Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Parenting passed through the generations

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Play that funky music
This is my Canadian. More commonly known as Willow. She's been my friend since I was 12, and she was 0. She's not technically related to me, but she (and her family) are in all the ways that count.
Her parents met mine when I was 4, and they became fast friends. They joined us on ski trips with our extended family, vacations, and family birthday parties.

I thought Pam was the most glamorous person in the universe and I wanted to be just like her. I mean, look at her, she is all sorts of fabulous. When Pam and Neil started having kids, I was a baby mad teenager. I happily spent weeks and weeks at their house in Canada, playing and reading with their kids, and learning and trying new things. I lived with them for most a year during college. I discovered a love of beets at their house. I learned to quilt, knit, and make jam and lace. I also learned about attachment parenting, breastfeeding, unschooling, and homebirth. I was able to watch all these things in action, done by someone I admired, and see how her children flourished. This has obviously influenced my personal parenting style. I'd have a long list of things I didn't want to do as a parent, thanks to my years as a nanny and baby sitter, but without the examples and guidance Pam and Neil provided over the years, I likely wouldn't have such a good idea of what I DID want to do. I'm especially glad that as a younger sibling myself, I got hands on training with, essentially, some extra sibs of my own.

And now that I have kids, Willow has been returning the favor and staying with us to play and love on them. She has exceptionally good timing, and likes to ask if she can visit at times that happen to coincide with when we need help most. She and I are as close as I am with her parents, and I hope that Moira and Davis will be as close with her and her siblings as I am. I look forward to the future when one of my kids help take care of their kids. I also hope that as Willow moves into the next phase of her life and has less time to visit, one of her sibs wants to come hang out with me.
Hold my hand!
I know I've taught them things too. That you can practice math and spelling with D&D. That you don't have to stop playing pretend games when you hit puberty. But really, what we've learned from each other doesn't matter as much as that we have increased out circles of "people who love us unconditionally."


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: 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:

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child's grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family...
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn't Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What's Next can't imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son's life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt... until she remembers what it's actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My 'high-needs' child and 'strangers' — With a 'high-needs' daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter's extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family's summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the "village" even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don't get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must've been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don't have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs-- Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn't an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama's sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We're Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.


  1. Ah, I LOVE this post. I love that you've found a family in them, and multigenerationally at that. Pam really does look fabulous, and I now know firsthand how very cool Willow is. I love that you were able to see attachment parenting and the like modeled for you. Come to think of it, there's a mentor of mine who modeled something similar, with homeschooling and respectful parenting, and I used to babysit her kids. Now you're giving me ideas to get it going to the next generation…

  2. Lovely! Family is definitely much more then bloodlines.

  3. thanks for sharing; it is great that you had this kind if education into how to bring up a family at an influential age, as a teenager. I had to figure a lot of attachment parenting out in books, not through example, which is by far the best way.

  4. Oh I love this, I so wish that we could still keep in touch with some of the friends we had as children! I truly hope that Kieran has some adults like you in his life!

  5. Such a nice network of support. While I havn't got a large support group as such (apart from some family/inlaws), this kind of helping spirit with children is something my parent's friends have with my little one. They are often elderly, very interactive and communicate well with her. What I really like about your post is that you have people you can rely on - hard to find and an absolute treasure to know :)

  6. How wonderful that you had such great experiences (and AP models) when you were younger. I am the youngest sibling, and never did any babysitting. I held a baby maybe 2-3 times before I had my own.