user-icon chevron-right minus plus cross google shopping-cart caret-down chevron-down chevron-circle-up menu search youtube facebook twitter rss linkedin2 pinterest

raising kids

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

Featured

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.

Child-Raising—Trust In Nature

Child-Raising—Trust In Nature

"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 by four different men 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. SEEDPOWER HAS WISDOM Like the seed of a plant that 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. Just as I tried to do with my first son, most conscientious parents try their best to mould their children from the outside by imposing upon them their own ideas about what they should act like, think like, look like and all the rest. Not only does it work a lot better the other way round—listening to the individual echoes of a child's own seedpower coming from within, and responding to it by offering whatever at any moment is most appropriate, in the form of food, health, guidance, education, toys and so forth—it is also infinitely easier. CONTRACTS HOLD A KEY Taking on the job of guardian for a child from birth to adulthood also involves making 'contractual agreements'—agreements which need to be re-negotiated from time to time. Like every contract, the parent/child relationship is always a two-way deal. It has to be fair on both sides and nurture both people involved. How well your own contracts develop and how much joy there is for both of you in living them will depend to a great extent on how clearly the agreements between you are understood. Let me show you what I mean. In establishing 'contracts' with my own children, I decided I wanted to supply them with wholesome food and clean surroundings, as well as physical warmth, safety, and the right to their own needs and opinions even if they differed from mine. In return I expected them to accept the home and food and care I provided even though it would never be perfect, and to be as honest, respectful of my decisions and as reasonable with me as their age would allow. What I would never ask of a child—and where so many parents, in my opinion, go wrong—is to ask that the child love me. Get into that contract and you automatically create trouble. For whether or not your child loves you is ultimately beside the point. Your responsibility is simply to use the best of your wisdom and physical resources to help that child grow. I decided long ago that I would do my best for my children always, but that they were stuck with me as a parent for better or for worse—complete with all my warts. I also decided that, 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. When some decision I made or action I took turned out to be wrong, I owned up and, where appropriate, asked for their forgiveness, just as I forgave them their mistakes. MAGIC HAPPENS I discovered quite by accident that there is a certain magic to all this. For when you genuinely give up all claim to being a 'good parent' or to having your child love you, you create a remarkable expanse of freedom for you both. In the end, not only do your children end up loving you of their own accord, they also respect you (even when they don't agree with you). Most important of all, they feel safe because they know that although at times you may seem unreasonable and unbending, your strength—on which they rely for security—remains uncorrupted by flattery or emotional blackmail (which even very young children can be very good at). They learn that your strength is there to serve them.

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.

First Foods

First Foods

From the time he is ready to start weaning until he is five or six - or even beyond - how do you feed a child well? It is the question mothers most frequently ask me. If you really care about your child eating the best possible way for his long-term health and emotional balance, it is the easiest thing in the world to do. Babies and children always do - not what you tell them to do - but what they see you do. The way to feed a child well is to feed yourself well on simple, wholesome, natural foods and not to keep any foods in the house which are not health promoting - right from the beginning. Introducing a breast-fed baby to new drinks and to solid food is easy and lots of fun provided you don't get seduced by advertisers into believing that the best foods to feed him on come ready made in jars and packets from the shelves of supermarkets. They don't. Commercially prepared baby foods are not only more expensive, they are far less nutritious than wholesome homemade dishes from your own table since most of them have been processed to death. The best foods for weaning a baby are the same foods you eat yourself provided you prepare your meals from scratch and don't rely on the manufactured convenience stuff. Your breast-fed baby will not need solid foods at all for the first four or five months of his life. Until then any solids fed him - cereals or fruits or what have you - will tend to pass right through him. His digestive system is not developed enough to process them. Also, during the early months of a baby's life his defenses against allergies are rudimentary. If you give him solids too early there is a much greater chance that he could end up allergic to milk or grains or eggs or just about anything else. By the time he is five or six months old, however he will not only enjoy sitting up at the table with you while he eats but will also want to explore the world around him. For a baby that means putting whatever is offered into his mouth. This is the time for him to begin experimenting with new drinks and foods. learning to eat and drink Begin by offering him a little fresh fruit juice or vegetable juice diluted one part juice to three parts spring or filtered water. I started Aaron, my youngest, on diluted carrot juice made from an organic carrot or two in a centrifuge juice extractor and offered it to him immediately so it was full of vitamins, minerals and life energies. He adored the stuff. Fresh carrot and apple juice diluted in the same way is also a favorite with babies and children. Give them just a taste to begin with either on a little spoon or in a bottle. If your baby doesn't like the taste then forget it for the moment and try him again in another week or two. As they get older you can gradually decrease the water until they are taking it full strength. Offer your baby his first taste of solid foods while he is sitting at the table watching you eat. Mash a banana and give him just a taste, or a little flesh from a baked potato with a tiny bit of butter on it. Make it a game. If he likes it, great, let him have a bit more. If not, eat it yourself and forget it. You can buy one of the inexpensive hand held blenders and puree just about any wholesome natural food you are eating - from soups to nuts and from Brussels sprouts to whole grain bread to which a little spring water has been added. Let it be a game for the both of you - not some serious effort to get him to eat. If you want to avoid eating problems both now and later, never, ever, force food or drink on a baby or child. This is one of the cardinal rules of child rearing. Above all stop worrying about how much he needs to take. He will show you that himself by his responses. What so many parents forget is that the powerful will to live which lies at the core of his own seedpower and has brought your baby into the world will continue to sustain him. He will know how much food he needs now and later as he grows (provided of course his natural mechanisms for knowing have not become distorted by force feeding or being given lots of convenience foods loaded with refined sugar, junk fats and chemical additives). Children who have been raised on breast milk when gradually introduced to simple wholesome fruits and vegetables, grains and home made protein foods right from the table, learn to eat simply and gleefully. Every new taste is an adventure. a little of what he fancies Interesting studies have been carried out with small children. They show that provided the only foods offered them are good foods - that is not highly processed or filled with refined sugar, white flour or additives - babies and children left to their own devices will instinctively choose a wholesome diet. A child may eat nothing but bananas one day, then turn to carrots or whole grain bread or eggs the next. Looked at over a period of a week or two, his picking and choosing prompted by his own internal messages and instincts, spontaneously selects for him a diet which is virtually ideal when measured against what nutritional science says a growing child needs. Because his palate and instincts have not become distorted by manufactured foods, Nature's child is in touch with his body and its needs. He never has to give a thought to eating well. He does it the same way a bird sings or a waterfall tumbles over rocks down into a pool a hundred feet below. He not only supports his health and well-being in the best possible way, his own inner wisdom enables his own brand of individual seedpower to unfold beautifully into the unique individual he is designed to be - physically, emotionally and spiritually. When what your child eats day after day, year after year, supports the energy balancing, energy-producing functions in his body it creates for him an experience of grace in his life and in yours. He is far more likely to be centered in his demeanor, resistant to illness and cheerful in his outlook. When, on the other hand his diet is made up of highly processed convenience foods filled with junk fats and chemical additives - foods which have lost the complex balance and synergy in all living things - then you create metabolic confusion in his body and a greater susceptibility to illness and behavioral disturbances from hyperactivity to aggression.

Re-discovering Life

Re-discovering Life

I think maybe I know what's wrong with you.' `What?' I asked skeptically. `You're always thinking about such serious things. 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. One day in summer, 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 California 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. My two younger children, Jesse, aged eight, and Susannah, ten, kept asking me to take them to the beach. I didn't want to go anywhere, especially the beach. I did not want to do anything for anyone. Finally, in the worst possible spirit, I consented - making sure, of course, that they realized I was doing them a big favor. The pure white sand and the fresh sea air on the 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 built and was powerless to break out of. As the sun shone brighter and more beautiful, 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 will make you feel ever so much better, Mummy. Or maybe you could growl like a dog.' 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 love. 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 things. 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 dig a hole,' was her reply. `Yeah, I like holes,' Jesse chimed in. 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 tended to act a bit of a clown, was soon sliding down into it and 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 probably the most beautiful hole you've 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.' And they have - again and again over the years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

More in raising kids

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

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 6th of December 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.88 lb
for women
-1.06 lb
for men
-0.88 lb
for women
-1.06 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 6th of December 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

sign up for our newsletter

download our free book healthy & lean for life