An Interview with Jan Hunt
Q. How, when and where did the Natural Child Project first get up and running and what/who is the motivating/driving force?
My son Jason (then 19) and I joined the Internet community in the fall of 1996, while we were living on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada; we currently live on Salt Spring Island, BC. In December of that year, we started a very small web site with three of my newspaper columns and a little information about my background.
In January 1997, Alice Miller kindly agreed to add some of her articles to the web site. Dr. Miller and I had corresponded since 1990, when she added my article "Ten Reasons not to Hit Your Kids" as an appendix to her book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence. After adding articles by Alice Miller, we gradually added articles by other leading writers in the field, as well as more of my own articles, and my "Parenting Advice Column".
In the summer of 1997, we realized that the web site was all about children, but that we had nothing for them or by them, so Jason started the Global Children's Art Gallery. The gallery has become extremely popular internationally, and has been featured on CNN Headline News, Canada AM TV, the "Yahoo Daily Pick", and elsewhere. We currently have over 1,000 wonderful pictures by children age 1 to 12 from many countries around the world.
Our motivating force is our conviction that the early years of childhood are critical. We have posted this mission statement on our home page:
Our vision is a world in which all children are treated with dignity, respect, understanding, and compassion. In such a world, every child can grow into adulthood with a generous capacity for love and trust.
While we have been inspired by many authors and thinkers in the field of attachment parenting, the La Leche League has been the primary inspiration for our work.
Q. What type of information can one expect to find at The Natural Child Project web site?
The site covers information and advice on all aspects of "attachment parenting" (raising children with respect and trust), unschooling (trusting the child to set the "curriculum"), and child advocacy (including documents from children's advocacy organizations around the world). In the Table of Contents, articles are listed by author as well as by topic. There is also a search engine for finding specific subjects. We also have the chapter "Common Objections to Homeschooling" from John Holt's book Teach Your Own.
We recently added a new section, "Attachment Parenting Research", to report on current scientific studies that confirm the long-term benefits of extended breastfeeding, family co-sleeping, responsiveness to crying, and other aspects of attachment parenting.
Q. What are the main objectives of the project?
Our objective is to help parents understand the critical importance of the earliest years of childhood, and to provide the kinds of information and encouraging support they need to treat their children with unconditional love and respect.
Q. Tell us the general response from those who come in contact with your web site.
We have been overwhelmed with the enthusiastic response from the public. The site currently receives over 300,000 page access per month, and has been given over 200 awards. But what we have most appreciated are the many hundreds of profoundly moving letters from parents, telling us how helpful our site has been for them.
Here are two such letters:
"This phenomenal web site contains, for me, the most treasured and valued sharing of ideas and information that I have received on child raising ever." - K.L.
"Your respect for children and their feelings really came through and was just what I needed to hear after a difficult week." - L.C.
It is impossible to put into words how motivating and inspiring such exceptional feedback has been
for our continued work.
Cindy Luke lives on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, with her five children. The well-being of children is of great importance to her.
Jan Hunt, M.Sc., offers counseling worldwide, with a focus on parenting and unschooling. She is the Director of The Natural Child Project and author of The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart and A Gift for Baby.