Am I a Role Model? A Review

by Deb on May 11, 2010

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When I first saw this month’s topic I thought I wouldn’t be able to contribute, because this isn’t your standard parenting blog.  And then I realised of course I could, this entire blog is about helping people with attachment/natural parenting.  Because attachment/natural parenting is not about breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing.  Those things are extremely useful, even sanity preserving with babies and toddlers, but children grow and we will be parenting them for a long time.  Breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing are some great strategies we can use (and I have used) to help us parent, but they’re not what it’s about.  So I’ve been thinking about what it means to me and I’ve come up with a few general principals that I use in my parenting that I’m trying to pass on through this blog and life in general:
  • Acknowledging that as parents we chose to have children and they are our responsibility and hopefully our joy.  Even at 2am, even when they are tantruming, even when we are tired.  Children are never an inconvenience although they can sometimes be inconvenient.  It is not about ‘getting your life back to normal’, but getting used to the new normal.  And it should be fun for all involved.
  • Children are human beings, with all the same rights as adults.  That’s not just the right to not be abused, but also the rights to dignity and respect.
  • Responsibilities are important, both social/moral and environmental.  And once more they should be fun – helping people or helping animals is not because you ‘should’ but because you enjoy it, so as a parent it is important to foster this love.
  • It’s important to be able to reflect and think critically, to evaluate claims and ask for evidence.  Whether you’re going with or against the majority is immaterial, but you should know why you are doing it.
  • Education is extremely important to me, but I have a very broad definition of teaching and learning.  All experiences are learning experiences, we should all be mindful of what the people around us are learning from us.
I live in a remote area, I’m very isolated geographically, and when I was first at home with my daughter I turned to the internet for social contact and support from other Mums.  I found some wonderful, supportive, questioning communities, and when I began to blog I wanted to give something back.  To use something I know really well and am passionate about, science, to help other parents in their parenting journey and fulfill some of my parenting principals.  Parenting can be hard, we all have days we need ideas, support, or a different way to look at the world.  This blog is the result.  I’ve had other blogs that were on businesses or personal journals, this blog is my attempt to share with other parents my passion for children and parenting and science.

So how have I done it?

As one of my pet interests, I wrote about the human baby as an external foetus because it makes sense of so much baby behaviour, including newborn breastfeeding and sleep patterns, and strongly supports many of the natural parenting strategies.

One of the best ways to interact with your kids, show them you love them and give them rich learning experiences is to play with them.  Every week I come up with a new activity to do with babies and kids.  They are all science inspired, but science is an extremely broad topic!  There’s been a case study of butterfly art and role play, fun things to do with babies, quick questions to throw in when you’re doing something else and present suggestions as well as the Fairy Tree.  I’ve also put in theoretical things for parents to think about such as the importance of play, saying yes and letting children learn on their own, as well as taking advantage of all the opportunities for learning that happen around us all the time.

Helping kids learn about and love the environment is a huge part of science – I’m a biologist, that’s why we do it!  And it’s science that is helping people help the environment and learn about things like the greenhouse effect, weather, and animals so I have lots of factual posts about them, plus ideas like cubby camping or night picnics for playing with little ones and making some recycled toys or musical instruments and kits.  If you click one link in this review make it the SPORE project, it’s a world-wide art project happening right now you can be part of, we recycled plastic bags and old artwork to make mushrooms.

Part of my take on social responsibility is that it’s about giving something back and sharing the love.  So nothing on this blog is paid for – all those things that look like advertisements are free (except for the Nuffnang one that’s made me a grand total of $1.40).  They’re blogs or businesses I feel are worthwhile and my readers will find useful, or hope they’ll donate to (Go Team Ivy! Incidentally, it’s just been announced they only have $40 to go to reach $4000 :D ) or join in.  My ebook ‘Young Scientists’ is completely free.  I do hope that in the future I will manage to turn this into a business of some sort, but at the moment I have made the decision to pay forward the support I receive from other parents.  And if you look down the bottom of the sidebar you see my little green icon – I pay extra for my hosting to be part of an energy efficient programme.

Am I Successful?

I hope so!  I’m slowly building up readers and subscribers, including a lot of people who tell me about the wonderful creative play they are doing at home.  That’s the best bit, actually finding out that other people are using these ideas or inspiration to play with their kids and having a great time.  I’m getting questions for my favourite posts – the Kid Questions series (incidentally, if your kids have any sticky science questions, send them my way).  These are so much fun to research and write because they show how wonderfully curious little kids are.  Over a hundred copies of my ebook are out there being passed around, including some that have made it into universities and education departments, so hopefully there are people out there thinking about how to play with and challenge kids, who just happen to learn at the same time.

For me one of the important things to do when parenting is reflect on what you are doing, how it is working and how it has changed.  And of course reviewing and questioning are essential in science!  I hope you have enjoyed this little review.  If you have been reading for a while, it might remind you of some old posts you can use again.  If you are a newer reader, one of the links about a post you haven’t seen might have caught your eye.  And if you are here for CarNatPar and have absolutely no interest in science, I hope it gives you something to reflect on as your children grow and your parenting journey changes.  Good luck!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama May 11, 2010 at 11:50 am

I love your bulleted points – NP/AP to me is so much more than just breastfeeding, CD’ing, and babywearing. Those get discussed a lot because new mamas are involved in bigger numbers. I think we start losing people in the more challenging toddler years – it is incredibly important to continue spreading information about gentle discipline and peaceful/respectful parenting. Thank you for this post, and for all you do every day on your blog!
.-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..The Joys of Breastfeeding a Toddler #5 =-.

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Kirsty May 11, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for dropping by my little blog – it’s so nice to be making some new friends around the web. My husband and I are such nerds and we are so excited to start ‘sciencing’ (yeah that’s totally a word!!) with our son.

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Deb May 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

You’re welcome! I found you through FlogYoBlog, it’s great to see so many different life stories. And I love sciencing :D

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katepickle May 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Fabulous post….

Love that it is all about giving something back… to your family, your children and the wider community and totally agree with your initial general principles. It seems to me if you follow those all the rest of the things (baby wearing, breastfeeding etc) all find their own place to fit within them!

Keep on giving… and be proud of it!

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Tiff May 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm

This is such a great post. I love it. Children are such a wonderful addition. I love having them as part of my life. You raise lots a great points that I agree with.
Thank you for linking to team Ivy too
.-= Tiff´s last blog ..Motherhood. =-.

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Lauren @ Hobo Mama May 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I can’t wait to read through your tempting links. I’m so glad you joined the Carnival so I can become acquainted more with your blog. I think science play is a great way to connect with kids on a fun and educational level. I love how you tie that in with the environment as well, and I admire your commitment to paying it forward.
.-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model =-.

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NavelgazingBajan May 12, 2010 at 3:01 am

Well, you’ve definitely inspired me to take a look around your blog! My little one is under a year old but I hope to eventually do fun sciency projects with him.

And how right you are that attachment/natural parenting is much broader than breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and babywearing.

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Deb May 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

Everyone – thankyou! As Arwyn over at Raising My Boychick said, this was a really hard post to write.

Dionna – a lot of the community seems to drop off as we get busier, it was a really good exercise for me to have to sit down and think about what it means with older children.

Kate – that’s exactly what I was trying to say, if you are really clear on the basics of why, the how follows.

Tiff – You’re more than welcome, I’m really excited that Team Ivy reached their goal. It’s a fabulous project about giving back.

Lauren – I adore playing around with science, it’s so much fun to be able to share that with other parents. And I really get those days when you can’t think of anything fun to do!

Navalgazer – Welcome! There are activities in the baby section as well.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you around, here and at your own blogs.

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Janet May 12, 2010 at 11:14 am

“Human baby as external foetus!” Yes! This! *punches air with glee* Love it.

What a great post. I’m bookmarking to come back and read your other posts.

Thank you for making a difference. :-)
.-= Janet´s last blog ..Under Construction! =-.

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Michelle May 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I think it’s great that you highlighted how AP/NP is much more than just babywearing & breastfeeding. Natural parenting an infant involves lots of sweet cuddling, but as those infants grow into toddlers, preschoolers and big kids the challenges change but hopefully the principles of respect, love & attachment stay the same. I am now dipping my toes into the joys & challenges of life learning and homeschooling and can’t wait to check out some more of your science-y stuff with my 3yo. :)

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Amber May 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm

You are so right, I did choose to have my children. It’s not always easy to remember, but it’s so important. Reminding myself of that can take a bad situation and turn it around, almost every time.
.-= Amber´s last blog ..Paying it Forward =-.

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Sarah @ OneStarryNight May 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Exactly! I know I’ve said in the past that it sometimes feels like people stop being “AP” when their child is no longer a toddler, I have an 8yr old son and AP is more than “just” raising them naturally from birth.

Love your post!
.-= Sarah @ OneStarryNight´s last blog ..I’m a Parenting Inspiration, Who Knew! =-.

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Erin W. / Beatnik Momma May 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

You know, I always look at my natural parenting in terms of how I parent my youngest, my 13 month old, because I didn’t do so with my oldest. With my 5 year old, I formula fed, she crib slept, CIO (some), etc etc etc. But now that I look at it, my parenting has certainly changed for the better in regards to her as well. But yes, I’ve always thought of the natural parenting in terms of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, and cloth diapering. But there IS so much more to it! Why didn’t I think of that???? (I’m doing a bit of a mental face-palm here, so please pardon me. I really didn’t think of it this way at all.)

Anyway, I’m gonna have to come back and check out some of those links you’ve posted. It looks like you’ve got quite a bit of interesting things to say.
.-= Erin W. / Beatnik Momma´s last blog ..My Inspiration =-.

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Danielle May 13, 2010 at 6:55 am

Yes, it is all about paying it forward. Giving back, whether it be to the little ones in our lives by finding and doing cool and interesting things or to other parents we meet by sharing experiences, stories and suggestions. That is how the village grows and expands.

Thanks for adding to the great parenting village that we all are members of.
.-= Danielle´s last blog ..My Seven =-.

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