Natural Parenting as a Doorway

Written by Amy on February 26th, 2012

Balance, Parenting Philosophies
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Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

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My definition of natural parenting may not fit another person’s definition since it’s the version I live and it’s ever evolving. To me, natural parenting means parenting in line with one’s true nature, and that is a very individual journey. Yet here we are, in it together.

Early on in my parenting experience I intended to eat plenty of healthy foods, although that didn’t necessarily mean organic at the time. I was pregnant and I had just begun the adventure of caring for another person so food was something pretty straightforward to focus on. And yes, I ate (and still do) some fast food occasionally.

Preparing for birth and breastfeeding was next on the list. I was lucky. My mom gave birth to me naturally and breastfed me for about a year, encouraging me to give it a try. Thankfully, even after a medicated first birth, breastfeeding worked for us. I initially planned to continue for about 6-12 months.

Life started to evolve from that point rather quickly. The reality of caring for another person 24/7 hit and I floundered through various sources of parenting information. I wasn’t sure who to trust about much of anything and was slowly beginning to trust myself. Eventually I found La Leche League and felt intrigued by many of the philosophies. Although I really appreciated the encouragement towards eating foods in as close to their natural state as possible, the philosophy that stuck out to me most was (and still is) loving guidance.

Along the way, to learn more and support other parents in the journey, I became a La Leche League Leader as well. I scoured book after book on how to become the loving guide I wanted to be for my children. Books were helpful, but I needed more. I led meetings, faciltated discussions, helped other moms become leaders, and still found myself with questions – many questions. I often found myself angry and unable to respond with the love I desired. And here I was, supposed to be a shining example of loving guidance… or so I thought.

At a certain collision of breaking points the fact that I embraced many natural parenting ideals came right up in my face. Shortly after my third child was born she was diagnosed with several food allergies and we experienced many health challenges. Although I was breastfeeding and eliminated about every food I could eat, something still didn’t seem right. I felt like I was trying everything and could not find any conclusive answers from either traditional medicine or natural medicine. I was stuck, and my daughter was suffering.

I wasn’t ready to give up what had come to feel so right to me as a parent, but I was ready to go deeper, to allow myself to really examine ideas for what they are – collections of thought and experience that may or may not hold absolute truth. I started to realize that everything I thought I believed had been handed to me, everything. All of the information I was seeking, researching, and gathering was from the same thread – human observation and thought, which is constantly changing. This shook me to my core because I also saw that my thoughts were influencing my feelings, my feelings were influencing my actions, and the amount of stress I felt was in direct correlation to the ideas I held.

I started to wake up and allow natural parenting to not only be an ideal, or a way of life, but a doorway to explore the truths of life… to really choose what I take forward as a parent and to choose to keep my mind open and flexible so I can be the best parent for myself, my children, and the world. Even when it’s difficult, because we know there are challenges.

In this sense, I feel natural parenting is a doorway. As depicted in the drawing above, all of the various aspects and potential ways of parenting and being in life are like the colored tendrils… aspects of the world of form. Not only the physical form of the human body, but the forms of life – words, thoughts, things, experiences, all of it. At the basis and always in every moment is a doorway to the formless, represented by the white space. It’s not filled yet, or defined. Kind of like us and our parenting journey.

Whether we are “natural parents” or just parents, we all arise from the same source – the same basis. That is where natural parenting leads me the most… to the realization that here and now we always have the opportunity to become aware of the door and experience what’s truly inside.

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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

About The Author: Amy

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Amy Phoenix is a gentle yet direct mom of five and author of Presence Parenting, a space to address the presence we bring to parenting, especially when feeling frustration, anger or rage.

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