Instinctive Parenting

When we give birth, the world is made new again. Through the eyes of our children, we are thrust suddenly and deeply into the primal experience of what it means to be human. When we trust our natural instincts, we are following a parenting model that has been around for millennia -- natural family living.

Mom and daughter in gardenWe Are Part of Nature

Natural family living is not about getting back to nature. Natural family living is about recognizing that we as humans are part of nature. Breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, mother-child bonding, natural foods and a trust in the body's ability to birth and heal naturally -- these ideas have been in practice for as long as human society has existed. It is only within the last few centuries of technological growth that humans have begun to revere technology over their own natural instincts.

Recognizing Technology's Role in Parenting

The amazing technological advances our society has undergone are marvelous and exceedingly useful, but they can at times create a barrier for us. When we live in an age where it is sometimes easier to tweet with strangers on our iPhones than to connect with the person sitting in front of us, it is not farfetched that we also struggle to remember that before hospitals, infant formula and fast food, we humans gave birth, grew our own food and nourished our young all by ourselves without any technological intervention.

Instinctive Parenting

Natural family living is not a set of rules. It is, instead, an acknowledgement that both parents and babies have natural instincts that are valuable and trustworthy. When we listen to these instincts, we find ourselves following a loose group of parenting strategies and beliefs that can be called natural family living:

Birth is a natural human process. Although we are very lucky to live in an age where modern medicine exists in case of emergency situations, birth itself is not an emergency. When we believe in our own body's ability to give birth, we empower ourselves and our children.

Babies need human touch. Nurturing touch is one of the most vital requirements for babies to thrive and grow. Co-sleeping, babywearing, and other forms of close contact help infants and children to grow into more empathetic, secure, loving and well-adjusted adults.

Breast is best. Although there are clearly situations where formula use is necessary, breast milk is the most natural and perfect food for human infants.

Food that is in its most natural state is the most nourishing for the human body. The prevalence of processed foods in our culture has been linked to a drastic rise of chronic diseases and health problems. Author and food activist Michael Pollan explains, "Make no mistake: our health care crisis is in large part a crisis of the American diet. Roughly three quarters of the two-trillion plus we spend on health care in this country goes to treat chronic diseases, most of which can be prevented by a change in lifestyle, especially diet."

Positive discipline helps children learn and grow. Research shows that children want to connect in a positive way with other humans. If we discipline them in loving ways, they are encouraged to develop that sense of connection. On the other hand, negative forms of discipline breed negativity, aggressive and antisocial behaviors.

Practice eco-friendly living. It is good to teach our children to live in ways that are gentle on the Earth. When we view the world as one family, we can make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone and ensure a bright future for future generations.

Make Your Own Choices

Each parent who chooses to practice natural family living may have a different interpretation of these strategies and how to practice them in their family life. This is okay! Children are as different from one another as night and day. Unfortunately with parenting, as with many things in life, there simply is not a definitive answer or a simple guidebook that will lead you through every step of the way.

But gratefully we have been given one gift. And that gift is our mothering instincts.

Want to read more about natural living?

Tags: babywearing natural foods positive discipline

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Comments on "What is Natural Family Living?"

Family Lover December 21, 2010 | 10:27 PM

Everything in our life is the creature of nature,where the natural family living is main route cause for the healthy natural childbirth

Shuaib December 21, 2010 | 6:09 AM

If you have natural family living then you will get natural childbirth

Lynn December 17, 2010 | 6:10 PM

I think this is a wonderfully encouraging article on natural family living. I appreciate too that the author encourages women to make their own choices. Natural childbirth is great, but sometimes it isn't always possible.

1tiki December 17, 2010 | 5:36 AM

this site shows natural family living!!i think it's wonderful that their are talking about natural childbirth too.

Jamie December 15, 2010 | 7:16 AM

I come from a very conservative background and i personally feel that natural childbirth is very important. To me it helps me connect to my child emotionally and i guess this is what natural family living is all about. I'm sorry if my opinion is very different from your's but this is me and thats how i've been brought up.

ANITHA VIJAY December 15, 2010 | 2:41 AM

According to Indian culture, natural family living, means after marriage wife and husband living together and love each other, for a good life,and give birth to children that is- natural childbirth

Rebekah November 25, 2010 | 6:53 PM

Immunity to Ruebella*

Lindsay November 18, 2010 | 11:16 AM

Emily that was harsh. I chose not to have an epidural, and did not scream. Everyone handles pain differently. I personally do not breastfeed for personal reasons. That is my choice. I do feel women should not be criticized for any choices they make in terms to their children. Because most of us are doing what we feel is best.

Sarah November 18, 2010 | 9:13 AM

Emily, I respect your right to have an epidural, and it would be appreciated if you'd not disrespect me for NOT having one. For the record, I never screamed once, and it was the most empowering, beautiful rite of passage for me. Everyone's different and has different needs. We each have to choose what's best for US, and if you don't like articles on breastfeeding and natural birth, nobody's making you read them. For those of us who choose natural birth and breastfeeding, is feels good to read articles like this and know we're not alone in these choices, especially when people like you call us crazy. The following links are to sites that will make you feel not alone in YOUR choices. I'd suggest you keep your negative comments to yourself, and post positive things on sites such as these: http://wwwmums/coffeehouse/advice-support-40/new-mums-support-262/376073-positive-bottle-feeding-support.html

Emily November 16, 2010 | 12:24 PM

I get so tired of reading articles that say women should breastfeed and not use pain meds during childbirth! When I went into the hospital to have my daughter, they found that I still have no immunity to Ruebella. Therefor, they didn't think I should breastfeed. I didn't. Also, I had an epidural. Yeah, I said it. I sure did! You should be in labor for 6 days and STILL have to be induced and tell me you don't want even a small amount of relief. Get over yourself please! No one would have invented these drugs and all the technology if there weren't more benefits to it then negatives. If you want to be one of those crazy, screaming women like I had next door to me in the hospital, be my guest. If you don't want to embarrass yourself and be in the worst pain of your life, join me for an epidural.

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