Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is Holistic Parenting?

What pops into your mind when you hear "holistic parent"? Granola? Hippie? Treehugger? Radical? Or something else?

Defining holistic parenting is no easy task. At the Holistic Moms Network, no stereotypes apply. Sure, some of us like tie-dye and Birkenstocks. But most of us look just like you. We're not so radical or different. You can find us eating fast food, shopping at the mall, and drinking coffee with friends. You can also find us growing organic gardens, recycling, and homeschooling our children. Maybe. Maybe not. There is no one definition for holistic parenting but more a philosophy and outlook on how we would like to live and raise our children. As Dr. Linda Folden Palmer explains in her recent article Growing a Holistic Parent,

"We’re all reading and discussing, learning and experimenting, and we’re all making choices, eliminating other choices, and putting some on the back-burner. Most of us have observed that mainstream, industry-promoted practices may not always be optimal for our collective health and planet preservation, while some simply crave a more instinctual and harmonious experience."

At our core, we are about "actively pursuing information and making purposeful decisions about how we engage with our bodies, our families and our world," explains HMN Chapter Leader Meredith Barth in the latest issue of The Wise Mom, the member magazine of the Holistic Moms Network. Holistic parenting is a journey for all of us. We make take different paths and make different choices, but we are headed in the same direction and we benefit from the company and support of others along the way. We teach each other, empower each other, and join our voices to make a difference.

We invite you to share in this issue of The Wise Mom and to explore holistic parenting for yourself. Join us, no matter where you are on your holistic parenting journey, and discover the beauty of connecting through community as you travel your parenting path.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Attachment Parent the Parents, Please

The following guest post is contributed by Dr. Linda Folden Palmer, author of The Baby Bond and HMN Advisory Board Member.

I occasionally come across highly judgmental sometimes even cruel comments toward one parenting choice of some “otherwise” wonderful mom.

I deeply believe that all of us mothers, trying to do our best with what needs, customs, and resources we have behind us, need to lovingly attachment parent each other too, and we can learn valuable things from every other mom on the planet. Many aspects of holistic parenting are controversial, but just as we need to put ourselves in another frame of mind when our little one does something rather evil-looking, we need to put ourselves into the frame that conventional parenting practices come from, rather than focusing so much on opposition. For example, the breast/bottle issue can become such a flammable, violent war at times but that polar attitude helps no one. We get so caught-up in promoting a cause today, that we totally forget our shared humanity.

Whatever your particular passion or cause as a holistic parent, I think it will take decades of gentle, loving tolerance and education to gradually create change in our country and the world. I believe that modeling is often the most powerful action we can engage. For example, after finding solace in an attachment parenting playgroup when my boy was little, I continued participating in the mainstream playgroup I was already involved in. I encountered many questions, looks, and comments there about my breastfeeding and non-vaxing, among other things. I would try to insert a very occasional educational response while mostly just smiling and going on with my own ways. I was pleasantly surprised to see maybe a 50% increase overall in the group breastfeeding as second babies came around. I didn't know much about the rest of their practices but I learned how effective teaching through gentle example could be. I also learned so much from all of those moms.

We know that any harsh negative attitudes toward us as children left lasting lessons that produced very different results from what was likely desired. Let’s remember this same thing as we co-parent the world’s children. Let’s attachment parent all other parents — give other parents a break, a thumbs-up, and warm acceptance for their efforts while we teach quietly through gentle example what we feel will work best for our children.

Linda Folden Palmer is a doctor of chiropractic, a consultant and speaker on pediatric nutrition and natural parenting challenges, a science writer, and a mother. She’s the author of Baby Matters, and the updated and embellished version, The Baby Bond, The New Science Behind What’s Really Important When Caring for Your Baby. She left her chiropractic practice shortly after the birth of her son, when she was confronted with his serious health challenges. For her son’s sake, she delved deeply into the scientific and medical literature to find answers – which led to further questions and some astonishing realizations and finally to her book. With 1,200 science journal references, The Baby Bond brings the solid evidence that supports natural parenting practices. Learn more at her website at www.thebabybond.com for more natural parenting information.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Value of Community in Crises

Here in the Northeast, Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc in many local communities. Families, neighbors, and local businesses have been destroyed by floods and high winds, many still without power.

Crises like this reveal the true beauty and power of community and connection. At these times we rise up together and lend a hand. We feel each other's pain, are grateful for what we have not lost, and find the time - and the drive - to help. But then, sadly, we retreat into our inner circles and forget the power of what we can create together.

One of our biggest challenges - and frustrations - here at the Holistic Moms Network is that we are all about building community. We understand how valuable community is, not only in crisis, but every single day. We recognize the power of connection, the energy behind being supported, and the difference that we can make collectively. We believe that communities are what make our culture successful - and that apathy and a lack of participation is what destroys it. And we see far too much of the latter. Online communities don't cut it. Facebook friends can't help you bail out your basement, remove the tree from your roof, or give you a safe place to stay in a storm. Virtual forums can't give you a hug, watch your kids while you clean up a mess, or cook you a hot meal in your time of need.

Real people can. Real communities can. And some of our proudest moments come during these times. Whether in illness or injury, or a life-changing event like having a new baby, Holistic Moms communities rise up to support their members. Many of our Chapters deliver meals and supplies to local member families during these times - give real support and meet critical needs. Our members encourage each other through the rough times - the sleepless nights, the breastfeeding challenges, the teen rebellions. And we work together to make widespread changes by supporting companies who share our mission, by empowering one another to make positive choices, and by sharing our experience and wisdom about how to live healthier and greener.

But overcoming apathy is an uphill battle. Constantly encouraging people to participate, to get involved, and to be active is not always easy. We are so insular in our daily lives that we forget how wonderful it is to have that group connection - not only when a crisis hits, but even in the good times. A simple conversation, a shared experience, or a helping hand can make the difference. Be part of it, in real life, in real time, every day. Find the time, create the opportunity, and be part of a community. Feed your soul, help another, and make a difference. It's up to you. If we all stop participating, we have no one but ourselves to blame when the communities we depend upon no longer exist.