Archive for December, 2008

response to ‘sleep deprived’ mama

we received an email recently from a desperately sleep deprived mama of 5 month old. here is part of our response to her…you will find some rarely offered valuable advice about sleep issues for you and your baby. BABIES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. we are offered a gift from these wee ones…are we willing to change our way of being so that we can offer them what they need and also allow us to open up to new ways of living? sleep deprivation is almost ALWAYS largely self imposed…we need to do less so we can be more.

1.are you napping with your baby? you need to be sleeping EVERY TIME she sleeps.
2.i’m assuming you are still exclusively breastfeeding? is that so? then i strongly encourage you to eliminate completely all caffeine (chocolate, tea, everything), as well as wheat, dairy, corn, soy and refined sugar. your baby may very well have a food sensitivity, as many of them do, which leads to colicky symptoms and poor sleep. it can take up to two weeks for these foods to get out of your system, but you may also see an immediate improvement.
3.are you trying to work at all? i suggest you eliminate everything extra off of your schedule. you are in crisis mode…call your friends/family and get food brought to you for at least two weeks if you can. you need help and serious support because you need to be eliminating everything so you can fall asleep with your baby.
4. stay in bed for 24 hours at least. treat this like you are sick. often doing a re-connection time like this (skin on skin contact) can get you back in touch with yourself and your baby.
are you able to wear your baby during the day? this is really important…put her on your body when you aren’t in bed with her and don’t take her off.
5. are you sleeping with your baby? also absolutely vital for both of you. your baby will still wake as much, but you will not feel the impact so negatively if you are sleeping side by side. babies wake to feed when you are naturally in your light sleep phase.


December 28, 2008 at 4:15 am Leave a comment

how children learn gratitude…show, don’t tell

How Children Learn Manners

By Naomi Aldort (from Natural Child Project)

Our son Yonatan came home last Christmas from the theater and related an observation. On the way from the theater to the lobby he noticed that parents were instructing the children to ask the Santa Claus for candy with a “please”, and after getting the treat say “thank you”. Yonatan went to the lobby and was surprised and puzzled. He found that the children indeed said “please” and “thank you”, but that their parents came along and took their own treats, saying nothing.

“The parents of these parents must have told them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, yet they didn’t seem to learn it.” He said. “Do you think these children are also going to stop saying “thank you” when they grow up?”

What do we expect a child to learn when we tell him: “Say thank you to your friend”? Most parents believe that the child will learn to be grateful, and to express her sense of gratitude. But do children learn these things by being told to do them? How did we feel as children when told to say “thank you”? When did we really develop a sincere sense of gratitude? Did saying “thank you” before we had the feeling to match the words make us grateful? Or did we develop a sense of gratitude later on in no regard to those instructions? Is it possible that some of us feel resentful when needing to thank someone, share, or apologize, because as children we hated doing these things?

Maybe we are dealing with our inability to trust. Is it possible that gratitude is not likely to be felt by a child or at least not in the way adults feel and express it? Could it be that when childhood needs are fully satisfied, gratitude will naturally develop? Perhaps we need to allow children to observe gratitude, generosity and kindness, rather then teach these behaviors to them.

What do they learn by being told

If telling a child to say “thank you” (and other manner words and actions) does not teach her/him to authentically feel and express gratitude – what does it teach?

A few possible things:

1. The child learns that telling others what to say or do is “good manners”. The content of the “talk” is practically lost, as the child is mostly aware of the fact that someone is telling her what to do.

2. A less obvious message is the one: “I cannot trust myself to know what to say or do; I should rely on adults (authority) and obey instruction” (dependency, being a follower).

3. Linked to the previous one is “I cannot know on my own what to say or do, therefore I am not good enough” (low self-esteem and feeling inadequate and incapable).

4. A similar feeling of inadequacy can spring out of self-doubt: “Why don’t I feel like saying ‘thank you’? Something must be wrong with me”.

5. A child learns to be phony and even simply to lie: “I don’t really feel like saying anything, (sharing, helping…), I guess I am supposed to lie, pretend, or put on a show that does not reflect my real inner experience”.

6. The child learns to hate sharing or saying “please” and “thank you”, as his formative memory of doing so is that of resentment, being controlled, and being unreal. In doing something while not wanting to do it, he is learning to hate the expression of being grateful (sharing etc.) and the natural authentic development of his manners can be delayed.

Our Expectations

One aspect of manners that we hurry to teach is responding to an adult’s (disrespectful) inquiry about name and age: “Tell the woman how old you are, Johnny” is an instruction we give when we feel embarrassed for our child’s lack of responsiveness. One of my three children never responded to the probing of adults until well after he was 7. In every such interaction I was on his side, defending his need. I would say to the inquirer: “He doesn’t seem to want to talk to you” and smile, adding: “I can talk to you if you wish”. In later years I found out by asking, that Lennon became interested in sharing information about himself, but wanted me to speak for him. I then started to handle those circumstances differently. I would turn to Lennon and ask: “Do you wish that I would tell Earl about you?” Sometimes he would want it, others times he wouldn’t, and I simply followed his request. Lennon now feels comfortable and confident enough to respond to most people’s questions, or – more rarely now – to say that he doesn’t want to. His choices are clearly related to the person’s authenticity. He is allergic to phony talk.

As a mother I have discovered that my child’s manners are not about me impressing anyone. My child deserves my full respect to be at the stage of awareness, confidence, and of acquisition of manners that he is. It is not easy to feel comfortable when our child doesn’t fit society’s expectations – but knowing that these very expectations don’t fit the child, helps me remember whose well-being I stand for. Maybe we are still dependent on the approval of others as we were in our childhood, when we were told to say “thank you” and did so just to please our parents. We need to build our own self-esteem, so we are less dependent on approval of our children’s ways of being for enhancing our feelings of self-worth.

Making a good impression on friends, relatives, or strangers, becomes clearly unimportant next to the welfare of my child. Yet, I can still impress these friends and relatives. What I will impress them with, is not my compliance to their standards of behavior with children. Instead I will demonstrate to them my respect to my child, and my strength in following my own heart and my child’s needs.

How then will they learn manners?

How then will a child learn social manners? Can we trust the child to develop and mature in her own time, the way we trusted her to learn to walk and to talk? Why are we in a rush to have children behave like adults before they are adults?

When lovingly and respectfully treated, children will learn manners on their own simply because they want to live happily in this society. We can ensure this development by the following three approaches:

1. To “teach” a child to be grateful, express your gratitude for her contribution to your life: “It is such a joy to spend the afternoon with you”. It is how you treat your child that teaches her how to be. Telling a child what to say is not respectful. It is not the kind of manners you want her to learn. Thanking her for her help and being kind and generous toward her are really at the heart of your teaching tools.

2. We can provide examples in our interactions with others by expressing gratitude, sharing generously, and treating others kindly. Our children will assimilate what they see, hear and experience around them.

3. For your child to learn manners with pleasure, and enjoy behaving in pleasing ways, she needs to see you enjoying yourself through these expressions. She needs to see you being real, authentic, and fully present when you express gratitude and treat people kindly.

4. We can provide ample freedom and opportunity to express painful feelings. Children, like adults, can best experience kind and giving feelings when they are not preoccupied with upsetting experiences. When a child tells me “I hate my sister”, I validate his feelings and accept his emotional outburst – only then he can be free to love his sister. If hurtful and angry feelings are numbed, the loving and kind ones fall asleep with them. It’s a package deal.

I find gratefulness to be a great tool for positive awareness, and the heart of manners. We can demonstrate it all through the day. I often say things like: I am so happy to have this wonderful house. I love this community. We are so lucky to live here. I am so grateful that Bach was born before me so I can enjoy his incredible music. I am amazed and thankful to be alive….have eyes, ears….and so on. Being grateful, sensitive and kind is not a lecture – but a demonstration.

Children become what they absorb around them. Be what you want them to become, and treat them the way you wish them to learn to be with others.

Maybe what we need is to develop our own manners of respect toward our children. It is not easy, but very simple: Children develop adult manners by the time they are adults.

December 19, 2008 at 4:06 am Leave a comment

never ever ever let baby ‘cry it out’

be extremely cautious and wise to “expert” advice if there is any recommendation for training your baby to sleep or ‘cry it out’. when a child is left to cry alone in a crib, they think they are dying and the reason they eventually stop crying is because their brain goes into primal mode from stress and shuts down. babies do not know that they are separate human beings until around 18 months so the impact of being left alone to cry is harmful and can be permanently damaging. never ever ever leave a baby to cry.

here is a customer review of the book “healthy sleep habits, happy child”

A friend gave me “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” as a baby gift. As an anxious first-time mother, I was frantic when I read Dr. Weissbluth’s warning that unless my son learned to sleep in a certain way, he was likely to develop attention deficit disorder or be prone to injury. After additional reading on the topic, I no longer believe this to be true. In fact, the nursery-crib-sleep schedule phenomenon is a very recent development in human evolution.

Dr. Weissbluth’s book is filled with anecdotes from exhausted parents who endured three or four nights of their child’s hard crying, but were delighted with the results. He makes his method sound straightforward and simple. However, it took one of my neighbors eight weeks to sleep train her daughter. Another neighbor had to retrain her son because the training “wore off.” After two weeks of sleep training, my cheerful six month old was a sullen, voracious thumbsucker who had lost weight and no longer trusted me implicitly.

Most of the mothers Dr. Weissbluth interviews confessed to an initial concern about emotionally damaging their children by letting them cry themselves to sleep. Dr. Weissbluth confidently assures them that they will do no such thing. How does he know this? There is a large volume of infant sleep research indicating that babies left alone to cry themselves to sleep experience numerous physiological changes, including elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Dr. Weissbluth offers hope and a quick fix for parents who want to or must limit the amount of time they spend attending to the needs of their children. For those parents willing and able to follow their instincts, though, I highly recommend the books “Our Babies, Ourselves” by anthropologist Meredith Small, and “Three in a Bed” by Deborah Jackson.


December 17, 2008 at 5:41 am 3 comments

guest interview with kali wendorf

(continued from NPC newsletter)

So, yes, I was the Continuum Concept cliché. But it set my life in a whole new direction and I began to do more research behind bonding, attachment and the origins of love—influenced by the work of James Prescott, Michel Odent, James McKenna, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Sheila Kitzinger, Joseph Chilton Pearce, Lloyd de Mause, etc . It was and continues to be a profound journey of healing for me personally because it has reconciled my dislike of and disappointment in humanity. As a result, I’ve experienced a radical turn around and I now have a love affair with humanity. We are so profoundly beautiful. We have such wonderful potential. We are, in fact, sacred, because our biological destiny is one of love, care, compassion and joy. We are hardwired for this. We are not hardwired for sadness and violence. Humanity is not some greedy, selfish, messed up species. We are love. And when we don’t honour this, because of some deep cultural misunderstanding, then we express that misunderstanding with all kinds of symptoms. But they are symptoms of misunderstanding, they are not a true expression. It’s important to know the difference.

So I saw, Natural parenting not just a lifestyle choice, it is a profoundly affirmative evidence-based gesture of intimately responding to biological and emotional needs towards our divine birthright as human beings—to know ourselves as that connection, as love. Once I recognised this, and recognised it’s role towards a peaceful sustainable society, then I was moved to create Kindred.

what’s on your mind these days?

There’s a lot of talk about the credit tsunami that is about to strike us. We have another, bigger, scarier tsunami that is about to strike—a ‘disconnection’ tsunami—a huge monolithic wave of generations of children birthed by the medical system, raised by the childcare system, educated by the the corporate system and who have never climbed a tree, never fed from a breast, never had time to really hang out with both their parents. I really fret for today’s children. Yes, some might say they are brighter, smarter and ‘more advanced’. But I also see other things: sadder, more anxious, discontented, bored, disconnected, uncommunicative, overwhelmed, disempowered, uneducated, uninspired, disrespectful, spoilt, entitled, confused, angry, depressed and unimaginative.

We really need some major child-centred, human-centred reform:

1. Education reform – kids sitting in chairs all day doesn’t work. The brain needs the body to move in order to develop and learn properly. Let’s start there.
2. Community reform – educating communities that the entire community is responsible for children’s wellbeing, not just parents.
3. Parenting reform – to wrangle the stronghold of information away from the corporate media, the corporate driven articles and the corporate funded research, and arm parents with real evidence-based information that empowers them to make the right choices for the optimal wellbeing of their children.

what do you think our children need most from us as parents? what does our world need from parents?

I always get a bit tetchy with a question like this because I think it is incredibly unfair and unnatural to put 100% of the responsibility of raising a child on the shoulders of just two people (and mostly it is just one). The whole Super Nanny thing, all this finger pointing at parents. It’s just awful. I know in my own experience as a very dedicated natural parent, that every day I have to face the onslaught of societal and cultural influences that make my job of raising a happy healthy child harder. And every day, every month, every year it gets harder. The marketers get trickier, the economy gets more cruel, the media gets bigger, time gets tighter, the false mythology of pharmaceuticals gets stroppier…

But to answer your question (!)…what children need most from mothers and fathers is their presence, their closeness, their time. But by this I don’t mean doting, or permissiveness or over-extending ourselves. By presence I mean being very present in each moment to see what is the real need of your child. Sometimes it’s holding, sometimes it’s space, sometimes it’s a boundary, sometimes it’s listening.

What the world needs from parents is their politicalisation. I know that sounds a bit strange. But parents need to arm themselves with intelligent evidence based research and information, and from that create platforms that will set up systems that will support families to make the right choices for their kids—platforms concerning education reform; employee benefits reform (long parental leave); health care reform (midwives, vaccine inquiry); public breastfeeding reform; more financial support, especially for single mums, etc.

i believe that parents may very well be the most powerful social change agent…yet this seems rarely talked about let alone realized. i actually think it’s tremendously inspiring, and some people experience it as ‘overwhelming’ or too much pressure. what are your thoughts on this?

It is overwhelming at times, yes. Especially when you think about the mounting social and cultural pressures that work against us as fathers and mothers each day. Then take into account the fact that we, as parents, very very very much influence (did I say very enough?) who our children will become as adults. Yes, overwhelming. But also, what a privilege. Let’s not mistake how serious this is, how serious our role is and how serious these times are. Somewhere we’re going to have to summon that mamma lion and papa bear in us…that instinctual fierce nature that roars in the face of that which threatens our children’s wellbeing. This is what the world needs of us.

I was at a school meeting the other day. My son’s class was meeting about their upcoming 10 day camping trip to a remote island. It’s a Steiner school, so the culture there tends to be, well, soft and nonconfrontational. The packing list handed out stated, ‘we are going to try and make this trip an electronic-free trip (ie, no iPods, no mobile phones, etc). Fortunately there were quite a few well-informed and strong parents who were concerned about how much screen time our kids have. ‘Try?!’ they cried. ‘We’re not going to just “try”’. ‘There will NOT be ANY electronic devices on this trip.’ And so, the trip was spared. Our children had 10 days of no screens, no earplugs. They returned transformed. It’s this kind of boldness, strength and willingness to confront that I am talking about.

what are some practical changes that you would encourage parents to make for the benefit of their children and themselves?

Do some downshifting, release yourself from the buy, work, buy cycle. There are some great sites, and great books out there on simple steps towards downshifting. Check out the article in Kindred

There’s a great book called ‘Living Simply with Children’

2. Limit how much ‘screen time’ you and your children have…alternatively, write down every minute you and your children are in front of a screen and add up the hours. Then make a list of all the things you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t had the time. See if you can throw away some screen hours for fun hours.

3. Spend time in nature…she’s a great doctor.

4. Have time alone….just you. And have something that is just yours that nourishes you – – hiking, an art group, a singing group…

5. Give yourself permission to get feisty. Too bad if someone doesn’t like it.

6. Carve out ‘nothing’ time with your kids…where there are no plans, no agendas, no schedules…and just hang out.

7. Start making friends with the neighbours; there are lots of potential aunties and uncles out there.

the natural parenting center offers coaching, consultations, and classes for parents. we have noticed that there is a sort of a taboo about getting help with our parenting. it’s like we are all supposed to know how to do this and have it all together! what are your thoughts about this…

I think many of us live under the myth of the perfect mother. I know my children love it when I own up to mistakes I’ve made…an opportunity to show them what humility and self reflection looks like. Also a lesson on not being perfect and that is ok. Society is quick to blame if we as parents make a mistake. Look at how people rub their hands with glee on the sidelines when Super Nanny comes on with the next out of control family.

But I also think it is much bigger than that. To deeply question one’s parenting, or to ask for help and admit that one needs help, there is a direct subconscious line back to our own childhood and how we were raised. There are a lot of painful memories back there (some remembered, some repressed), and from those are entire personality structures that have been formed as a result. To say, ‘I need help’, or ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ is then a very huge statement. You’re literally, simultaneously, throwing a line back not only to your own child, but to yourself as a child, your mother as a child, your father as a child, and on down the line. The whole lineage of family habits and pain comes there in the room with you whether you realise it or not. Strong. So….we need lots of compassion, patience, caring. Lots.

Check out Robin Grill’s book, Parenting for a Peaceful World, which is a psycho-historical account of child rearing practices over history. Wow, so much pain and heartache. So much.

anything else?

I’m in awe of our capacity as parents and as people. The more readers I get to know through Kindred, the more privileged I feel to be a part of such a wise, brave, hopeful, determined community. They have given me hope for our future. You know, we just might make it.

December 17, 2008 at 4:55 am Leave a comment

what’s possible

part of our intention is to help child-raising people know what is possible. we can only make informed choices when we know all of what is possible. with respect to babywearing…it is possible to take on this mindset…”i will wake up and put my baby on my body, and when it is time for us to crawl into bed together at night, i will take her off”.

what happens inside you when you consider this?

even better, wear your baby naked against your skin as much as possible, particularly when newly born or when your child isn’t feeling well. go back to the basics of skin on skin whenever possible. the power of touch is not to be underestimated.

babies and young children who are worn consistently learn to use their bodies more effectively and they receive just the right amount of healthy stimulation because they see the world as you move about. this contact also helps you to stay tuned into your baby and to adjust your daily life to suit caring for a small person. do less and be more for your child.

and when your child is older, remember to invite her to be worn again whenever she is unhappy, sick, unsettled, or out of herself (eg..what some might call ‘misbehaving’). tune in and reconnect.

what are your babywearing stories?

December 14, 2008 at 8:34 pm 2 comments

solstice coaching special

Happy Solstice to each of you. may you feel connected and whole during the turning of the year and the returning of the light.

here is a gift idea for yourself or perhaps for someone you know..PARENT COACHING

as a solstice celebration special, buy one month and get one month free! and, the regular rate of $150/month is reduced to $125.

you must purchase by december 21st. cheque or credit card accepted.

this special is for email coaching only. (phone coaching $300/month for 3 sessions)

professional coaching is very powerful. manifest what you really want, whether it’s experiencing more joy and meaning, greater balance, more connection and fun with your children, achieving health or career goals, learning specific tools for more effective parenting, or guidance for age-specific challenges with your children. who couldn’t use a little of that!

here is a testimonial from one client:

your words resonated deeply with me in my heart and have helped ease a burden that was weighing me down enormously. i felt heard, loved, understood and nurtured.

our highly effective approach integrates Law of Attraction, non-violent communication, becoming more PRESENT, as well as specific evidence-based parenting tools and principles.

email if you have questions!

it’s the ideal eco-gift, too! not only is there no packaging involved, but natural parenting is the most important contributor to a more sustainable and peaceful world.

December 11, 2008 at 4:53 am Leave a comment

we want to hear from you…

post 10 comments and receive free email coaching session! what a gift! share a book review, ask a parenting question, comment on other posts, offer your ideas on attachment, unschooling, natural birth, parenting challenges, law of attraction, continuum concept, finding a tribe, or any of your own feelings and experiences…we are in this together!

December 11, 2008 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

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