Nature's intent is the only parenting advice and "educational curriculum" we truly need. Our parenting challenges, concerns and choices can become so simple if we consider, "What is nature's intent for a child's holistic development?"
Nature is our reference manual, our guide to mammalian and human needs. I hear so often parents say curiously common phrases along the lines of, "There is no one right way to parent", or "School works for my child- My child could never learn on her/his own." Often those types of statements translate to, "Something in my past is being triggered and I am feeling defensive, so I am unable to consider alternatives."
Yes, there are MANY human-invented ways to parent and educate, most of them punitive, coercive, harmful and downright traumatizing; echos of an adult's own childhood pain. However, nature's intent for children is authentic, congruent and always "right" because the child's holistic needs, their unique passions, their innate wisdom of how to grow and the expression of their personhood is the priority of nature. Human-invented ways to parent and "educate" often have the goal of adult convenience, placating adult fears, catering to adult biases and beliefs and shaping the child to be or become something other than what or who that miraculous child is. Each child is a pure one-of-a-kind expression of universal energy- a miracle that if loved, nurtured and allowed to grow and develop freely and in joy, innately unfolds as a beautiful three-dimensional person who meets all of his or her developmental potentials.
In everything that we do concerning our children, we must ask ourselves whose needs are being met. Are we parenting in a certain way to ease our own anxieties? To fulfill our own philosophy or hypothesis- or that of someone else? Are we parenting out of upset emotions, revenge or anger? Are we trying to shape the child's future by causing suffering now? It can hurt so much as parents to let go, to slice away the baggage and false ideals of our pasts and of the mainstream culture in order to see our children's true needs and trust our children enough to meet their needs. It is so freeing, so emancipating when we do! When we are able to see purely their needs, then we are tapped into our instinct- nature's intent for how to parent and "educate" our children!
Nature's intent for parenting and for children's learning is a cycle that gently ebbs and flows, like the tides of the ocean: When a child has a need, the child will express that need to the parent in some overt or covert manner. It is up to the parents to decipher that need and keep their own judgments and filters out of the discovery process. If the parent immediately responds lovingly and supportively to a physical, emotional, creative or spiritual need, helps the child meet the need or helps the child make happen what the child is wanting to manifest, the child will feel homeostasis. Homeostasis is a state of holistic joy, calm, trust, safety and bonding. This is how secure attachment is formed and maintained. When children are distressed by our reactions to them, that is not homeostasis, "teaching", a "lesson", patience-learning or character-building, it is harm. Although parents need not be perfect, the parent-child attachment cycle must be honored from birth until the completion of adolescence for the child to grow up whole...
Attachment parenting and child-directed learning are not "parenting styles" or "educational philosophies". Attachment Parenting and child-directed learning (unschooling, life learning, deschooling, relaxed homeschooling, democratic learning, etc.) are simply the words we use to describe the ancient Earth-wisdom that loving, connected, aware parents are rediscovering. (The words we use don't matter as long as the actions we take are in harmony with nature's intent!) "Parenting styles" and "educational philosophies" are all of the human-invented ways that have diverged from nature's intent. If most of the time you are passionately loving, physically and emotionally nurturing, generally sensitive and compassionate to your child's needs, a guide and model rather than dictator and if you are a partner to your child's goals and interests, you are in harmony with nature's intent. If most of the time your children are connected to you, love to be with you (whether age two, nine, 12 or 17), take joy in play, have passion for something, are empathic, compassionate and are overall thriving holistically, your parent-child relationship is in harmony with nature's intent.
If most of the times, these are not the ways of being for you and your child, then nature is signaling that something is out of sync its intent. Let's celebrate that if our children are disconnected and are struggling holistically, re-syncing our parenting and their learning journey to nature is a simple and sometimes quick healing path. Let us celebrate the fact that whenever we resort back to our old fears, anxieties, defenses and beliefs, we can immediately get right back on the track of the parent-child attachment cycle! It is a gentle and quick process and our children will breathe a sigh of relief when we do!