Joyful Participation.





I told Pete yesterday that I wasn't sure how I was going to get it all done before bedtime. The kids were outside and I had a little grumble session, rattling off a list of all that I needed to do in the next 24 hours. At the top of the list was peel and seed – and then can – the tomatoes, stem and process the green beans, and make pickles. Somehow I had bushels of produce piling up on my porch and in my kitchen and I needed to put the time in to deal with them. The fruit flies were starting to gather.

And then the kids came in for lunch.

When Sage got to the kitchen he saw the big pot of water simmering away on the stove. "Whatcha doin'? Are you peeling tomatoes? I'll do it. I want to peel tomatoes!" And before I knew what had happened my kids had set up two work stations at the table and peeled, cored, and seeded a half-bushel of our garden tomatoes.

I was both grateful and amazed. You see, a long time ago we stopped forcing chores. When I'm overwhelmed I experiment with it once in a while, but it always leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Forcing participation in the day-to-day workings of the family teaches that everyone must participate for the family to function (a good lesson) but it also teaches that participating in said work really sucks. Helping is not fun when you are forced to help, so I believe the positive lessons are mostly missed. So I stopped doing it.

My kids do help – every day even – but they usually get to choose how. Lupine hates clearing and washing her dishes, but she likes setting the table and wiping it down. She also loves mopping, cleaning the bathroom, and folding laundry. Do I really need to force her to wash her plate? If so, to what end?

And by preserving the notion that helping is fun, they don't hesitate to jump in and participate in our life – simply for the joy of it. And to me that's the best lesson of all.

Oh, and as for that messy work of processing tomatoes? Both my kids are pretty sensitive when it comes to anything tactile. Lupine couldn't seed a tomato with her eyes open. But tomato after tomato she kept at it, simultaneously amused and disgusted. It was awesome.








Peaceful Parenting.

You may have noticed the new link to the right for the "Non-Violent Parenting and Education Blog Ring". We stumbled upon their website and knew we had found an online home.

What is non-violent parenting?


The Non-violent Parenting and Education Blog folks have a great description on their website. In our home it means, quite simply, to strive everyday to treat our children with complete love and respect. To treat them as important members of our family, not as lessers to be dominated or controlled.


This isn't as easy as it may seem.

Most of us were raised in homes that operated under the norms of "Because I said so," or "Do it now." There wasn't room in my childhood home for challenging my parents or for saying "No" to something that was asked of me.To do so insured a punishment of one kind or another be it yelling, spanking, grounding, or coercion.While I truly believe my parents were doing the best that they knew how, I feel blessed to have found a different way of mothering.


Here is the structure of our home: If I say, "Sage, will you please help me set the dinner table?" there are two possible answers: yes or no. I accept either answer as an authentic expression of self. I do not believe that my needs are more important simply because I am an adult.

There are a few non-negotiables (buckling your seat belt for example), and these are communicated lovingly and respectfully and have yet to result in resistance.

We came to Non-Violent Parenting after finding ourselves struggling in the day-to-day battle-of-wills over clashing needs. We (the adults) attempted to force participation. We are all members of this family and we all have to do our share, we reasoned. Forced participation, however, did not carry the energy that we had hoped. Stomping feet, furrowed brows, slamming doors, and big attitude was our daily scene.

So we changed the rules.

We quietly tossed the kid's chore list… and something magical happened. Sage started participating because he wanted to, not because we forced him. He started raking leaves, mowing the lawn, and folding some laundry. He started to do his share because it felt good. Because he was an equal.

Does he set the table? Rarely, but that's fine with me.

Do we slip? Yes. Sometimes there are raised voices. Sometimes we issue demands. Sometimes consequences slip from our tongues in the heat of a stressful day. But then we catch ourselves and notice how very little fun anyone is having, and we all lighten up.


Truly, we started practicing peaceful parenting before Sage was even born. From natural (home)birth to attachment parenting and needs-responsive parenting, we have always striven to be present for our kids, to authentically respond to their needs – day and night. This new journey into Peaceful Parenting is simply an extension of our heart's truth from years ago.


And it is a journey that can begin any day, with the smallest of steps. Me? I'm glad it's the path we are on. In our world non-violent parenting has created a nurturing, peaceful, joy-filled home.