Parenting Advice for the Girl From Outer Space

May 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm 25 comments

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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It’s not often I feel like an expert. In fact, despite the fact that I have a bachelor’s degree from a relatively prestigious university, I’ve read Sartre in his native language, and I can juggle bowling pins – most of the time I feel like a moron.

If not a moron, at least someone who only does things correctly after bumbling my way through the first nineteen attempts — while most people figure it out instantly.

I try.  I talk to the experts.  I consult books and use Google – I have been known to watch a YouTube video on the proper way to crack an egg.  During college, I learned to chug beer after reading an article in Mens Health magazine on how to practice using full glasses of water.  It was a very helpful skill for attending fraternity parties.

So, when I sat down for dinner with my step-sister’s half sister (got that?) also known as “The Girl From Outer Space,” by The Informant (because she works for NASA), and she looked to me for parenting advice, I nearly fell off my chair. I would have fallen off my chair, except that I had My Masterpiece in the ergo and I was too bottom-heavy to move.

The Girl From Outer Space is pregnant with her first child. She is considering homebirth, and plans to follow attachment parenting. She’d heard from her half-sister that I was “crunchy” – I cloth-diaper, I’ve homebirthed, I unschool my mostly-unvaccinated children, I can quote “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen,” and I’m a birth doula and student midwife – and wanted some advice.

Advice! From me! Someone wanted advice from me!  The eighth wonder of the world had appeared – at a soul food restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, no less.

I prefaced my parenting advice with the usual: “I’m not an expert.”  I said this just in case she missed the fact that Animal and Mineral were running circles around the inner perimeter of the restaurant, The Informant had just used permanent marker to tag her menu, and I was leaning over the table, half standing up, because My Masterpiece shrieked every time I sat down with her in the Ergo.  The mom of those children you hate sitting near in a restaurant wanted to make sure you know she’s not a parenting expert.

However, once you’ve got four kids, you’ve seen almost everything.  The gross, the grosser, the grossest: I’ve been there, done that, and paid the bill to have it removed and/or cleaned.

I once purchased a car because while test-driving it, I experienced a bout of morning sickness and threw up all over the car’s interior. And the salesman.

More importantly, I’ve parented badly before I parented better.  I’ve done things in the name of parenting that didn’t traumatize my kids – but in retrospect, traumatized me.

So, I wanted to help The Girl From Outer Space avoid my mistakes and get a good start to this whole “parenting” thing, a job that goes 24/7 for at least 18 years.  (And honestly, my oldest kids are only seven, but I can’t see that it just ends at 18.)

I can sum it up with one word, I told her: kindness. Parent with kindness and you’ll never go wrong.

Kindness is different in every situation, so I can say more easily what it isn’t: Kindness is not blind permissiveness. Kindness is not letting the inmates run the asylum.

Kindness is giving them the benefit of the doubt, believing in them, and supporting them.

In a newborn, I think its kind to respond to baby’s needs. Even if it’s 3am and I’m exhausted and my nipples are sore and why doesn’t my baby sleep through the night yet when every other baby on planet earth sleeps through the night already what am I doing wrong here? – the kind thing to do is comfort my baby.  Probably by breastfeeding.  For the hundredth time that day.  While internally assuming that I’m going to be breastfeeding on demand for the next nineteen thousand years and I’ll never catch up on sleep.

Kindness is giving my five year old the tools to make good decisions.  This means that I don’t solve every problem for her.  Sometimes I let her struggle for a while, because I believe she can do it.  And even if she can’t, I still don’t want to fix it for her; I want to help her figure out how she can fix it.

It sounds clear as mud, right? Actually, it probably sounds really rosy and picture-perfect, like I’m depositing flowers and pearls and puppies alongside my well-behaved children who accept these gifts with grace.  It’s not usually like that. (Reality: it’s nothing like that.)

The reality is, it’s more like fertilizing your backyard in the hopes that it will grow into beautiful grass – the kind on which you want to walk barefoot (avoiding deposits of dog poop) and have a picnic using a red checkered tablecloth and a charming little wooden basket.

Sometimes the grass doesn’t react well to the fertilizer. Especially if all you’ve been doing for years is simply watering and hoping for the best; the grass seems to sneer, “Yeah, right. I’m not changing,” while you cross your fingers and hope for the best.  The grass may even get yellow and stringy and start to look pissed off.  You keep fertilizing. Well-meaning friends and family shake their heads; they don’t fertilize their grass and it’s just fine thank you very much. But you believe in the fertilizer and hope that in the end, you’ll have a really nice backyard.

That’s parenting with kindness.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Entry filed under: attachment parenting, family. Tags: , .

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25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. baj4life  |  May 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    You should realize that I’m now dying to see you juggle bowling pins.

    Reply
  • 2. Natural Parenting  |  May 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 4. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama  |  May 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I love your answer. I often say “parent with respect” – but it’s similar. Respect their developmental stage, respect that they have needs and wants that may be different from yours, respect their right to do things their way, struggle, etc. Great post mama – your humor is an inspiration to me!

    Reply
  • 5. That Little Thing « Navelgazing  |  May 11, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 6. Lauren @ Hobo Mama  |  May 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I love your advice, and I love that someone asked you for it! That’s so uplifting, especially considering the scenario you were in at the time. I’ve been there, done that, but with only the one kid, so at a (somewhat, maybe?) lower decibel level. I’m sometimes amazed that anyone thinks I parent well at all when all my kid wants to do at restaurants is pour salt in everyone’s water and shriek and dart through the legs of servers carrying hot soup.

    Reply
  • 7. Gentle Discipline Warrior  |  May 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 9. Upstream Parenting : Diary of a First Child  |  May 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 10. Say Something Good « Raising My Boychick  |  May 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 11. Am I a Role Model? A Review — Science@home  |  May 11, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 12. Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I’m seriously looking for a video of you juggling bowling pins now!

    I applaud you for boiling down parenting to KINDNESS. I really agree! So many things we do to our kids are just unkind if you imagine them against another relationship. How wonderful that someone is coming to you for advice in real life!

    I work at NASA too. Tell The Girl From Outer Space I said Hi!

    Reply
  • 13. Rest. Is it even possible? « Janet Fraser  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 14. Natural Parenting Felt Natural | Little Snowflakes  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 15. Melodie  |  May 12, 2010 at 1:13 am

    The more I come to your blog the more I enjoy it. I love the funny interspersed with the serious. It’s great! Love this post. Kindness all the way. I grew up being the “nice” girl and it’s something I proudly stand by today. Now instead of the nice girl I like to be thought of as the nice mom!

    Reply
  • 16. No rules without reason /  GROW WITH GRACES  |  May 12, 2010 at 1:25 am

    [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 17. Amber  |  May 12, 2010 at 2:03 am

    You can juggle bowling pins? I officially stand in awe. I can’t even juggle balls that are specifically designed for juggling. I am phenomenally uncoordinated in general, I fear.

    Back to the topic at hand, kindness as fertilizer. I agree. And I loved this post. Truly. Also, I feel for you on the puking thing in the car. The only reason I’ve never had that happen is that I have not (yet) taken a test drive while pregnant. Because heaven knows I’ve puked in my OWN car, so I can’t imagine my stomach would be kinder to a test model.

    Reply
  • 18. Sarah @ OneStarryNight  |  May 12, 2010 at 10:52 am

    That’s so great that you were approached for advice! I think you did a fabulous job of it too!

    Reply
  • [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 20. Deb Chitwood  |  May 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I loved your post and your photos—you made me laugh! Yet, you gave a lot of wisdom at the same time. Great job!

    Reply
  • 21. Charlene Poole  |  May 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    If only I had a penny for every time I came here.. Great writing!

    Reply
  • 22. Tatiana @ Maddie's Adventures  |  August 25, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Great post … it’s nice to have a light / easy read with some good humor!

    Reply
  • 23. David  |  November 4, 2010 at 8:11 am

    That is crazy stuff. I love the pictures btw. :)

    Reply
  • [...] Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer SpaceIf Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 25. Jeannie  |  June 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I love your humor. Yes, kindness is important. I tell people to have a good relationship, one has to accept, respect, love and forgive the other person. This applies both to adults and the children as they are raised. (It also applies to ourselves, if we want the best for ourself. :-) )

    Reply

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About Mommy Soup

Wife and homeschooling mom of five, including my Christmas Day homebirth baby. Not Catholic, Amish, or quiverfull; we just like to... you know!

Writing about my interests: natural pregnancy and birth; attachment parenting; cooking; baking; homeschooling; green living; human rights; child passenger safety; dog training, and life after weight-loss surgery.

In my free time I try to figure out how I can promote world peace while wasting time on Facebook.

NaNoWriMo 2010

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