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
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
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,
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!
Lynn, Sean and Sinead Abbott-McCloud
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.
Just wanted to let you know that the
cards arrived today! What FAST service! My 5-year-old daughter and I
have already spent some time with the cards, and she loves the messages
contained on them! After reading a card to her, she looks in my eyes and
smiles the most wonderful "you understand me" kind of smile. I
introduced her to the cards so she can remind me to pick one when I'm
being a grump. She loves being able to intervene like that and be an
agent of positive (and immediate) transformation... and I am grateful
for the reminders!
Susan...in upstate NY...mother of 2
What a great idea, what a wonderful
gift to give yourself and your children. I pick a card up every day to
listen to its wisdom - it only takes a second to read, and the benefits
last all day. Thanks Jan!
The cards arrived today. I love all
your beautiful words - they make my heart feel good. I don't have a
child, but they are going to help me to be a better parent to my own
inner child. I can also share them with others during our Women's Weekly
When I first received the Parenting Cards, I put them carefully away
up high where the kids couldn't grab at them and possibly ruin them. My
daughter Rachael, 3 years old at the time, asked me what they were. I
told her they were cards about children that Mommy and Daddy could read.
"What do the cards say?" she asked. "Well," I said,
"they say things that remind Mommy and Daddy of how special and
wonderful you and your baby brother are."
"Oh, can you read some to me?" she said.
I told her okay, and sat down and read some to her and her brother.
She thought that they were so great, the things they said. She asked me
when do I read them for myself, and I said that I guess whenever I feel
Later on that day, I was feeling some stress coming in and things
were feeling tense. My son, Nathanael, was screaming, the dogs were
barking, the phone was ringing, I was trying to get housework done...
you get the picture! I was standing in the middle of the kitchen feeling
like I was going to explode. Rachael grabbed a kitchen chair, slid it
over to where I was stashing the Parenting Cards up high, and reached
in. Then she called out, "Mommy, here, maybe you should read one
now!" She had a big, proud smile on her face and a twinkle in her
eyes that spoke of great accomplishment. She got off the chair, ran over
and handed a card to me, and asked "What does it say, Mommy?"
The card said, "Be spontaneous with your child - you have a lot
to share." Rachael was still looking at me with a big grin. I
dropped was I was doing - housecleaning - got down to her level, and
gave her a big hug. Then Rachael and I just spent some time on the floor
playing. The dogs stopped barking, I ignored the phone, and Nathanael
started laughing and playing with us. My tension slipped away and I
could breathe and smile again.
I have since put the cards down low on the kitchen counter in an old
granola bar box, at Rachael's request. Every time she senses that things
may be getting a wee bit tough for me, she goes over to the box and
brings me a card. It always catches me off guard.
Rachael being that wise and intuitive reminded me about the truth
that lies in trusting your child. Our children are more "ahead of
the game" than we could ever know.
The cards are great - they lift my children's self esteem just by the
fact that I care enough to have the cards there. Rachael feels empowered
and safe by being able to approach me in my tense moments and by knowing
that I will respond in a gentle, loving way when I see what she is doing
to help me, and I love her so much for it!