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Thursday, June 16, 2011

What is Natural Parenting?

Multiple sources define "natural parenting" in slightly different ways.  Having read several of them, I think of natural parenting like this: It's a way of nurturing and relating to your child that maximizes his or her inherent strengths and abilities as well as your own.  Rather than looking to outside sources to protect, educate, or indoctrinate your child, it asks that we first look within at our own physical, mental, and spiritual resources. It's a form of self-empowerment that usually turns out to be physically healthier as well.  While it doesn't condemn mainstream society, it does encourage free thought, and it gives children the right to claim their own voices, ask questions, and forgo traditional wisdom when they sincerely believe it to contradict what they know to be best for themselves. 

In my opinion, the following list sums up general characteristics of natural parents and their children:

1. We take a holistic approach to health care and are well-versed in alternative medicine.  Even though we sometimes deem medical doctors necessary, we support natural childbirth, resist mandatory vaccination, and use a combination of healthy eating, gentle exercise, meditation, supplementation, and alternative therapies to treat and prevent most illnesses.
2. We practice green-living and enjoy spending time outdoors.
3. We build a family-like network with people who may or may not be related to us by blood.  As a result, we frequently volunteer at community events and invite others into our homes.  We may plan regular gatherings and open community centers or non-profits.  When we travel, we typically make a point to connect with the locals instead of sticking to tourist attractions that could appear anywhere.
4.  We have a deep appreciation for music, literature, and art.  We encourage our families to create.
5. We take a non-traditional approach to education and home school our children or send them to private schools that reflect our personal philosophies.
6. We have a deep sense of spirituality; however, it's typically too rebellious for the confines of organized religion. 
7. When it comes to disciplining our children, we focus less on praise and punishment and more on helping our kids objectively understand and learn from every incident so they may independently become the best possible versions of their own unique selves.

Personally, I strive to be a natural parent. In the course of raising my two children and stepson, I've found another way to define natural parenting: It is giving birth to yourself and being transformed into someone who manifests the future for her family, one day at a time.

For more information about natural parenting, explore the links below.

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