By: Nancy Massotto
Parenthood is life changing. Beyond the obvious, for many parents, it is the first time we really start to pay attention to the things we put in and on our bodies. We start reading labels, researching products, and wondering how they will impact our family. Many of us start worrying about toxic chemicals in our homes and the impact they may have on our children and our environment for future generations. Parenting is also an education in better understanding human communications and relationships, in finding balance in life, and managing stress. All in all, it’s fundamentally a holistic journey that compels one to examine more facets of life than might have been previously imaginable.
Holistic parenting is a philosophy that embraces that journey.
A holistic approach to parenting begins with an awareness of how our choices and actions are interconnected and how they impact our health, well-being, and environment. But being a holistic parent is not a race or a contest. It’s not about having the “perfect” green lifestyle or abandoning all of our previous traditions. It is the effort we make to become informed and to make the best choices for ourselves, our families, and our planet. It means that we are engaged—personally and politically—in the choices that we make and the impact that they have. As such, holistic parenting embraces green and non-toxic living, nonviolent communication, and natural health.
At the Holistic Moms Network, we believe these basic values can be expressed in the following seven fundamental ideals. Holistic parents:
1. Make informed and educated parenting decisions. Parents need to be aware of alternative and holistic options that may differ from conventional choices in order to make an informed choice that best suits their family and their personal values. We encourage open-minded research and discussion around pivotal issues such as childbirth, breastfeeding, wellness, vaccination, circumcision, nutrition, interpersonal communication, discipline, and education.
2. Seek respectful and nurturing relationships with others . Holistic parents are committed to imparting the values of empathy, love, and compassion to our children, and embracing attachment parenting techniques (including baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and positive discipline).
3. Actively participate in our own healing process. We opt for minimally invasive healthcare modalities to help the body and spirit heal while respecting the many paths to healing, both holistic and conventional.
4. Balance and integrate the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of being into everyday life . Create a balanced life for the entire family using the principles of wholeness—healthy eating, regular exercise, natural healing, stress reduction, and nonviolent communication.
5. Teach our children to respect and care about the natural world. We actively provide opportunities for them to be in nature, and teach them about how they can protect our environment.
6. Limit our children’s exposure to advertising, marketing, and consumer-driven culture. We avoid activities that promote rampant materialism and disconnect our children from nature and healthy social interactions.
7. Live more simply and consume less. Make an effort to reduce our impact on the environment and to emphasize non-material values.
Maybe it sounds overwhelming, maybe it sounds like what you already do—either way, holistic parenting is an evolution and there’s no end point. It’s an ongoing journey. The Holistic Moms Network’s mission and purpose is to support parents on their holistic journey, wherever that may take them. We emphasize community-building and raising awareness, and welcome parents wherever they are and whatever choices they have made. We are not a single-issue group, but a community that honors diversity and tolerance as we strive to do the best that we can each and every day.
Are you a holistic parent or would you like to be one? We would love to have you join our growing community!
Nancy Massotto, Ph.D., is Founder and Executive Director of the Holistic Moms Network.