Meet the Mentors: Shae, Mandy, Amy, Joni, and Acacia
This is a little different then our regular Featured Blogger posts. In honor of our special Mentor week, we want you to meet a few of the people who have been sharing their advice with us. You’ll learn more about their personal parenting philosophies and how they came to find their way as parents.
Shae blogs at Yay For Home! She and her husband, Luke, are the proud parents of Tannah, Willow, and Harper. Both Attachment Parenting and Radical Unschooling really resonate with her, as those philosophies treat children as real people with real needs and emotions. When her first born was 9 weeks old, she was advised to take her to “sleep school” where she was told by the expert there to stop picking her up when she cried. “Something in my brain said ‘This is not right, why shouldn’t I listen to her? There has to be another way!’ And I did some research and found Attachment Parenting, it changed my life!”
Shae admires the writings of John Holt, Alfie Kohn, and Scott Noelle, who all support her belief that children do their best when they have the freedom to discover the world without punishment or bribery. She tries her best to stand behind the decisions she and her husband have made for their family, even in the face of obvious disapproval from society. In her post Judgement, she talks about how it’s not always easy, but the happiness and growth of her kids are more important to her then a stranger’s opinion.
Mandy blogs at Living Peacefully With Children. She is married to her best friend and they strive to raise their four children, ages 1 through 8, in a voluntary, consensual, simple way in a non-consensual world. She has many wonderful friends who share similar parenting philosophies, and with whom they can talk about parenting in a non-judgmental way. However she feels that the people who have taught her the most about parenting are her children. “Being a parent is not a one-sided relationship. Just as with any relationship, there are two people involved. When I have parenting doubts, I only need to look to my children, be fully present with them, and work with them.”
Mandy feels that it’s the simple, ordinary times that define us all as people. She hopes that when her children look back over their lives as adults, the moments where they were listened to, encouraged, supported, and valued as individual people will win out over the not so great parenting moments we all have. “When we set our busyness aside in order to focus on something our children want to show or tell us, we show that they are important to us. When we kiss the hurt spots, we show them we are there for them and love them.”
Amy blogs at Peace For Parents. She and her husband live with their blended family in a rural area where they enjoy the mysterious, enchanting adventure of life. He is an artist, she is an author on a mission to transform ideas about parenting and life, and her kids are busy being their true selves and doing their own thing. Amy’s first mentor was Scott Noelle, who taught her that, with an open mind, parenting and life can be enjoyed regardless of your circumstances. Now her main mentor is awareness of the present moment itself. “Each moment I have the opportunity to tune into what I am thinking, feeling, doing, and the simplicity of the stillness within. Some refer to this as consciousness, others as Jesus or God. It’s all of It; I don’t think we are able to fully comprehend the capacity of It.” She parents moment by moment, striving to treat her children as she would want to be treated. If she finds herself struggling with that path, Amy stops to find her clarity, intention, and trust, so that she can move forward and parent with integrity.
Her defining moment in parenthood was when she chose to stop believing in punishment. It had never seemed to her to be the right thing, but when angry, or in the face of harmful behavior, punishment was sometimes how she answered those challenges. When she brought her parenting in line with her innermost values, and stepped away from any form of punishment, parenthood became much easier. Now the whole family works together towards accountability and responsibility. She wrote about her journey away from this harmful cycle in Diffusing Parental Anger. Amy really hopes to encourage other parents to experience that kind of simple peace, so that we can all make the most of our lives.
Joni blogs at Tales of a Kitchen Witch. She and her husband strive to raise their four children, Hannah, Patrick, Willow, and Cooper to be kind and honest people. He is a long distance truck driver trainer, and she is a stay at home mom and aspiring writer. “I want to create, to have the time to put all my ideas on proper paper instead of scribbled on the ends of napkins and envelopes.” They love that homeschooling allows them to spend as much time together as a family as possible. She has found many wonderful mama-mentors through twitter and Facebook and relies on that network for support.
Joni feels that every day is a new chance to be a better person and mother. She wrote a wonderful coming out of the closet post, Naked, about the ways in which she “fails” at being a perfect crunchy mama. She firmly believes that our shortcomings don’t matter as much as we mothers can think they do, because even when she thinks she’s really messed something up for her kids, “one of them throws their little arms around me, one stands up for a friend, one says the most amazing thing, and I am in awe once again that I get to be mother to these awesome people.”
Acacia no longer has a personal blog, but she still contributes guest posts to various sites and she writes for Natural Parents Network. She and her husband, Erik, have been together since college, and live close to their extended families in Kansas City with their two boys, Everett and Kellan. Acacia and Erik have opposing personalities, which has encouraged them to learn to cooperate and continually grow throughout their marriage. This spirit of respect, love, kindness, compassion, and consideration being given to everyone – big or small – is how they work to raise their children. “I am responsible for my children, I am not in charge of them.”
While she trusts her instincts and makes most of her decisions on her own, whenever she feels the need for a mentor, Acacia reaches out to her family and network of close friends, especially her Aunt Leah. “[She] is like my holistic and spiritual mom guru… She has raised four kids in a very spiritual, wholesome, and sustainable way so I really look up to that.” Acacia also loves sharing stories with her crunchy mom friends, because she finds it so helpful to know that other people are having the same struggles. Most of all, she strives to cultivate joy and beauty in her life. “I don’t let life “get in the way” I make life “the way” and prioritize carefully.”
Thank you to all of our mentors, including the ones not featured here. We all have so much to learn from each other, and your willingness to share your perspectives is a great asset to our community.
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