Crunchy parenting. What?

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If I had to tick off boxes based on Are You A Little Crunchy Too’s “What is Crunchy Parenting?” post, I’d say I’m preeeeeeeeeety crunchy. LOL. Want to find out what being a crunchy parent means? Read on to find out!

Here’s a general list (found on the link above) of the things a cruncy parent would do. And I’ve put my answers (in bold and italic) next to the questions.

  • Attachment Parenting checked
  • Co-Sleeping checked
  • Baby Wearing checked
  • cloth diapering nope
  • Elimination communication barely there
  • natural birth checked
  • home birth nope, not thaaaat crunchy
  • water birth checked
  • delayed cord clamping checked
  • breastfeeding checked
  • extended breastfeeding checked
  • delayed vaccination checked
  • selective vaccination nope
  • vaccination exempt checked
  • holistic medicine checked
  • alternative health checked
  • Veg/Vegan nope
  • Tree Hugging drug free Hippy Mama 99% there
  • Homeschooling/Unschooling checked almost there with alternative schooling
  • Natural Products checked
  • Toxin Aware checked
  • Plastic Free 50% there
  • No Cry It Out checked
  • No Spanking checked
  • Peaceful parenting checked
  • Minimalist most of the time
  • Free Range Children checked
  • Child Led learning checked
  • TV Free almost there
  • Limited Media checked
  • Eco-Friendly Home 50% there
  • Buy WAHM checked
  • Buy Small Business checked
  • Buy Local checked
  • Travel Green (On foot or Bike or bus) *guilty* nope
  • Organic Gardening LOL NOPE, no green fingers here
  • Buy Organics First checked
  • Poison Free Homes almost there
  • Midwife Care checked
  • No Circumcision we have no sons but we don’t agree with circumcision
  • Handmade checked
  • Activism checked
  • Human Rights / Animal Right 50% there
  • Active Parenting checked

Now that’s quite a few “checks” there and add the “half way/ nearly there”, I realised I have somehow unknowingly fallen in to the “phenomenon” of crunchy parenting. To be honest, I never knew there was an actual term for parents like me, until I keep sighting the term in one of my parenting forums.

My parenting style has always been a “controversial” topic within my side of the family, alternative methods and mainstream ways don’t seem to get along somehow, but that’s another story for another day. Despite that, I have over time learned to trust my own maternal instinct. I didn’t just decide to jump on the crunchy parenting bandwagon, but most of what crunchy parenting depicts are what I’ve been practicing all along anyway.

I was having a meaningful conversation with a dear friend the other day and we got into the topic of parenting. She asked, “how do you know if you’re doing the best you can for your children?” If I was asked this question a couple of years back, I would have pondered on it, come up with a thousand ‘what ifs’ and begin doubting my capability as a mother. Fast forward 4 years, after numerous ups and downs in my parenting journey, I answered her without a second thought, and I said, “There is no perfect parenting, you just have to do your best to nurture them according to their natural needs, and that’s the best you can do for your children and as a parent. No one else knows your child better than you, not even your parents, your grandaunt, nor your doctor.” And I think that is exactly what crunchy parenting is about.

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All those baby wearing, breastfeeding, no crying it out, co-sleeping, etc are really about nurturing according to nature. Babies are born to be loved, cuddle close to mom (or dad), and drink human’s milk (of course if under unfortunate circumstances a mother is unable to breastfeed, she shouldn’t feel guilty about it, because life is never perfect). I’ve been told I’d be spoiling my babies by carrying and wearing them all the time, and not giving them enough nutrients if I extend breastfeeding (apparently nutrients in breastmilk depreciates after six months according to doctors… Well then, everyone should stop drinking cow’s milk because cows are milked for more than a few years in average, and mass market milk are filled with unnecessary antibiotics, pus and what not. Ugh. Again another story for another day).

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Co-sleeping is one of the best thing we’ve decided to do
Eating organic? It’s not that we’re being hippy or OTT, it’s about going back to what is natural, what is basic. Our ancestors have always eaten organically grown produce from their own farm, it wasn’t until not-so-recently that farm crops became heavily sprayed with unnaturally harmful chemicals and pesticides (and you wonder why more and more people are dying from cancer). If you ask me, I’d rather pay the farmer for health that comes naturally than pay the doctor for health that comes in a bottle or syringe. But but but, having said that, it’s not always affordable to buy organic, we just buy whatever we can afford to, and it’s okay to not eat organic if budget is a constrain. We just do the best we can according to our own budget.
Unschooling/ homeschooling/ alternative schooling. Why do crunchy parents aim to stay away from common education systems? Reason is because our mainstream education system does NOT nurture according to nature. It’s a one size fits all, and all size fit one concept. Ken Robinson said in his famous TED talks on education, that schooling kills creativity. Why? Because mainstream schooling is about learning within a specifically set boundary. Unschooling/ homeschooling/ and some of the alternative schooling systems like Waldorf, Reggio, and Montessori offer a wider scope of learning experience. These “other” schooling methods actually nurture according to nature, embracing that each child is different and that it is best to work according to the child’s passion and interest so that they will become the best they can be in whatever they chose to be, instead of being a jack of all trades and master of none, like most mainstream school children are.
And with regards to holistic medicine or alternative health care, I find from my personal experience that alternative health care practitioners are generally more knowledgeable about your well being than medical doctors are. No offence to doctors out there (and the one in the house). It’s not that medical doctors do not care, it’s just that they are not equipped with adequate knowledge about preventive health care. They are trained to treat, not prevent. Many doctors think it’s absolutely fine to take paracetamol (acetaminophen) for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I clearly remember (when I didn’t know better) the nurses at the hospital prescribed me twenty strips of paracetamol to help me with my postpartum recovery. My father is a retired doctor, hence I grew up taking paracetamol for a lot of things and it just didn’t occur to me that twenty strips of it is actually CRAZY! Too much acetaminophen actually causes liver damage according to a Forbes article (and numerous other scientific studies). And to think that I finished almost all of it except for one strip. Sigh, if only I’d bother to read a bit more on my own instead of relying on medical professionals who almost always view our body’s natural immune system as flawed when in actual fact, it can be almost perfect if you know how to care for it.

Crunchy parenting is, in my opinion, overrated because really, it should be the basis of all parenting practices. Why? Because crunchy parenting is what feels natural, it is a way of life according to nature. Dr Andrew Wakefield once said in a radio interview, “Trust your instincts, maternal instincts in particular. The reason we’re on this earth now, is because of maternal instinct. It is one of the most powerful forces of nature. It has equipped us for survival, far more so than any public health, medicine, or anything like that.” My maternal instinct tells me I’m on the right track being crunchy, and to see my little free-range warriors growing up healthily and happily is all the indication I need to know that I am doing the best I can for them.

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Great (toddler) expectations

Most parents have great expectations of their children. But many don’t expect the same from themselves. Ironic, isn’t it? Parents expect their children to treat others with respect, to know how to share, and to act accordingly during playtime and sleep time (and all the time). But the real question is, do you (as a parent) even practice what you preach?

I’m a firm believer that all children are born pure and good. It is under the guidance of their parents that will eventually lead to the flourishing of goodness in their little big hearts. If you practice what you preach, chances are your child will follow suit.

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Don’t just tell a child to be kind, sharing and all things good; show them and lead by example. If you’re always arguing with your partner on who’s right, or snatching toys away from your kid when he refuses to share, you’re indirectly telling him that it is of utmost importance who wins in the end (in an argument or a fight), and taking things by force is an acceptable thing to do when things don’t happen your way.

Actions speak louder than words. When you portray negative behaviour in front of your child, they will learn. And trust me when I say, they will learn FAST. At two years of age, my little munchkin is absorbing her surrounds like a sponge. Children learn best by imitating you, the parent. Andwhatever that you do on a day to day basis will indirectly be how you mould your child’s character and behaviour. As Clarence B. Kelland said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.”

Don’t expect a kid to know the meaning of respect if you don’t raise him with respect. I’ve seen parents who smack and “publicly humiliate” their kids for the littlest of things. That’s not just disrespecting your child as a small human being, that’s just uncivilised in my humble opinion. You wouldn’t smack your friend over some small issue, but you don’t hesitate to do just that to your own child, that’s just stupid.

You can’t teach a kid the concept of sharing when the first thing you do is to snatch away his toys when he refuses to share it, with a stranger. Yes, you might be good friends with a fellow mother, but don’t expect your child to naturally be long time friends with her kids. And don’t expect him to be as willing as you are to share, because heck, even you might not be that willing to share your stuff with someone you’ve just met. So no, don’t expect something from your kid when you might not even be able to live up to that expectation yourself. Or like Sarah W Caron says, “Don’t be a hypocrite, mama!

And how do you define appropriate behaviour? Expecting a two year old to sit through a two hour dinner is like expecting a medical student to sit through a mathematic convention. If your kid can actually sit in his high chair quietly and obediently for two hours and not put up a fuss, that’s not normal, I’m serious, you probably need to get him checked. That maybe an appropriate behaviour for an adult, but it is not for a kid. Appropriate behaviour for a two year old is to want to run around, explore and parallel play. That’s normal. And really, even you might want to walk around to socialise with your friends during dinner functions, why would you deny your kid the same benefit?

Seriously, can someone please enlighten me will you? I know many of you aren’t like that, but I have come across some who are. Why in the world would you expect so much for a person who’s been around for less than two years, yet expect so much less for people who’ve been around for at least thirty to forty years?

See, even my little warrior is facepalming herself trying to understand this logic of toddler expectations… :p

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