I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I can’t seem to find a definitive answer anywhere that I look. Not that I really need someone to tell me what being a natural parent is, but it’s still nice to know what people are thinking when I tell them I’m trying to be one.
I’ve discovered that the answer to this question is very much dependent upon who you’re asking. I believe that there is one uniting quality in all of these people, however, which is that they all want to raise their children as naturally as possible. The reason it gets confusing is because every person uniquely defines what “natural” is.
For me, being a natural parent means listening to my instincts, regardless of what the experts, research, or other parents tell me. It’s about taking every little moment I’ve experienced into account, and making the best decisions I can using those very memories. I know nothing that I have not lived. I can only do what I feel is right as I go along.
I believe that God created the world, and those who live in it, in a very specific, intentional way. There is an order to things, and when a person goes outside of that order, or takes shortcuts, there is bound to be consequences. I’m not saying that you’re damned to hell if you put disposable diapers on your kid, but I am saying that a lot of these things have downsides, many times so minimal that we don’t even notice. I see this in my own life all the time.
We will never be able to live perfectly natural, as the world has changed significantly since it first began (whether that was a 100,000,000,000 years ago, or only 8,000, things are different), but we can try our hardest to listen to our hearts, and do what is best for our children.
For some, that will mean formula feeding their baby. For others, that may mean putting their child in daycare, while they work outside the home. There is not a one size fits all way to parent. We have to do what feels natural for us, as individuals. Formula feeding may not be as good as breast milk, but if breastfeeding is going to make a mommy really stressed out, I think it would be much better for her to just use the formula. That way she is relaxed, and able to ultimately be a better mother for her child. Love is the most important thing.
I’d like to quickly highlight some things that my husband and I feel are really important in our natural parenting journey.
- Respecting our children’s needs, and loving him unconditionally, even when it makes us uncomfortable (and believe you me, it has!)
- Responding to our children’s needs and desires which include:
- Infant Potty Training – responding to child’s need to eliminate, and helping him to do so in a comfortable environment (Elimination Communication)
- Co-Sleeping – responding to child’s need to be close to us, and cherishing this time we have with him
- Baby-wearing – again, we recognize babies need to be close to us, and we feel that wearing him helps us accomplish this, while still being able to get other things done.
- Breastfeeding – we believe the breast is a very important place of comfort for our son, and it also supplies him with wonderful nutrition, which is crucial for us.
- Unschooling – he is still very young, but we want to honor his passions by allowing him to explore the world throughout his life, without him feeling forced to “learn” things that are uninteresting to him. (I don’t think he would actually be truly learning anyway, if that was the case.)
- Raw foods – we want to fuel his body as naturally as possible, which for us means having fresh, whole, unaltered food available for him to eat, if he wants to eat it.
- We want to show him God’s love through loving him, and each other. We don’t want to be overbearing parents who insist that he believe how we believe, because we know that is very ineffective. We are simply going to try our best to show him pure love, without judgement, as God loves us.
I’m sure I could go on and on, but I felt it necessary to give at least a little framework of what we consider natural parenting to be. I want everyone to know that I do not think these are the “right” way of doing things, simply the right way for us. Please, follow your own hearts when it comes to raising your children. I just ask that you try your hardest to understand that I am doing the same.