Parenting the way I do has been possible because of questioning the cultural thoughts I've received about how to parent.

    I thought your perspective on avoiding harm was so interesting. I want to think about that further. Thank you!

  7. Thanks everyone! I love this particular blog carnival, as it drives folks who aren't in my theological camp to the blog, often for the first time. We all share so much in terms of parenting and philosophies thereof, I am finding. I am enjoying reading everyone's blog in the carnival, too.


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