What In The World Is Natural Parenting?

There’s no denying that “Natural Parenting” seems to be the trend these days.  There are magazines racks and book shelves dedicated to the subject.  You’ll find blog after blog after blog penned by mothers and fathers that extol the virtues of natural parenting, and I love that there is so much information out there on the subject.  Here’s the thing… no one can seem to agree on what natural parenting actually means.

When I started cloth diapering our second child people looked at me like I had lost my mind.  Why in the world would I cloth diaper?  Isn’t that gross?  Well, no, it’s not.  Believe it or not I even convinced a few new mothers that cloth diapering might be the way to go for them too!  It’s interesting though, that when people hear that you cloth diaper they assume that you also make your own baby food, grow your own vegetables (organically, of course), don’t vaccinate, don’t wear deodorant… basically you’re a hippy. The cherry on top was when I told them that I had all three of my children without drugs!  That blew their minds. :)

I’ll admit that I have tried, at one time or another, all of those things.

  • I tried making my own baby food, but that didn’t last long.  I opted for store bought organic baby food and didn’t feel guilty about that at all, although it went against what I thought needed to happen for me to follow a natural parenting lifestyle.
  • We have a tiny raised bed garden just about every year and really enjoy what veggies we harvest.  The kids love seeing the fruits of our labors and think it’s awesome to eat the food that we’ve grown.
  • Our first child got all of her vaccinations because we weren’t educated on the subject at the time.  By the time our second child was two we started learning more about vaccines and chose not to continue with most of the vaccines after that point.  Our third child has had a few vaccines, but we have skipped many of the vaccines on the schedule and plan to continue that way.
  • I do wear deodorant… you’re welcome.  I try to use a natural brand as often as possible (haven’t tried making my own yet), but sometimes the natural deo just doesn’t cut it.

Do I consider what my husband and I do to be natural parenting?  Honestly I have no idea!  There seems to be a Natural Parenting spectrum, don’t you think?  I feel like there are many things that we do as parents that would go along with the natural parenting philosophy: natural childbirth (although not at home, I gave birth naturally in the hospital), exclusive breastfeeding, organic baby foods, some cloth diapering, growing a small percentage of our own veggies, selective vaccinations, etc.  Heck, we’re about to embark on a homeschooling journey with our daughter this coming school year!  But I would venture to say that to some Natural Parenting advocates what we do is not enough.  To others we may seem far along on the spectrum.

Sometimes I feel like labeling parenting styles discourages people from parenting from their hearts.  I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way.

What comes to your mind when you hear or read the term Natural Parenting?