[...]There are plenty of other things that break our hearts as parents. One mother lets her first son be circumcised because she doesn't know she has a choice. By the time her other sons are born, "she knows better" but how does she live with her regret at having had her first son circumcised? Another mother vaccinates at first, only to later find information that makes her change her mind. She doesn't know whether "to continue vaccinating or to just quit" but if she quits, she then must face regrets about the vaccinations her children did receive.Excerpts from Mothering Magazine, issue 133. You can read the whole article here.
But as parents, we often change our minds. When we stop spanking, do we berate ourselves about the hitting we did in the past, "before we knew better" or do we forgive ourselves and move on? It is precisely this type of ongoing moral dilemma that one must face if one is to have any parenting standards at all. Even as we hold to these standards, they are always in the process of being refined, changing in response to new knowledge about and fresh understandings of our children and ourselves.Recognizing that our ideas, beliefs, and attitudes about our children and ourselves as parents are always in process keeps us from turning our good ideas into dogma. Natural family living is full of good ideas. There's plenty of evidence that responsive parenting works well. And yet ideas, no matter how good they are, must be forged by real-life experiences. We have to learn how to mediate them with the inevitably uncontrollable nature of family life.
Certainly we will feel regret when things turn out different from what we'd hoped. And we all ask the proverbial "Why?" when bad things happen. Too much time spent trying to answer this question, however, can distract us from finding out something even more important: What can I learn from this experience?
[...] The ideas of natural family living or of any worthwhile philosophy can be intoxicating. If we cling to them, they can make life with children"something inherently out of control" seem controllable. Our ideas can even seem capable of protecting us from suffering. Good ideas protect us most of the time, but not always. Some things are simply out of our control.
While these suggestions may help us surrender to things as they are, it is important not to set impossible standards in the first place. As natural approaches have become more popular, many people have forgotten that their roots are in the idea of "doing your own thing." The natural way coincides nicely with research and tradition, but it is also common sense; it is what we all would do most of the time if we had the confidence to follow our instincts and our hearts.
Following our instincts and our hearts does not mean that we will never have regrets. When we regret things and can't stop thinking about them, however, this means we have unfinished business. While we often blame others and ourselves for these regrets, there is usually no one at fault. It certainly doesn't make sense that we would knowingly be the cause of our own suffering. Taking the responsibility for understanding what has happened to us without placing blame on others or ourselves is a powerful exercise.It is in taking responsibility that we mature in our authenticity and authority as parents. Parents are always faced with a paradox. We must keep high parenting standards even at the risk of unexpected failures and disappointments. It makes sense then to cultivate the safety net of self-forgiveness and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.As parents, we are willing to factor in the unexpected only reluctantly because, even in the face of obstacles, we unwaveringly believe in our capacity to work miracles for the sake of our children.
Practicing NFL is a great thing for our family. It helps us to save money, be less wasteful, eat healthier and make more informed choices about our health and the way that we live in general. However, it often requires a great deal of work because it is not the mainstream way of living. Often when you do a great deal of work and see positive results, there is an accompanying feeling of pride, BUT we must not fall into the trap of believing that doing everything NFL will work for everyone. I do think it is important that NFL'ers be open about sharing their successes with others, and on the opposite side of the spectrum that people be willing to listen and even try. You never know, you might be surprised what you find.