There are hundreds of stories being blogged about that include everything from raising a trans-gendered or gender-neutral child to minimizing all possessions and living in 200 square feet with children. Every one of them is inspirational and motivational. It is a sign that there is a shift happening within our society; a shift toward bettering our children and bettering our world. But, the challenges and nay-sayers are still found in abundance. So much so, that most of us going against the grain tend to hide ourselves in fear of being ‘exposed.’ Times are changing; confidence is growing, and parents are speaking out.
Our story is not as extreme as so many others, as many would think that we are completely ‘normal.’ But I raise the question of ‘What is normal?’ and ‘Why would anyone want that title?’ Certainly, not us.
You see, we are a pretty typical upper-middle class American family. I drive a mini-van; we have 4 children, all healthy and happy. We own a decent to large size home in a beautiful neighborhood. We have pizza nights, play soccer, and slam doors when we are angry… so what would we have to say about raising a child against society’s expectations?
Well, we are actually raising four children against society’s expectations. We are a family that believes in homeopathy (Medicine has its place, and we respect and utilize when needed.) We homeschool instead of following traditional standardized schooling. We grow as much food as possible (but are in no way homesteaders) and shop locally for meat and produce. I have our babies at home under the care of a midwife, and I breastfeed passed two years (until each child self-weans). We cloth diaper and bedshare; we research and educate.
We believe in peaceful parenting and will never spank a child. We walk a less traveled path of family-life compared to most… a path that dates back eons, but one in which our current society seems to deem selfish, harmful, wrong, and even laughable.
We hold our heads high and know what we are doing is right for us. As a medical research writer, I have had the ability to learn more than enough to justify our stance on life, but that shouldn’t matter. What matters is that we are doing right by our children. We are providing them with a true childhood instead of enforcing them to sit at a desk all day. They explore, build, read, and experience real life. They spend hours with friends problem-solving; we travel together and learn as we go. The life they are experiencing cannot be taught within four walls or learned from a curriculum. These children of mine have the biggest hearts, find the kindness within everyone, and can make friends in the blink of an eye.
I receive dirty looks and ridiculous comments when strangers see that I am pregnant with baby #5, and my other children are not in school at 11am on a Thursday, especially when they reach up to the cashier and pay for our purchases with folded dollars and coins. These are my teaching moments. But, it’s no one’s business – as long as my children are healthy, happy, and well taken care of, which I assure you, they are. With not one sick visit on record, their immune systems are capable and working well. Their dirty feet are a sign of the adventures in our garden; their crazy clothing selection is a sign of their personalities and independence, and their smiles are a reflection of just how amazing this life is. The bubble baths are as frequent as the giggles, and their sibling bond is stronger than anything I’ve seen before. Society may question what we do, but we don’t.
There is this funny thing that happens as you grow through adulthood, you become confident in your ways. It does not happen overnight, and when beginning the journey of parenting against society’s expectations, you will have doubts. These doubts can grow large enough to throw you from your path if you let them, but always remember to trust your gut. These babies that you are raising are YOURS, not society’s. No one knows your child better than you, and it is your job to do right by your child. That means something different for every family, but if you end up swimming upstream, know that you are not alone. There is a shift happening out there, slowly but surely it is becoming more acceptable to share these off-beaten parenthood experiences. It gives great hope for the future, as one day the majority will realize that the most important part of adulthood is to not judge others but to find peace within one’s own decisions, and to accept that others are doing the same thing.
Elizabeth is a researcher, author, and content writer for My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, a brand that makes recordable stuffed animals, best gift for baby showers and moms to be. She spends her days as the ringleader of a never-tiring circus; one full of tightrope walkers, nerf gun shooters, mess makers, and danger-seekers. Elizabeth is currently expecting baby #5 and homeschooling the rest of her tribe. She exists on toddler kisses, caffeine, and tears of (panic) happiness. Also read her latest blogs about pregnancy.
Do you have a parenting challenge you’d like to share? If you’re interested in contributing to the My Mountain series please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.