By Nancy Massotto, PhD, executive director of Holistic Moms Network
While these trends are significant in the marketplace, they are also apparent in a movement toward parenting and lifestyle choices that focus on promoting awareness of environmental conservation, natural remedies, and the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
But living a greener life means more than incorporating green ideas into daily living; it’s a mindset. Parents who are seeking and living this lifestyle are practicing holistic parenting.
Holistic parenting springs from an awareness of how our choices are interconnected. Like Attachment Parenting, holistic parenting seeks to build and strengthen connections – between parent and child, between our lifestyle and our health, and between our choices and their impact upon the Earth. It’s about understanding the relationship between mind, body, and spirit and trying to find balance.
When you are out of balance emotionally, physically, or spiritually – or when your environment is toxic – it is a sign of illness. Making choices that embrace these interconnections and working with nature and our innate knowledge helps us to restore balance.
Holistic parenting is also about becoming informed and being cognizant of how different options affect our health and well-being, as well as their impact upon our communities and the world. Being conscious of our choices enables us to think on a larger scale and to do what is best for our families.
Although holistic parenting can take many routes, here are some simple things every parent can to do to begin their holistic living journey:
- Stay informed – Being informed in our parenting and health care choices are cornerstones of whole living. From childbirth options to nutrition, from education alternatives to discipline, holistic parenting seeks a natural path. Parents should look beyond the surface to assess the risks and benefits of their choices to understand how their choices impact their lives on physical, spiritual, and emotional levels. Modern technology has enabled parents to access a wealth of information and to become aware of less conventional perspectives. Parents need to become advocates for themselves, their children, and our planet, and to be open to information that resonates with them regardless of whether or not the data confers with “mainstream” perspectives.
- Cultivate trust – Living holistically starts with a shift in your perspective away from fear and uncertainty and toward trust in yourself, your body, and nature’s healing power. Cultivating this trust is challenging, but uncovering it is a source of empowerment. From childbirth and breastfeeding to natural healing, trusting in the body and its amazing abilities enables us to recognize that nature holds many miracles. This also means trusting in the needs of our children. We all know babies have needs and wants, but our society tends to minimize their levels of consciousness and awareness. If we trust in our babies’ abilities to know what they need, we will parent more successfully.
- Tune into your wisdom – Deep within ourselves lies our inner wisdom and intuition. What feels right to us may not be the most traveled path but often will best serve our families. This wisdom guides not only our parenting styles but also simple choices we make everyday. Many times, we may wonder if something is really “good” for us, even if it is considered “safe” by the authorities. If your wisdom is questioning, become informed and seek alternatives. Parenting from the heart and trusting in our instinct honors our own wisdom and abilities.
- Go natural – The preponderance of chemicals in our food, homes, and environment is wreaking havoc on our health. A 2004 article in The Journal of Pediatrics advised pediatricians to discuss the neurological risks of exposing babies to pesticides, whether through foods or environmental exposure on lawns. In the article, it was noted that the blood-brain barrier in babies is easily crossed by chemicals, thus reducing exposure is essential. They also noted that “we are currently able to characterize pediatric risks for only a handful of the approximately 80,000 man-made chemicals that have entered the environment since World War II.” We need to look for safe, non-toxic products to care for our homes, and to eliminate artificial ingredients, preservatives, and pesticides from our food for the health of our families, and our environment.
- Live lightly on the earth – Living holistically means recognizing the interconnectedness of our choices. Treading lightly by supporting industries that nurture the earth (such as organic farming), incorporating green practices into your life (such as recycling), and giving back of yourself through volunteer work are essential components of natural living. As parents, we can educate our children to take simple but important steps to conserve, reuse, and to live simply and thoughtfully for themselves and future generations.
- Find support – While all things “green” may be increasingly popular, living a holistic lifestyle continues to be considered “alternative” and often garners criticism from our own families and friends. Interacting with others who share similar philosophies is empowering and helps parents find the tools they need to grow a healthy family. Social support itself is health creating. Recent studies show that being socially connected to others can improve your physical health and is linked to lower mortality rates. Connecting with like-minded parents can help you learn and share as you continue your journey to a more natural and balanced life.
About the Holistic Moms Network
The Holistic Moms Network (HMN) is a nonprofit organization connecting parents who are passionate about holistic health and green living. For more information, visit www.holisticmoms.org.