It can be very challenging to parent in a way that’s different from the mainstream, which I’m guessing you’re probably doing if you’re reading this article.
It’s challenging because you’ve likely had no example of how you’re striving to parent and may not always know how to handle situations peacefully.
It can be challenging, sometimes even overwhelming and exhausting, to spend a large part of each day focused on meeting little ones’ needs.
I want to share my experience with you for three reasons:
1. I hope it will give you the reassurance that you are NOT ruining your children by parenting them in an alternative way.
2. I hope it will give you some inspiration that will fuel you to keep following your instincts and parenting in a natural way that’s attuned to your children.
3. I hope it will show you that the time and energy invested in meeting all your children's needs when they're little and becoming the parent you want to be are worth it beyond what you can even imagine!
My 3 daughters and I are a living proof of it.
When my first daughter Cassandra was born, I went on a quest to find a parenting approach that would insure she would grow up feeling whole, loved, and knowing that she was intrinsically good.
I was obsessed.
It just was not an option for me to have her experience even a smidgen of what I lived and still struggle to heal from: growing up feeling unloved and believing I was deeply flawed.
For the first 5 years of my parenting journey, all my attention and energy went into finding and integrating into my family an approach that felt 100% right. If anything felt even a little bit off, I’d keep searching and tweaking until it’d feel totally right. (My two main resources were all the friends I made through La Leche League and my parenting bible, The Continuum Concept.)
Some of the things I focused on doing with my 3 daughters were:
I lost interest in studying and talking about parenting, pursuing other interests instead.
I would say that from that point on, I didn’t really feel like I was parenting, but more like I was just living my life with my girls, if that makes any sense.
Until Cassandra turned 18.
January 21st 2011 was a profound day for me, a huge milestone. I found myself reflecting a lot that day. Thinking about what it meant to be the parent of an adult. How our relationship would change. How I felt about sending her out into the world on her own, given that she’d picked a college 1200 miles away from home.
And I realized something: I HAD ABSOLUTELY NO CONCERNS ABOUT HER FUTURE!!! No concerns about her ability to find her way and her happiness in the world. No concerns about her ability to keep herself safe.
And I was struck by the contrast with what I imagined most of her friends’ parents must be feeling as their children became adults and moved away from home.
And then further struck to realize I felt equally unconcerned about the future of my two younger daughters!
That day birthed what’s become one of my missions in life: to give as many parents as possible a vision of what’s possible with children. And information and support in achieving it.
Now before moving forward and talking about all the positive things I experienced in my family, I want to stress that I am in NO WAY a perfect parent, nor are my children perfect! I could say a lot more about this, but this isn’t the topic of this article. You can read my full confession to that here.
So here’s what I HAVE experienced in my family:
some parents struggle to sleep out of fear of the trouble their children might be getting into.
I hope you get that my motivation for sharing all this is in no way to make you feel bad if you’re not living the same thing I did nor to make myself seem better than you in any way.
I JUST DESPERATELY WANT PARENTS TO KNOW THAT THIS IS POSSIBLE!!!
I SO want to encourage you to pursue this parenting approach if it resonates with you!
Yes, in many ways it’s a lot of work in the early years. And it takes incredible DETERMINATION to unlearn our conditioning and fully transition to a loving, instinctual and natural way of parenting!
I am eternally grateful to the young mom I was 24 years ago, who fully committed herself to it!!! Because it’s paid off for me, my daughters, and all whom they’ll touch a million fold!
If you believe in this approach with all your heart and want help so you can also experience with your children what I described with mine, click here to see if my Clean Parenting™ Program is right for you.
I offer this program 3 times a year and each group is limited to 10 participants. Check the program page for the date of the next group, a lot of testimonials, program information and to reserve your spot.
NOTE: A shorter version of this article was originally published on Love Parenting’s website
in January of 2014. If you’re a new mom or new to attachment and Continuum Concept parenting,
you’ll find lots of helpful and practical information through the wonderful Sam Vickery’s work.
9/15/2015 03:30:37 pm
Is this possible when starting with a 4yo with significant behavioural issues? Do you have any stories of hope for this? Also, I find it hard to stay motivated enough to finish a book, let alone consistently being 'incredibly determined' to follow a parenting approach. How do I get there?
9/26/2015 07:35:22 am
It's definitely not too late, Lisa! I've worked with many moms in your situation who experienced huge shifts in their children's behaviors by applying what I call Clean Parenting.
Carrie O' Brien
9/18/2015 06:42:27 pm
I too have parented my girls this way from birth. I raised them both diaperless and they both nursed to 3.5 yo. I agree this is the way of humans to parent. Thank you for writing such a good article about this. I pinned your article and shared it on facebook.
9/26/2015 07:37:46 am
Thank you so much, Carrie!
10/8/2015 04:26:40 am
Thank you so much :-)
2/27/2016 12:25:51 pm
The part below of your story literally gave me goosebumps! I feel like this is where I am at now as my son will be turning 7 soon. I am working full time and don't have time to read as much, so I selectively choose the sites that keep me rejuvenated as a parent.
3/2/2016 08:32:32 am
Excellent article. My husband and I are parenting this way and we face much criticism from family (as do our children for not falling in line with the rules that the other cousins are expected to follow when visiting family. We don't believe in force feeding our children and the rest of our two families think it's rude when a child doesn't clean their plates.) It was refreshing and encouraging to read your article and to know that we are not alone in facing judgment, but that we are doing what feels right for our family. Thank. I have shared this on my FB page and Twitter account.
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