There is much debate about which parenting method is the ‘right’ one. It seems, at times, that I see wars going on all over the place; CIO vs. co-sleeping, Attachment parenting vs. Babywise, Day care vs. Stay at hom moms, etc. etc. etc. I’ve often thought that perhaps all of this debate is rather pointless. Perhaps all of this parenting advice is just helpful tools or even confirmations for us that we are doing the right thing for our children. We choose the philosophy that resonates with us the most and use that as our guide, and then we have these little people that join us in our world and get everything they need from our own individual styles as parents. They chose US as parents, and naturally we will give them everything they need to become the adults they are meant to be.
I chose a Waldorf/RIE method to follow for my parenting style and my profession. At the heart of Waldorf philosophy, the work we do is primarily of a spiritual nature. This could also be interpreted as intuition if you choose to see it that way. There are actually exercises and meditations we can do to stregthen this spiritual/intuitive quality in us as mothers. Some believe that we all have Spiritual helpers, or Angels, that help guide our way. As a woman who works with young children for my life’s work, I feel that this is so true for me. If I am actively working on my meditative/inner work practice, I am allowing myself to be open to divine intuition to help guide my way from day to day. I’m not thinking about how to work within a certain pre-determined method; I am listening to the moment. During a particularly challenging time, we can wait a few moment before we react and take a deep breath and the answer to the problem might be given to us.
Now, this is what I am experiencing in my work with children and it might be entirely different for everyone else, but the intuition is still there for each of us. Whether you are following Angels and intuition or following a book, you are following your heart and doing exactly the right thing for YOUR children. Can you imagine a world where, instead of criticism and blame, we are surrounded by support and understanding? Can you imagine being out in public and not feeling self-conscious of your parenting but feeling empowered by the people around us? What are you thoughts on how to bring acceptance and trust for every mother and her own individual parenting method?
19 thoughts on “Intuition vs Information: Thoughts on The Parenting Method War”
I completely agree. What is good for one parent is not good for another. I would love it if we could all just allow ourselves to pick the parenting style that is true to our nature.
Very nicely said. :)
Beautiful. I think it is good to try and expand this knid of acceptance to all areas of our life. Other people’s life choices are part of their own individual path. It is not our right or resposibility to make changes for others. It is simply our duty as a friend to wait until we are asked before offering our opinion and to only offer help when we can do so without judgement, with a kind and loving spirit.
Easier said than done but that is the goal I strive for in my own relationships and interactions with the world.
That is a really good idea to try and expel judgement from all areas of your life. I think just the striving alone is quite a great accomplishment.
I think it begins with pregnancy. I have so many well-meaning people who have criticised me for eating a certain way, taking maternity leave at a certain date, registering for certain items, that now in my final weeks of pregnancy I don’t want to talk with other mothers at all (with a few exceptions :) ). This has caused me to be wary of talking about my parenting strategies, of what’s important to me as a person and as a mom.
One woman, who is on the exception list, had a perfect reaction to something I said. Her response was [not verbatim] “You should do that, it’s not for me, but you should do it.”
You know Bridget, I’ve been thinking of writing a post about advice during pregnancy. I remember feeling frustrated as well about that. Having a baby changes so much, but neither yourself nor anyone else will know what that change will mean for you. I never knew that something I would miss most were sunset walks with my husband.
I like the response your friend gave you: “You should do that, it’s not for me, but you should do it.”
“As long as they don’t judge me for my choices, I will not speak out against indifferences.”
– I know that sounds like “an eye for an eye” but I don’t mean t that way. I really am tryin to say that because my choices are a little more alternative/radical than most, I am usually on the defensive even though I do not judge others for their choices as long as it is informed and works for their family. :)
That’s a great quote. When you do have more ‘alternative/radical’ choices, I can imagine it’s quite a bit to face the world with so many who judge you. I’m sure what you are doing is just right for you and your family. :)
Lovely post. Here’s what I think — Yes, we should not judge and be more loving than critical. And, there are some things in parenting, as in life, that are more clearly right or wrong. What you said about doing self-work as a parent and pausing to listen before we react is one of those things that I see as non-negotiably RIGHT. We will ALL be better served if we can follow this advice. Now, there are several paths to following this. Divine guidance is one way. Others I have encountered in parenting books are Non-violent communication as expressed in Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort and Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline method described in her book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. I just took a Conscious Discipline workshop and found this loving, non-coercive parenting method really positive and effective. I like how specific it gets with what our language and body language are actually communicating even when we are intending otherwise and how to model and teach difficult concepts such as sharing and obeying given rules and what to do when things get off-track. This method is entirely about self-work — precisely about getting rid of our preconceptions and judgments before we react to our children. It’s more scientific than spiritual, which is why my preference is still the Waldorf way, but I think it is a hugely important and accessible message for our culture which is so rushed and impulsive.
Janis, thank you for your book suggestions and thoughts. I think you are right about what is clearly right and wrong when we deal with children. I would go so far as to say the only “wrong” thing in how parents deal with their children is child abuse, which is neither a method nor comes from a thoughtful loving place. I do believe that every parenting method, approached with our love and positive intention, is the “right” way for your family and best not to judge in this situation, regardless on what we think is the “right” parenting method.
I wanted to add that self work can be as fundamental as getting enough sleep! After I stayed up too late — reading parenting blogs of all things — I had one of my lowest moments as a parent the next day. How ridiculous is that! The only way I made it through without being totally dreadful to my toddler was to fess up and say, “I am very sorry, but mommy doesn’t know how to be kind or patient right now because she is too tired.” He seemed to understand on some level and let me have a little chance to rest and regroup.
Communication IS a great thing. Isn’t it great that even a toddler can understand when Mom is trying her best. I OFTEN stay up too late reading blogs online…just like right now.
I’ve been thinking about what you said about the only wrong thing in parenting is child abuse. How do you define child abuse? I think there are a lot of things that are accepted as a normal way for a child to be treated in this culture that are abusive and would be seen as so through the lens of another culture. There are many kinds of abuse — physical, mental, emotional, neglect, etc. I recently saw someone pick up a screaming toddler and hang him by his ankles in an attempt to distract him from his turmoil. The child did not respond well to having his cries ignored and worse, being put upside in this vulnerable position he had no control in. If this were done to an adult in say, Guantanamo, what an uproar there would be!
What a great question. How DO you define child abuse. This is such a vast and sensitive subject. Here is a link that addresses this. http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/whatiscan.cfm I think that I do not have an answer to this. Do you think acts of love are free of abuse or do you think there is unintentional abuse as well? Cleary physical harm can be in that ‘bad’ category, but what about spanking? I would never spank my children, nor was I spanked as a child, but what about the parents that DO spank? It’s questions like these that make my mind rattle a bit because it seems that there is this strange grey area that so many people have different opinions about. Question of the day Janis, thank you. :)
Wish I could rewrite that last sentence to say that this is the sort of action we might expect in Guantanamo. Of course it wouldn’t cause an uproar…