Friday, January 13, 2012

Early Morning Ponderings on Parenthood

Here at the house of Merrill, we are what you would call attachment parents, or peaceful parents(google it).  This mostly just came naturally to us, I'd say its instinctive, even.
  The problem for us, and probably the rest of civilized society, is what is expected of us, or maybe even just habit.  We parent based on how somebody else thinks we should, or maybe that's the way our parents did it "and we turned out fine".  How many times have you heard that statement?  How many times have you said it personally?  Now, we aren't thinking this on a conscious level.  The way we live our lives has been ingrained in us since we were little.  Its almost like we are pre-programmed robots.  Anyone read The Four Agreements?  If so, you know of what I speak.  If not, read it!
  The husband and I have done a lot of soul searching and have come to enjoy questioning why we do anything really.  We question why, think about it, analyze it, weight the pros and cons, and if the proposed act has any value we keep doing it.  If not, we throw it away.   Let me take you through this process with something little.  How about, why do we brush our teeth?  Is there any value to that particular action?  Well, we eat, then food(especially refined and sugary foods) gets stuck in our teeth and eat away at the enamel causing cavities.  This we know because science has proven it.  This is not just a pre-programmed  belief.  So brushing your teeth removes the food from our teeth and prevents the cavities from growing as rapidly.  Therefore, brushing your teeth is a habit that we will continue to incorporate into our lives.  (Were you worried? :)

Alright, well, lets bring this back to where it started:attachment parenting and peaceful parenting.  This is not the norm.  Some of you may be thinking, "what is attachment parenting and peaceful parenting?"  We have come to incorporate these two philosophies into our lives because of questioning.  The main one being this, "why do we treat our children like their needs and desires aren't as important as ours?"  Does that sound harsh?  Now think about it really, because even I still implement that harsh reality sometimes.  Lets take something easy, like dressing a small child.  You are going to a play date with some friends and your little boy wants to wear a dress.  Is him wearing a dress harming anyone?  No.  Lets be honest here.  Him wearing a dress is going to embarrass you.  So you impose your need to save face over his need to express himself by wearing a dress.  This is just an example of the things we do to our kids all the time.  No wonder our cultural norm is for these kids to grow into rebellious teenagers! 

 (This cartoon illustrates perfectly societies beliefs contradicting our instincts)

This has been a long road of questioning for us, and as our children get older we are constantly evaluating the way we do things.  Our main goal is to have our children know that they are important and their needs and desires are just as important as ours.  Raising children isn't easy, but it certainly doesn't have to be as hard as we've made it.  There's a quote that I really enjoy that says "We are not managing inconveniences, we are raising human beings".  I try to keep this in mind and enjoy my children.  I've stopped resisting things that don't matter.  I am my child's guide through life, not their slave master.  When you stop resisting the things that don't matter you have a beautiful flow with your children.  They listen to you, because you listen to them.  They respond to you because you respond to them.  They trust you because you trust them. They respect you because you respect them. 
This has brought incredible value to my life, so I thought I would share.  Parenting can be as harmonious as we hope it to be when we first start our little families.  All you have to do is start questioning.  Start re-evaluating the way you do things.  Rethink the way you do things.  If it has any value it will stand up to the questions.  If it doesn't have any value then it needs to go!  

Happy Parenting!


  1. While I agree that if a little boy wants to wear a dress, it's not going to hurt anyone, I do think he will probably endure many ugly words from the other kids. I don't think I would tell him no because of my own embarrassment but because I know what it feels like to be put down. I'd like to think he would know not to care what other people think but at such a young age I fear it would scar him into not wanting to be who he is. Anyway, that was what I thought when I read this.

  2. The parent is the guide. She shows the child how to navigate this world. So if the parent has fears surrounding what wearing a dress might bring about then she can talk to the child. Let him know of your concerns without manipulation and then let him make a choice. Life is the greatest teacher, and if he endures taunting and he has a secure relationship with you then he will bounce back. I appreciate the feedback Chelsea. This is one of my favorite topics to discuss.

  3. I think this is great and I'd love to put it into practice. Seems like slowing down and listening to your child could alleviate a lot of tantrums and stress. Just makes sense. Got any good book suggestions?

  4. I do! Some of my favorites are Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and Raising our Children Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort. Another really good book to read is Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Its not a parenting book, but it talks about how to communicate your needs and understand others needs without blowing your top.