My first Parenting Without a Map workshop on Tuesday in Staten Island, at 5 Boro Power Yoga, went exceptionally well. And in the wake of the TIME magazine cover of a sleek, beautiful mom breastfeeding her toddler son (who has to stand on a chair to clamp his mouth over his mother’s bare breast), I think the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
For the truth about parenting is that it is a very personal path and there is no right way. There are many philosophies and idea to choose from but really, each parent is the expert on his/her child and no one outside of the family unit can better attest to what that family needs.
The TIME article, which I finally read on the plane back from New York, focused on my personal favorite parenting guru, Dr. Sears. I found his perspective – keep baby close to you, a baby’s cry is a cry for help not to be ignored, etc. – refreshing, empowering and right-on.
But not every parent does. I loved breastfeeding and believed fully that it was best for me and my children. I did my research. I made my decision. But I never told anyone else that they had to do what I did or they’d be a bad parent. My sister never breastfed and her kids are remarkable as is she as a mom. Some of my friends breastfed their kids until they were 4. Some are disgusted by the idea. And I love them all.
And it’s not just about breastfeeding. It’s our decisions to stay home or send kids to day care. How we give birth (with drugs or without). The foods we feed our children. The amount of TV/video games/computer we allow our kids. It goes on and on. So many would rather judge others than focus on their child right before them (who, by the way, is only given to us for a very short time before they venture off into the world – why waste that time judging others?).
What it all boils down to is that it’s none of anyone’s business what another parent choose to do most of the time. If you beat your kids, yell at them (especially in public), are rude or nasty or otherwise unkind, if you neglect them or feed them soda pop and potato chips at every meal, I may very well say something – because that is harmful to the child. And to society.
For when a child is mistreated early on in life, he grows up to mistreat others.
There is something deep, deep in me that aches when a child is hurt, whether emotionally or physically. They don’t ask to be born. They come into this world trusting and seeing good everywhere. We teach them hatred and neglect. We teach them indifference. We break them if we are not mindful in our approach to parenting.
My Parenting Without a Map workshops [Next one: THIS Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Karma Yoga in Bloomfield Hills – join me!!!] are designed to help parents be mindful, be purposeful in their parenting decisions, be deliberate. And the wisdom therein teaches parents to accept and love themselves along this very challenging path we call parenting.
The first one went off brilliantly at 5 Boro Power Yoga in Staten Island. I’m booking them around the country. Because it’s the future of our world in our hands – that’s how important our parenting approach is. And it’s not about whether you breastfeed or carry your baby in a sling – it’s about looking your child in the eye and truly seeing them as an individual who’s been entrusted to you to raise. A gift. A joy.