Parenting is the toughest job out there, hands down. When I became a parent, I realized that life as I knew it had ended, because life as a parent has no resemblance to life as an unattached couple. Your household expenses increase way more than you had imagined they would, the sleep you used to take for granted becomes a luxury, the ability to run out to the store for something on a whim disappears unless you have willing and trustworthy babysitters on call and nearby at your disposal, the increased housekeeping duties…and let’s not even talk about the loss of privacy.
Of course parenting comes with more rewards than challenges otherwise no one would ever have more than one kid—feeling emotions you never knew you had in a way you never knew you could, always having someone to snuggle with, always having someone to laugh with, having someone look at you like you are a superhero for no reason, the realization that you have received the greatest gift from the Universe that any human can ever receive…you know, little stuff like that. So even though parents give up certain freedoms that unattached couples enjoy, the fulfillment and joy that accompany the precious little souls we are entrusted to raise greatly outweigh any inconveniences.
All types of parents experience unique challenges—some of which are not experienced by all: working parents, single parents, stay-at-home parents, homeschooling parents, you name it. Well today I am adding holistic parents to that list.
What is a “holistic parent”?
The answer to this might not be as cut and dry as defining a working parent. Instead of defining “holistic parent” in one sentence, I will list some characteristics that might apply to holistic parents:
- Cooking meals from scratch using whole foods
- Use of alternative and holistic healthcare practitioners and therapies as the frontline of care such as:
- Breastfeeding or using homemade raw milk-based formula
- Avoiding vaccines, antibiotics, steroids, and over-the-counter medications
- Choosing organic, all-natural foods and personal/baby care products regardless of the cost
- Cloth diapering or using organic diapers and wipes that are free of chlorine and other chemicals
- Restricting the use of media at home
- Choosing alternative education such as Waldorf or homeschooling
- Using fluoride-free toothpaste
- Restricting sugar, gluten, dairy, and other known food allergens
The list goes on…I just wanted to give a brief overview. I’d also like to add that some holistic parents end up being holistic out of necessity rather than initial preference. Some children with special needs benefit from special diets and lowering toxic exposure, others have specific allergies, etc. There are several reasons.
When my older daughter was a baby, we learned that she was intolerant of dairy since she had a reaction every time I nursed her after eating dairy. We also learned she was allergic to petrolatum and synthetic fragrances, in addition to other chemicals since she got horrible rashes when we used all the baby powder-scented baby shampoo, oils, and lotions from the most popular baby product manufacturers on the market (the same who recently came under fire for using formaldehyde in their American formulationsbut not in formulations for the same products in other countries). So I went dairy-free and we started buying all natural and organic baby care and laundry products fairly early on.
Our own families could not understand why we would voluntarily spend $20 on a baby shampoo/body wash instead of just using the steroid cream prescribed by the pediatrician that cost less because insurance covered most of it. Even then, before I began researching this stuff on my own, I couldn’t understand why people (and doctors) wanted me to continue using products that were irritating my daughter’s skin and give her drugs to make the irritation go away just to save a couple of bucks. This is when I first realized that if I was going to commit to being a holistic parent, I’d have to be prepared for many battles.
And battles I have fought and will continue to fight.
Holistic parents have to defend every healthy, natural, alternative, or organic choice we make. We have to defend them to other parents who refer to us as anything from “new age hippies” to snobs:
|What do you mean you’re declining the flu shot?|
- To allopathic doctors who want to inject our children with genetically modified drugs contaminated with heavy metals and question our every nutritional decision
- To dentists who insist our kids’ teeth will rot out of their heads if we do not use fluoridated toothpaste
- To teachers who insist our children use toxic hand sanitizers every 5 minutes to avoid spreading the flu and other pathogens and who use candy to reward our children for good behavior and jobs well done
- To other parents and family members who insist they grew up eating pesticides, sugar, artificial dyes and sweeteners, and other food additives and they.came.out.just.fine
- To our spouses and other family members who are upset at the higher cost of organic foods and healthier personal care and household cleaning products
- To our own children who don’t understand why they can’t buy greasy chicken nuggets, chocolate skim milk, and rainbow colored ice pops at school like their friends do
And sometimes I admit we (at least I) give in, because it is easier to do so and because we don’t want our kids to feel ostracized. I confess I even sent munchkins to school with my daughter for her birthday because a) she begged me to, and b) I realized that at least it was a controlled portion of junk in a limited quantity. And I felt like a total hypocrite for doing so.
So holistic parents still face all the challenges of other types of parents, but we also have a subset of challenges that other parents don’t have. And we willingly choose to have them.
Why do we do it?
I can’t speak for other parents, but I truly believe that by doing the best I can to feed my kids nutritious, homecooked meals most of the time and reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals, I am giving them their best chance to live long, healthy, happy lives. On Facebook yesterday, I shared this picture from GoFruitYourself.com:
I added that “The body is constantly producing new cells…what you feed it directly impacts whether those cells are healthy or not. It’s never too late to start living a healthy life!”
The nutrients you put into the body are the building blocks for the cells it produces. While our cells continue to regenerate as we age, the majority of that growth occurs when we are children. These nutrients impact healthy cell formation in every tissue, organ, and system of the body—including our thought processes and brain function.
From a spiritual standpoint, I believe children are gifts from the Divine, and as parents we are meant to nourish and protect them so they can be strong, clear-minded, and healthy enough to serve their grand purpose in this life on this Earth. I don’t actually consider the holistic choices I make to be choices or luxuries—I truly believe they are necessities and responsibilities.
I realize other parents feel differently and might not agree with me, and that’s their prerogative—but I also know there is a large band of other holistic parents out there who feel this same sense of responsibility towards their children. We willingly and lovingly make these choices because we feel that raising healthier kids will create better lives for them as well as a healthier future for our planet.
I plan to write more posts on this topic and would love to hear from other holistic parents:
What is your greatest challenge as a holistic parent and how do you face it? What made you become a holistic parent? What is the greatest reward you’ve experienced as a result of your parenting methods? Please post in the comments here or on Facebook.