Thursday, September 09, 2010

Peaceful Parenting: Following Your Instincts

A wise mother, who I am honored to call friend, and a tireless advocate for gentle parenting, recently made the following statement (below). I couldn't agree more, and had to share it with all of you. This truly gets to the heart of what peaceful parenting is. It is not some prescribed method or program of raising children. It is not about following books or doing what the 'experts' tell you to do. It is not a box that you need to try and fit into, or checklists you need to cross off in your parenting journey. It is not about following the latest trends that the "AP" world or others make fashionable. And it is not about feeling guilty when mistakes are made along the way (we all make them). Gentle mothering - primal parenting - peaceful parenting, as I began calling it, is about listening to your heart, your instincts, and your baby. Really getting to know yourself as a mother or father, and the little one whose life depends on you. Putting this before all the other hoopla out there. It is when we know our baby and our child's cues well, and when we respond to them in a manner that is consistent with our primal nature as mammalian mothers - to protect, to love, to answer - that we can feel confident we are doing our very best at thee most important job we will ever in our lives have.

my partner in parenting wears our sleepy son along the south Outer Banks Islands


In all my time and effort spent researching the best ways to mother, I have come full circle to realize that in almost all cases, the best choices for the health of children and mothers are the ones you would make if stranded on a deserted island and forced to follow your instincts. Trust birth. Breastfeed. Keep your baby whole. Sleep by your baby. Wear your baby. Communicate with your baby. Listen and respond to your baby's cues and cries. ~ Jennifer Coias


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42 comments:

  1. :) this makes me happy..I have trying my hardest to follow my maternal instincts when it comes to my first child and it seems everyone has an opinion on what I am doing wrong, ESPECIALLY my mother in law...she wants me to pump or give the baby formula so she can watch him, she refers to him as my baby, she tells me to give him formula at night to make him sleep and that I should clean his forskin with a q tip and alcohol!!!! etc and so on she wants to take over my role as mother...a lot of my husbands family seems to think they know whats best for my child, but I am standing strong and not leaving a single one of them even leave the room with him lol....thanks for the motivation :)

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  2. So sensible, isn't it? After all the gadgets, gizmos, & books advocating this or that, all we have to do is pretend we are stranded with nothing & just love our babies naturally!

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  3. ITA, the longer you're in this biz the more you KNOW that a chimpanzee would be a better birth companion than most human beings.

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  4. hehe... now, that's the first time i've heard that one, Gloria - but i can certainly see how it'd be true :)

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  5. I love it! I was just thinking how great mama kangaroos are-- what with the built-in pouch where their suckling stays nursing for 6 straight months!

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  6. I love this. I had only really ever been exposed to mainstream parenting, but my instincts were so strong and I found myself following a similar thought pattern -- I often found myself asking "what would cave mom do?" and it has literally never failed me!!

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  7. I shake my head when I hear mothers say they stood in the hallway and cried (or drank wine to lower their stress) while letting their babies CIO. Same with the parents who felt sick during their sons' circumcisions and couldn't bear to be in the room at the time (makes me think of Sandra Bullock's awful interview about her son's bris). If something feels that wrong to you, that is sending you a message.

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  8. Ugh, Katie, I do the same thing! I have a friend of mine (actually a doula) who used CIO on her kids and she said that it was SO hard on her and she sobbed in the hallway outside the door (this was in a comment after I'd posted an article about CIO). I said I was glad I'd never done this with my babies and she said that 15 years ago when she became a mom, the research we have today wasn't out there (ahem) and that there was no way for moms "back then" to know better. well, actually, she has FOUR kids and used CIO on all of them; and her youngest is the same age as my oldest, so. . . . ? ALSO, I never had anything but criticism from family, friends and doctors (not to mention mainstream media) for NOT using CIO; it's not something I did because I had a bunch of resources and scientific studies. I did it because CIO went against every instinct I have ever had.

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  9. I HATE that argument/reason. Soooo many people tell me, "Wish I'd had those back in my day (referring to my MOBY)," or, "No one knew about that when I was having kids." Ummm, people have been wearing babies forever - it's just a stinkin' long piece of cloth!

    And since when didn't people have instincts?

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  10. Exactly! When I said that about my instincts, she said "No, it has NOTHING to do with a mother's instincts. It has to do with doing what you have been told is best for your child even if it's hard on you." Well, uh. . . . yeeeeaaaaah, it WAS my insticts; and, personally I believe that what my instincts tell me is the right thing for my baby is more important than what everyone tells me is right as far as what I am going to DO to/with my baby. If I am doing something to my baby which is causing me to cry because I feel that badly about it-- OBVIOUSLY NOT A GOOD IDEA!

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  11. Such a beautiful photograph... and everything it represents.

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  12. This is gonna sound goofy, but I thought along the same lines when watching claire with her baby on lost lol.

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  13. Beautiful! And true...makes me want another baby!

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  14. Yep, it's not rocket science is it?

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  15. So true and so natural and the connection I have following all of the above is one I cherish and am thankful for everyday that I get to experience this with my baby (and my previous two babies before as well)

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  16. that's like how i explain attachment parenting to people who haven't heard of it. I say that it's how we would parent our children if we had nobody to tell us how we 'should' be doing it and just followed our instincts :-)

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  17. I'm so grateful I learned attachment parenting when my first was born...attending La Leche League and reading all of Dr. Sears' books. My 3 children, now in their 20's, are doing the same with their children. How we can change the world as mothers!

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  18. Perfect, beautiful, a message that needs to be heard!!!

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  19. @lora I've only watched up to season 2 but I keep wondering why they don't show her breastfeeding! It's so out of place not seeing that. It makes me think hollywood should help us make it more of a comfortable, normal thing.

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  20. my parenting paradgm evolved from awareness of unmet needs, working with traumatized children and now living on an island. My daughter was born at home a month before our container from overseas arrived. I was blown away by how I didn't need any of those baby gadgets. Just love and patience.

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  21. that is so funny that you would bring up that about Claire on Lost, I have often thought the same thing, haha!! It is so nice to know other breastfeeding mama's, I guess we think alike. I would have loved for them to have covered her nursing more often throughout the series, it would have been a wonderful opportunity for television to have normalized seeing a woman nurse :)

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  22. Very true, if parents decisions were based on what is natural they wouldn't be so confused

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  23. Its about time I read a comment like this... I couldn't agree more... all these books about how to raise a happy, confident, smart, sensitive, creative child simply confuse new mothers and create doubt, anxiety and competitiveness. Throw them away people and follow your instincts.

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  24. Emma u are right! I read heaps of books when my first arrived and felt so confused - all the best choices I made were the instinctive ones! Waking up cuddling my happy baby is one of the nicest things in the world. Love it :)

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  25. i want to be stranded on a deserted island with my baby!

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  26. Hmmm.... maybe this is why I love coconut so much. In all of its forms. :P

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  27. Culturally speaking I feel, sometimes, like we do live on a desert island.

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  28. Just love this! Everything I have done right for my babies has been purely instinctual. My favorite moments/memories with my little ones has often been doing these very things, like co-sleeping. Nothing better than waking up to my babies beside me, nothing!!!

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  29. Island Mothering. :)

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  30. beautiful cant see to type ... the tears !!

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  31. Talked to a mommy today about vitamins.... she asked... "Did your doctor tell you that was okay?" I laughed to myself (what doctor, we are not sick or dying : ), I smiled and said I just knew what was right for my little one.... I listened to what his body was telling me!!

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  32. The bigger picture for me is raising healthy, secure, confident humans - and I do that by responding to them as I would want to be responded to, whether they're 2 days old, 2 months old, 2 years old etc.

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  33. Crazy isn't it. That the best thing for them is to do what seems natural and what most other mammals on the planet do. I don't know why the human race seems to think they can do better than Mother Nature.

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  34. when in doubt, follow your primal instincts.

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  35. I'm SO glad that I read this! This message is the one that I have been feeling in my heart these past 6-7 years, but have been too scared/nervous to grant myself the confidence to believe. It's the way I've always tried to parent (I'm now the mother of 4 daughters ages 6 mos. to 6 years), but have always felt is sub-par, because it's not "book parenting" or "perfect parenting"--of course, which doesn't exist. So, thank you for sharing (with confidence) your personal belief in, and support of, "PEACEFUL PARENTING". I love that tital, by the way. I just found your blog through a friend of mine and I'm excited to read more of your stuff.

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  36. I love that picture, and it's the same way that I feel also! My mom keeps telling me things but then saying..."but that's what we were TOLD when I had you kids.." well people still say a lot of the same things that they did 30 years ago, but that doesn't change how I feel about them! My instincts are not based on what people SAY.

    My mother sees me babywear and EC my daughter and I think that she secretly wishes she would have done the same thing with us. She has been very supportive of all of the AP things that we do with our daughter, so I really appreciate that about her. She also had much more difficult pregnancies and births and was younger than I am, so I can understand why she didn't feel confident enough to follow her instincts. I am so grateful to everyone who puts information like this 'out there' so that moms can hear from someone to trust their own hearts :)

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  37. "I HATE that argument/reason. Soooo many people tell me, "Wish I'd had those back in my day (referring to my MOBY)," or, "No one knew about that when I was having kids." Ummm, people have been wearing babies forever - it's just a stinkin' long piece of cloth!"

    I'm not sure this is a fair comment to make - people might have been wearing babies forever, but not in my neighbourhood necessarily.

    I had my first baby nearly 9y ago, and the variety of baby carriers certainly wasn't available - or even help to use a very basic ring sling! He was a high needs baby who would have benefited from being in a wrap, most likely, but they were unheard of. Nor had ideas around 'gentle' sleep training - there was CIO (or controlled crying) or simply doing nothing...which could be exhausting! When my son was 6mo he started night waking, and my only choices were to CIO or take him to bed. Luckily for him I chose to do the latter, because by that time I had better understanding about how babies 'work' but I can see how people who knew nothing but 'mainstream' practices would - and did - do CIO even against their better judgement, because they were scared of what might happen if they didn't.

    We are all products of our environment, and if that one is based around CIO and timed feeding etc, then that is likely all you'd know about.

    Times have changed, though, and I agree that NOW there is ample opportunity to hear about baby wearning and bf on request etc, but again, it may very well depend on what environment you live in.

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  38. Let's cut some slack to the moms who say they didn't know better "back when." We all make the best decisions we can at the time we make them.

    I know that if I had had my babies young, if I still lived in my hometown, if there were no internet... I probably would be a much different parent. I'm not sure how much my instincts would have overridden my enculturation of cribs, disposable diapers, vaccines, or traditional parenting.

    I feel very fortunate to have had my babies when and where I did. The internet has been a huge resource for me, both in information and for finding my "tribe" of like-minded mamas for support. It was only AFTER I had that that I realized so much of my parenting is in fact, instinctual.

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  39. I so agree with Barb! There is a lot of thinigs about caring for a baby that are not always instictive.
    Even doctors and psychologists,etc. have changed camps over the years...like my mother was councled NOT to breastfeed,etc.
    For those not raised around babies, parenting without support can be very tough.
    I think the internet has been a blessing overall to those moms that feel alone on the journey. I wish I had had more access to it when I had so many young children and lived way out in the middle of nowhere.:)
    Glad that now I can meet so many moms from all over the world. It is quite a blessing!
    Kim

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  40. Thank you for sharing, I hope you don't mind... but I am going to share the link to this in my blog today. Thank you!

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  41. I sorry but I do have to disagree a bit with a few of the moms here I was raised by a CIO, formula feeding, pro circ, pro hitting, VERY pro hitting mother and I didn't like it! Even as a very young child I swore when I had kids I would do it differently! Which I did so much so that if I was in doubt (rarely but it happened) about what to do about something I would ask myself, self what would my mother do? Then once I knew what that was, I would think what is the farthest thing away from that that is humanly possible? That is what I would do! It hasn't failed me yet! I roomed in when they were born even though the hospital didn't offer rooming in (but,they did have locks on the doors) I just wouldn't give them back "my" baby during visiting hours I just closed my door! My mother's adivce leave them in the nusrey as much as I could and sleep let them bottle feed so I could sleep! I breast fed and even threatened one hospital with a law suit if they gave my baby a bottle (I was running a 1 degree temp post op)they also tried to take my baby out of my room because of the temp I again told them I would sue (honestly I had carried her for 9&1/2 mos and already breastfed her and a post op temp was going to make her sick, oh please! I saw my first baby back pack in the 1970's I was 14 and knew I would wear my kids! I was not able to get the info on how to safely tie a Moby type wrap so I used a sling, a front carrier, a back pack and even made a carrier out of an old pair of jeans and some webbing! I bought a bassinette while I was pregnant,(it was cute and I was hormonal) I found it a great place for clean baby clothes, but my baby never went in it she went in bed with me! My in laws lent us a crib it never even got put together! I went aginst almost every thing I had ever been told, and was being told by everyone but, my daughter! Trust me I was alone in it all she is now 23 years old and was a year old before I ever heard of Dr. Sears (I LOVE him & his wife) I was so grateful when I did find him I quoted him like he was our ped if my family or in laws questioned what I was doing I would just say the dr said ____! That dr was Dr Sears and I had read what ever it was in one of his books but I would "forget" to mention that bit! I LOVE the term "Island Parenting" that one parent ^^ used! Honestly that best discribes what I did and I "couldn't" hear anyone on the mainland! None of us are perfect, everyone makes mistakes just try to learn from them, when you know better you do better! even if it's with the grandkids!

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