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authentic parenting + what works for us

December 18, 2013

My intentions in writing this post is both as a slight venting avenue + mostly, a share of my personal journey and what works for our family. I hope I can help others find what works and what does not work for them, and ideally find some clarity in this journey we call parenting. 

After seeing the Babies documentary twice, I know for a fact that American parents are one of the most high strung, controlling, hyper vigilant type of parents in all of the world. Fo' Real. Now that I have a 3 1/2 and an almost 1 1/2 year old set of boys, I have met parents of all walks of life, philosophies and ideals. I truly respect whatever perspective works for each parent, just as long as the kids are safe and happy. 

I aim to be authentic + honest in this sharing from our lives and my heart, I am definitely not perfect nor do I have everything figured out! The same idea applies to what I eat and what I feed my children. I don't beat myself up when we indulge, but we have very healthy tendencies. 

 

A DEMOCRACY.

During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children (Baumrind, 1967) Our personal type of parenting style is quite democratic. We are responsive to our babes and willing to listen to questions. When they fail to meet our expectations, we chose to be more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these types of parents "monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative" (1991). This is a great way to describe how Adi and I communicate with the kids and where our expectations lie. 

 

FREE SPIRIT + Some necessities. 

I am a yoga teacher, optimist and a free spirit. Much of my parenting style stems from this truth. We are extremely liberal politically and echo that liberalsim in how we parent. We are aware of that. We also work hard to create a balance to honor our children and their needs. Kids CRAVE consistency. The boys almost always nap in the same place, around the same time. They go to sleep around the same time every single day. They are better for it, and then we are better parents because of this consistency we provide. 

Adi {hubby} has a huge role as caregiver, not just as provider. He's one of the most compassionate, beautiful, loving fathers I've ever witnessed. There is a wonderful balance in our home and although it isn't always perfect, we work hard to be fair to each other so there is deep harmony felt for all. We are equal parents in this and this is not the 1950's.  

 

HIPPIE FAM.

We had a beautiful doula who guided my first birth with Kai. It was an experience I am so thankful for and a gift from my parents. She was a magic worker in there and although I believe and trust in my body's knowingness, having a guide was incredible.

I was a rockstar with Leo which ended up being a VBAC. Best experience of my LIFE. Please let me know if you have any hesitations about this and I will gladly share my experience. 

We also encapsulated my placenta (our Chinese doctor did it for us) and I think it's a no brainer in terms of health for mama mentally, emotionally and physically. 

I was a home birth myself. My mom had a doula and midwife and all worked out wonderfully. I completely support that for others as long as they are close to a hospital if need be. For my first birth with Kai, the cord was around his neck 2 1/2 times and a c-section was non-negotiable. I thank the heavens I was at UCLA hospital for that and that my doula knew. 

BONDING.

I wear both of my babies as often as possible. It's very important for bonding and connecting with baby in the first few months, especially. I still wear my 16month old at least 4-5 times a week; it's so intimate and special for us. I wore my 3 1/2 year old a month ago in NYC and he fell asleep instantly against my heartbeat. It's so obviously perfect. My favorite carrier is the beco butterfly 2. If you want to check out an awesome mommy of 5 who sells them, her website is paxbaby.com

I am a big advocate on breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of babes life and as long as you and baby feel is bright for you. Those first few months are imperative in my opinion and from there as long as you both are willing is vital. That stuff is LIQUID GOLD so just remember that: every single day makes a difference. 

We snuggle all the time. We all crawl into the family bed multiple times a day to just read books, color, rest and snuggle. Both boys will lay on top of me, stretched out long, happy as can be. I don't think I've made it through a cuddle session without shedding a tear, yet. It's that good.

 

LESS CONSUMING.

We do cloth diapering as often as possible. It's so much more natural and less waste into the environment  When we don't do cloth, we use honest company diapers which are as eco-friendly as they get without being cloth and reusable. We give our used clothes to friends and needy families and I shop at the consignment store and thrift stores often. My kids wear beautiful clothes as gifts from their aunts and grandparents which we honor and deeply appreciate, but we have yet to purchase a single store bought item of clothing ourselves. That feels good to say. In the past few months I gave in and began getting a few conscious items (wooden toys, books about love + goodness, etc) for the kids because those were not gifts they were receiving from family and I didn't want to be demanding. I donate the majority of the loud toys and beepy things we get as gifts because they aren't aligned with the peacefulness + vibe in our home. {we also live in a 2 bedroom apt... space is limited!}

I explain literring, donation, giving, helping and providing for others already even though the kids are so young. We absorb so much at such a young age so you never know what is sticking. It's worth a try and I see how giving and compassionate Kai is because of my actions + words. We talk about our feelings ALL. THE. TIME. and it's very important to me that my boys learn to recognize and express their feelings authentically as they grow into men. I've had several bad relationships with people in my life that ended because they weren't in touch with their true needs, feelings + nature. 

 

opposite of traditional.

In the past few months, I've noticed how deeply opposite of traditional we are as parents and individuals. Our values are not conservative whatsoever and we do not vibe well with those who are extremely traditional. We have a much more balanced or even matriarchal way of guiding our family and lives. I say we don't vibe well with those on the opposite side of the spectrum not because I don't "like" them, it's much more that they have high expectations that I honestly do not want to, nor will probably ever meet. And that's uncomfortable for both parties.

Our priorities in this family are that our children know they are LOVED, that they are HAPPY and that they are nurtured. Everything else comes second.

 

We are making up a lot of our "traditions" as we go. We are making up our own rules based on what we like and didn't like in our own childhoods. For example, I didn't like the excess associated with Christmas... all the unnecessary gifts and spending so much money on one day just because, so we aren't participating in that aspect. We WILL have a living tree, we WILL decorate it and sing and be merry, but the excessive amount of gifts will not be happening. We celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles, singing songs + spending time with family. We won't force our kids to go to temple or church but we will certainly take them if they are curious. We will raise them secular but extremely spiritual, insightful + mindful. 

 

OUR RELIGION.

If anything, our "religion" is nature, mindfulness + yoga. We practice yoga almost every day for at least 10 minutes. You can't even imagine how magical a 15 month old is doing yoga... it hurts. We get outside every day, no matter how cold or if it's raining. (we live in SoCal so snow isn't an issue, luckily!)

We make a point in saying positive loving kind things to each other, special affirmations about ourselves and to each other multiple times a day. For example, "you look so beautiful" and "do you know how much I love you?" and "thank you for being my son" come out of my mouth all day long. These exact sayings are repeated to me from my 3 year old as well, so I know it's sinking in and being absorbed. When he says "you know what mommy? I love you." at 7am while reading a book, I know I'm doing something right.

 

POSITIVE + MINDFUL PARENTING.

The more complicated our lives are, the more important it is to live in the present moment—otherwise we’ll miss much of our lives. As a parent, you can’t withdraw to a cave to meditate. It’s all about now. When you tune into the breath and sensations in the body, you are stepping outside of time. Moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental awareness cultivated by paying attention—we are all capable of this. 

I'm asked almost daily how I "get it all done". I really don't know. I'm pretty organized, I get plenty of sleep and I have a beautiful life I'm beyond grateful for. I have my own thriving business that has been completely grass roots and I'm married to the man of my dreams. Here's one thing I've been noticing though, especially around my stressed out mama friends: Mindfulness actually saves us a tremendous amount of time because we don’t go down so many dead ends with our thoughts. It doesn’t take any more time to be more mindful. It’s not a philosophy, it’s a practice. You don’t have to get less busy or fix anything. Simply reclaim your moments by showing up for them. The more “speedy” your life is, the more oxygen this practice gives you.I can't tell you how many times I've said (and heard Kai say back to me) "let's calm down and take a deep breath." 

Mindful parenting is not about being a yogi or practicing Buddhism; it’s about being human + realizing that we have more options than we may think in any moment, no matter what is happening. Just bringing awareness to your breathing and sustaining it over time can be very powerful. Remember, whether you are reacting mindlessly or responding mindfully, your child is drinking it all in.

 

GRATITUDE AS AN ATTITUDE!

I am not exaggerating when I say that Adi and I cry almost daily out of GRATITUDE for our lives and children. We share pictures while laying in bed, watch their video monitors, tell stories from the day and CRY tears of JOY. This is such a vital aspect in our parenting because it's all about reflecting on their growth, on OUR growth as parents, partners + humans. 

I ask Kai all the time during meltdowns (when he can actually still hear me) something he's happy or grateful for. It's amazing how it can turn us all around and bring us back to what's truly important. 

 

LAST THOUGHTS.

Parenting is not as clear-cut as learning a skill. There are no benchmarks. We have benchmarks in our society for success, but being a parent doesn’t take that form. Lately, it does seem like people are deciding to live more simply—to have less, work less and have more family time. People are starting to want more balance. There is something stirring and that makes me HAPPY.

 

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS (4)

  • Tashina | June 22, 2016 | 19:55 PM

    I’ve read this countless times already! This would make such a good base for a book!

  • Krysta | February 27, 2014 | 01:01 AM

    I love this! There are so many differing parenting philosophies and people tend to be so judgmental if you’re doing something they don’t believe in. I tend to parent very much like you do and can only hope that my son and future children feel the love and make this world so beautiful <3

  • Tal Nimrodi | December 18, 2013 | 13:24 PM

    Sophie, thanks for sharing your personal life, I feel like this really enlightened me and inspired me to keep an open mind and never forget the true me..You really are incredible. I loved this blog post, I feel so lucky that Rachelle connected me to you. I can’t wait to meet you in real life

  • natali v. | December 18, 2013 | 08:56 AM

    this is exactly what i needed to read right now! with my little one making his arrival in march i often forget to stop worrying and just BREATHE. your stories and parenting style are so inspiring and motivating .. definitely bookmarking this post to refer back to SUPER often! <333

 

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