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parenting

In sickness and in health – such is the commitment to care, nurturing and to love that each parent makes towards a child.

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Nature's Child

Nature's Child

"Your children are not your children," wrote the Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran, "They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself...You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." It is a quote I like, not only because - having raised four children on my own - I believe it to be just about the most accurate description of parenthood I have ever come across, but also because it emphasizes the `lightness' which develops when you give up trying to be perfect and come to trust the processes of Nature - in feeding, in healing, in guiding you and your child towards what is best for his or her development at any moment in time. Like the seed of a plant which has encoded within its genetic material the characteristics that will in time produce the full-grown flower, every baby comes into this world carrying a package of as yet unrealized but incredibly rich potential. Within each child is nestled his or her very own brand of unique seedpower encompassing far greater physical, creative and spiritual potential than he or she could realize in ten lifetimes. Your child is like the brush stroke the zen painter uses to represent one leaf on a shaft of bamboo. The leaf he paints is totally singular - like no leaf that has ever existed. Yet within this uniqueness is encompassed universal beauty and life energy of the highest order.

Love With Muscle

Love With Muscle

Children have also taught me much of what I know about love. They have a singularly unsentimental attitude toward love and show little patience with an adult's romantic notions. To a child love is nothing fancy. It is a real and tangible feeling to be taken highly seriously. `If you love somebody,' a six-year-old boy named Charlie once told me, `then you help him put his boots on when they get stuck.' `When I grow up,' said eight-year-old Marlene, `I'm going to love somebody even if his handwriting is messy.' I once had a real demonstration of what love is all about from my eldest son, Branton, who was then eight and to all appearances totally indifferent to his little sister, Susannah. One Autumn evening, after we'd all been out in the yard, we discovered Susannah was missing. Through a series of misunderstandings she thought we'd gone off for a walk in the woods - and we thought she'd gone back to the house. By the time I realized she was gone, Branton had a dachshund under each arm and was firmly ensconced on the sofa watching his favorite television program with a friend. If one thing was certain in our house, it was that Branton would do absolutely nothing anyone wanted him to do - such as set the table or wash his hands - while this particular program was on. I could stand in the middle of the room and scream at the top of my lungs but he wouldn't hear me. After I'd searched every room for Susannah, I began to be frightened. It was dark by then, and she was only five years old. Our house in the country had enormous expanses of land and woods surrounding it. She could have been anywhere. Careful not to betray my anxiety, I announced, `Branton, Susannah is gone.' There was a pause, rather like a slow take in a cartoon film, then he turned and looked at me. `I can't find Susannah,' I repeated. `She isn't in the house, and I don't know where she is.' He was up as if dynamite had blown him off the sofa. The poor sleepy dachshunds were shaken out of their stupor. `I'll find her,' he said on his way to the door. Then he stopped and turned to his friend, still engrossed in the television program. `Get up, Jeff,' he commanded, `we've got to find Susu. Hurry up.' I have never seen any human being move faster. Within two minutes he had been around the acre of land surrounding the house and rung two doorbells to ask if the neighbors knew where his sister was. By then I had remembered our talk about going for a walk in the woods, and had headed toward the thicket. Branton, still running at top speed, came up and passed me by, all the time calling: `Susannah, Susannah.' As we headed up the big path into the woods, I heard the faraway sound of a child crying out. It was Susannah. I tried to reassure her we were coming - while attempting to avoid falling in the wet mud - meanwhile Branton plunged on ahead, apparently afraid of nothing. In another minute he had her in his arms. As I approached, I heard him saying over and over, `Oh, Susu, Susu, are you all right?' as tears streamed down his cheeks. Later that night at the dinner table I told Susannah, who frequently suffered Branton's scorn, that now she knew what Branton really felt about her. I suggested she remember this evening whenever she became discouraged by his taunts - calling her a drip, for instance. She smiled. `You're a drip,' said Branton.

How To Create A Magic Kitchen

How To Create A Magic Kitchen

Your kitchen—big or small—should be treated like an artist’s atelier. It needs to be a place where you can lose yourself in creative play. The kitchen has always been the center of a home. In the past it was the place of fire, of inspiration, warmth and imagination. I remember as a child sitting in front of an old Stanley stove gazing into the flames—filled with delightful visions—while my grandmother canned pears, peaches and green beans for winter. My own kitchen, out of which my High Raw food style developed, is more like a sculptor’s studio than a food preparation station. It is a place where Aaron and I can get together with friends, workmates and family to laugh and talk about serious and trivial stuff while we prepare meals together. GREAT FUN Your kitchen should have the atmosphere of freedom in it. Hang quirky things from the ceiling if that inspires you. Put a potted plant where you wouldn’t expect one. Paint cupboard doors in wild colors. Your kitchen should reflect things that delight and amuse you. Ten years ago I bought a gigantic soup ladle, which has hung above my gas hob ever since. It is so big that it would be ideal for a Salvation Army soup kitchen. But it makes me laugh. I like its beautiful shape and am continually amused by the absurdity of its size. With a well-organized, well equipped kitchen, high raw meals are a pleasure to prepare. But there is nothing more annoying than setting out to make a meal in someone else’s kitchen and spending ages looking for a brush to scrub vegetables only to find that the one you used was the floor brush! Let’s look at some of the tools which are most useful for a raw food gourmet. MANDOLIN MAGIC The one piece of equipment I would never be without is a mandolin. I prefer the simple plastic ones that sell for a fifth of the price of the expensive stainless steel variety. They have a v-shaped blade into which plastic inserts fit, each of which has different size knives so you can julienne, make chip-size chunks, slice thin or thick. Unlike the conventional grater, which mashes vegetables and fruits when you use it, a mandolin slices them clean and sharp. Be sure to use the hand-protecting device that comes with either model. If you don’t, and I know from experience, what you will end up with is shredded fingers—yours—instead of shredded cabbage. POWER TOOLS Although it is nice to return to nature wherever possible, you have to draw the line somewhere. Using electric equipment takes the tediousness out of chopping vegetables, gives you a greater choice of textures, allows you to make splendid desserts, nut loaves, sauces, soups and whips, and cuts down enormously on preparation time. I find a few simple machines give full rein to my imagination. These are the raw chef’s equivalent of the oven or the microwave. For those who like an “all manual” kitchen I suggest alternatives, but they really are second best. Apart from a mandolin, the three machines I consider useful are a food processor, a juicer and a blender—in that order. You can get by without a blender because a food processor does many of the same things, but it is useful nonetheless. You can buy appliances which combine the functions of all three, but keeping them separate lets you work on several recipes at the same time and encourages helpers. Choose good strong machines that will stand up to heavy use. If you have a large family, it can be worth investing in catering or industrial models which are sturdier and can cope with larger quantities. SMOOTH PROCESSING A good food processor is a blessing to the raw food chef. There are so many remarkable attachments to choose from—a blade, several coarse to fine graters, various slicers and shredders. The blade attachment is excellent for grinding nuts and seeds, wheat and other sprouts, homogenizing vegetables for soups and loaves, and making dressings, dips and desserts such as ice cream. You can do most of these things with a blender, but if your ingredients are gooey they tend to stick around the blade and you spend ages scraping with very little to show for it. The blade in a food processor is removable and easy to scrape, so you lose very little. The grater, slicer and shredder attachments are terrific for making salads. With their help, you can prepare a splendid Whole Meal Salad for four people and have it on the table in ten minutes. Do experiment with all these attachments because, believe it or not, vegetables actually taste different depending on how they are cut up. YOUR JUICE EXTRACTOR The most important considerations when buying a juicer are power, capacity and ease of cleaning. The fewer fiddly parts to wash up, the better. Some have a removable strip of plastic gauze in the pulp basket which is helpful in cleaning. There are basically three types of juicer: the hydraulic press type, the rotating blade type, and the centrifugal type. Some hydraulic presses are hand-operated and therefore less convenient than the electric kind, but some doctors who prescribe raw juices prefer them on the grounds that they reduce the amount of oxidation that takes place when juices are exposed to air. I have all three myself. Centrifugal juicers are best to start with and come in two types: either they are separators, which operate without needing to be constantly cleaned out, or they are batch operators, which have to be cleaned out after every 2lb (roughly a kilo) of material has been juiced. That gives the separator kind the edge when it comes to convenience; they expel leftover pulp rather than fill up with it. But they tend not to extract juice as efficiently as the batch operator kind. If you decide on a batch juicer, look for a large capacity model which does not require emptying too often. It can be infuriating working with a machine that insists on being cleaned out after juicing only two glasses when you are juicing for six people. One other thing to check before buying a juicer is the size of the hole through which you feed your vegetables and fruits. Some are really too small and it can be a real drag to have to cut carrots and beetroots lengthwise. A POWER BLENDER There is not much to choose between blenders except their power. You will need one of at least 400 watts (anything less will be unable to cope). My favorite has attachments for grating, chopping, kneading etc. which are very useful. Glass models are preferable to plastic, as plastic tends to stain and look tatty very quickly. Look for one that has a removable blade (the base unscrews) for ease of cleaning. I own three and they are all Vita Mix because they go on and on, and will do just about everything with ease. OTHER GADGETS Two other devices I find useful are an electric citrus fruit juicer and a lettuce spin-drier. The citrus juicer has a central rotating cone onto which you press your halved grapefruits, oranges and lemons. Very quick and easy. There is nothing to stop you juicing citrus fruits in a centrifuge juicer, but you need to peel them first. The lettuce spin-drier is a great invention. There are several types, but my favorite is a basket which fits into a container with holes in the bottom and has a lid with a spinning cord. You put the whole contraption in the sink, put your lettuce or greens into the basket, put the lid on, run water slowly through the hole in the lid and pull the spinning cord. This spins the basket and expels the water, in theory cleaning and drying the greens. In practice they need to be rinsed before you put them in the basket, but by spinning you get beautifully crisp non-watery leaves very quickly. BACK TO BASICS A few other gadgets can be helpful if you cannot afford or have basic objections to electrical equipment. But you will be more limited in the number of textures and recipes you can prepare. A sturdy grater—the box type with a fine, medium and coarse face, and a face for grating nutmeg and ginger. Hand coffee grinder—for rendering down nuts, seeds and spices. Meat mincer—the sort you screw to the table, with coarse and fine cutters; good for grinding grains, seeds, nuts and sprouts. A strong stainless steel sieve—for rubbing soft fruits through or extracting the juice from finely grated vegetables. Hand hydraulic juicer A stainless steel “mouli” rotary grinder—with coarse and fine grater inserts; quite effective for juicing finely grated fruit or vegetables. Pestle and mortar—for grinding herbs, spices, flowers, etc. A lemon squeezer Wire salad basket—the sort you swing maniacally round your head in the garden. RAZOR SHARP Of primary importance to raw food preparation are good knives and a good chopping board. At least two knives are essential, a large one for tackling spinach leaves, onions, carrot sticks and so on, and a smaller one for more delicate jobs. The best knives are made from carbon steel. Some enthusiasts disapprove of carbon steel because, unlike stainless steel, it encourages oxidation of cut surfaces, but I prefer them, for although stainless steel knives look nice they do not keep their edges as well and a sharp edge is important for creating beautiful salads. If none of your knives will cut a tomato without squashing it, then they need sharpening! A good sharpener is worth investing in. CHOPPING BLOCK Good chopping boards are hard to find. Either they lose their pretty patterns with repeated chopping, or they warp when they get wet, or they are not large enough to slice an orange on without most of the juice running over the edge. Find a decent sized wooden chopping board if you can, with runnels around the edge. Look in a professional chef’s shop for the biggest you can find. Here is my solution to the problem. When I had a new kitchen installed I kept some big leftover pieces of Formica covered board. You can prepare a salad—or leave the chopped vegetables—on one end, and the peelings on the other. If it’s big enough, it can fit over the sink so you can drop the peelings into a waste bowl underneath. EARTHY VESSELS All told, the high-raw chef uses very few utensils—there are no enormous pots and pans to go in and out of the oven or to wash up. Choose dishes and platters made of inert or natural substances—glass, earthenware and wood rather than plastic and metal. Avoid all things made of aluminum. Aluminum is highly active. When it comes into contact with the acids in some raw foods, such as tomatoes, it can be bleached out and end up in the food producing heavy metal poisoning over time. Here are some of the other things you find in my own kitchen. A special “vegetables only” scrubbing brush A large colander, with feet so that it can stand in the sink to drain Bread pans (preferably glass) for making vegetable loaves Flat boards or trays for making sweet treats Ice cube trays A garlic chopper—achieves much better and quicker results than a pestle and mortar or a garlic press Scissors for cutting up fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, mint and so on Salad bowls of different shapes and sizes Soup plates, fairly wide and deep, for individual “dish salads” Salad platters—you can create attractive banquet-like effects by serving crudités arranged on a large platter, perhaps one with several compartments for dips Several pairs of salad servers A large pitcher for drinks, and a strainer PRESERVING LIFE It is important to store living foods carefully so they stay alive. I keep my seeds, pulses and grains in sealed polythene bags or airtight glass jars. Empty sweet jars make useful storage containers, as do the plastic tubs. But glass is always best. Always cover salads as soon as you have prepared them, even if it is only for ten minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal, to protect from wilting.

Eyes Of A Child

Eyes Of A Child

The greatest art any parent needs to develop to support the graceful unfolding of a child's unique seedpower is the art of listening. Not only can it help you learn from each child what you need to know at any moment in time to help heal, guide and nurture him, it can also help you rediscover the joy of living within yourself - a sense which we as busy, responsible adults so often lose. Children make the greatest teachers when we are willing to enter their worlds, lay aside our preconceived ideas and learn about how each of them views life. It is only in doing this that a real relationship develops between you and your child, and it is in honest and vital relationships that the power to rear Nature's child easily and gracefully lies. Looking at the world through the eyes of a child transforms humdrum reality into a magical land of the unexpected. It can also teach you a lot about how your child thinks and grows emotionally. `Cigars are fattening,' my eight-year-old son Jesse announced one day. `I know because all the men who smoke them are fat.' Children have incredible wit and freshness. Everything is new to them. The most trivial event can bring to a child the kind of pleasure we adults spend a lot of money searching for. But that's not all. In subtle ways, they are able to teach us truths that we might otherwise never learn. Once, when we were experiencing gale-force winds, five year old Jesse sat at the window watching what the wind did to the trees. Finally he turned to me and said, `Reflexible trees are stronger than ordinary trees. Do you think reflexible people are stronger than other people?' I was slow to answer as I couldn't imagine what he was talking about. `Jesse, what are reflexible trees?' I asked. `They're the kind that bend all the way to the ground when the wind blows instead of pushing against it,' he said. `The reflexible ones don't get cracked like the others.' `Yes,' I replied, `I guess you're right. Reflexible trees and reflexible people really are stronger than the rest.' Through thirty four years of motherhood, plus years working with young children in nursery school, I have never stopped learning from them. I know it is supposed to be the other way around - and I have always done my best to explain the intricacies of life to my children and pupils - but in the meantime, they have taught me lessons I won't soon forget: lessons in courtesy, humor, responsibility. They have shown me how to be angry and how to forgive, how to care for another and still demand my own right to separateness. Most of all, through knowing and watching them, I've begun learning how to love - an art that, on too many occasions during these years, I had almost forgotten.

Motivation From Within

Motivation From Within

We think we must teach our children about discipline - particularly self-discipline. But have you ever watched a baby at play? If a baby sees a toy he wants across the room, he doesn't stop to consider whether it's worthwhile going to get it. Neither does he begrudge the time taken to crawl across the room. The seeing, the crawling, the taking it in his hand are all of a piece, all part of the experience, all a source of pleasure. For a young child there is no separation between the work of seeking a reward and the pleasure of having it, as is so often the case in my life. Like most adults, I have learned to live for goals. I have lost the great joy of the seeking itself by relegating that part of my life to the `unpleasant duty of working for what I want.' Yet many of life's pleasures are to be found as much in the seeking as in the finding. Young children have helped me see this - although I am a long way from putting it into practice in everything I do. As parents, we feel obliged to correct our children when they make mistakes in speaking. Yet so often the words they coin seem much more sensible and charming than their proper counterparts. `It's a froggy day,' Jesse used to say when he meant `foggy.' `Where are the `ouches'?' Susannah would ask when she wanted to hang something on the clothesline. (She had once caught a finger in a clothes peg and her great-grandmother had consoled her by saying, `Ouch, that hurts.') Then there were `flat tireds', the things you get when your car runs over a nail in the road, and the `constructions' which you read to find out how to use something for the first time. Aaron, my youngest, announced one day after playing with one of our Burmese cats `Mummy, guess what, pussy cats have dangerous toes'. Children have also taught me to express anger and not be afraid of it. Watch two children fight. They sling the most appalling insults at each other. One gives the other a whack and swears not to play with him or her again. Two hours later they are best friends once more. They know so much better than we do how to forgive. Somehow they will seem to understand that being angry with someone, no matter how important it seems at the time, is not half as interesting as all the things you can do, see, say and make together as soon as the anger has passed.

More Stuff Kids Done Taught Me

More Stuff Kids Done Taught Me

A few years ago I had lunch with a beautiful and successful American woman in her mid thirties. Sooner or later the conversation got around - as it often does with me - to children. This woman told me that she had a five year old daughter. I asked her if it was difficult living and working in New York while raising a child on her own. She replied that it had been hard but that now it should get better since she and her little girl were going to parenting classes. `Parenting classes,' I asked, `whatever are they?' `You know, where you learn how to be a parent. We go twice a week together,' she reported with enthusiasm. Curious about what was taught in these new programs, and at the same time suppressing a smile at the latest American attempt to package up something as rich and complex as parenthood and spoonfeed it to clients well-heeled enough to afford the indulgence, I asked, `What do they teach you?' `Oh, they teach you just everything’ she screeched, sweeping her hand across the table in a way that makes British head waiters loathe American clients. `For instance, when your child goes to pick up something from the coffee table which you don't want her to have you must never be negative,' she said. `Negativity is not good for children,' she added, leaning closer in a conspiratorial fashion. `So instead of saying, "No, no," which might crush your child's spirit, you say, "Now darling that is a no, but this is a yes (pointing to other objects near by), and this is a yes and this is a yes."' OUT OF PATIENCE I have little patience with such practices - nor do I believe there are a lot of set rules to follow to raise a child well. That is because, like a lot of seasoned parents, I have learned about parenthood the hard way. When my first child was born—more than fifty years ago now—I was determined to bring him up right: not to make the mistakes that my parents had made with me, to ensure that he developed quickly both physically and mentally, and that he turned into the kind of person that I thought he should be. I worked hard at it. I read everything I could get my hands on about child development - all the latest theories and all the traditional wisdom. No time or expense was to be spared in bringing up this child. He would be breast-fed, disciplined, and taught to read by the time he was a year old using special equipment designed for the task. I would instill in him a strong sense of moral rectitude and good manners and he would be given every kind of educational toy I could lay my hands on to help develop his creativity. Also I would never lose my temper, always be patient and kind (but firm of course) and make sure he didn't watch too much television. My master plan for child rearing might have sounded good on paper, but it had a couple of big drawbacks. First, no human being could ever have carried it out. Second, it completely ignored the most important truth there is about child rearing - a truth which I did not myself come to know until I had two or three more children under my belt. It is this: You don't have to read a thousand books and follow a lot of rules the so-called experts make up to raise a healthy, happy, creative child. You only need to learn to trust in yourself and in the incredible powers of Nature. You also need to develop the art of listening—with your heart and mind and instincts as well as your ears—to your child. Most of the time he will tell you what you need to know. TO HELL WITH “PERFECT PARENTING” Once I finally figured this out - many tried and failed strategies down the road - I let go of my anxieties and theories. Then motherhood became not only a joy for me but a source of never-ending wonder. I discovered that each child—not only my own children, but boys and girls with whom I worked as a nursery school teacher, and others—is utterly unique and perfect in his or her own way. I also learned that your relationship to a child has a life of its own. So long as you are willing to face each child honestly and openly day by day and so long as you honor and respect this relationship, not only does this empower you to give the best guidance and care for the child. In some magic way which I still don't fully understand, it can even help heal deep emotional wounds within you yourself as a learning parent. Most important of all I discovered that the whole idea of perfect parenthood is a big fraud. There ain't nothing perfect when it comes to parenthood. Perfect by whose criteria anyway? The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can get down to the business of child rearing and enjoying it. For me, raising children—whether it be dealing with a tiny baby or seeing your twenty-five year old develop year by year—has been the most exciting and rewarding thing I have ever done—or for that matter, ever hope to do. And as for the widespread belief that unless you have been well mothered while you were growing up you are doomed to be a bad mother yourself. It just ain’t so—no matter what those high falutin’ experts keep sayin’.

How I Learned That Love Is Real

How I Learned That Love Is Real

My first child was born in a huge teaching hospital in Los Angeles. The labor was long and regrettably not natural. I was given an analgesic during labor and an epidural for the delivery. It was all very cold, efficient and mechanical. The hospital I was in happened to be a Catholic one in which every other woman there seemed already to know the ropes since she was giving birth to her fifth or eighth or tenth child. Nobody bothered to tell me much about what was going on or what was expected of me. My baby was taken from me immediately after the birth and put into a nursery with all of the other babies while I was wheeled off to a private room. Soon they brought this tiny creature to me. I held him in my arms and stared at him in stark wonder. Then at three hourly intervals he would reappear for twenty minutes at a time and I'd hold him in bed beside me until the nurse would come and take him away again. The third or fourth time they brought him to me, he began to cry. I nestled him, rocked him, and spoke gently to him but he wouldn't stop so I rang for the nurse. `My baby's crying,' I said, `What should I do?' `Have you burped him?' `Burped him?' `You have fed him haven't you?' `Fed him? Am I supposed to feed him?` The nurse took him and put him to my breast. His tiny mouth opened and reached for me as if he had known forever what to do. He began to suck with such force it took my breath away. It was like being attached to a vacuum cleaner. I began to laugh. I couldn't help myself. It seemed incredible that such a tiny creature could have such power and determination. He too had a purpose. He was raw, insistent and real. With every fiber of his being, this child was drawing his life and he would not be denied. Tears of joy ran shamelessly down my cheeks while he sucked. There in the midst of all that clinical green and white, I had discovered what love was all about. It was really quite simple—a meeting of two beings. The age, the sex, the relationship didn't matter. That day two creatures - he and I — had met. We touched each other in utter honesty and simplicity. This experience was for me a true epiphany. My life was forever altered by it. There was nothing romantic or solemn about it. No obligations, no duties, no fancy games, and you didn't have to read an encyclopedia of baby care to experience it. We'd met, just that. Somewhere in spirit we were friends. I knew beyond all doubt that I had found something real and real it has remained.

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

Children are extraordinary people - neither the dewy-eyed little darlings we put on our Christmas cards nor the wild savages we fear will grow up to be criminals if not disciplined properly. And Nature's child is indeed wild - wild because he doesn't fit into our idea of what is and isn't done, wild because he hasn't learned the subtle art of concealment and hypocrisy we cultivate as adults, wild because no matter how much we try to make him conform to our will, if he is lucky he never will, so strongly directed from within is he by his own destiny. As adults, most of us can't help trying. When we try too hard, we succeed only in turning our children into the same hypocrites we ourselves have learned to be. It was a little girl named Jill - a freckle-faced, runny-nosed, redheaded three year old - and two of her nursery-school friends who first made me aware of my own hypocrisy. Jill and a friend were setting up an imaginary tea party. They had carefully laid the small table with battered plastic cups, filled the cracked teapot and put wadded-up pieces of paper in a paper cup for sugar cubes. During all of this the two girls chattered in obvious imitation of their mothers. `Who else is coming to tea?' asked Jill. `Oh, you know that awful old Mrs Simpson - the one who always has her hair in curlers,' replied her friend. `Do you know she doesn't even bother to put a coat over her nightgown when she goes out for the milk?' So the conversation went as the two girls, unaware that anyone was listening, prepared for their guest. When the table was all set, Jill leaned out the window and told a third little girl she could come to the party now. She entered the play house and was greeted with exclamations of: `Why, dear Mrs Simpson, how very nice of you to come. It is so lovely to see you.' I thought to myself how often a scene similar to the one I was witnessing takes place. I was trying to remember the last time I'd been guilty of this kind of two-faced behavior, when my thoughts were interrupted by `Mrs Simpson,' who had been seated at the table. Suddenly she rose, dumped her `tea' back into the cracked teapot, and said very slowly and deliberately: `I heard what you said about me from under the window, and I don't like it. I'm not going to be your old Mrs Simpson any more no matter how nice you are to me, so there!' Young children hate being patronized. They react strongly when someone is false with them. The less privileged the family background of the child, the easier it seems to be for him to see through superficial geniality - and the more demanding he becomes of true, undivided attention and real relationships with adults.

How To Raise A Nature's Child

How To Raise A Nature's Child

The most rewarding thing I’ve ever done was giving birth to four children and learning how to be a successful mother.  "Your children are not your children," the Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran wrote. "They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself...You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth."   I love this quote, not only because—having brought up four children by four different men all on my own—I believe it’s  just about the most accurate description of parenthood I have ever heard.  It also emphasizes the 'lightness' that develops when we give up trying to be perfect, and come to trust the processes of Nature while feeding, healing, and guiding each of our children towards what works best for them at any moment in time.   Like the seed of a plant that has encoded within its genetic material the characteristics that will, in time, produce a full-grown flower, every baby comes into this world carrying a package of incredibly rich potential that encompasses his or her unique nature.  I call it seedpower.  It holds far greater physical, creative and spiritual energy than any of us could hope to experience in ten lifetimes.   Each child is like the brush stroke a zen painter makes to represent one leaf on a shaft of bamboo. The leaf he paints is totally singular—like no leaf that has ever existed before. Yet within this uniqueness, your child’s universal beauty is to be found, as well as life energy of the highest order.   When my first son Branton was born, I was 18 years old in university.  Like most parents, I had some harebrained idea that we parents need to mold our children from the outside.  We need to impose on them our ideas about what they should act like, think like, look like, and all the rest. Of course, this never works—but when we are young and naïve as I was, we just don’t know any better.   With a bit of luck, sooner or later we come to realize that what most certainly does work is not trying to mold a child at all, but listening to the whispers of each child's seedpower that comes from within. By doing this, we can respond to our children by offering whatever at any moment seems most useful to them, in the form of food, health, guidance, education and so on. This is infinitely easier and more successful all round.   Taking on the job of guardian for any child from birth to adulthood involves having to make 'contractual agreements', which of course must be re-negotiated from time to time as a child grows. Like every contract, the parent/child relationship is always a two-way deal. It has to be fair on both sides. It also has to nurture both people involved. How well your own contracts develop and how much joy there is for the both of you in fulfilling them depends to a great extent on how clearly the agreements between the two of you are understood. Let me show you what I mean.   In establishing 'contracts' with my own children, I was sure of a few things. First, I was committed to supplying them with wholesome food and clean surroundings, as well as physical warmth and safety. I also wanted them to have the right to their own opinions, even when they markedly differed from my own. In return, I expected them to appreciate the home, food and care I provided for them, although I knew it would never be perfect.  I also demanded that they be as honest and respectful of me and my decisions as their age would allow.   What I never asked of any of my children—and I think this is where so many parents go wrong—is that they love me. Trying to get into that particular agreement creates nothing but trouble. Whether or not your child loves you is fundamentally beside the point. Our responsibility as a parent is to use our best judgment and physical resources to help our child grow, and to discover his or her unique gifts.   Early on, I decided that I would try to do my best for my children, but they were stuck with me as a parent for better or for worse—complete with all my warts. And while I didn't expect them to love me, I did expect them to know that whatever I did, I did because I believed it to be right. Whenever some decision I made or action I took turned out to be wrong, I always owned up and asked for their forgiveness—just as I forgave them their mistakes.   What I discovered, quite by accident, was that there is a certain magic to all this. You see, when you decide to give up all claims to being a so-called 'good parent', or having your child love you, this creates a vast expanse of freedom for you both. What’s more, not only do children eventually end up loving you of their own accord, they develop a lot of respect for you—whether they agree with you or not. Most important of all, they come to feel safe, because they know that even though you can be unreasonable at times and unbending, your strength—on which they rely for security—remains uncorrupted by flattery or the kind of emotional blackmail which even very young children are masters at. In time, your children learn that your strength is there to serve them. It’s a discovery that can bring a sense of joy, even during the most challenging of times.   Now, of course, all my four children are grown up.  My daughter Susannah and I have written five books together.  My youngest son Aaron and I work together, developing internet sites which some say can be life-changing. My other two sons—Branton and Jesse—now have families of their own, including six unique and highly independent children.  This makes me a grandmother.  I adore all of them. But I confess that I am probably the world’s worst grandmother.  I don’t bake cookies, babysit or do any of the expected grandmotherly things. Why? Well, I loved being a mother more than anything in the world. But I’ve done that. So now my future belongs to me. I sense there are lots more adventures that lie ahead for me now.  I intend to be free to explore them.  What I find so wonderful is that all four of my children respect and understand where I’m coming from and, without judgment, bless me for just being who I am.

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Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

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Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 19,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 14 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 16th of August 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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for women
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Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 16th of August 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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