Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent

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.

(OK, that one needs a moment of explanation both for regular readers of mine who are wondering if they’re on the wrong blog and for Carnival readers who might find other parts of this blog not exactly what they were expecting.  I don’t consider myself to be a Natural Parent – I share their core philosophies, but there are others on which I disagree with them, and the whole thing just doesn’t speak to me personally.  But, as the Carnival topic this month is one that’s also important to us non-natural parents, I figured I’d jump in and give it a shot.)


The thought-provoking topic for this Carnival is parenting philosophy and how our parenting practices can help further our goals.  I’d never thought before in terms of figuring out how to summarise my Philosophy of Parenting – while I certainly have one, so far I’ve articulated it more in terms of ‘Do what works for you, don’t assume it’s what’ll work for anyone else, and be very suspicious of anyone who tries to claim they have the OneTrueWay to follow, because they’re probably very blinkered’.  Which is great for a philosophy of parenting generally, but this carnival is clearly meant to be more about what philosophy guides me, myself, in my individual parenting decisions.  So, I had to do some thinking about what my underlying philosophy really was, and how I could best put it into words.  And these are the words I came up with:

My job as a parent is to work together with my children to help them grow into the best people they can be.

What do I mean by ‘the best people they can be’?  It means I want to encourage them to think about what they want in life and to reach out and work towards that; and, at the same time, I want to encourage the qualities in them that will help them make their lives both fulfilling for themselves and beneficial to others.  Compassion.  Reason.  Articulacy.  Common sense.  Humour.  The ability to think for themselves and to know when to be sceptical.  The strength and the skills to stand up for what they believe to be right.

What do I mean by working together with my children?  It means that I don’t expect them to pick all these skills and qualities up simply by some sort of process of osmosis in which I spend their childhood telling them what I think they should do and focusing on how best to get them to go along with my plans or my advice, then expect them to have magically figured out how to do it all by themselves by the time they hit eighteen.  Instead, I try to work with them on problem-solving skills, to use day-to-day clashes and problems and dilemmas as teaching opportunities, wherever I can – to guide my children bit by bit to the point where they can make more of these decisions for themselves, and give them the tools they need to do so.

This weekend, the children wanted to build our marble run, and we ran into problems straight away – Jamie automatically took on the job of passing me the blocks that were needed (‘from the shop’, as he puts it), but Katie wanted that job too.  I could have just lectured them on the obvious solution (“Now, children, you need to take turns.  You can go first, and you can wait and go next…”) but instead, I said “OK, wait, wait, wait a minute!  Jamie, you want to mind the shop and give the blocks to me, but Katie, you want that job as well.  Can anyone think of what we could do?”

“I have an idea!” Katie exclaimed.  “We could both do it!”

“Wait, wait!” Jamie waved us into silence, overwhelmed by his inspiration.  “I know!  I could do the odd-numbered instructions, and Katie could do the even-numbered instructions!!”

Katie agreed to this, and a peace was thus agreed that lasted through an entire six instructions, although it was crumbling by the end of instruction 7 and finally crashed, along with the marble run (kicked over by Jamie) in a fight over who got to put the marbles in in which order.  But it was really good while it lasted.  And, while I realise that that probably isn’t sounding like too dramatic a success story to anyone who hasn’t had to take care of two small and strong-willed children, one of them autistic… believe you me, some of history’s international treaties have involved less miraculous feats of interpersonal diplomacy.  For a short but glorious while, it actually worked. 

And simply telling them they had to take turns would not have worked, or not nearly as well.  But, because I framed the problem for them and then gave them the space to think about the solution for themselves, not only did they come up with a solution that they were happy to work with in a way that they wouldn’t have been with an externally-imposed one, they have also had a chance to see how problems are solved and practice some of the skills for themselves, in a way small enough for them to manage at the stage they’re at. 

Next time they want to get the marble run out, I’ll try to avoid another heat-of-the-moment fight by encouraging them to plan at the start how they’re going to arrange the order in which they put the marbles in; and thus, by having the chance to think that problem through before things become too heated, they’ll (hopefully) learn just a tiny sliver more.  Multiply that by thousands and thousands of events throughout their childhood, thousands of increasingly complex problems and dilemmas that I can guide them through solving themselves, backing off just a bit more and a bit more as time goes by, taking one hand and then both hands off the bike and letting them ride free of me.  We’ll work on figuring these things out together, because that’s how I can help them to practice the skills that they’ll need for the day when they have to face life’s problems and figure them out alone.


Visit 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 IS NOW UPDATED. Sorry for the delay and do check out any links that you couldn’t get to work before!)

  • 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.


Filed under Deep Thought, Here Be Offspring

8 responses to “Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent

  1. Granny C

    Really useful! Granny C

  2. I think no matter what type of parenting style fits a particular family, your post would resonate with all of us! Right now my current challenge is helping my preschooler find ways to cope with frustration – the beautiful thing is that we’re learning together 🙂 Thanks for joining us this month!

  3. I LOVE the sentence you came up with – it encompasses so much in a few tiny words. You sound like a wonderful parent which was reflected back to you in the situation where Jamie and Katie came up with their own fantastic solutions. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

  4. I love your story about the marble run! It really does illustrate what parenting is all about : the millions of moments that add up into something greater. It is truly in these moments that we choose (each time!) how to parent our children. Thank you for that reminder.

  5. That’s awesome. I think your parenting style and mine seem quite close!

  6. Granny C

    I loved re-re-reading this and definitely heard the echoes of the robust starfish and the delicate starfish, I wish I could have been [and be] as good a parent as you are. xgrannyc

  7. I think that your example of building the marble run is important because you are involved with TWO children who have different needs and abilities and personalities. I have often been heard to say “Social skills begin at HOME”–which you obviously have a handle on! 🙂 I just get a little defensive about the learning of ‘social skills’ because my children don’t go to school and I am always asked how my FOUR children will learn to get along with others–as if they don’t get along with each other all day!
    A good post! Good for you for contributing to the Carnival.

  8. Pingback: Day In The Life | Good Enough Mum

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