How confident are you in your parenting? Do you feel like you are still trying to figure out your way through a maze, or are you pretty settled into your mothering groove? After six years and three children, I can finally say I don’t have that “lost” feeling that I felt as a new parent. Instead of insecurity about how to deal with situations and understand the how’s and why’s of my parenting work, now it seems to be more a matter of actually doing the things I know need to be done- which can be hard when they go against the natural reaction or ingrained behaviours we may possess by the time we are adults. More than any parenting expert or author, I have to thank my friend Mama Erin for helping me find solid parenting ground; she listened to me for hours as I would vent my parenting frustrations; pose all my queries; suggest, experiment with, and reject or thrill over what worked and what didn’t. As a sanguine, I tend to talk my way through things… but no matter what temperament, I think a mama should always have a mentor- perhaps not a formal situation, but at least one where you can admire and look to someone a little farther ahead on the path than you; a sidekick- someone who is where you are and goes through the thick of it with you; and someone under your wings- because we are always a wee bit farther down the path than someone else, and it is so rewarding to give back.
That said, here are some resources which helped me tremendously, and which have formed the basis of my parenting foundation. I think you could summarize my parenting philosophy in three words- Connection, Direction, and Protection. I will classify the books according to which one of these categories they helped me in most (although the lines do blur a bit… I’m sure each of these could speak to more than one category on some level!).
- Anything by Naomi Aldort. Her book “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves” is good, but I especially love her audio cd’s. She is passionately philosophical, and perhaps more “relaxed” in parenting than I will ever be- but it helped balance out my original rather authoritarian views of parenting (that were *not* working for me!).
- Non-Violent Communication (Marshall A. Rosenberg)- not a parenting book per se, but one that probably helped me communicate, express love, and connect with my children to my utmost potential
- Playful Parenting (Lawrence J. Cohen)
- Anything by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish; they are a book writing team. “Siblings Without Rivalry” has truly helped make my home a peaceful place! “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” is also wonderful… a great companion to Non-Violent Communication.
- Easy To Love, Difficult to Discipline (Becky A Bailey)
- Waldorf parenting books- Heaven On Earth (Sharifa Oppenheimer), Beyond the Rainbow Bridge (Barbara Patterson), You Are Your Child’s First Teacher (Rahima Baldwin Dancy), and Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour (Susan Perrow)
- Hold On To Your Kids (Gary Neufeld)
- Simplicity Parenting (Kim Jon Payne)
I also think as modern mothers we often need help remembering how to listen to our own intution, because we live in a society that seems to favor logic & materialism, and makes spiritual disconnection the norm. Primal Mothering (Hygiea Halfmoon), Unassisted Childbirth (Laura Shanley), Mothering as a Spiritual Journey (Ann Tremaine Linhorst), and any of the works by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run With the Wolves, and especially “Warming the Stone Child” and her dream interpretation cd’s) really helped me tap in to that deep reservoir of inner knowing. So does Rudolph Steiner’s ruckschau meditation. Before going to sleep, go through your day mentally in reverse, recalling- without judgement, just objective observation- what happened, who you met, how you handled problems, etc; it is a sort of tucking your emotions and thoughts to sleep, preparing yourself for the spiritual restoration and revitalization that occur each night in the arms of the angels. It is amazing what a different perspective one comes away with when going back and looking at what happened objectively, instead of experiencing it through the lense of the heat of the moment’s emotion. A wonderful exercise in clarity!
The Waldorf Connection has also been a big help to me. Donna Ashton offers excellent support through her webinar/teleseminars (the next one is called ‘Discipline: How to STOP saying NO’; visit her website to register for this free call!) and multi-week programs. She will be starting her next course, Nourishing The Early Years on February 8th (but there is an early bird special if you sign up by midnight tonight!). My favorite thing about Donna’s programs is they are designed to help you truly enjoy your time as a parent. Not just survive… but thrive… flourish. It doesn’t get better than that! And The Parenting Passageway is always a wellspring of ideas and inspiration.
Over the next few weeks I will explore those three words- connection, direction, and protection. I want to recount the things I’ve learned in the years when my children were so small and I was so overwhelmed with trying to learn about child development and heal and grow from my own “issues” so I could be what they needed; to record the gems, the tools, the things that bring our family joy– so on the days when things are out of sync I can stop a negative cycle and turn it into a positive one. If you could summarize your parenting journey or philosophy in a few words, what would they be- and what resources helped you find your mothering groove?