What we’re reading, November

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(Photo courtesy of Christopher, Flickr Creative Commons)

Happy early Thanksgiving (to my American readers)!

The crisp, cool weather is finally upon us and with the shorter days, I have found we’re spending lots of our indoor time reading. No complaints here!

Here are a few of our favorite reads lately, books for both children and parents.

Enjoy!

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MY “sleep training” story

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Baby J. is almost five months old. And, it’s right around this time that I begin to hear chatter among parent friends about…

Sleep training.

Probably the most divisive term in parenting today.

To some in conjures associations of “cry it out” or “abandonment” or “undue stress” or “cruel and unusual punishment.” As if babies were helpless victims of undeserving torture.

You swing to the opposite extreme, and it’s used to talk about babies like, “you have to sleep train that baby,” or “they’re going to have to learn some day,” or “while they cry, just drink some wine and put on some headphones.” Pitting “us parents” against our adversarial “them, the babies.”

Yet, I would ask, must the topic of young children and sleep really be framed between two negative bookends? Does sleep for infants necessarily imply that either the child or the parent suffers in order to reach a certain goal?

Is it really all or nothing?

Is there any middle ground? I think so.

First, as with everything in parenting, it requires a reframing of our mindset, how we view the whole notion of sleep. And, how we view babies.

Babies.

RIE has challenged me to reconsider how I view babies. To respect them as whole human beings from the day they are born.

Sleep.

Perhaps it is more productive – and respectful – to discuss infants and sleep in terms of learning, a process, something organic and fluid. And, to trust that children are competent to learn how to sleep on their own (without a parent’s interference).

So, instead of sharing baby J.’s sleep learning story, I’d like to share mine. Continue reading

It all begins and ends with me: the heart of parenting

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(Photo courtesy of Barbara W, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last Thursday I had to excuse myself from E.’s bedroom. “Necesito un descanso,” I told her. I need a break.

What I didn’t tell her was why.

But, I could feel the anger swirling in my stomach. My muscles were tight. I needed to step away. I needed to take a few deep breaths. I needed a time out.

Wanting some perspective, I posted my situation to the RIE/Mindful Parenting Facebook group I’m a part of: Was that okay? I asked.

While I got an answer (“yes, of course! It’s always okay, when you sense you’re about to lose your temper, to take a break”), I also received some insight that helped me process last Thursday’s incident with E. and get to the root of the issue.

Because in parenting there’s always more. So much more. Continue reading

Community and support: Online parenting forums

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(Photo courtesy of Sean McGrath, Flickr Creative Commons)

Two facts I know to be true about parenting:

It’s hard.

It’s not meant to be done alone.

That’s why community is vital in our growth as parents.

Community can come from our extended family helping us as we transition to life with a new baby. Or, from being part of a church, or synagogue, or mosque, or a tight-knit neighborhood.

Community support can also be virtual, on-line.

And, while I know that many parents are skeptical of taking advice from strangers in a parenting Facebook group, and while I recognize that some on-line forums have a reputation of drama, chaos, and lack of focus, I’d like to share with you all a curated (very curated because I have indeed had to remove myself from some “high drama” groups!) list of Facebook groups and pages that I recommend you check out.

They are divided into two major categories, Facebook groups and pages. Within”groups,” there are three sections: respectful parenting, educational philosophies, and multilingual parenting.

The titles with * are my top favorites, ones I recommend with zero reservations, ones that I personally turn to and participate in for constructive advice on parenting with respect.)

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

What does play look like for a newborn?

 

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(Photo via Donnie Ray Jones, Flickr Creative Commons)

Recently during a Facetime chat with baby J. and his abuelos, grandfather, noticing J.’s play space, remarked, “¿Qué? ¿No le compráis juguetes? (Don’t you guys buy him any toys?)

Con E., siempre la teníais en la taca taca, o con un juguete colgado en el cochecito. (With E., you guys always had her in the baby walker, or with a bunch of toys hanging in her stroller.)

So, what’s changed for us the second time around?

Thanks to Magda Gerber’s philosophy of respectful infant care, as well as the work of play advocates like psychologist Peter Gray, preschool teacher and blogger Teacher Tom, child delopment professor David Elkind, and RIE associates/bloggers Janet Lansbury and Lisa Sunbury (among others!), I have come to understand what play really is and why it’s important for children of all ages, including a newborn.

Wait, what?

Newborns…play?

Yes, from the day they enter the world!

So, what does play look like for a newborn? And, what is a parent’s role? Continue reading

From day one: bodily autonomy and consent

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(Photo via Mirra Photography, Flickr Creative Commons)

¡Feliz viernes, amig@s!

You’re probably no stranger to the recent news surrounding the US presidential elections, and specifically the track record of candidate Donald Trump: allegations of sexual assault, lewd comments about women caught on tape in 2005, which have sparked intense backlash from both men and women, in and outside the political sphere.

One response in particular caught my attention last week: Canadian author Kelly Oxford tweeted about her first sexual assault at age 12. Her tweet led to a flood of women tweeting their own stories, demonstrating once again that even in 2016 we are still dealing with a culture of rape.

What do Trump, sexual assault, and rape culture have to do with parenting? A lot actually.

Bodily autonomy and consent:

We teach them to our children from the day they are born.

As parents of young children reading the latest headlines, we may be resigned to feeling helpless (“So, this is the world my children are destined to live in.”), or to falsely thinking we have 10 or 15 years until we have to “have the talk” with our teenage children.

I’d like to offer an alternative option.

I believe there are practical, everyday, steps we parents can take now, when our children are young, so that they grow up to be adults who not only respect their own bodies but those of others.

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

Please, thank you, & I’m sorry: teaching morals to young children

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(Photo via artethgray, Flickr Creative Commons)

Recently a friend of mine posted a faith-based article entitled “Should I make my child apologize” on social media, and I had the privilege to respectfully and honestly dialogue with her on-line.

Since the issue of manners and morality is one that concerns all parents, secular or religious, I thought I’d invite you all to join in the virtual conversation with my friend and me through today’s blog post.

My hope is that this post is filled with respect and humility since I know the topic of disciplining children is a sensitive one.

I want to reiterate that the purpose of this post (and, the blog as a whole) is to process my own parenting journey and to explain to others the “why” behind the decisions D. and I have made for our family.

I also hope that everything I write here serves to prompt an honest and authentic dialogue with any reader who might feel led to comment.

So, let’s jump right to it! Should we make our children apologize (or, say please and thank you, or share, etc.)?

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