Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't.

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:
Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality

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 are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

I have taken care of children for almost all my life. My brother was born when I was two, and my dad says I took up caring for him from the very beginning. From siblings, to babysitting, to a homeschooling nanny, I had ample time to see the importance of parenting decisions, and most importantly how those decisions work out in the long run. Yes, there was a time that I thought spankings and other hurtful, shaming tactics were how you raised children. Then I saw their effectiveness fall to the wayside as the children grew and knew they were not teaching the lessons I wanted to teach my children. And by being a part of supervising homeschooling children, I would learn the true nature of learning and education. That it is possible to trust a child's intrinsic drive to explore and discover.

So, there were certain statements I made as I moved toward being a parent of my own children.
Laundry line
"I won't spank."
"If it is at all possible, I will not send my children to industrialized (public) school."
"I will breastfeed my child."
"I want to use cloth diapers."

And, I stand by these statements, even though all of them were shot down or laughed at by some people. So many people said I would change my tune when I was in the midst of parenting. Or well meaning people would almost give me "permission" to fail. That may be nice for some people, but when I set a goal I want SUPPORT, not naysayers.

Most importantly, I need support for when I loose my path to these goals. Because what I did find as I fell down the parenting rabbit hole was that even with full knowledge, education, and belief in these convictions about what kind of parent I want to be: all too often I fail. I can spout off all the reasons for my decisions, and support them with research and studies. But in the thick of it, sometimes I lose myself to the darker corners of my mind that recalls what my experience was as a child and forget that is not what I want in the present.

What I have had to realize is that I can't just make up my mind about what kind of parent I want to be. I can't just read about it. I need to surround myself with people who believe what I believe. Who practice the values I want for myself and my family. So we can support each other in changing how our brains process and move into responding in ways we may never or rarely saw growing up. And to laugh it off when we see a cloth diaper advocate with a babe in disposables and know that it means maybe she needs a little extra love in the moment.


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:

  • My little gastronomes — "I'll never cook a separate meal for my children," Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn't turn out quite as she'd imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn't mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year - because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she's not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn't it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I've Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love... — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin', They Hatin' — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with "babywearing haters."
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting "mistakes," and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids... — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But "doing it right" looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter's high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children's needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn't do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby's mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, "Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?"
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.
  • How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful Parenting — Theek at The Laotian Commotion somehow ended up like her Tiger Mom, even though she purposely tried for the complete opposite as a peaceful parent.


  1. I agree so much. It shouldn't be about folks standing around judging what elements or Natural Parenting we aren't following "ALL OF THE TIME", it should be about loving each other and supporting ALL of the choices we make as we do our very best. Love this post, thank you for sharing. Will share on my site's facebook page and twitter!

  2. Soooo soooo true about surrounding yourself with a supportive community. It is a lot easier to parent the way you would like to in theory when there are real people around to help you find your way when you stagger down the wrong path. Great post and reminder about the importance of a support system!

  3. My biggest challenge - always - is staying the course with consensual living/positive parenting values. It's not how I was raised, it's not how I was taught to interact as a preschool teacher, and it is not conventionally supported. I wish we had more time with the few families we are close to locally who believe similarly, because it always fills my positive parenting cup to be around them.
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

  4. Yes! A supportive community really helps. I love my online and offline group of friends. We get together and make fun of ourselves from time to time. It's so nice to have that.

  5. I think so long as we can come back to the basics of what sort of parent we want to be, and we don't lose sight of those truths even if the niggling details maybe change or the goalposts move, we're doing okay.

  6. This post resonates with me so much! It's important to have that support — whether in conviction to follow your dreams (it really pained me when my family was against my homebirth, for instance, and then when they were happy it had failed), or in commiseration when the dreams are tough or don't come true after all — and encouragement to try again. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Yes, it IS important to surround ourselves with like-minded people to help and support us.

    I love your last sentence: "And to laugh it off when we see a cloth diaper advocate with a babe in disposables and know that it means maybe she needs a little extra love in the moment." - definitely me, a formerly ranting and raving cloth diaper zealot (still am actually) who resorted to disposable pull-ups when returning to work after having my third kid! Lol.

  8. I could have written this same thing!
    Thank you for sharing this, as I'm sure I'm not the only one.
    I believe this is what the "finding your tribe" concept is about; surrounding yourself with real support. The problem is, so many people don't understand that support is not the same as approval. I can support YOU and accept YOUR choices, but not agree with them.