Laurie A. Couture on Attachment Parenting, Unschooling, Social Justice and The Planet

Unparenting is Not Nature’s Intent: Revisiting the Earth Wisdom of Attachment Parenting and Unschooling

17 May 2013 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

Our children need our guidance, otherwise they would be born adults.

Our children need our guidance, otherwise they would be born as adults.

Readers of my book, Instead of Medicating and Punishing: Healing the Causes of Our Children’s Acting-Out Behavior by Parenting and Educating the Way Nature Intended know that natural, need-focused parenting and child-led organic learning are not new fads. Although growing in popularity under trendy terms like, Attachment Parenting (AP), holistic parenting, self-directed learning, education hacking, unschooling or Radical Unschooling (RU), these ways of growing children are simply a revival of the ancient wisdom of the Earth; the way parents parented and guided learning for millennia, before the dawn of agriculture. However, as these nature-based principles have gained in popularity, we may be losing some of their deeper intentions.

Centuries of agriculture, civilization and industrialization have perverted nature’s intent for humans, perpetuating a tragic cycle of child abuse, neglect, community and cultural violence, slavery, genocide, war, planetary destruction and endless other forms of human-inflicted suffering. Readers of my book understand that the origins of human violence are a result of unmet holistic needs and trauma beginning in childhood, leading to holistic suffering that was systematically projected onto and inflicted upon family, friends, tribes, communities, cultures, nations, regions… and then the globe. Here we stand in 2013, with nearly the entire human family enslaved by a daily grind of systematic forced schooling, working, buying and paying just to live and survive. Most people cannot see any way out, and thus just resign themselves to the fact that this is life, even as they walk in the woods and wade into the ocean and see that the rest of nature runs wild and free.

The first people to revive the modern Attachment Parenting, organic learning and unschooling movements of the late 60′s and early 70′s were some of the first child advocates and parents to say, “No more. Our children are far too precious for this! We want to raise our children to be free, joyful, healthy, happy and natural!” Pioneers of natural family living began to question industrialized, corporate, processed living and they began to observe, explore and return to unfolding nature’s intent for children and families.

Now that Generation X has grown up and become the parents, Attachment Parenting and unschooling have broken out of the “hippie” fringe and have become a growing trend that has even received some mainstream attention.

Since the turn of the 2000′s, at the very point in history when ubiquitous technology, processed food, cradle-to-grave busywork, cradle-to-grave consumerism and monstrous corporations are taking over every aspect of life, there has been an explosion of information about how to return to the wisdom of the Earth. Organic primal diets, natural remedies for medical and mental health issues, holistic treatments, energy healing, ancient spiritual practices such as meditation, intentional communities, compassionate volunteer work, living off the land, self employment and of course, Attachment Parenting, democratic schools and unschooling have sprouted out of the chaos like a plant that rises through pavement. The premise of all of these ways of reviving the Earth’s wisdom is nature’s intent: These ways of living are holistically healthy because they are in line with nature’s intent for humans.

The foundation of Attachment Parenting (and therefore unschooling) is based on meeting a child’s holistic needs to the best of our ability. Readers of my book are well aware of the secure attachment cycle and the four steps involved:

  1. Child has a need
  2. Child expresses the need
  3. Parent meets child’s need ASAP
  4. Child feel homeostasis

This secure attachment cycle is the same for all mammals and is based on the conditions each individual species requires in order to grow, thrive and meet their full holistic potential. When parents meet the needs of their children at all developmental stages, from pre-birth through late adolescence, children will naturally thrive and grow to be holistically healthy. Humans are all born wired to be loved and to love; the natural state of the human being is to holistically thrive. When childhood needs are met, humans can live up to their potential.

My readers also know the flip-side of the secure attachment cycle, or, what happens to children when their needs are unmet. When parents or the environment fails to meet the needs of children, children are no longer in a state of homeostasis, but in a state of distress. This distress leads to attachment disruption in the parent-child dynamic, or, in modern terms, ambivalent, distant, conflicted or anxious parent-child relationships. Such relationships are not a “normal stage” at any time in child development, they are an alarm signal of distress in the parent-child relationship.

When a child’s needs are chronically unmet, their distress builds and begins to cause emotional and holistic injury, or trauma. In severe cases, trauma can result from just one serious incident of distress. Evidence of distress, unmet needs and trauma are easy to identify in children– Children act-out, shut down, or develop emotional, behavioral, learning, social or even sexual problems. Sometimes, the evidence of unmet needs does not manifest in children for a decade or two. Other children manifest their distress immediately.

Most parents in the AP/RU communities support natural parenting practices such as natural birthing, genital integrity, extended breastfeeding, natural immunity, cosleeping, gentle parenting, relaxed homeschooling or unschooling, nonviolent communication, natural healing, close parent-child relationships and children having freedom in following passions and interests. Most parents in the AP/RU communities understand that disrespecting children by punishing, shaming, controlling, yelling at or hitting them is harmful to every level of their holistic development. Most parents in the AP/RU communities understand that traditional school environments, with all of the human rights violations that occur therein, are also harmful to children on every level of their holistic development. In these ways, AP/RU parents are in line with nature’s intent for children’s healthy holistic development.

While the original AP/RU movement as a whole has been on board with nature in so many important ways, there has been a concerning trend that has developed in the movement that seems to fly in the face of the entire foundation of AP/RU: Unparenting.

Unparenting appears to be a well-intentioned effort to ensure that children are not in any way being stifled by adult intervention. However, the practice borders on (and in some cases exceeds the definition of) child neglect.

I have been dismayed to hear that some parents in the RU community advocate for children wasting days, weeks and even years staring at screens all day, addicted to a constant stream of console and online video games, TV shows, texting and social media. Such parents claim they are allowing children to “make the choice”; however, is it really a “choice” if it is a dopamine addiction?

I have been shocked to hear some in the RU community justify allowing children to gorge themselves on candy, soda, pizza, fast food and other mainstream foods, despite that it is well known in the natural living communities that refined sugar, gluten, dairy and processed foods are toxic and contribute to chronic inflammation, emotional distress, obesity and even cancer. Again, these parents claim they are allowing children to “make the choice”; however, is it really a “choice” if it is a dopamine addiction?

I have been appalled to learn that in the name of “choice”, some parents in the RU community allow their children to be exposed to dangers such as lack of supervision, abusive adults, alcohol, drugs, premature sex and adult media- even porn! (It is sexually abusive for adults to knowingly expose children under 18 to pornography.)

Some RU parents even advocate for allowing children to use extremely vulgar language in public or for parents not to expect basic hygiene from their children.

It shocks me to my foundations that any parent who claims to parent for attachment, who puts the time and energy into AP/RU principles, would then constantly expose their children to addictive, dangerous and toxic lifestyle choices and situations that can cause physical harm or long term psychological trauma to children. I wonder why they don’t just send their children to school and parent in all of the other harmful mainstream ways? While the confinement of schooling and the control of mainstream parenting are at one end of the spectrum of harm to children, some parents in the AP/RU communities have rushed to the other extreme- total hands off, “let’s watch and see” parenting.

Our children need us to guide them on their journey to adulthood.

Our children need us to guide them on their journey to adulthood.

Unparenting goes against nature’s intent and doubles as neglect. It also flies in the face of common sense: If children did not need our intervention, then they would be born as adults, not as children. It should go without saying that children need us to guide them on their journey to adulthood, not for us to stand by and watch them get hurt or lost.

When we observe how Hunter-Gatherer people once lived in nature, we find the opposite of punitive, controlling parenting AND the opposite of unparenting. In peaceful nonviolent tribal cultures, children enjoyed respect and freedom. Parents guided children largely through very strong, constant community modeling. Parents did not stand by idly when children acted in not-yet-mature ways; adults guided and lead the way without demands, control or punishment, but with firm expectation (i.e.: “This is just the way we live”). In no mentally healthy tribal culture did parents expect youth to negotiate childhood alone, without guidance.

How do children get to a place of having rude social skills, poor hygiene or being exposed to toxic food, excessive media usage, dangerous people or adult-themed entertainment? By parents accepting, modeling or offering those conditions. How do children get to a place of not “choosing” such conditions? By parents being heavily involved in guiding children’s choices, asking questions, modeling, expressing parental feelings and thoughts, having some basic, loose family routines, having a schedule of activities, providing information, purchasing only healthy foods, refraining from purchasing cable or electronic gadgets, working together as a team and facilitating exciting alternatives and opportunities that children would find irresistible.

In any growing movement that attempts to heal a social problem, past histories, anecdotal information, personal interpretation and dogma will eventually creep in and dilute the original principles. When many of us detoxed from mainstream parenting, educating, eating, living and healing, we probably asked ourselves some variation of the question, “What does nature say about this?” When it comes to our continued journey in the natural family living lifestyle, when we have doubts, questions and concerns we can also look to nature’s intent for answers. Nature’s intent is the only parenting advice we really need!

What does nature tell us about parenting our children?

What does nature tell us about parenting our children?

What does nature say about children eating a toxic diet? What does nature say about children chronically staring at screens for hours on end, day after day? What does nature say about failing to protect children from people, dynamics, situations, substances and choices that are not developmentally appropriate for them? All we need to do is observe or imagine what (did) would happen if peaceful tribal children, wild animals, trees, plants or the land were exposed to such conditions contrary to their natural development. I believe parents who have discovered the AP/RU lifestyle already know the answers to those questions deep in their hearts and in their primal mothering and fathering instincts.

With a little guidance from nature, Moms and Dads can each tune into their Earth-given instincts and follow their hearts- and their common sense- and know just what their individual children need to thrive holistically.

Read the full article 12 Comments

Connecticut School Shooting Tragedy: Child Trauma is at the Heart of Every Act of Violence

14 December 2012 Categories: public school

(AP Photo/Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks)

I am deeply saddened by the news of the tragic school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut this morning. As of the time of this writing, 28 people have been confirmed dead, including 20 young children at the school, six adults at the school, a seventh adult at a second scene and the young 20 year old suspected gunman himself, Adam Lanza. My heart goes out to all of the people involved in these tragedies: The victims, their families, the surviving children who will suffer trauma from what they have witnessed and for the young man who could find no other way but violent means to meet his needs.

It is tragedies like these that cause me to feel deep gratitude that my son was unschooled and that I parent him by Attachment Parenting principles. These tragedies cause my heart to ache for the other children in my life who I love deeply or who I care about who are unfortunately not Attachment Parented or in a safe and need-meeting learning environment. My heart also aches for a society that will rush to hateful judgements and will blindly recycle superficial causes and superfluous “solutions” for the symptoms of a deeper malignant problem of Industrialized culture: Child trauma. [...]

Read the full article 15 Comments

Attachment Parenting Teens with Humor, Respect, Empathy and Win-Win Solutions: A Saga

22 November 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting

Showing respect to our teens and using humor keeps the parent-child connection strong.

I love my teen and I love the countless adventures of day-to-day life while parenting a teen. I love being a mom and being part of the memorable and silly, albeit unexpected, situations that are part of a teen’s maturing process. I also love and find respectful humor in teen logic when they are so excited about trying to make something work that is going awry:

On Thanksgiving afternoon after a busy day with family and lots of driving, my son and I embarked on a drive to drop him off at a sleepover that he and two other boys had planned. I drove an hour (considered a long drive by New England standards) in setting sun only to discover that my son and the two other boys involved had loosely set up the sleepover without informing the parents of Boy #3, the home where I surmised the actual sleepover was to be held! However, that wasn’t the worst part; the real problem was that Boy #3 and his family had left the state for the entire day to visit family for Thanksgiving! Boy #2 had no idea when they were returning. [...]

Read the full article 3 Comments

NOT-Back-To-School: Unschooling is Nature’s “Curriculum”

27 August 2012 Categories: unschooling

Back-To-School? Or Nature’s Intent for Learning?
(Laurie’s son, Brycen, joyfully exploring the wonders of nature)

I revel in the embrace of summer, when children are again a part of the community and a part of the natural landscape! It brings me such joy to see children jumping in the waves at the ocean, running through a wooded trail, exploring plant and animal life, digging in the sand, climbing trees, creating artistically in the community or leaping from boulders into a rocky basin gorge. I reflect with warmth and love at how September for my unschooled son has always been a relaxing and relieving time- yet another month to extend the joys of summer; the beginning of another cycle of him living and learning in freedom.

However, for the majority of the children in society, the “Back-To-School” nightmare seems to get an earlier start every year. Many schools are forcing children to return to school in late August, two weeks earlier than when I was a child. In mid-July, advertisements on TV, the radio, online, in stores and in junk mail flyers begin threatening children a month too soon about the impending dread of school. It strikes me as very passive aggressive that our culture takes a condition that most children find so distressing- being confined against their will for nine months of the year- and throws it in their face relentlessly during the second half of their summer time. [...]

Read the full article 14 Comments

An Unschooled Teen’s Vision For World Peace: Love and Respect Children

30 June 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting, children's rights, public school

Laurie’s son, Brycen at his unschool graduation ceremony, June 2012

“If every action you made had loving intentions, if every move we made was born of love, the world would be healed, the world would be whole.” -Brycen R. R. Couture

On June 9, 2012,  our family and friends gathered at a beautiful ocean side park to celebrate and honor my son’s unschooling journey with an unschool graduation ceremony. A month prior to the celebration, Brycen was chosen to be featured as a Youth Luminary on Inspire Me Today.com. His profile and his 500-word essay were featured on their site, today, 6/30/12!

Unfortunately, some of Brycen’s words about traditional school were edited out of the Inspire Me Today.com posting. Below is Brycen’s entire, unedited essay on achieving world peace through love and treating children with respect. To see the Inspire Me Today.com post as well as his profile, please click here. [...]

Read the full article 1 Comment

Forget TIME, Are You Human Enough for Nature’s Intent (Attachment Parenting)?

14 May 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting

Laurie and her teen son: Attachment Parenting is embracing nature’s intent for children

Humans have become a species that have lost almost complete awareness of our nature and of our mammal instincts. In our efforts to prove superior to nature, we have created a twisted wreck of an alternate reality, where we kill anything “nature” inside of ourselves and in others and we replace it with a synthetic, prosthetic lie. When the “nature” in us whispers and the void begins to burn, we violently attempt to drown the thirst and gorge the hunger with more of our plastic paradigms, our digital addictions, our helpless civilizations and our neophyte attempts to transcend biology, holism and life itself. We have reduced our awareness of our nature to some nice patch of green outside of ourselves. Our nature has become a foreign backdrop where we visit, snap cellphone photos and condescend the “pretty” sights and creatures like some museum of what we’ve rejected and drugged ourselves to believe we’ve improved upon. [...]

Read the full article 12 Comments

Laurie A. Couture Responds to Unschooling and “ADHD” Questions from Anderson Episode

02 April 2012 Categories: public school, unschooling

Laurie A. Couture on Anderson

Here is Part II of me discussing my appearance with my son, Brycen on the Anderson daytime show. Below I respond to some of the common questions and comments raised during and after the show.

What is unschooling?

Unschooling, or radical unschooling, are the trendy terms for the way children learned for thousands of years- up until fairy recently in human history- by playing and actively pursuing their passions and interests all day, most of the time. Nature intended children of all ages, from infants to teens, to learn through play and physical activity. Humans and other mammals have learned this way since the dawn of time. Unschooling has at its core living authentically and freely as a family, nurturing close, connected parent-child relationships that meet children’s needs. [...]

Read the full article 0 Comments

Unschooling Without TV and Video Games: A Freeing Experience

26 March 2012 Categories: unschooling

As an Attachment Parenting and unschooling coach, I commonly hear the following,

“My unschooled children spend hours a day watching TV and playing video games- Should I just let them?”

The unmistakable “video game stare”: Brycen at age 11, about a year before he decided to pull the plug on home video gaming

While many unschooling advocates approve of regular, daily video game and TV use as part of unschooling, I strongly disagree. My son and I both choose not to play video games or watch TV at home at all.

My son, Brycen dislikes TV, home video gaming, Facebook, social media, texting …and he won’t buy a cell phone. However, he isn’t devoid of media. He runs a state-wide Dungeons and Dragons campaign via Skype and he uses Skype to conference call with friends who live in separate locations. He researches music, art, history and science online and enjoys exploring music and chainmaille technique on YouTube. He watches movies with me, we bust out the Nintendo DS on airplane trips and we both enjoy our summer treks to the beaches and their vintage arcades. So why don’t I recommend TV and video games? [...]

Read the full article 10 Comments

Laurie A. Couture Debunks ADHD on Anderson Show

19 March 2012 Categories: public school, unschooling

Laurie A. Couture on Anderson

“We see a developing potential for nearly a total control of human emotion status, mental function and will to act.” -Wayne O. Evans, Ph.D. Psychotropic Drugs in the Year 2000 (1967)

“The way to sell drugs is to sell psychiatric illness.” -Dr. Carl Elliot, University of Minnesota Bioethicist The Washington Post (2001)

Drugging children for telling us our culture doesn’t meet their needs

“ADHD” is a fraud. It was a label concocted by psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry that allowed them to turn the distress of children held hostage to public schools (and other traumatic environments) into a financial goldmine. Manufacturing a label for the alarm signals of suffering children serves the needs, pockets and whims  of the pharmaceutical industry, the medical and mental health industry and of course, the factory public schools. The “ADHD” label does not serve the needs of children, who are suffering distress as a result of this unhealthy society we have created. Instead, the label draws attention away from children’s unmet needs and conveniently redirects the focus to stimulant drugs- a form of chemical restraint that requires no responsibility on the part of adults or our culture to meet children’s needs. [...]

Read the full article 11 Comments

Announcing My Second Book, Nurturing and Empowering Our Sons

23 January 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

It all started back in 1979, when I was around five years old. My next door neighbor, Toby, was my best friend at the time, and I recall a conversation he and I had on the long staircase leading up to his kitchen sliding glass door. We were having a serious discourse that both boys and girls could do and be whatever they wanted to be. We were trying to come up with some things that could disprove our theory, but we were coming up short. Suddenly, as he bit into his snack, Toby piped up, [...]

Read the full article 6 Comments

Pain Infliction to Punish or Control Traumatizes Children

28 November 2011 Categories: child abuse

I am deeply concerned about the recent surge in violence towards children in the name of “Christian” values, religion, parental rights and school “discipline”.  Pain infliction on children seems to have a hold on the cultural beliefs of Americans like an ugly memory that won’t fade. Pain infliction on children in this article refers to “spanking” and other forms of  “corporal punishment”, including smacking, paddling, grabbing, yanking, squeezing, shaking, not allowing children to eliminate bodily waste, or to hydrate or to eat when they have the need. Pain infliction also includes, but is not limited to, forcing exercise or fixed body positions as punishment.

Let’s call these acts what they truly are:  Assaultive, hurtful, distressing, traumatizing and violence against children. These acts are cruel and considered acts of assault or even torture when inflicted upon adults. Despite that 31 countries have abolished the use of pain infliction to control or punish children, Americans continue to believe that controlling a child through pain infliction is acceptable. [...]

Read the full article 2 Comments

You Can’t Reform An Education System Built on Oppression

16 November 2011 Categories: public school

Laurie’s son displays his Occupy Education post

Talk of “education reform” is viral all over the internet. Despite multiple failed attempts at “reform” over the past decades, society refuses to think outside the “box” of schooling and consider a radical return to how children learned for millennia- By playing, living and doing! Teachers and others in the field of education continue to propose that the oppressive, prison-like institution where children are forced to stay seated in a building all day pumping out paperwork can and should be reformed! When democratic schooling, homeschooling and unschooling advocates attempt to join the conversation and offer models that are successful and truly radical, they are often met by educators and their supporters who dismiss these models as idealistic and not “realistic” for “everyone”. Additionally, people seem not to be aware of the fact that despite talks of reform, the needs, voices and leadership of the people who are the most adversely affected by public schooling- youth- are left out of the conversation. [...]

Read the full article 3 Comments

What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers: What You Do Hurts Our Children

12 September 2011 Categories: children's rights, public school

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs (Image by Factoryjoe)

Many parents are shaking their heads at the audacity and insolence of the CNN article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents by Disney-and-Oprah-endorsed teacher, Ron Clark. His article is dangerous because it represents how the majority of traditional school teachers view children, parents and teachers’ roles as authorities over children’s lives. In my post, What Teachers Really Need to Hear From Parents, I challenge Ron Clark to consider the dehumanization of children and the undermining of the parent-child bond in the institution he represents.

Most parents in industrialized societies are conditioned by their own schooling to be obedient and unquestioning of their children’s schools and the so-called authorities therein. A frightening majority of parents are unaware that most everything that traditional school teachers do is developmentally inappropriate and even harmful for youth of all ages. However, a growing movement of parents are parenting through awareness, consciousness and connection to their children’s needs. Many of these parents are opting out of public and traditional schools are are seeking refuge for their children in child-centered and democratic schools or through homeschooling and unschooling. As a mother of an unschooling teen son, and based on the years of complaints I have heard from parents and their children about traditional schools, I have compiled a list of  concerns and presented them to teachers in the context of their own education: [...]

Read the full article 75 Comments

Mainstream Media Wrongly Presents Back-To-School As Inevitable, Part III

29 August 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, public school, unschooling

Laurie’s 17 year old son, Brycen is holistically healthy because, as an unschooler, all of his physical and emotional needs are met

The August 2011 issue of Parenting New Hampshire stood out as a perfect example of mainstream media presenting traditional schooling as inevitable for children in September. This is Part III of my blog post discussing the way the media presents Back-To-School fervor and traditional schooling issues and the detriments to children.

Failing to Bring Attention to How Dangerous Public Schooling is For Children’s Health

Towards the end of the August 2011 issue of Parenting New Hampshire is an article that, without intending to, underscored the irony of how schools fail to meet children’s basic biological, physical, psychological and developmental needs, often contrary to health care advice. Traditional schools are regimented in a manner that forces children to deny their bodily functions and emotional needs and contort these needs to the system rather than schools conforming to children’s needs. [...]

Read the full article 3 Comments

Mainstream Media Wrongly Presents Back-To-School As Inevitable, Part II

26 August 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, public school

Laurie and her son Brycen have a close, connected and democratic relationship. Brycen’s needs, choices, requests, freedom and time are respected. (Photo by Joe Martin)

The August 2011 issue of Parenting New Hampshire stood out as a perfect example of mainstream media presenting traditional schooling as inevitable for children in September. This is Part II of my blog post discussing the way the media presents Back-To-School fervor and traditional schooling issues and the detriments to children of this view.

Advocating For Homework- An Exploitative Theft Of Children’s Free Time

Perhaps one of the most dreadful realities of “Back-To-School” is homework. Parenting New Hampshire again failed to recognize children’s needs and presented homework as an inevitable necessity of childhood. The title of their article on homework, “Get Ready for the Homework Battle: Tips for Parents on How to Win The War” by Karen Plumley, truly speaks for itself. This article, like many other mainstream media resources, ignores the research that indicates that homework has little to no educational benefits and actually may hurt children. Most mainstream media resources present homework as something that children must and should do rather than empowering parents to speak out AGAINST it. This article actually aligns parents with the schools and AGAINST their own children, encouraging parents to view homework as a war battle where they must prevail over their children’s needs and wishes. [...]

Read the full article 2 Comments

Mainstream Media Wrongly Presents Back-To-School As Inevitable, Part I

23 August 2011 Categories: public school, unschooling

It wasn’t even August yet when I saw the first signs of Back To School advertising exploiting most children’s dreaded end to summer freedom and joy. Ads, businesses and magazines begin brandishing photos of smiling children rocking trendy clothing, notebooks and textbooks, as if pretending that children entering a hostage situation for the next nine months where their minds, bodies and lives will be under rigid control is something they should smile about. The August 2011 issue of Parenting New Hampshire stood out as a perfect example of mainstream media presenting forced schooling as inevitable for children in September. The magazine was so stereotypical in presenting school as where children belong in September that I decided to use the issue as my inspiration for this blog post. [...]

Read the full article 2 Comments

Attachment Parenting Our Teens

08 August 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

Laurie and her 17 year old son, Brycen

Laurie and her 17 year old son, Brycen

So many Attachment Parents start out so passionate about giving very young children the best start possible in life- Moms birth naturally, spare their sons the trauma of circumcision (MGM) by keeping them intact, breastfeed for at least three years or longer, carry their babies at all times, cosleep for several years and they ideally are gentle and nurturing to their young ones as the children begin to assert their wants and express upset emotions.

Sadly, however, something happens between the ages of seven and 12 in far too many families who started out as “attachment”-minded families: Moms and dads stop parenting for attachment and connection and start letting the mainstream lifestyle creep in. This often translates into sending children to school to suffer with all of its toxic elements, passively allowing children to become saturated and enslaved by the media, consumerism, pop culture and peer culture… And most tragically, moms pull away emotionally and physically from their older children.

If children as young as ages seven to 12 are being slowly absorbed into the mainstream cultural ideals of consuming and “individuating”, where does that leave our teenaged children? Very lost and disconnected, for sure! [...]

Read the full article 8 Comments

Nature’s Intent for Parenting and “Educating”

12 June 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

Laurie and her son Brycen, 2006

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.” [...]

Read the full article 3 Comments

Unschooling Parents (Not School Teachers) Best Equipped By Nature to Guide Learning

20 March 2011 Categories: Blog, public school, unschooling

This evening I read the first sentences of an online article speaking of teachers in almost fantastical, iconic-like terms, painting a picture of nurturing, loving caretakers wiping away children’s tears, inspiring the passion of youth and shaping the future. I felt the indignation and frustration of years of working with children ages 3 to 18, whose spirits, bodies and psyches have been mangled by traditional schooling, often at the hands of teachers.

Contrary to the sentimental, somewhat maudlin cultural imagery of school teachers pouring out selfless nurturance, tending to the needs of youth or lighting the passionate fires of inspiration in grinning, alert children, the youth I have worked with and met over the years have painted me a very different picture. And it ain’t no Mary Cassatt. For six plus hours every day traditional teachers indoctrinate, control, coerce, punish and regiment. They deny children their basic physical and emotional needs, hold children hostage against their will, stifle creativity and freedom of movement and force-feed them irrelevant, dull, boring theories and biased “facts” prefabbed by the government. They ooze ubiquitously into children’s home and free time with homework expectations that strangle play, exploration and family time. When children cannot tolerate the terrible, developmentally inappropriate environment of schooling, teachers are often the arm of the school system that coerces parents into believing their children are “disabled” and are thus in need of chemical restraint (aka: “medication”). [...]

Read the full article 14 Comments

Every Child Innately Knows How to Learn- By Playing!

18 February 2011 Categories: Blog, unschooling

Laurie's son, Brycen in 2005

Have you ever pondered the redundancy of certain quotes commonly used by the education institution? For example, “Try to learn something new every day”. Have you ever tried NOT to learn something new every day? Is it even possible to NOT learn something daily? How about, “Children need to arrive at school ready to learn”. In my opinion, it is precisely when children arrive at school that beneficial, relevant learning stops! [...]

Read the full article 2 Comments

(Putting Joy Back Into) A Day in the Life of an Industrialized Child

08 January 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, Blog, Natural family living, unschooling

In the womb, babies are blanketed in a blissful neurological expectation that when they finally are born into the world, their needs in every manner will be responded to lovingly and met immediately. There is an inborn agreement with nature that because nature intended it to be so, it will be. In many peaceful indigenous tribal societies, this will be the life for most babies that come into the tribe: Love, affection, joy, play, freedom and happiness.

In our industrialized, disconnected culture, we are born into something very different. We are born into a world-view in which nature’s agreement has expired, is disrespected and long forgotten by the majority of the culture. We are born into the firmly established expectations of wounded parents and families who survived their own malnourished childhoods, and of a society that has one motivation in mind: Money. Despite all of the carefree childhood myths, before we even scream our first screams into the world of being born, our entire childhood has been decided for us- It is a preparation for “success”: Productivity, the workforce, a money-making machine. [...]

Read the full article 5 Comments

Physical Nurturance Positively Affects Genes

12 December 2010 Categories: Attachment parenting, Blog

The quality of how physically affectionate and nurturing mothers and fathers are affects children holistically. Intense, constant and warm physical affection nurtures the parent-child attachment and ensures that it is secure. The parent-child attachment is the blueprint of a child’s entire holistic developmental make up: Physically, emotionally, cognitively, creatively, socially, sexually, spiritually and genetically. Yes, the “nature vs. nurture” debate can rest upon the neurological research that shows that nurture affects genetics more than genetics affect nurturing behaviors. In other words, we shape our children’s entire developmental make up, even their genetic expression, depending on the amount of and quality of the physical and emotional affection and nurturing that we share with them.

[...]

Read the full article 2 Comments

Spanking: It’s time to Stop Defending Violence Against Children

27 August 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been in the news, as President Obama considers that it is an embarrassment that the United States is the only “civilized” nation who has refused to ratify a document that calls for nations to abolish legalized violence towards children. Although I take issue with the fact that the UN Convention recommends school be compulsory, the UN Convention is the only international child-focused treaty that calls for the end of violence towards youth. Egregiously, the GOP opposes the UN Convention because they have traditionally viewed children as the property of parents. Conservatives as a group have a poor track record regarding fighting for human rights; this includes their refusal to accept children’s right to live in homes and communities where their bodies are protected from age-discriminating violence.

“Spanking” is a candy-coated word for violence- It is not discipline, it is not any of the rationalizing lies we tell ourselves as a culture that it is. Corporal punishment is a physical, emotional and spiritual assault on a child and it has negative consequences to a child’s neurological, psychological and social development. If we hope to teach our children to be peaceful, compassionate, nonviolent, responsible and cooperative people, then we must parent by deepening the parent-child attachment relationship, not hurt it through traumatizing violence. Hitting children teaches them to accept aggression towards the self or others or to become aggressive towards the self or others in some form- often in a form that they later do not perceive as aggressive. [...]

Read the full article 1 Comment

Epic Fail: Good Morning America Gets “F” for Biased Radical Unschooling Report

21 April 2010 Categories: unschooling

When Juju Chang asked the teenage siblings featured in Good Morning America’s report on Radical Unschooling if they “ever miss or regret” not being in school, I couldn’t help but wonder if she would ask a survivor of a hostage situation if they “ever miss or regret” not being in bondage. Clearly, from the sitcom-like, satirical nature of GMA’s segment, Juju and George Stehanopolos spinned a patronizing, smug and biased attitude towards the idea of youth living in freedom- The way children, including Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and Margret Mead, had done it for millennia. This montage of painfully obvious bad edits and carefully selected quotes was patched together to make the Yablonski-Biegler family appear irresponsible, negligent and ignorant. What ironic fuel for the firestorm of oppressive legislators around the country who are already working to infringe upon the inalienable rights of homeschooling families! [...]

Read the full article 6 Comments

The Attachment-Based Supports and Services that Adoptive Children and Families Need

01 February 2010 Categories: Adoption

The suffering of too many adoptive children runs deep. It runs deep through the spirit and into the neurology of children traumatized by abuse, neglect, abandonment and loss of primary attachment figures. I am the endlessly proud mother of a beautiful, loving, brilliant adolescent adoptive son who I love so eternally that I often forget that I didn’t give birth to him. However, in the face of uncanny cycles and life’s triggers, I am reminded that as happy and well attached as my son is, no matter how fulfilling and joyful his life is now, the pain of his early history looms near. It is the quality of our support system that determines how well we can weather the storms when they arrive.

In my work with children and families, I am regularly stunned by the glaring deficit in our social service and mental health system’s awareness of the special needs of adoptive children. Family after family wearily recounts to me the nightmare of going through multiple therapists, programs and services only to watch their adoptive children sink deeper into detachment, depression and rage. Frivolous use of psychiatric drugs, superficial diagnoses of “ADHD” and Bipolar Disorder, individual talk therapy, “anger management” and “self esteem” groups, behavioral charts and other misguided “treatments” serve to do little more than stall healing, exhaust the family, deplete hope and increase parent-child disconnection. In some cases, the result is a disrupted or rescinded adoption, a tragedy for the child who has already suffered excruciating abandonment and trauma. [...]
Read the full article 0 Comments

Child Advocacy and Children’s Rights Resolutions for the New Decade

02 January 2010 Categories: children's rights

With every decade that passes, new legal and civil rights have been fought for and won for every group of adults in Westernized cultures. The fight continues around the globe in order to share those legal protections with oppressed populations in other cultures. With each passing decade, there have been landmark victories won that validate the journey for adults to assert their basic human rights- In the 00′s, gay marriage was the fight that finally found victory in the United States.

However, children seem to exist in a surreal incubator; a sterile laboratory in which they are viewed and treated as if they are human beings-in-the-making, like objects waiting to be assembled, or feelingless, spiritless bodies waiting for someone to bestow humanity onto them. Decade after decade passes, and yet an industrialized child’s world always looks the same, with little more than trite hope of obtaining any real victories beyond the superficial “right” to be intoxicated consumers and technology automatons. [...]

Read the full article 4 Comments

Exhausted by the Mainstream Drowning Out Natural Instinct

14 November 2009 Categories: Natural family living

My publisher suggested to me a few months ago that I should increase my book’s visibility by blogging. Bloggers are everywhere, making it clear to me that blogging is one of the keys to viral marketing. Yes, I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and what I like about Facebook is the ability to post links and write small comments. I am a busy woman, and quick is what I need after a long day of working, overseeing my son’s unschooling and taking care of the day to day chaoses of life. Thus, blogging has seemed like a chore.

I stopped this morning and asked myself why I, a passionate writer who wishes to make a living at promoting my book and writing other books, would be anything other than ecstatic about writing a blog about attachment parenting, unschooling, and natural family living. The answer came as inertia glared down on my shoulders and eye lids: I’m exhausted by the mainstream. I am exhausted by how mainstream ignorance consistently and relentlessly drowns out nature’s pleas with the human race to live in harmony with how we were intended by nature to live. I am exhausted by the bitter and hostile defensiveness of those too wounded by industrialization to even consider that the very problems they complain about are a result of our culture itself and our brainwashed belief that our way of life is the only way imaginable. [...]

Read the full article 0 Comments

Toddlers Should Be Home with Mom, Not Left to Cry

16 September 2009 Categories: Attachment parenting

This article:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/question/emotions/separation_anxiety_toddlers.html

is dangerous. Well-meaning parents take the advice of “experts” such as the website that hosted this article seriously and suspend their own instincts. The toddler should be home with her mother, not dropped off. She is screaming because she is signaling to her mother that being separated from her mother is painful to her, is running counter to her basic attachment needs and is an alarming, emotionally dangerous situation. The authors do not know the damage they are doing by encouraging parents to just leave their child and let him or her cry. This insensitive behavior goes against the mammal attachment cycle and against every most basic mammal instinct!

Trust your children and do not turn them over to others to raise them!

Read the full article 0 Comments

Babies, like Kangaroo Joeys Need to be Worn Constantly

06 September 2009 Categories: Attachment parenting

I posted this on my website on July 21, 2009:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32008087/?GT1=43001

This story tells us a great deal about the needs of mammals, including humans. Thankfully, the joey was rescued and that the zoo keeper is taking painstaking efforts to replicate the joey’s basic attachment needs. The fact that the mother rejected the baby in captivity is testimony to how stressful unnatural environments are to animals, including humans, and how those environments drive parents of all species to act in ways that are not in their offspring’s best interests. Scientisists spend a great deal of time studying and replicating animal nurturing, baby-wearing, nursing and other needs, without realizing that babies of our own species also need to be worn and held on the skin constantly for nine months, nursed for up to 4 and 1/2 years and raised in nurturing enviornments where children can learn in their own way. Scientists know that haphazard, random or mediocre caregiving doesn’t work to raise baby animals. My hope is that our science fields realize the same about children of our own species.

Read the full article 0 Comments