Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Knowledge and Instinct

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy
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 shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
"When you know better, you do better"
- Maya Angelou

I had to think about this topic a bit. I had all these ideas and thoughts about what my parenting philosophy is, but then I realized it was actually quite simple.

When it comes to my parenting philosophy, the quote above pretty much sums it up for me.

I started out my journey as a parent, without knowing all that much about actual parenting. But something within me had the drive to learn, to ask questions, to not take things as is, but instead to question the status quo when it didn't feel right. I suppose I could say this stems from way, way back because as a child I was always encouraged to explore, learn and always ask questions. But most importantly to always be myself and to always find a way to be able to express that, even when it wasn't seen by society as the ideal or encouraged response.

So when my beautiful daughter came into the world five years ago, that part of me naturally seemed to extend into my parenting...the way I was to be a mother. I remember when she was in the NICU as a newborn, I started seeing my mothering side come out in the way I would follow my instincts and want to hold her skin-to-skin for hours on end even when it wasn't what the nurses would have liked (for their convenience). And as she grew, my trust in my instinct and my drive to follow it also grew. But I also had a drive to learn.

Of course I made mistakes, I still do. But like the quote above, it's in striving to know better that we can do better. If we don't ask questions, we can't learn. And if we don't learn, then we might keep making mistakes.

I truly believe that as parents, we all want the best for our children. And we each have our own ways of knowing what that is. Every family is unique and grows in its own way. So you can't apply a parenting style or parenting technique to everyone. But, there is a common thread in raising happy, healthy children: having love, respect, acceptance and encouragement. Children who feel and experience this, flourish. It's like having a garden. The garden itself can look very different from home to home, but what makes it grow big and beautiful is the nourishing soil and the knowledge and patience of the gardener to care for the plants.

I do truly feel that our instincts are very powerful and important, and when we are tuned into them it is a truly empowering way to make decisions and live our lives. But we also need to be able to be willing to learn and educate ourselves {and our children} so that we may always be improving and growing.

So I suppose my parenting philosophy boils down to:
- Ask a lot of questions and encourage your children to as well
- Have a thirst for knowledge!
- Respect yourself and respect your children

but most importantly...

Have a home that is full of love, acceptance and encouragement!

And I hope that this will lay the important foundation for my children to be able to have meaningful, loving, intimate relationships and live their lives with a happy heart.

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!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.


  1. You'll enjoy part of Witch Mom's post today - she talks about the importance of encouraging our children's questions, which you've come at from the parent perspective. Both are so important!

  2. So true! I hope my daughter sees me modeling of a thirst for knowledge and new adventures and in turn will be set free on her own paths of adventures and learning confindent enough in herself to ask the hard questions and to take the paths less traveled if she chooses.
    The Sparkle Mama

  3. I love that Maya Angelou quotation. I wish it applied to all parents!

    Our instincts are so powerful. There's so much wisdom within us if we just take the time to listen :-)

  4. I agree completely. I was raised to question and my parents have always respected my choices. I'm so grateful because these qualities have helped me be my own person, hone my instincts and follow my bliss. What a gift you're giving your children!

  5. Great quote and love your overall idea of questions, i too encourage and welcome questions from my kids, listening to our children is so important. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  6. That's a wonderful philosophy. It's always good to ask questions! I love it

  7. I love your emphasis on knowledge. I feel like I wasn't encouraged to ask questions as a kid, so it's something I've had to learn as an adult. It's definitely something I want to encourage in my children. And I love that quote!

  8. How lucky you were to grow up in atmosphere where questions were welcomed! I welcome the questions of my children, too. Even the really tough questions that totally put me on the spot!

    And of course you know that the more children you welcome into your family, the more important it is to keep learning and growing together.

    Hugs to you (and to baby-belly too).

  9. Those are some very sound points. I am glad the way you were raised gave you a beautiful foundation for being a great parent yourself! I totally agree with respect, questioning and learning being the most important starting points!


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