The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart

Overview

The Natural Child is the instruction manual that should have come with your child.
Derek Markham, ecoBrain

The Natural Child makes a compelling case for a return to attachment parenting, a child-rearing approach that has come naturally for parents throughout most of human history. In this insightful guide, parenting specialist Jan Hunt links together attachment parenting principles with child advocacy and homeschooling philosophies, offering a ...

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Overview

The Natural Child is the instruction manual that should have come with your child.
Derek Markham, ecoBrain

The Natural Child makes a compelling case for a return to attachment parenting, a child-rearing approach that has come naturally for parents throughout most of human history. In this insightful guide, parenting specialist Jan Hunt links together attachment parenting principles with child advocacy and homeschooling philosophies, offering a consistent approach to raising a loving, trusting, and confident child. The Natural Child dispels the myths of "tough love," building baby's self-reliance by ignoring its cries, and the necessity of spanking to enforce discipline. Instead, the book explains the value of extended breast-feeding, family co-sleeping, and minimal child-parent separation.

Homeschooling, like attachment parenting, nurtures feelings of self-worth, confidence, and trust. The author draws on respected leaders of the homeschool movement such as John Taylor Gatto and John Holt, guiding the reader through homeschool approaches that support attachment parenting principles.

Being an ally to children is spontaneous for caring adults, but intervening on behalf of a child can be awkward and surrounded by social taboo. The Natural Child shows how to stand up for a child's rights effectively and sensitively in many difficult situations.

The role of caring adults, points out Hunt, is not to give children "lessons in life"–but to employ a variation of The Golden Rule, and treat children as we would like to have been treated in childhhood.

Jan Hunt is the Director of The Natural Child Project, Coordinator of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in British Columbia, and on the Board of Directors for Attachment Parenting International. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865714403
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/1/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 174
  • Sales rank: 370,146
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Jan Hunt is the Director of The Natural Child Project, Coordinator of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in British Columbia, and on the Board of Directors for Attachment Parenting International. She has been featured on CNN Headline News and Yahoo.com and contributes to Mothering, Growing Without Schooling, Compleat Mother and Readers Digest.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Peggy O'Mara
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Parenting Children with Empathy and Compassion
"Getting It" About Children
The Importance of Empathic Parenting
Nature or Nurture?
Tough Love
Confessions of a Proud Mom
Memories of a Loving Father
2. Living with A Baby
A Baby Cries: How Should Parents Respond?
Ten Reasons to Respond to a Crying Child
Siblings Arrive All at Once
Lonely Cages
Ten Ways to Grow a Happy Child
3. Living with Children
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Ten Tips for Shopping With Children
When a Child has a Tantrum
The Hidden Messages We Give Our Children
Ten Tips for Finding a Medical Professional for your Child
Natural Grandparenting
5. Guiding Children
The Parenting Golden Rule
The "Magic Words" Must be Spoken from the Heart
The Trouble with Rewards
Praising our Children: Manipulation or Celebration?
It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child
"I Was Spanked and I'm Fine!"
The Dangers of Holding Therapy
Ten Alternatives to Punishment
6. Helping Children Learn
Nurturing Children’s Natural Love of Learning
When does Guidance become Manipulation?
School Grades: Helpful or Harmful?
Should Homeschoolers be Tested?
"Learning Disability": A Rose by Another Name
Is "I Love Lucy" Educational?
7. Advocating for Children
Is There Room for Children in Our Society?
Intervening on Behalf of a Child in a Public Place
Intervention Can Save Lives
Age Discrimination Harms Young and Old Alike
The Kids’ Project: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse
Conclusion
Endnotes
About the Author
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Introduction

The Natural Child is a collection of essays on parenting and education which I wrote between 1988 and the present. The essays were written to help parents and future parents understand the critical importance of treating their children with dignity, respect, understanding, and compassion from infancy into adulthood. I hope to inspire parents toward a new way of being with their children that allows for a mutually trusting and loving relationship based on respectful, gentle guidance and emotional support.

This approach has been called "attachment parenting" or "empathic parenting" . It is often considered to be "New Age" but it is in fact, age-old. Many of the practices that I recommend in this book were the norm for thousands of generations, and have only been questioned within the last 100 years or less.

Empathic parenting, to put it most simply, is believing what we know in our heart to be true. Children raised with love and compassion will be free to use their time as adults in meaningful and creative ways, rather than expressing their childhood hurts in ways that harm themselves or others. If adults have no need to deal with the past, they can live fully in the present.

It is my belief that through empathic parenting the world can become a more peaceful and a more humane place, where every child can grow to adulthood with a generous capacity for empathy and trust. Our society has no more urgent task.

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Foreword

Jan Hunt tells the truth about the real nature of children. Many terms are popular today - attachment, natural, empathic - to describe a way of parenting that is really not new at all. Being with children in the way that these terms describe is what parents all over the world have done since the beginning of time. Jan points the way for us today. The cultural voices of fear tell us to distrust the neediness and dependency that children so naturally express. It is an acceptance of this neediness and dependency that Jan Hunt speaks about so eloquently. By modeling this acceptance, Jan makes it easier for us to accept our children and ourselves as well.

It's not often that I open a book and find that I have as much in common with the author's point of view as I do with Jan Hunt. I often check the index of books for references to breastfeeding, co-sleeping, discipline, attachment, and other topics dear to my heart and seldom find the compatibility that I feel when I read The Natural Child. We have the same understanding about the nature of the child and both want to remedy the misunderstandings about children in modern culture.

When we make up new names like attachment parenting for old ways, it is because we are looking for more enduring wisdom than adversarial customs offer. We know that the bliss we feel parenting from the heart means that it is right. In regards to our children, it is not only wisdom we seek, but also an acknowledgement of our participation in a deeper process.

The great anthropologist, Margaret Mead, studied tribes all over the world. She said that the most violent tribes were those that withheld touch in infancy. To me, it is very simple. The propensity to act aggressively is related to unmet needs. When we objectify our babies and manipulate their legitimate needs to meet our own comfort level or prescription for living, we may unknowingly put them at risk. We can instead choose to surrender to the mystery of our baby's needs and the surprises he or she brings just as we would surrender and adapt to the surprises brought by new love. A baby is our new love.

Can we choose love by accepting our baby's legitimate human needs and responding to them with an open heart? This requires that we trust our babies and ultimately that we trust ourselves. Each of us is an original. We are equipped for the job even though we are still learning how to use our equipment. Most of our decisions as parents are more about our state of mind that about the particulars of the situation. When we choose from love we act very differently than when we act from fear.

Jan tells it like it is. Children and adults are not different. We have the same feelings. Children who are disciplined with love respond lovingly. Parents are not perfect, but we can continually recognize the critical importance of how we behave toward our children. Crying is the language of babies. Co-sleeping is safe and smart. Children need to be involved in the problem solving of the family. Punishment interferes with the bond between parent and child. Children have a natural love of learning and do not have to be coerced. Learning "disabilities" may be learning differences. Children deserve to be acknowledged in public. Children deserve to be treated with respect.

These shared beliefs are why Jan and I are so compatible. We've never met and compared notes. And while we have both been influenced by many of the same people, there are simply many common conclusions that stem from trusting and respecting children. It sounds easy, but we all know that what I describe is a lifetime journey. Many of us have been raised in cultures and families where control is highly valued. Our children are often our first teachers in this regard. In learning to trust them, we learn that we can be trusted as well.

It is the potential limitlessness of simply trusting our children that frightens parents. We ask how we can maintain order and harmony in the household without control, without punishment. As Jan will so aptly teach, the household based on empathy, compassion and cooperation will have an inherent discipline that does not have to be enforced by punishment. It is enforced by love.

This book is about simple principles that can take a lifetime to learn. As the parent of adult children, I can attest to the helpfulness of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, home schooling, discipline without punishment and other trusting choices. All of these choices are implicit in the egalitarian relationship that I hope to have with my children. They are my equals, my teachers and my beloved ones. I try to remember this when I interact with them. Jan's book will help you remember too.
Publisher and Editor, Mothering Magazine

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    Awesome book

    Must read for parents and grandparents!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2002

    Extraordinary resource

    Jan Hunt offers something extraordinary with this book -- a chance for parents (and other former children) to empathically experience a young child's life through clear and realistic examples drawn from typical childhood experiences. Whether we parents realize it or not, a child learns more than we might have guessed from how she is treated in the early years. Throughout these essays, Jan reminds us that a child learns not only what she is taught but most importantly, how she is taught, that is to say, how she is treated. Jan asks us to remember that those lessons deeply impact the child's way of seeing the world. This book firmly yet gently supports parents in being mindful of the inner lives of our children. It belongs in the hands of every parent and parent-to-be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2002

    If only everyone that needed it could read this book...

    what wonderful help it would be! This is by far the best book I've ever read on parenting. I can't sing it's praises enough! I'm going to let everyone I run into know about this book. In so many cases, children are treated like pieces of furniture, just things to be hauled and pushed around at will, Jan shows us a better, more respectful way of treating our children. For those of us that need it, this information is like the 'pearl of great price' that might be recieved once in a lifetime, and how we put it to use is what will make the difference for our children and our world. Thank you so much Jan, the information in your book and on your web site is so needed today!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2002

    the single best book on parenting

    Jan Hunt's newly published book is the single best book available on how we raise our children. Our children today are in crisis. The legacy of separation between mother and child since WWII reflected by the drugs and rebellion and its accompanying misery of the 60's has reached epidemic proportions in our society. Jan offers the cure - which is prevention - and that prevention is being responsive parents to our children raising them with love and not force. Jan reminds us that we must remember the Golden Rule and that 'one size fits all.' Thank you, Jan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2002

    Parents - read this great book!

    'The Natural Child' is an important book, clearly written and full of common sense. Reading this book, for me, has been like meeting a friend - someone who speaks the truth about children and what they need, not mincing words, and bringing home the need to respect children because they are people! Jan Hunt's wise writing will give parents the confidence to trust what their hearts tell them. I will treasure this beautiful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2011

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