Do You Have This?

by Rachael on November 9, 2010

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month the Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


At the first cross-cultural meetings of Eastern masters and Western therapists, the Dalai Lama was incredulous at the notion of “low self-esteem” that he kept hearing about. He went around the room asking each Westerner there, “Do you have this? Do you have this?” When they all nodded yes, he just shook his head in disbelief.

— Mark Epstein, in Thoughts Without a Thinker

This anecdote is often told in Buddhist circles. I’ve tended to take it as an illustration of the profound personal cost of the ills and excesses of Western culture. As Epstein writes, “The emphasis on individuality and autonomy, the breakdown of the extended and even the nuclear family, the scarcity of ‘good enough’ parenting, and the relentless drive for achievement versus affection in our society leave a person all too often feeling cut off, isolated, alienated, empty, and longing for an intimacy that seems both out of reach and vaguely threatening.” Too true. However, there’s another side to this story about the Dalai Lama. It may be true that America is a nation of hungry ghosts, desperately trying to fill the void of alienation and longing with fast-food burgers and cars and accomplishment after accomplishment after accomplishment — but it is also true that it need not be so.

I don’t remember when or how I first learned about attachment parenting; I just remember handing the Sears Baby Book to my husband, showing him the first chapter, and saying, “This is what we’re going to do.” Because I wanted my baby to know that he belongs in this human family; that we would hold him in his tears, anger, and sorrow; that it’s OK to have needs and desires of his own; and that if we laugh at his nonsense, we laugh only out of delight. I wanted him to know that one can love and love and love and care for another freely. And that intimacy is possible.

In my favorite book on attachment theory, Mothers and Others, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy writes that foragers, on whose child-care practices much of attachment theory is based, “tend to share a view of their physical environment as a ‘giving’ place occupied by others who are also liable to be well-disposed and generous.” The Mbuti, she writes, see the forest “as a place that gives ‘food, shelter, and clothing just like their parents'”; the Nayaka say, “The forest is as a parent.” This, even from people who have likely suffered great hardship and periods of deprivation in their lives. Theirs is the world I want to give my Critter: not one of alienation and longing, but one of giving.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: 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. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list is arranged according to the categories of the NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” — For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the Present” — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With Heart” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • Sometimes I Wish We Coslept” — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
    • Unconditional Parenting” — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them Look” — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” — Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning” — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama November 9, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Such wise thoughts 🙂 Really, giving our children love, respect, and gentleness will surely help them break the barriers of isolation that are so prevalent in our society. Thank you for sharing, Rachael!
Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted… Attachment Parenting Chose Us- November Carnival of Natural Parenting


Amy November 9, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said here.
Amy recently posted… A Private Matter


Earth Mama November 9, 2010 at 4:05 PM

What a lovely post. I love thinking of our physical environment as a giving space, what an inspirational thought…



Amber November 9, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Beautiful. I totally agree.

If there’s anything our culture needs, it’s more giving and less taking.
Amber recently posted… I Love my Socialized Medicine


Luschka @ Diary of a First Child November 10, 2010 at 12:30 AM

This is so beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more. I just don’t understand how people can choose not to nurture and comfort their babies. It’s the most beautiful thing. Adding Mothers and Others to my wishlist – thanks!
Luschka @ Diary of a First Child recently posted… Rebirthing- For Emotional Healing And Breastfeeding Reintroduction


Write About Birth November 10, 2010 at 4:29 AM

Thank you for sharing! Truly, snuggling with our babies and meeting their needs is the most natural and joy-giving thing in the world.


Seonaid November 11, 2010 at 10:30 PM

You made me ooh, and ahhh… the observation that our culture is one of hungry ghosts…

It’s late, I’m tired. But I wanted to say that you struck a chord for me here.
Seonaid recently posted… Poem- With Apologies to Erica Jong


Rachael November 13, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I shouldn’t really take credit for that observation, though. It came from Mark Epstein. Thoughts Without a Thinker was a paradigm-shifting book for me. I read it again every couple years or so….


Seonaid November 13, 2010 at 6:16 PM

I will have to give it a look-see.


Lauren @ Hobo Mama November 12, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Oh, my goodness, how inspiring! You’re so right that one of my goals for parenting as I do is to fill Mikko up in a way I didn’t feel filled as a child. Children should have a sense that the universe will meet their needs, starting from parents who have met theirs, unconditionally.

Also, I need to read Mothers and Others. I’ve read a little bit about and by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, but not a whole book yet, silly me.

Thank you for sharing this call to something better!
Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted… Nasal congestion affecting breastfeeding- What to do


Erin @ Multiple Musings November 14, 2010 at 4:57 PM

I love this post. I’ve been interested in the Buddhist perspective for awhile because I had a crisis of faith in humanity and nothing seems to be getting better. I think I have to look at the smaller picture, one attached child at a time (or two in my case – twins).

There are so many hungry ghosts out there, my dad is one of them and has the addiction to prove it. There is a book by Gabor Mate called “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”, which is about addiction and the conditions within our society that lead to self medicating.

Thanks for reminding me that there is hope.
Erin @ Multiple Musings recently posted… Twinversations


Rachael November 24, 2010 at 4:08 PM

I finally looked up In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, and goodness knows when I’ll find the time to read it (or anything else), but I’ve put it on the to-read list. Best wishes, Erin.


Melissa April 2, 2011 at 2:27 AM

I am so grateful that you directed me to this post, Rachael. The image of “hungry ghosts” is a powerful one. It is a tragic by-product of the way we live that so many are haunted by low self-esteem and a lack of love and affection. If parenting our children gently and with love and respect does nothing other than protect them from having ‘this,’ I believe it’s worth it.
Melissa recently posted… New Series- Why Practice Attachment Parenting


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