My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles

Is There a Right Way to Use Montessori Principles in Your Home?
Activity of the Week - Spooning Grains

I didn’t think of myself as a role model when I was raising my children. I was just trying to do the best for my family. But somehow along the way, I found people liking what they saw with my family and asking how we did it. I have to largely attribute what we did as natural parenting.

Christina and Will are now 20 and 25, but my husband and I applied a lot of natural parenting principles. Here are what I consider the top 3 principles I used.

1990 - Deb, Christina (in baby carrier), and Will during a Field Trip. (Photo by Terry Chitwood)

1990 – Deb, Christina (in baby carrier), and Will during a Field Trip. (Photo by Terry Chitwood)

1. I applied “natural” whenever possible when my children were infants and toddlers. This actually covers a lot of principles. I breastfed each of my children until they were 2 years old, emphasized babywearing, used cloth diapers, made homemade baby food, and used mainly natural fabrics.

2. I used Montessori principles that encouraged my children’s independence and freedom to explore. I consider these Montessori principles natural parenting because they meet the child’s natural, inner needs. I was lucky to attend a Montessori conference emphasizing infants and toddlers before Will was born. From what I learned, I baby proofed and set up a room (our living room) in which Will could freely explore even as an infant.

1985 - Will with his mirror. (Photo by Deb Chitwood)

1985 – Will with his mirror. (Photo by Deb Chitwood)

I purchased a full-length mirror from a preschool supply company and placed it horizontally on the floor so that Will could gain an understanding of himself and his actions. I had his toys on low shelves on the floor so that he could freely move around and choose what he wanted to play with.

I did the same thing when Christina was an infant. For both Will and Christina, I used Montessori methods to teach them how to do things themselves so that they had a sense of self-respect and independence as toddlers and preschoolers.

3. I homeschooled my children through high school. I think I had the most influence on others with my homeschooling example. It just worked so well for my family. My children were figure skaters during most of their school years. Homeschooling gave us the opportunity to individualize our children’s education, work around their skating schedule, spend lots of time together, and travel as a family.

1992 - Christina going through the KONOS-style ear model Will created in our Montessori classroom. (Photo by Deb Chitwood)

1992 – Christina going through the KONOS-style ear model Will created in our Montessori classroom. (Photo by Deb Chitwood)

We used a combination of Montessori education and unit studies (we used KONOS all the way through high school), along with a few traditional subjects. We adapted our unit studies to emphasize reading together (which we always loved) and discovery learning (which was consistent with Montessori concepts). This worked perfectly for us.

My children still appreciate that they were homeschooled. And they only turned out for the better as a result of homeschooling. Will and Christina both have bachelor’s degrees and successful careers. They both love learning and have an entrepreneurial spirit. They’re both well adjusted and able to get along with all sorts of people. They’re both happily married. Even though Christina and her husband live in England and Will and his wife live in San Diego, our family is still close. Probably the favorite thing for all of us is when we can spend time together.

So natural parenting does work. At least it certainly worked for us. And I think that’s what natural parenting really should be about—finding what works naturally for you and your family.

What natural parenting principles work best for you and your family?

Babywearing Blog Hop

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This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama with the theme Role Model. 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.

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

  • Woman Seeking Inspiration — Seeking Mother’s struggles and joys to find her own path in motherhood have inspired others — to her surprise! (@seekingmother )
  • Paving the Way — Jessica at This is Worthwhile makes a conscious effort every day to be a role model. (@tisworthwhile )
  • No Rules Without Reason — The Recovering Procrastinator wants to inspire her husband to discipline their children gently. (@jenwestpfahl)
  • Creating a Culture of Positive Parenting Role Models — Michelle at The Parent Vortex shows parents at the playground how to do a front wrap cross carry and tells nurses about her successful home births, as a way of modeling natural parenting in public. (@TheParentVortex)
  • Making A Difference for Mamas — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest took an embarrassing pumping incident at work and turned it into an opportunity for all the employees who breastfeed.
  • Inspiring Snowflakes — Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch Momma is a role model for the most important people: her children. (@kitchenwitch)
  • Paying it Forward — Amber at Strocel.com inspires new (and often scared) mamas with these simple words: “It will be OK.” (@AmberStrocel)
  • A SAHD’s View on Parenting Role Models — Chris at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing doesn’t have many role models as a SAHD — but hopes to be one to his daughter. (@tessasdad)
  • Am I a Role Model? A Review — Deb at [email protected] brings attachment parenting out of the baby age and shows how it applies (with science fun!) to parenting through all of childhood. (@ScienceMum)
  • Say Something Good — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick reminds women that it is within our right to be proud of ourselves without apology. (@RaisingBoychick)
  • Try, Try Again — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis wants to inspire like the Little Engine that Could.
  • I’m a Parenting Inspiration, Who Knew? — Sarah at OneStarryNight has received several beautiful comments about just what an inspiration she has been, if not in real life then definitely online. (@starrymom)
  • That Little Thing — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing demonstrates the ripple effect, one status update at a time. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
  • How Has Your Day Been? — mrs green @ littlegreenblog inspired her friend to be an active listener for her children. (@myzerowaste)
  • No, Thank You! — If you are reading Maman A Droit’s post, you’ve probably inspired her. (@MamanADroit)
  • My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now describes how her family’s natural and Montessori principles inspired others. (@DebChitwood)
  • My Hope for a Better Life — Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children hopes her choices inspire her children toward a better life.
  • Natural Parenting Felt Natural — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes didn’t plan on natural parenting — but her son led her there. (@sheryljesin)
  • Rest. Is it even possible? — Janet at where birth and feminism intersect has found that even role models need rest — and that there are ways to fit it into everyday parenting life. (@feministbirther)
  • May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model — Lauren at Hobo Mama was the fortunate recipient of a seed of inspiration, and has been privileged to plant some of those seeds herself, though she didn’t know it at the time. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • crunchspiration — the grumbles at grumbles and grunts wants to inspire others to parent from their heart. (@thegrumbles)
  • No Extra Inspiration Required — Zoey at Good Goog doesn’t think she inspires anyone and wasn’t inspired by anyone in return — except by her daughter. (@zoeyspeak)
  • Upstream Parenting — Luschka at Diary of a First Child blogs for that one mother in one hundred who will find her words helpful. (@diaryfirstchild)
  • 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)
  • Natural Parenting Carnival — Role Model — Sarah at Consider Eden feels the pressure at trying — and failing — to live up to her role models. (@ConsiderEden)
  • May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model — Dionna at Code Name: Mama encourages natural parenting mamas to take joy in the fact that they are touching lives and making a difference to children every day. (@CodeNameMama)
  • Inspiration Goes Both Ways — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is flustered that people consider her a breastfeeding role model — but the lovely comments she’s received prove it’s so. (@bfmom)
  • My Seven — Danielle at born.in.japan has identified seven role models in her life who brought her to natural parenting. Who are your seven? (@borninjp)
  • A Quiet Example — Alison at BluebirdMama was one of the first parents in her group of friends — and has come to see almost all those friends follow in her natural birthing footsteps, whether intentionally or not.
  • Gentle Discipline Warrior — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has inspired a gentle discipline movement — join her! (@babydust)
  • Change The World… One Parent At A Time — Mamapoekie is more comfortable inspiring parents online than she is in real life. (@mamapoekie)
  • Inspirational Parenting — pchanner at A Mom’s Fresh Start has intentionally tried to be a role model but was unprepared for how soon someone would take notice. (@pchanner)
  • My Inspiration — Erin at A Beatnik’s Beat on Life has written thank-you letters to everyone who’s inspired her to become the lactivist and natural parenting advocate she is today. (@babybeatnik)

Is There a Right Way to Use Montessori Principles in Your Home?
Activity of the Week - Spooning Grains
For Small Hands - A Resource for Families
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