Peaceful Parenting / Learning Resources
This page is in no way meant to be a complete parenting guide. There are a lot of very good parenting websites and books that already serve this role very well. What I want to do on this page is just share some of my opinions about a few parenting issues.
When babies enter this world, they need some time to get used to their newfound life. After having spend nine months inside a nice, warm, safe environment, it is not easy to be out of the womb at first. Babies need to be welcomed into this world with as much love as possible. They need lots and lots of hugs, cuddling, nursing, rocking and singing. The most wonderful, safe place for a baby to sleep is right next to their primary caregiver. Most pediatricians and baby books warn against co-sleeping for various reasons. Please check out Dr. Sears website where all the questions you might possibly have about co-sleeping are answered.
There is no nicer way to bond with babies then to sleep next to them, to nurse them or to carry them around in a baby carrier. As much closeness as possible. Most parents are in way too much of a hurry to make their little ones independent. Allow some time to just bond. To just enjoy each other.
A good book on giving babies a loving start is 'The Baby Book' by William and Martha Sears.
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two
Until a baby learns to talk, crying is one of the only ways a baby can communicate to us that they need something. When a baby cries, they might have a wet diaper, they might be hungry, their stomach might be hurting, they might be teething or they might need some love. If you can't find out what the baby needs and if there is nothing physically wrong with the baby, just give the baby love. Just hold the baby, rock and sing. I do not believe in ever letting a baby cry alone. Babies do not belong crying alone in cribs. Crying is not a sound that just comes with babies. Crying means that the baby is not okay, that the baby needs something. Letting a baby cry without helping is sending an awful and very upsetting message to the baby. The message that crying will do no good. That nobody will come anyway. That they are worthless. Yes, babies will learn to sleep very well by letting them "cry it out", but at an awful price. Babies will learn that nobody comes when they are in need and the parents will become insensitive to their own babies' cries.
The best food for a baby is of course breastmilk. If you are able to nurse, then you will give your baby the best start in the world possible by nursing as long as the baby needs to.
Babies are born beautiful. There is no need to mutilate them. Circumcision is an extremely painful procedure. Some infants even go into traumatic shock during the operation. Most parents have their boys circumcised, because they believe that it will prevent them from having infections. Please visit the Circumcision Resource Center to find out about all the recent medical studies on circumcision.
If done right, a vegan diet is a very healthy diet for children. Animal products can cause all sorts of health problems and I personally wouldn't want to put them into my children's bodies.
A good book on raising vegetarian/vegan children is:
Raising Vegetarian Children by Jo Stepaniak and Vesanto Melina
No matter what diet you are feeding your child, you of course have to watch out that the child is getting the right nutrients. Children have different needs then adults. Their bodies are growing and their bones are developing. You can not take any risks when it comes to feeding your children well. On the Resources page of my Nutrient Information pages you will find good websites that can give you a lot of information on this. I personally believe in giving older children vitamin supplements, calcium fortified orange juice, vitamin B12 and D fortified soy and rice milk and ground flax seed (mixed in with their oatmeal for instance).
I don't like children being put in front of the television for hours at a time. I think children should be playing, drawing, putting together a puzzle, playing with clay, dancing or reading. Most television that is being made for children is extremely unsuitable for children. A lot of children's programs, even children's cartoons, contain an incredible amount of violence. Violence does not belong in children's programs. Guns, hitting, killing, yelling all should not be watched by children. Yes, we do live in a violent world, but there is no need to show that to children in television shows. Children will have to learn about what happens in the world, all the good and the bad, but in the right setting at the right age. Sitting in front of the television, usually with no parent by their side, is not the right time.
Most children's programs show violence in a way that makes children believe that it is totally normal. That it's a valid way to react to problems. Superheroes beat up the bad guys. After seeing such shows, children want to play-act what they saw. They will pretend fight with each other, usually with toy weapons given as gifts or provided by their parents. I think that this brings out way too much violence in children. It is normal for children to fight over a toy, but the kind of violent play that currently happens is too extreme. It's a clear sign that they have been subjected to too much violence in their lives.
The 'American Psychological Association' has some good information on Violence on Television - What do Children Learn? What can Parents do?. Another good website is Family Education which includes Fighting Media Violence.
Hitting a child is never okay. Hitting or screaming at a child is showing aggressive behavior, which should not have a place in parenting. Children learn most by watching their parents. Parents have a huge responsibility towards their children to show a good example. Parenting is of course very difficult and their will be times when it all gets too much, but hitting or screaming are not acceptable solutions. The more aggressive behavior a parent shows, the more aggressive behavior will come out of the child. And having a child with more anger inside will only make parenting more difficult. Maybe in the short run you can get your child to cooperate by using or threatening with aggression, like spanking, but you will pay the price in the long run. You will be giving your child an awful message a child should never hear from their parents: that aggression is a good way to solve problems.
A good book on parenting without spanking is 'Children Are From Heaven' by John Gray.
Children Are from Heaven: Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative, Confident, and Compassionate Children
It's such a sad image to see a child playing with a toy gun. Guns are awful, violent, killing machines. Guns are not toys. I don't know who ever thought of making a toy gun, but it was a huge mistake in judgment.
Violence is not something nice; it is not something amusing. Violence does not belong in videogames for children. Children shouldn't try to shoot as many bad people as possible. Children do need to learn about good and bad in this world. I can see a place for a 'bad person' in a teenager's book. A book where the 'bad person' loses in the end. Where the 'bad person' ends up in prison. However, It does not belong in a setting where a child is just having fun shooting or killing. Violence should never be downplayed as something acceptable. Violence is not acceptable. Children need to learn that. We should send them those messages anyway we can. We should never glorify violence.
The Lion & Lamb Project has put together a website which mission is to stop the marketing of violence to children.
I love this quote by Bradley Miller: "Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar".
Children are born to test their boundaries. They want to explore in any way possible how "far they can go". Children start out with a natural curiosity to search for the power that they possess; the impact that they can have on the life around them. Most children naturally have the urge to step on insects. Throw sand on them. Squish them. It is our job to teach them that life is valuable. It might not seem like a big deal when a child dances around on some ants, but it is a show of aggressive behavior that we as parents should change. It's a great opportunity to teach children about living beings and their role in this world. Ants are fascinating, hard working animals. It's great to sit on the ground with our toddlers and to show them how ants are carrying sticks. How they are going in and out of their houses. To just allow them to kill them and go on with the day is an enormous missed parenting opportunity.
Their is no nicer lifestyle to have when you have children than a vegan lifestyle. You can teach your child about all the wonderful animals in the world, without having to hide from them what happened to the animal whose body pieces are lying on their plate. Children are born to love animals. It comes so natural to explain to them that you don't drink milk, because it was meant for the baby cow. They understand that! It makes sense! It comes so natural to explain to them that you don't eat meat, because you prefer the animals to be alive. They understand!
You can find a list of some nice children's books at this link.
You can also find songs and stories at the Animal Rights Counterculture website. Some material is only suitable for adults, but you can also find some songs and stories for children.
Children need to be told often that you love them. They need to be told that they are okay. They should be getting a lot of positive messages from their parents. They should learn to love themselves, have great self esteem. There are a lot of other things children need to learn while growing up, but as long as they know that they are loved, you will have given them your best.
Copyright © 2002-2010 by Wanda Embar. All Rights