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The Natural Parenting Label

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What is natural parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


The internet is full of words and phrases that I’d never heard of until I discovered some folks on a  forum, blog or email list chatting away about that particular thing.  These words and phrases are often acronymized and come across like a secret code to the uninitiated, like cloth diapering (CD), nursing in public (NIP), nursing at keyboard (NAK), or the dizzying multitudes of abbreviated handles for homeschooling curriculums, authors and approaches.  When I heard of Natural Parenting (NP), I realized this was the label that fit my instinctive parenting style best.

Natural Parenting is more a lifestyle or mindset than a checklist of acronyms that represent various parenting choices.  You don’t have to master every level in order to get your Natural Parenting badge or join the exclusive club.  Like its sister, Attachment Parenting, Natural Parenting is characterized by a mindset, a mindset that admittedly lends itself to certain choices more easily than others, but is ultimately more a way of thinking and being.

mischevious toddler artist

What is Natural Parenting all about?

When I say that Natural Parenting is more about the mindset than it is about specific choices, what do I mean exactly?  I’m glad you asked!

Natural Parenting is primarily about respect.

  • Respect for children, in choices that support their healthy growth and development, physically and emotionally.
  • Respect for parents and other caregivers, in choices that support their need for balance, attachment and living according to chosen values.
  • Respect for our communities, in choices that support political activism and social justice.
  • Respect for the environment, by having environmentally sustainable households.

Parents with a Natural Parenting mindset sometimes read a great deal of parenting resources during their first pregnancy or before they have children and set off mindfully practicing Natural Parenting from the moment their firstborn is conceived.  Others come around to Natural Parenting in other ways, either by intuitively feeling out choices as they come to them or making choices that didn’t feel right and making different choices later on.  That’s ok too.

little girl painting a watercolour rainbow

What I love about Natural Parenting is the way it aligns with my style of learning and parenting; a combination of auto-didactic or self-taught research, experimentation and intuition.  Natural Parents generally question the status quo and aren’t afraid to swim against the mainstream.  Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to nurse a toddler in public or explain to the receptionist that no, your daughter isn’t going to preschool, but when the research, your experience and your intuition are all in agreement, it doesn’t matter as much what other people say.

Specific parenting choices will eventually fall into place within the Natural Parenting perspective when you look at the situation with respect in mind.

  • Does this choice respect my child as an individual?
  • Does this choice honor my self-respect and values as a parent?
  • Is this choice respectful and inclusive to the larger community?
  • Is this choice environmentally sustainable for future generations?

I have a tendency to resist labels, but when it comes to finding like-minded parents who can support each other in this adventure we call life, I’m happy to label myself a Natural Parent.  I have lots of big and little things I want to do to make our life more environmentally friendly, more balanced, more respectful.  But right now I’m happy to know the direction in which I want to go and to slowly keep learning and growing on the way.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We’ve arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

    • Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting” — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes knows better now how to prepare for her second baby, focusing on attachment rather than nursery curtains. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 23. (@sheryljesin)
    • Begin at the Beginning” — Alison at BluebirdMama examines the first type of natural parenting she experienced: birthing at home. (@BluebirdMama)
    • Going With the {Tandem Milk} Flow” — Despite being told she would never be able to nurse her toddler through pregnancy, Jessika at Job Description: Mommy successfully nursed through her entire pregnancy, and she continues tandem nursing her two little ones fifteen months later! (@JobDescMommy)
    • Breastfeeding with Love and Respect” — Resisting the pressure to give up, breastfeeding was the way Dionna at NursingFreedom.org persisted in nourishing her son. (@NursingFreedom)
    • Why Should I Call It Extended?” — Amy at Toddler In Tow provides scientifically based research to support child-led weaning.
    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” — For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the Present” — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With Heart” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • Sometimes I Wish We Coslept” — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
    • Unconditional Parenting” — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

  • Healing Through Elimination Communication Part 1” — Amy at Innate Parenting explains how practicing elimination communication has helped her whole family gain awareness and healing in many areas of their lives. (@InnateWholeness)
  • Growing Out of Little Potties” — Stacy at Mama-Om is proud to be the “weird lady” who practices elimination communication with her babies. (@mama_om)
  • Let’s Talk Diapers” — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude started using cloth diapers because she felt they were a safer choice for her child; she stuck with them because they are convenient.

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them Look” — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” — Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning” — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kellie November 9, 2010, 7:02 am

    I love this post! Especially the part about respecting the other parent/caregivers philosophies as well. I feel like many families are so at odds with their parenting styles, and it is so important to me that my husband and I agree on what we are doing as parents. Our relationship will need to last a long time – much longer than our journey as parents of young children – and starting it out by being at odds over the children all of the time would not be healthy, in my opinion.

    • michelle November 9, 2010, 9:32 pm

      Hi Kellie – I agree, it is so important to be on the same page with your partner about parenting stuff. Tom and I have learned a lot about parenting since first becoming pregnant, but thankfully he’s been 100% behind the natural parenting style since the start. He did ask some difficult questions about homeschooling but he’s on board with that now too. Mostly he worries about me getting burned out, and I reassure him that if I’m feeling that way we’ll change things up. But so far Natural Parenting has turned out to be more energizing than not.

  • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama November 9, 2010, 8:58 am

    I love the common thread through several of our posts that demonstrate the partnership between natural parenting and respect. So many of the choices we’ve (my hubby and I) made as parents are exactly because of what you’ve described here: we are showing our child the same respect we want for ourselves. Thank you for sharing!

    • michelle November 9, 2010, 9:35 pm

      Thanks Dionna! You made a great poinit – so much of Natural Parenting is like living the golden rule. Would I rather wear cloth diapers or disposables? Would I rather be disciplined with love or anger? They are easy choices from that perspective! :)

  • Bluebirdmama November 9, 2010, 10:28 am

    In my family, we’ve also found that natural parenting is more a mindset than just a parenting philosophy. The parenting specifics (with their associated acronyms) are just an extension of how we are trying to live our lives in general. It’s easy and convenient for me to use the label particularly when I’m in a venue where the focus is parenting…but the reality is that natural parenting is just the parenting aspect of a broader mindset that includes all of the same values. Nice post!

    • michelle November 9, 2010, 9:39 pm

      I think it would be possible to have the same mindset as a Natural Parent but to be child-free – the attitude of mindfulness and respect is one that I see in some of my conscientious single friends too. Except they usually do more yoga than I do. :)

  • Betsy November 9, 2010, 8:56 pm

    Bravo! This is what I meant to say in my blog post but I got all rambly and tangential and anecdotal.

    Yes! It’s conscientious parenting. Being conscious of the our children as human beings who deserve respect, conscious of communites, conscious of our environment, and conscious of ourselves, too as human beings who deserve respect.


    • michelle November 9, 2010, 9:41 pm

      Thanks Betsy! I really enjoyed the rambly, anecdotal nature of your post, with the photos telling the story of your adventure. I saw a frog in the wild for the first time a few months ago, and I couldn’t believe it. I never hunted frogs as a child, but I was out walking with someone who had, and she spotted three in our urban lake/glorified duck pond. I was amazed! And excited. I want to be able to share that with my kids.

  • Rachael November 12, 2010, 8:03 am

    NAK? Never heard of that — though as a WAHM, I’ve certainly relied on it, especially in the early months.

    I like the set of questions that you pose here about our choices as parents, and that you see your parenting as embedded in a context that includes your child, your family, the community, and the environment. I’ve tended to do the same, though not always so intentionally, and lately I’ve been troubled about how cut off I feel from our community. I trust that we can address the problem, though.

    Thank you!

  • Lauren @ Hobo Mama November 12, 2010, 11:38 am

    So true! I love how you’ve boiled it down to respect. I often think of that term when it comes to how I want to treat my children, but I didn’t connect it with how we treat ourselves and our communities and our environment as well — and, of course, that thread was there all along.

    And I’ve definitely been one to search forums for an acronym list to decipher it all! :)