Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parenting Sensitively

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I am a sensitive person. I've always been this way. I've always felt like my sensitivity is something I should hide, it's been something I've been embarrassed of. Yet, it's not something I can hide. It's right there on the outside of me all the time, for everyone to see.

I also have a very good memory. My childhood memories go back to when I was just a little bit older than Daniel is now. I remember as a child, often feeling like the people around me were laughing at me. I remember at times feeling like I was trying to do the right thing, that I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, but it was wrong. For some reason my wrongness was funny to everyone around me, and that hurt my feelings; I just didn't understand.

My son is a sensitive person. He's been this way since he was born. He has a sensitive nervous system that has trouble processing sensory input sometimes. He cries if one of us yells at the cats (to get off the counter, say), and sometimes even if we firmly (but quietly) say "No" directly to him. He is very sensitive to stimulation, and easily gets overstimulated in certain types of social situations. (I can relate.)

My experience is that sensitivity is a quality that is often looked down upon, especially in societies (like the one I live in) that don't value women. Sensitivity is consequently devalued, along with other characteristics that are considered to be feminine (like gentleness, empathy, and the ability to nurture). I want my son to always know that his sensitivity is an asset, not a detriment to his personality. I want him to grow into a well-rounded adult who appreciates that aspect of himself and doesn't feel ashamed of it, or like he should (or should need to) hide it.

I truly believe that my parents did the best they could to care for me and raise me well (and I think they did a great job). One of the things my mom used to say to me was that she never expected me to grow up and be the same parent that she was. She always encouraged me to take the good things and leave the bad things from the way I was parented, and try my hardest to parent my child(ren) even better than I was parented. I really appreciate the freedom this has allowed me in discovering my own unique parenting style. 

From the beginning of Daniel's life, I've intuitively practiced many of the principles of attachment parenting: because I feel this is the best, gentlest, most intuitive and nurturing way to parent my sensitive child. And as a sensitive person myself, it feels like a natural extension of who I am. This is the kind of parent I'm meant to be. I hold Daniel and kiss him (and nurse him) when he gets hurt or feels upset about something, because I want him to know that his feelings matter to me. I wear him close to my body, because I know it helps him to feel safe (and also because the pressure on his body helps to regulate his nervous system). I try my hardest to process my frustration in a different way when situations occur that make me feel inclined to yell, because I know how yelling affects us both. I listen to him and respond when he yells, because I know sometimes we all just need to be heard.

I don't think I have all the answers, but I do think I'm the best mother for this child. I'm caring for him the way I would want to be cared for.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.

7 comments:

  1. I've heard so many people who say, "you were given this child to parent for a reason." That sounds like it rings completely true with you and Daniel - what better person to empathize and work with a sensitive child, than a parent who has experience with the same feelings? My wish for you is that you'll learn new things about yourself as you parent Daniel - it sounds like a wonderful opportunity for self-discovery :)

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  2. what a wonderful gift from your mother - she must have had such a secure sense of personal awareness to say such a thing. how lovely! As a sensitive myself I firmly believe that attachment parenting is the way to parent; it fulfills all the emotional needs a child can have. Thanks for such a gentle, sensitive post :)

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  3. Being sensitive is a wonderful thing. Congratulations on raising someone who will become a wonderful, sensitive young man.

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  4. "I don't think I have all the answers, but I do think I'm the best mother for this child."

    I need to remember this.

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  5. Oh, this is lovely - how wonderful that you were able to use your own experiences in this way. And what a lovely approach of your mother's, as well!

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  6. Oh! I'm sensitive, too (as is Mikko). My older brother preferred the label "crybaby." My parents said I used to cry if people didn't laugh at my jokes — and then cry if they did, because I was convinced they were laughing at me. Ah, well! It took me a long time to realize the beauty in sensitivity. I totally get what you mean about how it's a "feminine" trait and therefore devalued, and unfortunately that makes it even harder for our sensitive boys to navigate it. I really appreciate your thoughts here, and I've enjoyed seeing your gentle parenting in action.

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  7. I am so happy to read this post! As you know, my daughter has SPD and new situations are very overwhelming for her as is a change in routine, an emotionally charged situation or discussion, as well as meeting new people. She has severe sleep issues, eating issues, and "frustration" issues. SPD effects physical health as well as mental health and being a mama to a child with SPD is taxing in so many ways. Thank you for such a great post. It encourages me and again reminds me that I am not alone in the journey!

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