Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Natural Parenting

What is "natural parenting", and why is it desirable? Personally I've learned labels and "limitations" can be quit judgmental, and perhaps even biased, but I connected with this article I found when researching how this parenting style was defined by others. I relate to almost all of what Dana touches upon, however I do it while attempting to be FABULOUS at the same time.

I want to encourage other young, and younger mothers to consider listening to their bodies, focusing on cues from their children, learning and embracing natural parenting:

Natural Parenting Comes Naturally

By Dana Portwood

Had someone told me five years ago that I was a "natural parent," I would have sputtered in protest. To me, natural parenting brought to mind images of a woman toting a baby attached to her breast in public, sleeping communally on a mattress on the floor and flaunting hairy armpits. None of those pictures pertained to me! (ME EITHER!!)

Older and wiser now, I realize that I am most definitely a natural parent. I do what comes naturally to me, and I don’t let society’s definition of convenience or of natural family compel me to do otherwise.
I nurse my babies, but they sleep in their own beds most nights. I used cloth diapers at home but felt no guilt when I sent my children to church or their grandparents’ home in disposables. My children ate pureed peas when I had time and Gerber when I didn’t. I homeschool, stay at home, read out loud and discipline when necessary.
I am not certain when or how I became a natural parent. Perhaps it was when conventional medicine told me that I couldn’t, wouldn’t and shouldn’t have babies -- but I did anyway. Perhaps it was when I determinedly breastfed my children from my one lactating breast. It may have been when I decided that no educational system run by our federal government could possibly offer a superior education to my children (and certainly not one better than I could provide on my own).
Whatever the case, here I am: a mom out of touch with society’s issues and trends, but firm in the belief that my husband and I can and do raise our children in the most spiritually, mentally and physically healthy way we can.

The broad palette of natural

While most natural parents do share in common the fact that most of us don’t “fit the mold," other practices and beliefs vary widely from family to family. My children don’t sleep in my bed every night. In fact, I rather encourage them to let me have my own sleeping space, but they often climb in with me during the wee hours.
We do have a pediatrician who does know us by name, but we only visit him after applying common sense tactics and an appropriate wait to see if the problem is something the child’s system can naturally overcome. My children are immunized, but probably not on the same schedule as most of their friends.
On the other hand, yes, I serve wheat bread. We eat gardens of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. We limit and strictly monitor TV time. We read aloud often. We play board and card games. We engage in some form of strenuous physical activity daily. We don’t own a single video game, although my five-year-old knows more about the computer than I do. Are we a natural family?

Stepping back from the mad rush

Now that I have entered the world of natural parenting, what surprises me is how much criticism and condemnation I receive for my actions. When did it become necessary for an entire society to dictate my parenting standards? It doesn’t take a village to raise my children. All they need are their very committed parents, along with occasional support from family and friends.
So what defines a natural parent? I don’t believe it’s necessarily specific practices of natural parenting. I would say it is an overwhelming belief that we as parents are able to decide which method of parenting is best for our child, regardless of social conventions. For a very short span of time, we shift our focus from ourselves to these delightful creatures we have brought into this world.
It’s not all about us, our careers, our convenience or our agendas. In a "we need it and we need it now – it’s all about convenience" society, our family has chosen to slow down, simplify and take time concerning the things that matter. While growing up takes years, the time goes by too quickly. I don’t want to time-crunch the moment; I want to savor it. Getting down to the natural basics of parenting has allowed me to do just that.
Dana Portwood, who was diagnosed with cancer at only 22 years old, is active in promoting cancer awareness among young women. Dana lives in Florida with her husband and three daughters.

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