You have the power to change the world.
We can create a better future for our children. As parents, we shape the world they live in.
When we treat them with unconditional love and respect, we foster those qualities in the next generation. We can give our children what they need to thrive.
It won’t be easy.
More often than not, making the best choices for our children means breaking with convention. Sometimes it requires a complete paradigm shift.
But it will be worth it.
Our kids are worth the effort.
It’s time to reclaim our agency, educate ourselves, and trust our instincts.
The Age of Information
We have so many more options than our parents did.
Our mothers and grandmothers were stranded between a time of tribal wisdom and the modern age of information. They had little choice but to perpetuate their own parents’ practices, trust their pediatrician, and send their children to school.
I’m in awe of mothers who follow their instincts even with no resources or role models. My husband’s mother was fed canned milk because doctors discouraged breastfeeding and her parents couldn’t afford formula, and yet she breastfed her son for over two years.
We have so much more information available to us than they did. We also have more choices to make.
Is punishment necessary? Or is there a better way?
What are some alternatives to factory-style schools?
Should we follow the CDC vaccination schedule, or is it safer to space them out? Do our kids really need all of those shots?
These endless possibilities can feel like a mixed blessing. When I started my research, I felt intimidated by all the (mis)information and the task of separating the gold from the dross. It’s time consuming, and parents have so little free time as it is.
I’ve spent countless hours researching the things I’ll write about here, and there is always more to learn.
My departure from conventional wisdom was gradual. I had a standard American childhood: breakfast cereal, public school, latchkey afternoons in front of the TV. With it came the standard assumptions, the misinformation we internalize so deeply it becomes “fact”.
Young children question everything, but over time we lose our inquisitiveness. We become indoctrinated to conventional beliefs, and we stop questioning.
“There is a time to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense. At the point when objections are not answered anymore because they are no longer even raised, we are not in control: we do not have the idea; it has us.”
Our work is to tease apart the ideas we’ve collected.
Which ideas add value to your life? Which might you be better off without?
Despite all the information available to us, so many parents continue to follow convention.
They hand their children over to teachers because, well, that’s what you do.
They waste family time on homework.
Never mind the breadth of research showing that young children don’t benefit from formal academics.
Never mind their own instincts telling them that kids should be out running in the last of the daylight.
They chain their children to desks with bribes and threats because… what? Why?
They hand their children over to pediatricians because, well, doctors know best. Don’t they?
They fill the prescriptions they were told to fill.
Never mind that the average clinic is nearly two decades behind the current research.
Never mind that doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections and insist that we finish the bottle.
They finish the bottle.
So what can we do instead?
We can start by recognizing that children are complete people deserving of respect. Work with them instead of trying to control them with threats and bribes. Give them control over their own lives.
We can take responsibility for our health and the health of our children. Support local farms and cook food from scratch. Educate yourself about the risks and alternatives before deciding to medicate or vaccinate your child.
It’s time to question everything. Conventional wisdom, our own upbringing, the cult of modern medicine.
I’m not saying that conventional wisdom is worthless. There’s an enormous difference between ‘question everything’ and ‘reject everything’. There are good traditions, good pediatricians, good teachers.
But how can we know which are right for our families if we don’t take time to examine them?
I’ve shed so many old ideas in recent years:
– Conventional foods are healthy.
– If a baby is walking and talking, he’s too old to breastfeed.
– Children should be trained like pets. (“sleep training” “potty training”)
– School is intrinsic to childhood, and forced learning is beneficial.
– Timeouts and rewards are harmless methods of control.
– All vaccines are safe and effective.
I didn’t even realize that I believed these things. The ideas were deeply held, unconscious.
When I began my research, I fell down the rabbit hole. One question led to another. I dove deep into research and reflection.
I’m excited to share what I’ve learned. I’ll be writing about respectful parenting, holistic health, unschooling, and more.
My goal isn’t to convince you to do things my way, but rather to start a discussion. I want to empower other mothers to make the best possible choices for themselves and their children.
You can question convention, do your own research, and make conscious decisions.
What have you questioned lately? Did your old ideas hold up to scrutiny, or were they replaced with something new?