When Cedar was an infant, in-arms, and I was already doing many things differently than conventional, modern parenting (see previous blog posts), there was no obvious way at the time to see the implications and long-term results my approaches were going to have... I was just doing things My Way, simply because this was how Love & Joy were guiding me.
Cedar will soon be 20 months. I can officially announce that my approaches have worked... and I believe they will continue to work in more profound ways as he grows. I see so many things about the way that he is that inspire wonder and awe in me, things that are reflections of his influences as a fetus, newborn and infant.
This blog post was inspired by a little boy who was just born to some friends of mine who live a similar lifestyle as we do, nature-infused and free. They, also, will be raising their child Their Way, and I desired to share with them how rewarding it has been ALREADY for my husband and I to raise Cedar according to our hearts and intuition, rather than other people's theories or cultural programming.
If you are parenting with purpose, and with consciousness of the effects of every influence you provide, you will see your own version of the results I am seeing. Here are examples of my version, to inspire you to continue with conscious and purposeful child-raising, with enthusiasm and faith in the inevitably amazing rewards!
At 19.5 months, my son Cedar...
...is the most cold-hardy person I have ever met. Do you really have to "bundle up" little babies in thick clothing during the winter to protect them? Or are we meant to develop a natural level of comfort in any weather with minimal or no clothing, if only we are given the chance as an infant? Cedar wears minimal or no clothing (depending on the season, and if we are at home or in public), usually just a t-shirt or two and leg-warmers at home in the middle of winter. We use minimal to no heat in our home in the winter (usually just a couple of space heaters on the coldest winter days). I have become fairly cold-hardy, from purposeful adaptation... but Cedar is WAY moreso, and I am in awe :)
...has never worn a diaper. At his early age, he is pretty much "potty trained". He knows (and often announces) when he is going to pee or poop, and usually does so outside in the grass (this works for us, since we have some wild acreage). At night during sleep, we used to use a puddle pad and towel in our bed for him to sleep on, and at this point most of the time he just sleeps directly on the sheets with me, because it's rare that he pees on the bed now. If he has to pee during the night, I take him to the bathtub and hold him while he goes. I will write a more detailed blog post soon about our experiences with elimination communication, since this is one of the most common things I am asked about!
...has never worn shoes. I can tell that his feet and ankles are extremely strong and well-developed, in perfect proportion to his body, and super cute! He walks around in wild grasses and nature, barefoot. The bottoms of his feet are smooth and beautiful, with an evenly-distributed padding underneath the skin (they do NOT have unsightly callouses, as one might think from not wearing shoes). This beautiful padding on the soles of his feet protects them from sharp burrs and things on the ground, and looks completely natural. From being barefoot, he has learned to be aware of where he is walking, and avoids anthills, spiky plants, sharp rocks, etc. He does love playing "dress up" by walking around in my shoes, which is fun for him... shoes are about play, not something he needs to navigate challenging environments.
...can identify most edible wild plants that grow on our land, and enjoys eating them! He even has his own names for many of them. He can identify, and enjoys eating wood sorrel leaves and flowers, wild arugula flowers ("woo-tah"), wild garlic greens and flowers, greenbriar tips, henbit, dandelion flowers, chamomile, wild dewberries, hackberries, pecans, juniper berries, and more. He can also identify, and avoids, the sharp spiky things that grow here, like bull thistle leaves! We're still working on poison ivy identification... :)
...has already planted seeds in his own garden bed, watered them, watched them grow into plants, and eaten their fruits. He is learning about the growth cycle, and the time it takes, and the nurturing and waiting required for the perfect ripening of plants.
...enjoys a wide variety of strongly-flavored, healthy, natural foods. He experiences a high level of freedom in his food choices, because all the foods I provide for him are nutrient-dense and unprocessed; therefore, it is okay with me whatever he chooses to eat, or not eat. No pressure, no expectations, no enforced mealtimes... just freedom and exploration. One big reason this is possible, besides being only provided with nutrient-dense foods, is that he is still breastfeeding many times daily (he is probably 75% lactarian right now... haha!); so whether he eats or not, I feel confident he is receiving the nutrients he needs from his natural urge to continue nursing on cue.
...is exceptionally healthy and robust. He is strong and gorgeous, with 12 perfect teeth and long blonde hair. He has only had runny noses a handful of times (after being around other children with runny noses), which are only a minor discomfort for him, and only last a few days as his immune system accommodates the new "information".
...understands most of what I say to him. I speak to him in adult language (no baby talk, although I love using his words), and often explain things in detail, with the energetic expectation that he will know or feel what I am talking about. He listens intently, and demonstrates with his actions or words afterward that he understands. When I speak with him, I form concepts as clearly as possible, and also see the images in my mind. I believe there is also a telepathic aspect contributing to his exceptional level of understanding, which is actually normal between parents (especially mothers) and small children... but only if we know it's possible and normal, and act accordingly!
All that said, this is just as important: when I say "Natural Parenting Works", I am NOT saying that he never cries or fusses, never acts clingy or demanding, or never expresses frustration. He passionately expresses all the emotions that are natural to all humans I have ever met. When he expresses himself, he does it fully, then he is done and onto something else... if he is upset and screaming about something, and I am calmly present with him and listen to him (without getting riled up or trying to change his experience or rushing to "make it better"), he usually resolves it on his own and is laughing again moments later. Childhood is full-on, and intense! This can certainly be challenging for us parents at times, but I can honestly say that the most challenging moments, looked back on, have been some of the greatest gifts he has brought me. I have matured through those moments, by feeling my way through them and being open to their lessons, and I am truly strengthened. I embody more grace, harmony and strength in my being than ever before in my life.
I encourage all parents who read this, as you raise your children, to DO IT YOUR WAY. It may look similar to my way, or very different, but the important thing is to be guided by your own Heart, your own intuition, and what inspires Joy for you. As you make choices consciously and with specific purpose, you WILL see this reflected in your child (immediately or eventually), and your greatest reward will be the Joy you feel from seeing the flowering of the Being in form who is in your care at this time.