Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Problem with Gentle Parenting (Interview with L.R Knost)

(This article is part of the book tour for L.R. Knost's
Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages. 
Click here to see the rest of the tour.)

We have a problem when it comes to gentle, non-violent, peaceful parenting methods. Yes, we do and it needs to be said. Like many of the other topics that parents are struggling to understand and put into motion, most people have never seen this form of parenting. How can someone confidently parent in a way she's never seen or experienced?

It's simple enough for people to understand that hurting a child, whether with words or blows, is wrong and ineffective. But if the only tools in the toolbox are punitive, how can parents reach a new level of parenting? If everyone around them promotes punitive methods, where is the support? Where are the examples? Where can parents find ideas and advice from those who have been there and done that?

L.R. Knost steps in with a book intended to provide all of this. And she has the background to bring it. A mother to six children, she's been parenting for 25 years. She's not just excited about gentle parenting, she's lived gentle parenting from pregnancy all the way through every stage with their own joys and struggles. And she wants to share with you concrete ideas for every age and stage in an understanding, reasonable way.

When you read about gentle parenting, do you feel inspired but at a loss as to what to do in your own home? When you debate the topic, do you agree that punitive methods are problematic, but can't find another way? When you hear people online gush about gentle parenting, do you just want to know what the heck it is and how to do it?

Her new book, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages is what you're looking for and it comes in a simple, inexpensive and accessible format. So if you've ever felt as if you are without a tribe, without a compass and without ideas, grab this book A.S.A.P. and enjoy the parent to parent knowledge.

Below is an interview with this sage mama and an overview of the book:

What inspired you to found your advocacy group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting
Resources, and to write your book Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting
Through the Ages and Stages?

It sounds cliché to say that children are our future, but that is the simple truth. Children
come into the world as fresh, unwritten stories like the crisp pages of a new journal,
and what we as parents and societies write on those pages speaks to the future of our
world. Filling the pages of childhood with peace and compassion and love is the one
way to truly make a difference in this world, and that’s why my trademark catchphrase
is “Changing the World, One Little Heart at a Time.” I see so much that needs to be
changed in the world, violence and anger and fear, and then I go to a park or grocery
store and see the same things as small child are so often yelled at or smacked or
threatened by parents who are simply doing what was done to them. There is a better way
to raise children, a more gentle and peaceful and effective way, and I want to share that
with anyone who will listen.

What influence did your own childhood experiences and how you were parented have on
your parenting philosophy?

I had a difficult childhood with a broken home and an alcoholic father who was briefly in
my life at a young age, then in and out of it for a few years, and who then abandoned me
entirely before I reached my teens. The things I experienced and the things I witnessed
during times I spent in his custody strongly influenced my belief that children are people
and need to be heard and treated with gentleness and respect. My mother, who eventually
gained full custody and raised me as a single parent, reinforced those beliefs with her
unique way of talking to me like I was an adult instead of talking down to me and also
with her valiant, undaunted spirit in the face of struggle and adversity. To put it simply,
she was and is an amazing and optimistic person whose light shines most brightly in
the darkest of times. When I was in my later teens, my mother remarried and my new
stepfather, who adopted me, redeemed fatherhood with his unconditional love and
steadfast approval and support which to this day are sources of strength and inspiration
to me in my work.

How does your parenting style build trust to set the stage for a peaceful, mutually
respectful parent/child relationship throughout childhood, adolescence, and on into the
adult years?

Responsive parenting meets a child’s needs as the child communicates those needs in
a beautiful symbiosis of parent/child connection. When a child’s needs are met with
consistency and empathy throughout childhood, the child doesn’t feel the need to fight
to have those needs met, to be heard and understood, and the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’
response doesn’t become an ingrained ‘first responder,’ so to speak. Children raised
in that kind of secure and peaceful environment have a much greater tendency to think
and listen and seek guidance rather than simply react to frustrations and challenges,
and the result is a cooperative and healthy parent/child relationship built on trust and

If you had to sum up your parenting philosophy in a single sentence, what would it be?

My philosophy can simply be called the golden rule of parenting: Let’s treat our children
how we want to be treated ourselves and how we want them to grow up to treat others.

Could you give my readers a brief summary of what each chapter in your book covers?

Chapter 1 ‘Two Thousand Kisses a Day to Two Thousand Connection Points a Day,’
gives an overview of gentle parenting.

Chapter 2 ‘Surviving the First Three Months with a Newborn’ shares ten steps to ease
the transition when a new baby joins the family.

Chapter 3 ‘Co-sleeping Like a Baby’ covers co-sleeping options from roomsharing to

Chapter 4 ‘Breastfeeding: The Healthiest Start’ shares some startling information about
the health and economic costs of low breastfeeding rates and offers insight into some of
the most common reasons new mothers struggle to breastfeed. (Note: The author also
struggled with breastfeeding her first two babies and makes no judgments about formula

Chapter 5 ‘Babywearing, aka Making Your Life Easier’ covers the many conveniences
of babywearing along with offering helpful resources to find what works for you.

Chapter 6 ‘To a Toddler Sharing is a Four Letter Word: MINE’ gives insight into a
toddler’s perception of sharing and offers tips about how to encourage sharing through
role playing and modeling.

Chapter 7 ‘Three Simple Steps from Diapers to Potty’ shares the author’s experiences in
simply letting her children transition naturally from diapers to potty without training.

Chapter 8 ‘Gentle Weaning’ offers tips for gently helping little ones through weaning
from breastfeeding.

Chapter 9 ‘Picky Eater? Here’s Help!’ shares tips from simple menu ideas to the
psychology behind mealtime battles.

Chapter 10 ‘Are You a Parent Reject?’ covers the rejection parents often feel when little
ones seem to prefer one parent over another.

Chapter 11 ‘Gently Setting Limits’ shares ideas for setting boundaries with empathy,
creativity, and flexibility.

Chapter 12 ‘My Little Caboose and the Very Bad, No Good…Month’ shares some of the

author’s own struggles with parenting and the gentle connections she used to work
through them with her children.

Chapter 13 ‘The Problem with Punishment’ offers insight on the punishment versus
discipline debate.

Chapter 14 ‘Age of Fear: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety’ shares simple, creative
ideas to help children cope with fear and anxiety.

Chapter 15 ‘Bucket List for a Happy Childhood’ offers two hundred ideas for connecting
with your children and building happy memories.

Chapter 16 ‘Mommy Guilt: The Human Factor’ covers the guilt-trap parents often fall
into and help in working toward a more healthy perspective.

Chapter 17 ‘A Place to Rest: Becoming Our Children’s Safe Harbor’ offers insight into
the need for unconditional acceptance and love in childhood.

Chapter 18 ‘Death of a Butterfly: Helping Children Cope with Loss’ shares simple steps
to walk through loss with children.

Chapter 19 ‘Chores Sh’mores’ offers alternatives to the chore battle to build more
cooperative teamwork.

Chapter 20 ‘Live What You Want Them to Learn’ shares insight into the importance of
walking out the character traits you want to grow in your children.

Chapter 21 ‘Is Your Child an Introvert or an Extrovert?’ offers checklists to help you
determine whether your child has introvert or extrovert tendencies and how to adjust your
parenting to meet their unique needs.

Chapter 22 ‘Into the Looking Glass: Teens and Self-Esteem’ shares insights into the
intense self-consciousness that often characterizes the teen years and offers ideas for
helping your adolescent to cope.

Chapter 23 ‘Gently Parenting Teens’ gives an overview of the value of gentle and
connected parenting in the teen years.

Chapter 24 ‘Talking to Teens’ offers practical tips for communicating with your teen.

Chapter 25 ‘Dealing with the Hard Stuff’ shares insight into communicating with
adolescents about difficult issues such as sex, politics, religion, etc.

Chapter 26 ‘Too Late for Teens?’ offers practical steps to work toward a more gentle
parenting style and connected relationship for parents who are just now discovering
gentle parenting.

Chapter 27 ‘Twelve Tips for Gently Parenting Your Adult Children’ shares ideas for
growing and maintaining a healthy, connected relationship with your adult children.

Chapter 28 ‘Twelve Steps to Gentle Parenting’ offers a twelve month, step-by-step
approach to work toward a more gentle style of parenting.

Children’s book and parenting author, L.R.Knost, is an independent child development researcher and founder and director of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources. A mother of six, her children range from 25- years down to 25-months-old.Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages is the first in her Little Hearts Handbooks series of parenting guides. Other works by this award-winning author include the Wisdom For Little Hearts and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins children’s picture book series for ages 2 to 6, which are humorous and engaging tools for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing gentle parenting techniques in their homes and schools. 

Twitter: LRKnost_Author

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Handprints

*Sensitive trigger warning: pregnancy loss briefly mentioned*

One day I was exhausted. Or is that every day? I was cleaning the big mirror in my living room, grunting with the sweeping motions, my body complaining, my mind wandering. Handprints, handprints everywhere! Why? They could touch every part of the room, but it has to be here! I'm tired of cleaning the same things every day! Finished, glass gleaming, I moved to the next section.

That's when I heard a giggle and the sound of pattering feet. I turned to see my toddler run over to the mirror and happily smack down two chubby hands. Pleased with himself he backed up and smiled into the mirror.

Nooooo. No, what are you doing? Why? I just cleaned that! Hey, get away from there! Go play with your millions of toys! I said to leave the mirror alone! In that instance, the mix of factors from a long day and fatigue and frustration swirled together, turning me away from a path of love and celebration. I was angry. I wanted to roar.

I stomped into the bathroom to give myself a break. Closing the door, I slumped down, angry but now ashamed at my reaction. But still angry! I sat there for a few minutes, contemplating all the things I would tell DH if he answered his phone at work.

The kids had already forgotten my foray into temporary insanity. But my frustration over the mirror was still simmering and so I ignored the new handprints to go about my day. That evening, my phone rang. Oh, delight! A fun mama friend was calling! Nothing like a little chat to brighten up a long day.

I answered, calling out a cheerful hello. Nothing on the other side. Hello? Choppy reception? I heard a hiccuping, gulping sound. Hey, what's up? Are you eating something? LOLZ.

In an odd voice that sounded too far away and dull, as if it was coming out of a dark hole, my friend told me, "The doctors couldn't find a heartbeat. It's over." And just like that, her baby was gone from this world.

I stood there in the same spot long after the phone call ended. As I slowly shook myself out of the shock, my eyes focused on something in front of me. That mirror. Those handprints. The emotions gripped me. I sunk to the ground and cried. Tears of grief for my friend, tears of shame for my earlier reaction, for not seeing the beauty in front of me.

Two perfect, little handprints were in my life. 

They were placed right there for me every day. A gift for me, a reminder that my children arrived earth side, that their feet make that light pattering sound every day, that their breaths puff on my neck at night, that their smiles light up my heart, that their little spirits show me the world in different ways every moment I'm with them.

The handprints. An interruption to my life? A burden? A sign that I'm not a good housecleaner? A symptom of bad parenting? Or my child's delighted, carefree way of leaving me a note each day?

It's been two weeks and those handprints still adorn my mirror. I think sometimes about washing them away but can't bring myself to do it. Maybe if they get smeared, or maybe when we move. For now I keep them there as a reminder to myself that those pattering feet and chubby hands will soon fade away to memories.

If you liked this post...

The Proof about Vaccines

When someone demands that you prove vaccines are potentially unsafe, or ineffective or unnecessary, remember to keep this in mind.

Forced vaccinations inherently are a human rights violation. They do not immediately save a life or treat an existing illness. They are an optional, experimental product based on an unproven theory. Informed, consenting adults can choose to take them if they want. But it's medical malpractice to force them onto non-consenting children.

We simply refuse to acknowledge this aspect as a society, a throwback to the times when infants and children weren't considered humans with basic rights.

Furthermore, in addition to ignoring the violation of ethics and medical principles when forcing vaccinations onto healthy people, we also managed to reverse the logical thinking in this debate.

Instead of people demanding that vaccine companies, doctors and the government PROVE that this medication is safe, effective and NECESSARY for a treatment in our children, we take on undue responsibility to PROVE that vaccines are ineffective, unsafe and unnecessary. COMPLETELY backwards.

The person, company or government who wants to force the medically non-indicated intervention onto a non-consenting child is the one who has to prove safety, efficacy and necessity.

Quick link to a list of articles on vaccines:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Heads or Tails, Your Children Lose

Common reader question: Why do I oppose reward-based parenting, often called parenting with praise or positive parenting?

Because it's simply a different side of the same coin, with the other side being punitive parenting. Whether using rewards or punishments, the goal of the parent is to shape the child's behavior externally. Internal development of morals, ethics, critical thinking and self-actulization are minimized or even ignored.

Motivating our children from a young age to behave certain ways for praise or to avoid certain behavior to avoid punishment risks developing people who rely on external compasses to make decisions for them. Their obedience is not to integrity but to what their peers or their authority are telling them to do at the moment.

A child taught to perform only for praise is a child at odds when he is surrounded by peers ready to praise him for wrongdoing but to criticize him for sticking to his values. A child taught to obey to avoid punishment is a child unable to fight injustice or unable expect fairness and improvement from anyone or any entity such as a spouse, boss or government.

Perhaps the aspect most missed by those who promote praise or punitive parenting is that every time the parent focuses on rewarding or punishing, an opportunity to focus on internal development is lost. Instead of working side by side with the child to ask questions about the situation, to analyze right from wrong, to find out what the child is feeling and sensing, to uplift the child for sticking with a commitment or to encourage the child to try again, all of that is tossed to the side for mere externals.

The child is taught to make important ethical, moral or even faith decisions on the basis of puffy words filled with good jobs or threatened blows to the psyche or body. Even if the child is later able to learn about the deeper reasons to obey or disobey a law or to act in certain ways in public, he has received training from his earliest years to listen to praise and punishment first. Her lifelong struggle will be to overcome the trained desire to seek praise or avoid punishment first and think critically to act with integrity second.

Will the child never be rewarded? Never punished? Oh no, our society and this world will ensure plenty of rewarding and punishing, whether for the right things or the wrong things. That should only have us wanting to commit to unconditional parenting all the more, in the hopes of standing by our children as they develop an internal, strong and reliable compass to navigate this often hypocritical and backwards world.

So when you hear me say I don't support praise or reward-based parenting, I'm not saying to be harsh to children. I'm not saying to never uplift them or share words of love and happiness with them. I'm not saying that a reward is as painful as a punishment. I'm saying the entire coin of rewarding and punishing is but a penny, the smallest and least valuable coin in the pocketbook of parenting.