CONSCIOUS PARENTING GUIDE


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www.consciousparentingguide.com

by Julie Le Gal Brodeur

CONTACT:consciousparentingguide@gmail.com


SITE MAP FOR PRINT VERSION

WELCOME,     ABOUT,     PRE-CONCEPTION,     PREGNANCY,     PREPARING FOR BIRTH,     BIRTH,

THE FIRST MONTHS,     CLOTHING AND CARE FOR THE BABY,     THE FIRST YEAR,     FROM ONE TO THREE,

ARTICLES,     RECOMMENDED READING,   LINKSBIBLIOGRAPHY


ON THIS PAGE: About conscious parenting, About the site, How to make decisions, List of basic principles,  About the author, Reviews, Disclaimer and copyright


ABOUT CONSCIOUS PARENTING


Our task is to educate the human being in such a way that he or she can bring to expression in the right way that which is living in the whole human being, and on the other side that which puts him or her into the world in the right way.’ Rudolf Steiner

Raising children today

As parents, today, we are quite free to raise our children as we please, perhaps for the first time in history, now that grand-parents, family, culture and traditions have faded from being directing sources and prominent guides. Parents are now in a unique situation as regards the past: we are free, but we can also be alone. Raising children has become an individual, rather than a community, endeavour, and many parents ask themselves how to proceed, and on what to base their decision making.

 

For many parenting issues, we have access to a huge amount of information, a large portion of which is based on medical studies and psychology. We owe the success of modern births to hygiene and medicine, and psychology gives us great insight into the development of socialisation and learning. For the shaping of our everyday life, however, for all the small decisions along the way that make up our lifestyle, that reflect our most intimate values, we are necessarily much more alone. Yet very simple things such as babies’ environment, how they are handled, how they are related to, what foods they are fed, all have a profound effect on them. Things that seem subtle in their effects early on, have consequences only much later in life.


Our hope is to participate in the creation of a more benevolent society, that is, a society that gives human beings the possibility to develop and exercise their creativity. Michel Odent [1]


A conscious approach

If, in light of this, we are interested in what the ideal environment, care and foods are, to allow the child to develop to their healthiest, strongest potential, also long term, then we need to take into consideration the whole picture of what a child is, and what their real needs are. From this perspective, it behooves us to take a conscious approach to parenting, observe our children, observe ourselves and ask ourselves questions.


For example: What surroundings best serve the child's physical, social and mental development? How can we

best support their growth and development in each stage and at each level of consciousness? How do we

give them the greatest potential for becoming healthy, capable, intelligent, creative, independently thinking,

socially responsible and responsive human beings? What changes can we as parents make in our thinking and

attitudes? How can we apply these things to everyday life and care of the child?

      

I am aware that some of these suggestions may not be for everyone to take up - some are quite contrary to what seems normally done in our society. With taking up some of these ideas, one will be swimming upstream of social trends. But social trends are not generally created with children's wellbeing in mind...


In a nutshell: we must become our children’s protectors, and to do that we have to understand what their true needs are.


      We receive him badly, when he enters to our world. And yet, this world we have created is destined for him, it is his to take up and bring to greater state of progress to ours.

Maria Montessori [2]


The conscious parenting guide

In this little guide, I have gathered information from research I did, to share with parents asking themselves

the same or similar questions, focusing in particular on the practical aspect of the question of parenting. I have sketched suggestions and thoughts to some issues that seem important, given as considerations for parents to

guide themselves through parenthood - that is, for you to make your own conscious choices. This is a sketch, a

first draft of looking at the practical side of these questions. Those interested in the philosophical aspect

may pursue their research. (See Recommended reading, Links, below.)


The thoughts behind much of what is here are based on principles and insights given by Rudolf Steiner, who gave the education principles and curriculum of the Waldorf or Steiner School movement. I have added a list of Steiner's books on education in the recommended reading list.

 

See About the site below.

 

Recommended reading

 

Links

 

ARTICLES

Baldwin Dancy, Rahima - About conscious parenting in our modern age.htm

 

Baldwin Dancy, Rahima - Conscious parenting - what can help us on the way?.htm




[1] Odent, Michel, Bien naître, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, France, 1977 Page 131


[2] Quote from Maria Montessori, L’enfant, Gonthier Denoël, in Odent, Michel, Bien naître, pages 29, 30




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ABOUT THE SITE


Receive the child with deep respect, raise him with love, and let him go in freedom.  Rudolf Steiner

When I was expecting, I started looking for information about pregnancy, birth, caring for a newborn and the early years of childhood that approached the events with regard for the miracle of a birth, and saw the baby as a human being worthy of care and respect. I wanted to understand the basic principles of development and find out what is helpful to a baby, not only in physical development, but also in social development, and the development of the mind: in body, soul and spirit. How can a child grow to their full potential in all spheres of life? How can we support them, and how can we not hinder them in becoming truly intelligent, caring, independent, healthy and physically confident? And even more importantly, how can we foster a spiritual life that enriches life yet leaves them free? This information was harder to find than I had expected. The large part of the material that answered my questions was by or based on Rudolf Steiner's work.

 

Rudolf Steiner (1861- 1925) is the founder of Waldorf education, among many other movements. The Waldorf approach respects the major development phases of childhood, introducing each subject at specific ages and in an age appropriate manner. It follows the natural development of a child’s physical, social and mental abilities and aims to provide children with a healthy, nourishing environment that allow the child’s innate character and talents to prosper.

      

I was grateful, as I began understanding and working with these insights and suggestions, that I had had the time and resources to do all this research. I wondered if other people were looking for this kind of approach, but didn't have the time, energy or resources to do the research I had. So was born the idea for this website.

 

The material quoted and referred to on this website is either from authors that work with Steiner's principles, or it is material from books, articles, studies and research I found to support and articulate various aspects of an issue, or to emphasize its importance. I have added some health suggestions that are quite easy to find elsewhere but that I found noteworthy.

 

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me with comments, questions or suggestions,

 

Julie Le Gal Brodeur

 

See Contact

 

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HOW TO MAKE DECISIONS  

When a woman is pregnant, or when a new baby arrives, many people want to be helpful, give tips, give clothes, equipment, toys, advice... This is one of the beautiful and sometimes overwhelming 'community' moments remaining in our society, and the connection with family and other parents can be crucial for many new families. But it is important to not be overwhelmed or pushed into accepting objects, situations or to be pressured into making decisions that we do not feel right about. In modern society, we have largely lost all instinctive knowledge of mothering and parenting, so informing oneself about choices for pregnancy care, what to surround the baby with, what to do with and how to care for a baby, and finding out about different options is important. But advice and the information available can be very contradictory when it comes to caring for a newborn and raising a child.

 

In making choices, it can be helpful to look for basic principles behind what seems right to you, rather than only going on sympathy or antipathy for making a decision about something. (For example, see link to List of basic principles and suggestions below.) So inform yourself about different ways to do things and about health questions from people, books, the Internet, but in the end, you must make decisions based on what seems right to you and from your knowledge of your child.

 

Observe your child, see what she is developing, what he is doing, and that may show you what is really needed. Do not be afraid to ignore well intentioned but unsuitable advice, or to put away or get rid of toys or presents that don't seem appropriate to you.

 

Also, it's good to be aware of the intentions of the corporate world and of pharmaceutical companies vis-à-vis children: They are interested in their own profit - in the very way they are structured, this is what they have to be interested in. With this in mind, it's very important that you be the judge of what is appropriate for your child or good for them rather than buying into advertising. A product is not necessarily good or appropriate simply because it is a best seller.


Consider the human value of toys, food, equipment and entertainment for your child. What message does the thing give, what consequence does its use have, what good does it do, what harm, what habits does it create, what is the nutritional or educational value, what faculty does it develop and is your child ready for it? Will it overload the senses or will it hinder a baby's free exploratory movement? And for medication, why is a certain medication prescribed; is it really necessary, what are the short-term effects, and what are long-term effects, especially with repeated use, and could the child be treated naturally?

 

Our children need us to protect them, to make decisions for them. You have the responsibility of your child’s long-term well being, you make the decisions that will have a long-term impact on their entire lives. Inform yourself and trust yourself.


 

See List of basic principles and suggestions below.

 

About conscious parenting above.

 

The negative effects of media in THE FIRST YEAR.

 

See Commercial Free Childhood in Links

 

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LIST OF BASIC PRINCIPLES AND SUGGESTIONS


PRE-CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, BIRTH

•      cultivate a sense of gratitude and wonder for life

•      wean yourself from intense media, cultivate healthy activities

•      try to have meals and to sleep at regular times

  1.      eat healthily, take necessary supplements

  2.     have only necessary tests and interventions done during pregnancy

•      aim for natural birth

•      find midwife and/or doula support for the birth

•      choose people and an environment you trust for the birth

•      learn about the stages of birth and medical procedures before

•      create a gentle space to receive the baby

•      take six weeks of quiet after the birth

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INFANTS AND BABIES

•      approach the baby with an attitude of love and gratitude

•      breastfeed your baby

•      be gentle on all the senses: gentle light, natural and soft sounds, natural and soft clothing and bedding

•      keep the baby warm

•      avoid over stimulating the baby

•      avoid exposure to media

  1.      observe and respect the stages the baby grows into, avoid interfering with their own natural physical or intellectual development

•      find out why the baby is crying rather than randomly rocking or bouncing or distracting them

•      allow the baby to lie in a horizontal position that doesn’t restrict his movements

•      let the baby learn to roll over, crawl, sit, stand and walk on his own, without your help

•      be yourself worthy of imitation

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CHILDREN FROM AGE ONE TO THREE

•      respect play, give the child autonomy in their activities

•      allow children to finish what they're doing (as much as possible)

•      provide varied, natural, regular play opportunities that allow for free exploration

•      aim for very simple toys made of natural materials, that leave room for child's imagination

•      avoid media, such as TV, computer, video games, radio, even recorded music, as much as possible

•      protect the child from intense environments and over stimulation

•      have clothes made of natural material (wool, cotton or silk)

•      establish rhythm, regularity, in daily, weekly and yearly life

•      avoid actively teaching and stimulating intellect (teaching colours, numbers, naming things the child should repeat etc., or asking questions “what is…can you…do you like…etc.) before the impulse and interest comes from the child

•      let what are you saying match what are you doing

•      establish household rules and give the child the security of knowing they are firm

•      establish healthy eating habits and stick to them

•      give acknowledgement instead of praise or criticism

•      talk to say something necessary or to respond, give the child space

•      become yourself an example for your children to imitate

•      cultivate a sense of gratitude, reverence and wonder in yourself



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Le Gal Brodeur grew up in Toronto, Canada, in a French-Canadian theatre family. She attended Waldorf schools in Canada, Germany and England and pursued her theatre studies in Canada and New York City where she studied the Michael Chekhov technique and Rudolf Steiner’s approach to speech. She performed, produced and created theatre for many years in the US and Europe. She now works as an actress and lives with her husband and daughter in Canada.


REVIEWS

Julie has created a wonderful comprehensive website based on her research as a new mother. It will be a very helpful resource for parents who are looking for a holistic approach and are trying to make conscious and informed parenting decisions. Highly recommended!

        -Dr Veronica Koopmans, MD, CCFP, Canada


This wonderful new Canadian web site has just come on line and is true to a Steiner approach to pregnancy and early childhood. I suggest you check it out and share it around if you find it suitable for your client/ parent needs. It has good extra links for deepening an understanding of the issues.

        -Susan Laing, early childhood consultant, mother of four, Australia


Your Conscious Parenting Guide website is wonderful!

        -Susan Howard, Coordinator at Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America  (WECAN), USA

 

Your site is lovely--the use of art work is especially fine! And very informative.

      -Rahima Dancy, author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, USA

 

Very nicely done!  Thank you so much for your hard work!  I hope to recommend it to many people!  This information is so needed!

        -Dr Cathy Sims-O'Neil, D.O., USA

 

Truly, a beautiful site-full of such well expressed, practical and wholesome information-wish I'd had it when I was expecting.

        -Ann Baggley, mother of two, Canada

 

What a beautiful website you have produced! I looked at everything and read everything through (..) [it] was wonderfully rendered.  The photos of paintings were a beautiful complement to the text. I am sure for new parents and parents-to-be, there will be much to profit by.

        -Vincent Belenson, veteran Waldorf teacher for many years, Canada

 

You have a wonderful site, with lots of important information and great articles.  I love the thoughtful and caring tone.

        -Shannon Honeybloom, author of Making a Family Home, USA

 

Nice work...I can't think of an endeavor more important to our world.

        -Dr Monika Herwig, ND, USA

 

… your work is of great interest to me and I understand how important it is. What a fantastic resource you have created.

        -Dot Male, author of Parent and Child Group Handbook the Steiner/Waldorf   Approach

        ( Hawthorn Press) UK

 

…your web site (…)[is] very beautiful and a real treasure chest of resources for the new parent or the one to be. This is the most important developmental stage that children go through and we need all the help we can get to nurture and protect the life forces of these young children. Thank you for taking up this work.

       -Jan Ney Patterson, director of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Rudolf Steiner Centre

        Toronto, Canada


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DISCLAIMER: This website is meant as an informational guide only. The suggestions and approaches described herein are meant to enhance, not replace professional medical care or treatment, or any other professional advising.

 

COPYRIGHT AND RIGHTS OF USE: Feel free to make links to any page of the web site, or to quote short sections of the site. Please contact me for other uses. The rights to any articles must be obtained from the press, author, or copyright holder indicated with each piece.


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