This has just happened:
I have become a Halmoni! Coco Malie Kawaioli Krishok was born on 11 September, and I've just returned from spending 9 days with her and her parents, my son Malachi, and his partner, Kai. In the airport coming home, I realized there was still so much I wanted to share, based on my experience of the last 30+ years as a mother. Here is the beginning of some thoughts regarding parenting.
Although patriarchy still shapes much of our society, don’t buy into it by reinforcing gender stereotypes. Invest in identity traits outside of gender. As your child grows, they will certainly express tendencies, which should be accepted and supported. Some of these tendencies could be attributed to their sex and hormones, but emphasizing gender can reinforce stereotypes that are often oppressive.
No baby or child is “bad.” They are all inherently “good” and perfect and beautiful. A mellow, laid-back child is not “better” than a spirited, high-energy child, and vice versa.
Sleeping and eating are too important to teach. In a healthy environment, babies will eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. Sugar will dull their appetite for healthy food, and stress around sleep will cause anxiety and sleeplessness. The best place for baby to sleep is where everyone gets the most sleep. Don’t worry about whether they will outgrow baby patterns or not. They WILL!
Recognize when you are imposing an adult, work-centered, capitalist requirement upon your child, such as requiring them to eat or sleep at certain times. Sometimes this may be necessary. But notice how often this is required and the impact it has on your child and your family, and consider other options.
Be prepared to be both nurturer and warrior, both gentle and fierce. The fact is our society does not fully support children or mothers. Fatherhood is also, in turn, de-valued. Our society sees children as unproductive and the work of parenting as unimportant. We pay lip-service to parents and children but fail to back it up with policy and programs like paid parental leave, good education, and comprehensive health care. No one values your child as much as you do, so you have to fight and advocate for their rights and needs. No one knows your child as well as you do, so you have to fight for what they need as individuals. Don’t let your child become a cog in the wheel of a destructive, negligent society. Also remember that fighting for women’s rights is fighting for children’s rights, because women are the ones to bear and breastfeed children and frequently serve as primary caregivers.
Limit screen time to protect their senses and their sensibilities. The mainstream corporate media is the primary way that we are brainwashed into being good workers and consumers. You will not regret the limits you place, and when and if it’s time to remove them, it will be easy to do so. However, the reverse is difficult and will cause resentment—to take away a privilege that has already been granted.
Trust the genius and brilliance your child came into the world with, and trust yourself as their steward, protector, nurturer, and teacher. Others will try to steer you and your child toward their agenda. Keep your eyes on the prize, and let your child reveal their gifts in their own time. There’s no advantage to blooming early, and lots of potential harm in forcing it. Trees are healthiest and strongest when their growth is slow. Children also should not be rushed.
Remember illnesses are building a healthy immune system. Do not overmedicate, and trust their bodies to correct the imbalances that inevitably occur. Support their immune system with the best healthy food, and natural, nontoxic remedies. Instead of antibiotics, treat with powerful PRObiotics. If and when you must resort to allopathic treatment, do so judiciously and minimally.
This is the most difficult lesson in parenting: you will not be able to protect your child from all harm. Wrap them in a cloud of unconditional love, and recruit extended family and friends to do the same. When harm occurs through illness, accidents, conflicts, institutions and authorities, your child gets the opportunity to learn how to respond: by standing up for themselves, asking for help, expressing their needs and feelings, among lots of other constructive ways to act.
Remember all needs are sacred. When they are whining and crying and acting out, they are expressing needs and asking for attention. What is attention but love? Everyone has the need to be cherished, protected, seen and heard. Notice the magic in the room when a newborn enters. Remember that magic even as they get older and make you angry and frustrated. They will always be that most innocent and fragile baby inside their gruff exteriors.
Your needs as parents are also sacred. Do not shortchange yourself or burn yourself out. Your health must be preserved at all costs. Parents need to take care of themselves and each other as well as their children. It’s not either/or but both/and. Your child may not understand this at first, but you must model self-care so that they will eventually learn to take care of themselves.
Children must never be deprived of the need to contribute to the greater good. Everyone must build the household together. Housework and cooking are tasks everyone needs to contribute to, starting at the earliest age. Children naturally imitate and will work side by side with you, whatever you do. Welcome them, and give them age-appropriate tasks. Include them as much as possible in everything.
Trust, love, feel, discern, intuit, and trust yourself some more. You will figure out what is best for you and your child.
In unconditional love,