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The Balance of Independence, Freedom and Closeness

March 24, 2021

The theory behind the natural parenting method's philosophy is centered around the babies (what isn't, am I right?). However, instead of them taking front & center stage in getting everything they want whenever they want it, this philosophy is focused on meeting babies' and children's human needs - in the most basic and primal way. It means being in tune with your child and using your intuition regardless of what other parents, schools, or parenting resources say.

This brings us to the sometimes complex balance of your and your child's independence, freedom, and closeness.

I deeply appreciate the freedom to speak my mind about parenting ideas I have, and that can only come from the closeness I share with my handsome man. I am proud, of how as a young family we're taking up unconventional approaches to parenthood, which gets me thinking a lot about independence and how blessed we are to have it.

The word independence can have a bit of a conflicted connotation, especially as it seems to be used a lot lately. For one, we can think of independence as aloneness, or simply not dependent on anyone. However, I don't think that anyone ever really acts alone in the endeavors to earn their independence and freedom. There first must be closeness and connection of several parties (a couple, a family, or a whole nation) and the togetherness within to break through any belief systems that have been placed upon us by the society and ourselves.
And of course, with all the economical and ecological arguments flooding our media these days, we are all certainly well aware that nothing acts independently of everything else.

I am struck by the sheer amount of preparation, attention, and constant logistical planning it takes to carry out modern-day techniques of meeting the baby's basic needs. Armies of bottles and sippy cups, untrackable pacifiers, monster strollers, and mountains of rules, warnings, restrictions, and timelines seem to do all but free up a family. I can see from a wide range of wonderful mother friends that there are all sorts of tools that can make parenting a little easier, but sometimes a lot of so-called convenience items seem to add up to oppression.

As I contemplate being a mother, I feel deeply blessed to be with a partner who agrees, much against the popular norms in most places, with these natural parenting ideals closest to my heart...

BABYWEARING
Babywearing offers a relatively quick, ready-to-travel, not-much-cargo-needed solution to family mobility, and (especially when face-to-face) gives you instant insight into the needs of the baby as they arise. I love watching my babywearing mom friends moving so freely with their little ones so instinctively.

Though there are a lot of seemingly helpful baby movers out there, and certainly a societal norm to use them, I don't think life simplification and free, ease of movement is on the list of their benefits. There's no shame in choosing a stroller, but my question is, how can shopping, buying and lugging around a mega-stroller equivalent to an Escalade (and needing something as big to get it from home to town) make life for mom and baby more free?

How can pushing babies away and in front of us where they can't be seen nor there needs immediately known (enter the constant stop. bend over. check. adjust. walk. repeat. sequence) make life simpler or free us up to truly enjoy the life we're living in that moment.

Check out the Benefits of Babywearing, it is a great resource.

BREASTFEEDING 

Few things seem simpler than a baby reaching for mama to suckle for nourishment and connection. We see it in nature all the time as mother mammals everywhere feed their young from their own body. That milk is magical, it changes with the baby's needs, and the logistics are pretty darn easy, require no fossil fuels for shipping, and do not require refrigeration.

It seems to me that the time and organization it takes to acquire, prepare, carry and store bottles of formula and sippy cups of juice offers anything but liberation.

Where's the freedom in reduced immunity and its effects?

When the money spent on all this stuff could be used for other worthwhile things (and not given to mega-marketing-processed food companies pushing formula)?

How could the adjust-to-your-baby's-needs breast milk, when available, not be the obvious choice over powdered something-or-others?

More reading I found insightful:

SPONTANEOUS LEARNING
While babies may be far from the realm of classrooms and bookbags, freedom and curiosity-centered approaches to a developing child, such as those set forth by unschooling (un)methods, offer an organic and nourishing environment for physical, emotional, and mental growth. Observing children as they play freely has always offered up lots of info to me on who they are and what they love, insights I cut short when instructing or managing behavior. We were all brought up with lots of rules, and maybe we learned some we want to forget, and others that are non-negotiable even for the seemingly free-est of parents. I've noticed, though, the more we do to give our babies and children space, the more relaxed and confident they are.

Perhaps we don't have to hawk-eye and manage every waking minute of a child's day. I think it's time our society asks itself how restricting a crawler to a playpen, or instructing and reiterating where a walker should walk will actually help them learn what they need, what to be careful of, or how gravity works.

Where in a child's digestive tract and mind are cells and functions supported by demanding they have five more bites? Where is the line between care and control?

And a little more extra reading:

In short, it may just be that the "stuff" that seems to make immediate life easier doesn't serve us in the bigger picture and I'd love to hear your point of view on it.