Monday, August 1, 2011


This year I decided NOT to give my husband a book for his birthday as he always asked for one, got one and that was it. I thought I should be more creative. I tried but my ideas didn't really fit in the little spare time I have without son and husband, I'm not too organised right now and in the end - hubby was really really asking for this one book. So I got it for him. Again. Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional parenting" was the number one on the list this year.

Of course I was thrilled that after over one year of talking about parenting, discussing and reflecting he still wanted to read into it more and more. And yes, I am aware that I am quite lucky to have a father like that for my son.
But when we were both sitting in the living room, him reading Alfie Kohn, me deep into Naomi Aldort's "Raising our children, raising ourselves" I came to think about all the discussions about reading too much instead of trusting my instinct when it comes to parenting. Well from what I can say - a good mix of both is very healthy.

As said previously it was my boss who got me into the whole parenting world and on to the RIE approach. Luckily me and my husband felt right there the minute we read about Emmi Pikler and her work. We were happy to find the books by Magda Gerber that were a bit more "to date" and many many more books on mindful parenting, respecting children and so on. Very early we have found our basis, our path and are now enjoying a wonderful journey with our son. But of course I can understand the people who question the use (or non-use) of our instincts in this whole parenting process.

Well, I was a bit concerned about that myself for a while. But the more we all grew together, the more the theory from the books became practice the more I felt the need to use my instinct. Because despite the not uncommon misinterpretation of RIE such as "a lot about it not being compatible with an instinctual style of parenting" (see the very recent debate as posted on Janet Lansbury's blog) it is very very much to do with instincts and the trust to let your baby lead your way. I just think it is much easier to trust yourself, to listen to yourself AND your baby when you know where you want to go and how to get there. To raise an independent, self confident, relaxed and happy child is what we all want but how to do so is NOT something that is inside our head and heart from the minute the child is born. Because what we sometimes take as instinct I believe is rather habit, taken over from the parenting style we were raised to (and many of us DON'T want to raise their kids to). When I am stressed, edgy or annoyed by whatever what I realise that I fall into a behaviour pattern I then realise as my mother's. The feared sentence "I'm turning into my mother" comes to my head. That's exactly what I don't want but what in 30years has grown inside me and bitten onto every bone in my body. That doesn't mean it is right to accept and go with it, instead I think it is important to question it and try to break through these behaviour patterns.

Think of all these daily examples of parents and grandparents picking up the babies in a rush of love and affection, the habit of walking your baby, the sentence "I'm so proud of you" when a child is fulfilling our expectations. Instinctual you do all that but that doesn't mean that it is neither necessary nor good or helpful.

Our instinct is there in the first place, it tells us what parenting style feels right for us, but after that first very relevant task we should give it a break and open our minds. We as parents grow as well, and it is inevitable that we do. We can not expect our children to develop if we don't do the same and therefore we need to discover what is instinct and what is habit. When we are willing to do so we will feel our instinct changing, developing and becoming more and more important again. And in the end the books, the theory and ourselves are becoming one. One solid rock raising your self-confident child.