Philosophy of Life/Parenting **Lengthy Post**

There are no good days and no bad days
only days of grace...
grace to enjoy what is happening
and grace to endure what is happening
...only days of grace"
~~Graham Cooke

There is nothing more heartwarming than a Warm Welcome Home, You're Missed from you, my friends. If you visit my crafty blog and Ravelry, you'd know I have been busy beyond word!...And, this one is for you, Mommylicious.

Before my spill of parenting reading recommendation, I'd like to elaborate on my philosophy of life: Living is learning...learning is living. The world is our classroom. Parenting is very much an integral part of living and learning.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I knew my life was going to completely change. I'd witnessed enough of other parents to see it wasn't easy; but, I didn't really know what I was in for. I didn't really have a parenting philosophy at that point. Being the new parent that I was, I read a lot of parenting books. I basically thought of my parenting philosophy then as attachment parenting. Even with that, there are different viewpoints.

Over time, I came to realize there is a One and Only True Parenting Philosophy. If sleep is essential to your well-being (and, of course, it is to everyone, but different people have different thresholds,) letting your baby cry it out might be right for you. If having your child in your bed makes everyone in your family happy, enjoy. If you all get a crappy night's sleep and you're starting to resent your child, make a change. If your child is over one (or two or three,) and breastfeeding is still working, by all means continue on. If you are starting to resent it or just feel the time is right, do not feel guilty about weaning. I saw a lot of women struggling with nursing older children in La Leche League, and while my children all nursed until they were older than 4 years of age, I don't think a lot of these women got honest answers. When it's not working, stop feeling guilty and make a change. Guilt is useless. My advice is not for everyone.

I don't really have a parenting philosophy anymore, at least one that has a label--grace-based, respectful, mindful, non-coercive/non-punitive, attachment, child-centered...I've never been more sure of my parenting. I think babies and children need love and a load of holding, touching, hugging, kissing...I wish for my children to see me, a nurturing mother, leading an adult life. I should have a productive life outside of the child--let it be cooking, gardening, knitting, working, reading, involving in community services-big or small, pampering myself...whatever it is I want and wish to do. My children can come along for the ride if they so desire. I wish for my children to be happy, kind, loving, self-sufficient, resourceful, and most of all, be THEMSELVES. It is a good target to shoot for. A lot of women feels guilty because they weren't getting enough done outside of taking care of the children and the house.

When it comes to dealing with the up-and-down world of emotions, my children naturally take their cues from me. Am I the wear-it-on-my-sleeve kind of person or the keep-it-bottled-up type? Do I frown upon frowning, or do I find emotional moments a time for drawing close? More important, how does my style affect my own children or the children in my care occasionally?

My attitude toward emotions, especially negative ones, like sadness or anger, can shape how my children learn to handle their own feelings. Good parenting doesn’t mean that I always have to cry at Disney movies. We all have different approaches to emotional experiences, but some are more helpful in nurturing emotional development than others. Decide what works for your family, and go with that. My husband and I found the approach that works with our family and that's all I know. It was a natural progression for hubby and me from organic consensual living, pro-natural birth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and just a basic wanting to be very conscious about all our decisions and not just doing things the way everyone else does without thinking. We've adjusted and rethought things many times over the years with respect to our family's lifestyle and unschooling. I'm so thankful for how our God has led us through so far--the good decisions and especially the times of doubt. Life is all about the journey, not the destination.

Now back to my recommended readings...though many are categorized under education, they are relevant in raising our children:

"Much too Early!" that talk about children's education.
The Reality of Virtual Stress David Elkind really knows his Piaget (my favorite--one of the foremost educational thinkers,) his Steiner, his Montessori, and David can give you a bit of an overview (within his context, but it's still good.)

Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooling Life" by Rue Kream
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort
Living joyfully with children by Win Sweet
Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion through Love instead of fear by Pam Leo
Last child in the woods : saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv
Hold on to your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers by Gordon Neufeld
Unconditional parenting : moving from rewards and punishments to love… by Alfie Kohn
Teach your own: the John Holt book of homeschooling by John Holt
The secret of parenting: how to be in charge of today's kids--from toddlers to preteens--without threats or punishment by Anthony E. Wolf
Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil

Reggio Emilio Approach to Education...Touch, therefore I learn. Reggio Emilio is an unique way of looking at the way children learn. It challenges our understanding of potential and of how potential is recognized and interpreted. Reggio Emilia looks to the environment and the community and the child's point of view as the foundation for learning. Much of the understandings and discoveries developed by the children are gained through their fresh, uninhibited creativity via mediums of visual and performing arts. The beauty of the Reggio Emilio approach to learning is that the children themselves set their own individual pathway to learning at a level that is right for them. For example, a child with a language difficulty is able to demonstrate their understanding through sculpture, sketching and art. Conversely, through the Reggio approach, a gifted child is able to extend his or her learning by extending their challenges beyond the expected parameters. The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach Advanced Reflections contains a comprehensive description of this program. Last exhibit touring with examples of Reggio Emilio, called The Hundred Languages of Children, was on display at the J.D. Carrier Gallery of the Columbus Centre, in Toronto, Ontario, last February. Bringing Reggio Emilia Home: An Innovative Approach to Early Childhood Education by Louise Boyd Cadwell, Lella Candini, and Lella Gandini is my favorite Reggio Emilia overview book.

You may read Kirsty Liljegren's findings based on her project undertaken with a group of 4- and 5 years old together--with their teachers and families--Spirals are never ending learning

Another suggested read - Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Roberta Michnick, Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Diane Eyer.

Play=Learning: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children's Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth by Dorothy G. Singer, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

"Play is to early childhood as gas is to a car," say Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff, explaining that reciting and memorizing will produce "trained seals" rather than creative thinkers. Creativity and independent thinking, they argue, are true 21st-century skills; IQ and other test scores provide a narrow view of intelligence. The authors walk parents through much of the recent research on the way children learn--debunking such myths as the Mozart effect--and pointing out that much learning unravels naturally, programmed through centuries of evolution.

The Hurried Child: growing up too fast too soon by David Elkind

To wrap up this lengthy post, my best advice--worry less, trust more, and just have fun with your precious princess!

4 encouragements:

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

Thank You So Much Sarah! I can't wait to look at these resources! Thank you for your encouraging words and reflective thoughts on parenting! I am going to scaddattle to bed!-Sabrina

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

Sarah, thank you again for writing such a thoughtful post!

As you can tell, I am trying to form a philosophy on how I am going to raise Kaylynn.

I taught for seven years in public education (this is probably why I am an advocate for homeschooling). I realize that my childrearing philosophy has a lot to do with how I was raised and attending public schools. I realize how this philosophy affected my teaching. I tend to be a very strict (also caring and nuturing)...but I believe in holding children accountable....and teaching them right and wrong.

Reading your blog has made me rethink my philosophy. I really think you have a valid point. I am curious how to implement this parenting style when I have so much of the other style instilled in me.

I love my daughter with all my heart. I want her to choose the right path in life...get a good her veggies....speak kindly of people. I know the best way to instill these qualities are to model this behavior for her. But what should I do when she refuses to eat veggies.......and all she wants is candy? What should I do when she hits another child because she wants their toy? There are going to be times when she will "break" the rules. How should I handle that? How do you handle when your children do something that you don't like? Will the Grace-Based parenting book teach me how to handle situations like this? I am very curious.....because I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking I have coerced her to be something that she in not. I want to train her towards her bent in life.....but at the same time...I have the responsibility to teach her right from wrong...

Thank you so much for explaining your beliefs.

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

Sarah, I perused the websites, and I love the Natural Child website the best! There are so many wonderful articles! I am beginning to understand your parenting a style a little bit more.

I regret that I wasn't able to breastfeed my daughter as long as I would like. My mother and Kaylynn's doctor convinced me (or pressured me) to introduce the bottle to make sure she was getting the proper nutrition. So, I had (and continue) to pump bottles for her. I truly miss the "bonding" of breastfeeding.

I also regret that I have to work, and leave my daughter with my mother. I realize that I am missing on some precious bonding time. I always pictured myself as being a stay-at-home mother...but life doesn't always dish out what you want. I am thankful that my mom watches my daughter.

I really don't know how much "attachment" parenting I will be able to do....I guess I will add my own flavor and spice.

Kaylynn is truly lucky to have such a wonderful grandma watching her! My mom smothers her with hugs and kisses!

I love your blog! It inspires me!

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

Sarah! I receive the Daily Groove Newsletter! WOW! This newsletter offers great advice! The newsletter is answering my questions!! Thanks for sharing!!

True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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