My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles

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?

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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:

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