Stories from Families
When I was at the LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference this past spring, I got to meet Jan Hunt, the force behind the amazing Natural Child Project, one of the most important parenting websites on the internet. She had a little table set up to sell things to support the website, and on a whim I bought a pack of her parenting cards.
Now, I'm not one for self-help paraphernalia. I assume, for the most part, that it's too corny to have any real value. And I also don't like to buy things just for the sake of buying them - I have to really want it and have a pretty good idea it will be of use to me or something I'll really enjoy, and I didn't think this about the cards. So it was an odd thing for me to do to buy them. They sat on the shelf for a while. Then I took them down one day and was looking at them and Jake asked me what I was looking at it, so I explained the concept to him. He thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. He thought that every time I found myself getting frustrated or mad that I would do well to look at one to remind me of what was really important. I mused on that a while and thought, well, okay, it is a good idea, because even though I already know these things, it's true that in the passion of the moment I often forget that I do. So I put the cards on a lower shelf, in the kitchen, so I would pass by and see them frequently. But the problem turned out to be that once I got caught up in an issue I'd be so involved in my feelings about it that I wouldn't remember the cards until it was too late.
One day Rowan solved this problem for me. Because the cards were now within her reach, she got her hands on them, as she does everything that is in her reach. It didn't initially look like a solution; it looked like her making a mess that I would have to clean up. It also looked like something I had spent money on getting mucked up (I know, this is completely irrational considering that I didn't care that much about the cards initially.) But I can never totally keep up with the material chaos she creates, so the cards have become scattered. They pop up in the funniest places, all over the house (as in the above picture, stuck in the decorative scroll work on a door.) And because my fits and tantrums tend to happen all over the house, this is very convenient. I'll be in the middle of a rant and suddenly notice a parenting card lying there on the floor. The sight of it in itself, even before I've read the inscription, gives me pause, and almost instantly defuses me. They really do work. I wish I could send a stack of these cards to every parent on the planet.
It is wonderful for parents and all those who have contact with children to have at their fingertips these helpful reminders that children require understanding, tenderness and a nurturing attitude from others in order to grow appropriately and well.
James Kimmel, Ph.D.
The sample cards on your website have already inspired me with easy to implement parenting ideas to break the chain of child abuse (in my family) and Holocaust atrocities (suffered in my husband's family). As a result our almost 4 year-old son may well emerge with his dignity intact. What a fantastic legacy to leave!
Thank you so much for this beautiful tool. So much wisdom in such a small package... the perfect tool for initiating parenting class discussions, providing a "thought for the day", and of course for use in the normal day-to-day life of those blessed with children (not just parents, but grandparents, teachers, and caregivers as well.) The format is as gentle and direct as the truth that inspired their production.
At eight months old, Maya has just begun to vocally assert her independence. While she used to be a very easy going baby, she has recently started fussing and howling more and more often. She refuses to be held by anyone, and the car seat has become her sworn enemy. Anything that restricts her in any way is now met with loud, angry protests.
At first, we found this new phase to be amusing, but soon, the humor wore off. I found myself feeling frustrated and annoyed with her constant grumpiness. I didn't even realize that I was beginning to force my own expectations on to my child. I was getting angry because she wasn't behaving in a way that was conducive to my comfort.
One morning, my husband was busy getting ready for work and I was trying desperately to get Maya dressed. She pulled the Velcro tabs on her diaper open every time I tried to close them and crawled away every chance she got. When it came to putting her dress over her head, it was even more of a challenge. Finally, she was dressed and ready to go.
As I brought her out to her car seat, she howled at me and quickly tried to crawl away. Since my husband was still getting dressed, I decided to give her a few more minutes of freedom before strapping her in. I sighed in anticipation of getting her into the seat and headed over to my parenting cards.
As soon as I read the first card out I chose, I had to laugh. "Support your child's assertiveness."
I looked over at my baby, who was now standing up at the bookcase, banging on the shelf and babbling her own version of, "Mommy, look at me." My eyes filled with tears. My sweet, cuddly little baby was already an independent person of her own. I realized that I had not been taking into account her individual thoughts, feelings and expectations. She was trying desperately to assert herself and all she really needed from me was my support.
So many times, adults seem irritated
by the natural fussing and crying of babies attempting to make that leap
into toddlerhood. Maya is still dependent on me for so many things that
it's hard to remember there are some things she can already do on her
own. Now I take a step back and ask myself what she is vocalizing. Is it
a need that I can fulfill, or the desire to do something on her own?
Lately, more often than not, it has been the latter. By remembering that
she needs my support in her assertiveness, I have been able to ease her
frustration a bit. The reward I get is a big smile on the face of a tiny
angel that says, "I did it myself, my OWN way!"
We received our Parenting Cards a week or so ago and I was amazed at how fast they got here.
The first day my 5 year old daughter and I went thru to see what kind of sayings were in the stack and she said, "Momma, this was a good idea that you had getting these things."
So far we have decided to look at one card each day and follow what it says. They have helped us keep the peace and has stopped the yelling that usually goes on in our house when one or both of us gets frustrated.
Malissa A. Thompson-Heinen, Portland, OR
I just wanted to let you know how my
18-month-old daughter and I use your wonderful cards! After our bath, it
has become a nightly ritual for her to go to the closet and get the bag
of cards. She'll open it up and dump them on the floor for us. She has
the best time playing with them! She'll pick out a few and we'll read
them together, and she'll take some in to her daddy to have read. She
just adores them! Thanks so much!
It's amazing how a small card with a little sentence on it affects my behavior/mood towards my 6-month-old, 2 year-old, and 3 year-old. I take one out each day and set it on the radio in the kitchen since it's on the wall and at eye level.