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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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Principle Guidelines

Principle Guidelines

The important thing is to build your own menus around what you yourself like best and then share your own enthusiasm with your growing child. Enthusiasm about anything tends to be contagious. the health makers Fresh fruits, especially eaten raw Fresh vegetables, preferably organic - especially eaten raw 100% whole grain bread and pastas - dark and delicious whole grain cereals such as porridge made from steel-cut oats, muesli and granola (but read the labels and watch out for hidden sugars) Fresh fruit and vegetable juices Pulses Low-fat cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta and Edam in moderate quantities (provided no milk allergies are present) Dried fruits (naturally dried, not sulfur dried) such as raisins, dates, sultanas, apricots Nuts (make sure they are ground to a powder for young children) Free range eggs Fish Free range chicken Game Butter Olive oil the health breakers White bread, rolls, pastries and pies Pasta - spaghetti, macaroni, etc Sugar and anything containing it Biscuits made from white flour Jelly Jams Tinned fruits Packet and tinned soups Chips Crisps Fizzy drinks containing sugar or artificial sweeteners Greasy fried foods Chocolate and sweets Artificial fruit drinks Ice cream (except homemade) Margarine Processed oils such as the golden varieties you find on supermarket shelves.

Main Meals

Main Meals

wild nut burgers 2 cup cashews, finely ground 1 cup sunflower seeds, finely ground 3 sticks celery, grated 2 large carrots, grated 3-4 finely chopped spring onions 1 small turnip, grated 1 egg yolk (or yogurt) 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder Extra finely ground nuts Mix all ingredients together and bind with either an egg yolk or yogurt. Pat the mixture into small flat rounds and roll in more finely ground nuts and vegetable bouillon powder. Serve raw. Kids love these. The younger the child, the finer you need to pulverize the ingredients. Serves 4. pitta pockets Small tin tuna or 4 hard boiled eggs, or a cup of finely ground cashews 3 carrots 3 sticks celery 3 spring onions 1/2 red pepper (for color) A head of broccoli 2 tbsp mayonnaise Whole grain pitta breads Blend all the ingredients well in a food processor until almost smooth. Serve in warmed pitta breads. soups & stews Soups and stews are hearty and full-bodied; they are also great value for money. Even junk-food addicts who come to visit love them. I make them from whatever vegetables I happen to have, adding some millet, lentils, peas, rice, barley or whatever is handy for thickening; lots of fresh herbs from the garden, or a few dried herbs; and perhaps some bouillon powder for seasoning. For a baby or young child, puree in a food processor or using a handheld blender and add a little fresh butter before serving. For an older child you can leave everything in chunks. Substitute these vegetables with others for variation. vegetable stew I large onion 2 leeks 1 head of celery 4 carrots 2 turnips 1 parsnip Any other vegetables you happen to have 2 tbsp olive oil 11/2 pints stock or water (boiling) 1 tbsp bouillon powder 3/4 cup brown rice or millet 2 cups garden peas 1 cup runner beans Fresh parsley Wash and peel the vegetables and peel the onions. Cut root vegetables into small cubes - the leeks first lengthwise 4 to 6 times and then across so that you get tiny pieces. Add oil to the pot and sauté the leeks. Then add chopped celery, carrots, turnips and parsnip; put the lid on and allow them to sweat for five minutes. Now add your boiling stock or water, the vegetable bouillon, the bay leaves and the rice or millet and allow to cook for 30 minutes. Now add peas and beans and cook for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. This makes 4-6 good size servings. potato soup 6 medium potatoes 2 1/2 pints water or stock 1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder 1 cup sliced, chunked or diced vegetables (e.g. leeks, celery, carrot, swede, green beans, peas) Herbs (e.g. marjoram, winter savory, basil, garlic) Garnishes (e.g. sliced spring onions, chopped hard-boiled egg, chives, water cress, grated hard cheese) Wash vegetables and scrub potatoes, cutting them into medium-sized chunks. Cover the potatoes in the water or stock to which the bouillon has been added and boil until tender. Remove from heat and blend in a food processor until smooth. Now sauté the vegetables and cut into small pieces, add them along with your seasonings to the potato mixture, and cook for five minutes. Sprinkle with your garnishes and serve. Serves 4-6 people.

Nature's Child Salads

Nature's Child Salads

Kids are meant to hate salads. In my experience what most, very young, children hate is not salads but the textures to some salads, because they are not cut or shredded finely enough. I don't blame them. I don't like salads either unless there is real aesthetic variety to the vegetables in their color, the way they are cut and arranged or mixed on a plate. I started my children on what my youngest calls `Spiderman Salad'. He came up with that name one day when I was explaining to him that if you wanted to be strong like Spiderman you needed to eat lots of raw vegetables. These first salads are more like vegetable pates. You can chop or puree them (depending on the age of the child) in a food processor or with a handheld blender. The secret is in the `binding' such as avocado or ground cashews or pureed hard boiled eggs which makes them stick together. The great thing about these `Spidermans' is that they are highly concentrated once they have been chopped or pureed. A dessertspoonful at a meal can give more nourishment than an adult side-salad. Experiment, but always taste your experiments yourself. If they are yummy to you, they are likely to appeal to a child. If not - re-season until you have created a real prize. spiderman salad When you make any salad for yourself, including dressing, put a little of it into a food-blender, the sort that has a blade, add a spoonful of cashews or avocado or the yolk of a hard boiled egg, or even a little thick yogurt - something that will bind. Mix it all together and season with vegetable bouillon powder and herbs plus a little salt and maybe a drop or two of olive oil. What you have left is a "Spiderman", a pate which can even be spread on crackers for older children. sprout magic salad Make a base with alfalfa or other sprouts and around the dish arrange: Grated carrot Finely shredded cabbage Chopped apples Grated beetroot Add: Sliced mushrooms, black olives, spring onions Sprinkle raisins over the grated vegetables and add a spoonful of seed or nut cheese. dressings basic french dressing 3/4 cup oil 1/4 cup lemon juice or cider vinegar 1 tsp whole-grain mustard or mustard powder 2 tsp honey A little vegetable bouillon powder and pepper to season A small clove of crushed garlic (optional) Combine all the ingredients in a blender, or simply place in a screw-top jar and shake well to mix. Some people like to thin the dressing and make it a little lighter by adding a couple of tablespoonfuls of water. avocado dip or dressing This is my favorite of all salad dressings. Kids adore it; you can make it thick for them to spread on crackers, leave out the curry powder and feed it pureed to babies, or make it thin to pour over salad. 1-2 avocados 1 cup fresh orange juice (use more or less to give the desired consistency) 1 tsp curry powder 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder Fresh herbs (e.g. lovage and French parsley) 1 small clove garlic (optional) Peel and stone the avocados. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

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.

What I’ve Learned From Kids

What I’ve Learned From Kids

As parents we feel obliged to correct our children when they make mistakes when speaking. Yet so often the words they coin seem much more sensible and charming than their “proper” counterparts. ‘It's a froggy day,’ my son, Jesse, used to say when he meant ‘foggy.’ ‘Where are the ouches?’ My daughter, Susannah, would ask when she wanted to hang something on the clothesline. (She 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 child, announced one day after playing with one of our Burmese cats, ‘Mummy, guess what, pussy cats have dangerous toes'. Kids have taught me to express my anger instead of being 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 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. LIVING DEATH One summer day, many years ago, everything seemed to go wrong for me. For no apparent reason I awakened in the morning with the awful feeling that nothing was worthwhile. At 10am I received a telegram from a publisher saying that two manuscripts (of which I had no copies) had been lost in the mail. By noon not even the brilliance of Californian sunshine (where we were on holiday at the time) could shake off the heavy black cloud that surrounded me. I was angry with myself and trying to avoid being angry with everyone else. Jesse, then aged eight, and Susannah, ten, kept hounding me to take them to the beach. I didn't want to go anywhere, especially the beach. I didn’t want to do anything for anyone. In the worst possible spirit I eventually consented—making sure, of course, that they realized I was doing them a great big favor. The pure white sand and fresh sea air on an almost deserted beach did nothing to improve my mood. It seemed to me that life was ‘out there’ and I was ‘in here’, locked away in the depths of the gloomy dungeon I'd somehow built for myself and was powerless to break out of. As the sun shone brighter and more beautifully I grew steadily more gloomy. Finally I could stand it no longer. Despite the fact that the children were playing in the sand nearby and I didn't want to upset them, I broke down and cried. Susannah asked what was wrong. ‘I don't know, just about everything seems wrong at the moment,’ I whined. ‘I feel like that sometimes,’ Jesse said, offering no sympathy whatsoever. ‘I think you must be angry.’ ‘So what if I am?’ I snapped. ‘Why don't you hit something?’ he suggested. ‘There's nothing to hit,’ I replied irritably, ‘and anyway that's stupid.’ ‘No, it's not,’ Susannah chimed in. ‘It’ll make you feel ever so much better, Mummy. Or maybe you should try growling like a dog.’ REDISCOVERING LIFE I was willing to try anything. So, feeling like a complete fool and admonishing myself for behaving so stupidly in front of my own children, I growled and complained. I hated everyone, I said. I hated myself. I was lonely and I felt the whole world was stupid. Then I growled some more while the two of them sat listening silently. Not once did they try to console me, or tell me I was wrong or protest that the world was really a lovely place to live. Not once did they pass judgment on me or make me feel ashamed of myself or foolish. They just sat and waited. Finally I felt a little better. Jesse had been right, I thought, but I still had no idea where to go from here. At last I was quiet. Only then did Susannah say, ‘I think maybe I know what's wrong with you.’ ‘What?’ I asked skeptically. ‘You're always thinking about such serious stuff. You're always telling yourself what to do and what not to do. No wonder you're angry. You've forgotten how to have fun, Mummy.’ She was certainly right. Having fun seemed as far away as the moon at that moment. I realized then that for several months I had saddled myself with my work as if work were the only thing that mattered. I'd hated almost every minute of it but had felt proud of being such a ‘responsible adult.’ ‘Maybe you're right,’ I replied. ‘But how does somebody who's forgotten something so important remember it?’ ‘Come on, let's did a hole,’ was her reply. ‘Yeah, I like holes,’ Jesse chimed in. HIPPOPOTAMUS THAW Feeling like a half-frozen hippopotamus, I lifted myself off the towel and mechanically moved toward the site they'd chosen for the hole. I started to dig. Jesse, who often acted the role of a clown, was soon sliding down into it. Susannah was snapping at him for ‘ruining the shape.’ I looked at the two of them fiercely sneering at each other and saw myself as I had been just a few minutes before. I began to laugh. So did they. Before long we had a beautiful hole dug. It was the most gorgeous hole I’d ever seen... or so it seemed to me. We had a contest to see who was best at running up and leaping over it. Then we drew pictures in the sand and ran into the ice-cold water, splashing each other. By the time the first wave struck me, I, like the two of them, had become part of the sea and the sky. There was no more gloom and no more supercilious self-assurances that I was ‘doing the best thing.’ I was alive again. Later that evening I thanked Jesse and Susannah for helping me and teaching me to have fun again. Then in typical adult fashion, I added, ‘You know I'm likely to forget and be all grumbly again before long.’ ‘That's all right,’ replied Susannah, ‘we'll remind you.’

Trust Yourself

Trust Yourself

It is important to realize that no matter how inadequate you feel, your best is likely to be better than anybody else's in raising your child, simply because he is your child. But you will not be perfect. Nobody ever was. You will make mistakes. So will your child. Mistake making and forgiveness on both sides needs to be worked into all agreements between you. It is important to remember that you are not here to sacrifice your life for the child, nor is he meant to sacrifice his for you. You are here to give the best you can, and to do what you believe is right, whether or not this or that particular thing happens to coincide with your child's own wishes. When a parent's relationship with his or her child is honest, without guilt, free of any need to be loved or approved of, then the conflicts that arise between you, instead of being destructive, become positive forces in the growth of your relationship - the child's moving toward independence, and your continuing to grow in confidence and self respect. Raising Nature's child by no means demands that you become a servant or slave. There will come times when you have to put your foot down. This may be the twenty-third time your baby throws his fluffy duck out of the play pen and shouts in a demanding way for you to pick it up and put it back in again. It may be later when your child steps off a curb without looking and you have to grab him by the shirt collar and yank him out of the way of an oncoming bus. Such occasions are no time for `parenting classes'. You have to trust your instincts and take action. He or she won't like it. That is too bad, because it is the right thing to do. I remember when my children first started going to the local church discos. I agreed that they could go but insisted that they be home by 10 o'clock. That was important to me. An early return from nights out was written into a lot of our agreements, probably because as a child I lived in a family where nobody cared what time I came home and I interpreted that to mean they didn't care about me. Each of us has our idiosyncrasies. `But Mummy,' my daughter used to say, `everybody gets to stay out until midnight - it's not fair.' `I am sorry Susannah,' I would reply, `I never said I would always be fair. I want you home by 10 o'clock. Frankly, I don't care in the least what everybody else gets to do. It is home at 10 or you don't go.' nurturing seedpower The remarkable thing about a seed is that you don't have to sit and watch it every minute, nor do you have to buy a lot of expensive paraphernalia to get it to grow beautifully. Far from it. You need to supply very little for a seed to develop into a good plant: some healthy earth; the sun - not too much or the young leaves will burn; enough water - again, not too much, or the seed will rot. These simple things create the environment in which, thanks to the inner wisdom of seedpower and of Nature herself, the tiny seed will develop steadily and gracefully into a full-blown flower. So it is with each baby. Your child is much like a small plant. It needs a safe, healthy environment which allows its unfolding to take place, and of course the trust of its guardian - namely you - in allowing this to happen. Coming to trust this power for unfolding in your own child, learning to listen with your intuition and mind and heart to what a child is telling you and making use of some simple techniques for feeding, encouraging play and creativity, and helping your child's body heal himself whenever he is ill, is about all it takes to nurture a child the gentle way. By doing so, you encourage the full development of an individual into whatever he or she is genetically and spiritually designed to become. It doesn't cost a lot of money and it doesn't require that you become some superhuman parent. cut out commercialism In our society, babies are big business. Television, newspapers, magazines - even the little pamphlets they give you free at mother and baby clinics - are full of advice about what you should do and information about products: from bottled baby foods, to special so-called educational toys - which, they tell you, you simply cannot be without if you are to raise a healthy, happy and well adjusted child (whatever that is). All of them have been created by special interest groups. So has a lot of the information about health, diet and child care that appears in the media. Its sources include drug companies intent upon selling immunization serums, purveyors of baby clothes and goods keen to enhance their profits, and baby food manufacturers determined to convince you the best foods for your child come in miniature glass jars. They are all designed to serve their own interests. And they all, to a greater or lesser degree, exploit parents. By preying on our fears of inadequacy and our desire to do the best we can for our children, they can make us feel powerless. Such propaganda not only induces you to spend a lot more money than you need to on a baby or child, it shifts the emphasis of parenthood away from the enormously rich, challenging and fascinating realm of relationship between you and your child, where it belongs, towards a goal of amassing a lot of material junk. I am often horrified by the quantities of shiny plastic rubbish modern parents can collect around their babies and children - toys that never get played with, clothes that never get worn and convenience foods which should never be eaten since they have little capacity to nourish any child. nurturing the seed What your child really needs is what every child in every culture throughout the world has needed for the last million years - simple wholesome food, physical warmth, play, the opportunity slowly and gently to learn about the world around him and about the culture into which he has been born, as well as a parent - or maybe two - who not only makes sure he is safe but delights in his presence. Many parents worry that having a baby will restrict their lives enormously by making them stay home all the time. It does for a while but it needn't always. Traveling with a baby who is breast-fed is just about the easiest thing in the world to do. All he needs is his mother plus a few nappies. He does not need the full range of newfangled travel gear from a slick baby shop. I have traveled with all my children - by car, by rail, by plane - all my life. I not only find it easy, I enjoy having their companionship - especially when you are stuck in some foreign city with no friends in one of those faceless hotel rooms. It is good then to have a friend. A Nature's Child can be just about the best friend you will ever have.

Kids In The Kitchen

Kids In The Kitchen

The important thing when feeding children is to build your own menus around what you yourself like best and then share your enthusiasm with your growing child. Enthusiasm tends to be contagious. These menus are vegetarian. This is not because I think all children should be vegetarian. It is because, generally speaking, babies and young children seem to thrive on vegetarian dishes and some find meat constipating and hard to digest. Also much of the meat and chicken and fish these days is either highly processed (i.e. breaded fish pieces) or comes from animals which have been overmedicated with antibiotics. I have raised most of my children from the beginning on vegetarian foods only, introducing them to fish and game and free-range chicken if and when they showed an interest. However, if you and your family are committed meat eaters then the soups or stews you make will simply have meat or chicken or fish added. They can still be pureed or chopped to serve to a child in whatever way is appropriate to his age. meals for nature's child breakfast babies 6-12 months Mother's milk and 4oz porridge made from wholegrain oats or wheat or millet or rice flakes toddlers 1-2 years 1 small piece of ripe fruit or a small bowl of ripe stone fruit mashed or chopped with1 cup almond milk or yogurt or a dish of Live Muesli children 2 years up A dish of Live Muesli or 1-2 pieces of fruit with almond milk  or yogurt, and Scrambled egg and 1-2 slices of gluten-free bread with butter and honey lunch babies 6-12 months Mother's milk and 8oz vegetable stew puree or vegetable soup and Mashed fruit 1-2 years Vegetable stew or vegetable soup either pureed or in bigger chunks or Wild Nut Burgers or Lentil Soup or Stew 2 years up Vegetable stew or vegetable soup or Wild Nut Burgers or Pitta Pockets tea babies 6-12 months Mother's milk and Nut milk perhaps pureed with a small crust of gluten-free bread 1-2 years Small plate of raw vegetables (grated carrot with celery, beetroot, tomato, & dressing) cut up small or `Spiderman Salad' Serve with wholegrain crackers, rice cakes, oat cakes etc spread with butter, nutbutter or honey. 2 years up Fruit with a slice of gluten-free bread or oatcakes, rice cakes, etc, spread with cottage cheese or nut butter or butter or honey and Small plate of raw vegetables (grated carrot with celery, beetroot, tomato & dressing) cut up small supper babies 6-12 months Mother's milk and 8oz Live Muesli pureed 1-2 years Live Muesli with slice of gluten-free bread or toast Live Muesli sprinkled with chopped nut kernels and If desired, a warm dish of soup or a baked potato or brown rice measurements & quantities I have given approximate measurements such as cupfuls (abbreviated to C - an ordinary cup holds about 8 fluid ounces), handfuls, tablespoons (tbsp), teaspoons (tsp), pinches and so on. Each time you make a recipe it will be slightly different, which is the whole fun of cooking and eating and one reason why children love it. Sticking to cookery book rules takes all the spontaneity out of things. Embroider these recipes to suit your taste and imagination. You will quickly grasp the basic principles of texture, color, nutritional value, taste combinations and presentation.

Kids Stuff

Kids Stuff

A child is born. The waiting and planning, the exercises for birth, the hoping that everything will be all right has finished. Parenthood begins. Oh my God - where do we go from here..? The task ahead seems monumental and you feel completely inadequate in the face of what is required. One moment you are filled with tenderness and wonder as your baby's tiny hand grasps your little finger in complete trust. The next you wish the thing would go away and leave you in peace. Why didn't somebody warn you that within the first three weeks, every item of clothing you own would be stained with baby vomit? Becoming a parent changes your life beyond all description. It could be years before you get another night's uninterrupted sleep. You learn about self-sacrifice for the first time in your life when a baby arrives. All at once everything revolves around caring for this tiny but determined creature who has entered your home, and finding the wisdom to do what is right for your child. There are so many unanswered questions. What do you do when he gets ill, or is unhappy? How do you feed him? Do you let him cry so he won't get spoiled, or do you see to his every wish so he won't be scarred by neglect? Welcome to the world of parenthood. Take heart. You are not alone in your confusion. Now for the good news: the task of raising a child is not as difficult as all the doctors and psychologists would have us believe - especially if you decide to raise a Nature's child. child rearing by the rules 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 spoon feed it to clients well heeled enough to afford the indulgence, I asked, `What do they teach you?' `Oh, they teach you everything!' she replied, 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 that 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."' forget perfect parenting 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 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. 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 one's relationship to a child has a life of its own and that, 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 as a 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 who's 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 ever hope to do.

Health Nature's Way

Health Nature's Way

In sickness and in health - such is the commitment to care, nurturing and to love that each parent makes towards a child. The health part is manageable, but when sickness strikes it can get scary. Yet this is when Nature's power can shine brightest of all. Natural healing views the doctor's and the parent's role in caring for a sick child as that of a helper. It sees illness - from vomiting to measles to a simple cold - as a manifestation of the body's attempt to eliminate whatever does not belong to it, and by doing so restore order and balance. It also recognizes that the only true healing can come from within. And it identifies the helper's role as that of supporting the body of the sick child in what it is attempting to do - to banish the microbe, remove the poison from his system, readjust hormonal balance or whatever else happens to be necessary to restore equilibrium. When I was young, I was lucky to become good friends with a handful of inspired doctors who not only understood the theory behind natural healing, but some of whom had been practicing it for as much as half a century. The techniques they taught me - from using a compress to quell a fever or calm vomiting, to methods of hydrotherapy for treating earache and athletic injuries - have served me well not only in helping all four of my children to heal themselves, but in helping myself and many others too. Each of these techniques, in its own way, supports the body's own wisdom in healing and/or helps the sick child feel more relaxed and comfortable while healing takes place. beware of antibiotics Antibiotics are great for life-threatening diseases. To employ them for anything less can be a big mistake. Thanks to their overuse by doctors in the past 30 years, malevolent microbes which they were designed to kill have fought back valiantly by developing strains of resistant super bugs. As a result, what once were easily treated bacterial ailments now often do not respond to drugs. Antibiotics are also completely useless in the treatment of viral conditions such as colds, even though some doctors still prescribe them. When they do work on bacterial conditions they not only kill the bacteria they have been designed to kill, they also wipe out a lot of the `good guys' too - helpful bacteria which are part of a child's intestinal flora, on which the continued competence of his immune system depends. I, like the doctors from whom I have learned about natural healing, do not give them to my children. The only way I would ever consider using antibiotics would be in case of a disease which was literally life-threatening and even then I would only do it after consulting a handful of doctors in whose judgment I trust, one of whom would be my second son, Jesse, who is himself a doctor. If for any reason your child has to be treated with antibiotics, it is wise for up to six weeks afterwards to give him supplements of enteric bacteria including acidophilus to help recolonize the good intestinal flora they will have destroyed. the healing power of fever Illness is his body's attempt to reestablish balance and harmony both energetically and biochemically. When it strikes, whether it be cold or sore throat, or childhood disease such as chickenpox or German measles, the parent of a Nature's child is most concerned with how to work together with the child's own natural processes of healing: First, to help speed recovery without causing long term health risks, and second, to help the child be as comfortable and pain free as possible while healing is taking place. Let's look at fever first since that is the thing most parents are most frightened of. Fever is not something which needs, as most parents these days believe, to be suppressed the moment it appears using aspirin or other drugs - for fear it will damage the child. Far from it. Fever is a sign that your child's body is trying to burn off something which is not supposed to be there - a virus for instance, a bacteria, or some element in his food or his environment to which his body takes exception. When an infection develops, your child responds by manufacturing new white blood cells called leukocytes, whose purpose is the destruction of viruses and bacteria and the elimination of wastes and other damaging materials from his body. Then white blood cells become very active in his body - dashing to the site of infection to fight the `baddies'. In the process - which is known as leukotaxis - certain chemicals called pyrogens are released, designed to raise body temperature and make the cleansing more efficient. So important a part does this rise in temperature - fever - play in the process of healing, that artificially created fevers have been used throughout history as a way of treating illness in people who do not have the vitality to produce high enough fevers in themselves. Luckily, kids do. One of the reasons children develop such high fevers when they are ill is that their bodies are enormously vital. That is also why a child can get very sick suddenly, as well as why the sickness will frequently clear just as rapidly. Governed from within, the natural process of healing in a vital young body is intense and highly efficient. As we get older, our bodies lose that efficiency so we heal less rapidly and less effectively. We are taught that 98.6 F is the normal temperature. Yet temperatures vary from person to person. They also depend on how the temperature has been taken - for instance by mouth, under the arm, or rectally. Generally speaking the best - and safest - way of taking a young child's temperature is axillary - by tucking the thermometer in the fold beneath his armpit and leaving it there for five minutes. It is far safer than trying to do it rectally and risk damaging the child, or putting a thermometer into his mouth where he might crunch on it and break it. Not all fevers are dangerous, nor is the degree of your child's temperature much measure of how sick he is. Unless there are other symptoms such as great listlessness, difficulty in breathing, severe pain or some other sign which could indicate the presence of a serious illness such as meningitis or diphtheria, doctors who use natural methods of treating illness will wisely tell you that you should keep an eye on the fever but leave well enough alone. hot for what? There are lots of reasons why your child may develop a fever - overexposure to heat as a result of being too bundled up (particularly in babies), a reaction to food or some poisonous substance, too much sun, a long journey, changes in the weather, a tooth breaking through, over-excitement. If you suspect that he has swallowed some poisonous substance, you need to seek medical help immediately. And in newborn babies, it is important to pay more attention to fever and get a doctor's advice since there is always the chance of an infection having developed as a result of fetal monitoring during birth, or forced obstetric procedures, such as the overmedication of women in labor. Most fevers, however, occur as a result of viral or bacterial infection and are part of the body's own immune response to invasion which, left alone, the body will clear. When your child is running a temperature it is important to make sure he is not dehydrated since the perspiration, runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea which often accompany fever can deplete his body of fluid. This is easy to do by giving plenty of cool water and pure fruit juice - not the so-called fruit drinks which contain sugar and other additives. brain damage and other fears Ninety five percent of childhood fevers never reach 105F, which to many parents represents the so-called danger level. In fact, a fever of 105F which in an adult is extremely high can be quite normal in a child who is fighting off infection. The greatest fear most parents have of fever is that it will cause convulsions. In truth, it is not the size of a fever which is indicative of the likelihood of convulsion but the rapidity with which it rises. If you have ever seen a child in a convulsive seizure it can be a very frightening thing to witness. I have lived through a number - strangely enough, not with my own children, but with other people's. In the midst of watching a child in the throws of convulsion, it is hard to remember that this kind of seizure is uncommon, and that even when it does occur it seldom results in any serious side effects. For instance, in one large study involving 1706 children who had experienced febrile convulsions, not one of them suffered death or motor defects. My doctor friends have always taught me to work with fever, to allow it to burn through while making sure it does not get high enough to cause seizures. This practice was first introduced to me by my grandmother who looked after me when I was sick as a child. She kept my fevers within `safe' range by sponging my body every hour or so with cool water. In the beginning when I had a sick child I would ring one of my doctor friends, worried by my child's temperature and his crying and say, `My son is ill, should I bring him to see you?' After asking me a few questions such as, `How high is his temperature? When did it start? Is he eating?' and so forth, the doctor would advise me to keep an eye on him, give him plenty of fluids and use a compress around his middle to keep the fever under control. So that was what I did. And it has worked beautifully. the abdominal compress This is one of the most effective techniques for helping to eliminate wastes from the body and to keep fever under control while it carries out its job of cleansing. Applying cold water around the middle of the body in the form of a compress charges the local cells with energy, activates circulation and stimulates the liver - the body's organ of detoxification - so that stored wastes can be released more efficiently. Here's how: Tear a piece of old cotton cloth wide enough to reach from under your child's arms down to his hips and long enough to wrap around him once comfortably. An old cotton sheet or pillowcase (not nylon or cotton and polyester) is ideal. Dip the cloth into cold water and wring it out. Then wrap it around the child's middle and secure with safety pins. Wrap a thick dry towel around this and put him into a warm bed. You may want to put a pair of thick socks on him, too. It is important that he doesn't feel cold. Keep it on him for half an hour. If he drops off to sleep for the night you can remove the compress in the morning. Repeat several times a day as needed depending upon the level of his temperature. don't insist your child eats When animals are ill they stop eating. So do children. This is a natural part of their body's attempt to heal itself. It is also a source of great concern to parents. It shouldn't be - especially during an acute illness. Your child's body knows that its energies should be directed towards clearing itself of viruses, bacteria, or what have you, which lie at the core of his illness. To put unwanted food into a body in such circumstances is not only unhelpful, it can actually undermine the healing process by making your child's body turn its attention away from the elimination processes to having to deal with digestion and assimilation - both of which take a lot of energy. Instead, offer him plenty of water and fruit or carrot juices - preferably made fresh with a juice extractor - and keep him in bed until he gets better. Freshly made juices require almost no energy to be assimilated yet they carry a high degree of structural information for health and healing, including many of the most important vitamins and minerals such as beta carotene, which helps strengthen immunity, and vitamin C. Such juices also encourage the elimination of toxicity from the body. Your child can literally live on juices alone during any minor illness. Most kids love them. I also believe in a lot of tender loving care when your child is sick. Massaging his feet with a little ordinary kitchen oil while he lies in bed well covered can be a wonderful way of giving it. You don't need to know how. There isn't any right way, it is just a matter of intuitively letting your hands follow where they want to go. It is enormously soothing, and helps draw the negative energy in his body down towards the feet to be eliminated from his body. It also helps reassure him that you are there and love him, in a way that words can never do. waterpower Hydrotherapy can help too. Particularly if he has an earache - a condition which is agonizing yet rarely dangerous. This technique was taught me by one of the doctors I admire most in the world, Gordon Latto, who has looked after my family - mostly by phone - for almost thirty years. I have used it again and again - for earache in kids, for conjunctivitis myself, for headaches and for childhood and adult athletic injuries to ankles and legs and feet. It, too, works on the principle of drawing energy downwards in the body. In doing so, it not only relieves pain, but also congestion. Finally it increases circulation to the leg and feet area, speeding any healing that is needed there, say, from a turned ankle at football practice. Here's how: Take two buckets large enough to put the child's feet in and deep enough to submerge his legs up to the knee. Fill the first with water as hot as he can take. Fill the second with cold water. Let him plunge his calves and feet into the hot water and stay there for 3 minutes. Then get him to take them out and put them into the cold water for 30 seconds, then back immediately into the hot again (you might have to top up with more hot before you do since it does tend to cool down during the procedure). Do this until you have repeated both hot and cold three times, ending with cold. While this is going on, it is important he is kept warm. Make sure he is in a warm room and that his body is well clothed, so that on no account is he allowed to get chilled. Immediately afterward, put warm socks on his feet and pop him into bed. Repeat this procedure three times a day - or even more often when there is pain. care for colds and coughs In the tradition of natural medicine, a cold is considered the body's most common way of eliminating waste from the system rapidly. In addition to offering a child fresh raw fruit juices I have always given extra supplements of vitamin C and beta carotene - the precursor to Vitamin A - which comes in good quantity in carrots and green vegetables. Both are natural anti-viral agents. I like to give children these nutrients in supplement form (but in much smaller quantities) when they are healthy too, as a way of helping to support their immune system so they become resistant to disease. One of the most important things I have learned from some of my doctor friends has been that at the first sign of a sniffle you cut out any and all dairy products from a child's diet - milk, yogurt, cream, butter, cheese, and any other food which might even have the tiniest bit of any of these things in it. This helps speed recovery and stops even more mucous from forming. Aromatherapy can help with colds too. If you have a little aromatherapy burner - the kind you put water into the top of then light a candle underneath - you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to the water and let its molecules fill the room to help ease a child's breathing. Sage is another essential oil good for this. Both have anti-microbial properties. If you don't have a burner, try heating a saucepan on the stove. When it is steaming drop five or six drops of the essential oil into the water. (Be sure to keep it well out of harm's way in the room your child is in and never leave it unattended with a young child.) You can also fill a basin with hot water, drop some essential oil into it and let the child put his head, covered loosely by a towel, over the steam for five minutes several times a day to clear his head. Manuka Honey with a little lemon juice is excellent for sore throats. This honey, from New Zealand, is unique in the world. It has been shown to destroy many strains of bacteria including staphylococcus, streptococcus, staphaureus - even heliobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with peptic ulcers. Mix it with a little fresh lemon juice and give it on a teaspoon as a soothing linctus. choose supplements carefully When choosing a multiple vitamin or mineral supplement for your child, be careful. His body has a natural affinity for vitamins and minerals as they occur in Nature and are found in wholesome fresh unprocessed foods, not for the synthetic form. Not all vitamins and minerals are the same. The human body cannot easily absorb most of the synthetic, chemical vitamins on the market. And regardless of what the labels say about being `natural', the truth is almost every vitamin you can buy these days is synthetic, and therefore not very bio-available. This means your body or your child's body can absorb very little of them, because the chemical form of vitamins is so different from the natural form you find in good wholesome food. `Food-state' vitamins are different. They are grown instead of being chemically made, using a unique bio-tech process which allows living plant cells to take up vitamin concentrates and transform them into a form the human body can easily assimilate and use. This means you don't have to go for megadoses to get real benefits. Food-state nutrients are particularly good for children. They are the only kind I give mine. I began with a liquid multi vitamin and mineral when they were babies (plus some extra vitamin C) and then gradually increased the amounts as they grew. At 12 for instance, I gave Aaron two 250 milligram tablets of food-state vitamin C a day with his breakfast along with a food-state multiple vitamin and mineral. During the winter months, I also give him one or two 4.5 milligram tablets of beta carotene a day. So protective an influence can vitamin A exert, and so supporting is it to a child's immune system, that a recent study published in the British Medical Journal states that vitamin A may also play an important role in those with life threatening infections. While on the subject of protection, I would never let my children drink fluoridated water. There is too much evidence that, while it does help protect against dental carries, it has also been implicated in the development of degenerative conditions later in life. I believe it is far better to have a child's teeth painted with fluoride once every 6 months at the dentist if you want, or to give him fluoride toothpaste to use. Then at least it doesn't pervade his whole system. herbs and homeopathy I use only a few herbs. I find that red sage, for instance, over which you have poured boiling water and allowed to steep for ten minutes then let cool for later use, makes an excellent gargle for an older child (or adult) with any kind of head or throat or chest infection. Mint tea sweetened with a little honey can do wonders for upset tummies and flatulence. So can the American Indian herb slippery elm, which you mix with a little warm water and add some honey to (preferably Manuka). With older children in bed with any kind of head or throat or chest infection, I also ask them to place a small clove of garlic - complete with its skin coating - between the cheek and the teeth inside their mouth and to keep it there for an hour morning and night. (Not possible if they are up and about or too young since they might choke.) Garlic kills the `nasties' quickly and efficiently. I use only a little homeopathy, it is all I find I need. I use Arnica 30 for instance. It is good for shock, or any kind of injury or emotional upset. I give two tablets immediately and then two every half hour until the crisis has passed. The second remedy I like is Aconite 30, which I give every three or four hours when there is fever to help in the cleansing process that is taking place. Long ago I put together what in the family is known as `Mummy's First Aid Kit'. There you will find vitamin C, some zinc and beta carotene, herbs and homeopathics, plus a compress or two torn from an old sheet, a couple of unipolar magnets and crepe bandages for helping to heal bruises and sprains. It goes everywhere with us throughout the world and has become so popular as a result of being used by children and adults outside the family that I have been forced to put together several for other people as well. Of course, it won't fix broken legs. And if my child's fever suddenly shot up to 106 in the space of an hour or there was any emergency I felt incapable of handling I would be on the phone in a minute for help from the doctor. But for over thirty years, this little collection of things - together with some hydrotherapy, a good dollop of patience, great respect for Nature's ways and a lot of tender loving care - has been all that was required to see my kids through everything that has ailed them. All I can ever hope to be is a helper. It is Nature that does the real work.

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