Friday, 13 February 2015

What is intuitive parenting?

I always thought that I knew what I was talking about when I told people that we tried to be as intuitive as possible about our parenting approach, being led by the maxim 'happy parents, happy child' and vice versa. 

Until recently, when I discovered that the term 'intuitive parenting' seems to mean a whole other thing to some people, far away from our approach of following what feels right to you, as a parent, and your child. 

Having a look at what the word actually means: 'intuitive'  translates to 'use or base decisions and actions on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; following ones instincts', or, as we would say in the US, gut.  

For me, this translates to a very individual approach for each set of parents, or even parent. Logical, in my mind, as every human is different and, following that, our gut feelings will vary from those of others, particularly concerning something as personal as parenting. 

Not so for others, it seems. I recently read an article stating 'I write about intuitive parenting and for parents who want to practise it (ie sleeping in one bed, breastfeeding as long as possible, carrying rather than using a baby buggy....)'

Great, if that is her personal interpretation, but what about the rest of us????? 

I find it less than intuitive, to have Baby sleep in our bed, as I am terrified of squishing him, and he comes after me at an early age, meaning he rotates between 180 to 360 degrees while sleeping, which would result in severe discomfort for Hubby and myself. Now I am terrible without enough sleep, so sharing our bed would be counter-intuitive to me, as Baby would definitely not benefit from the aftermath. 

Even more concerning, there actually are whole websites titled "intuitiveparenting.somethingorother" which, while starting off stating that what they propose is an individual approach for everyone, use a very similar, narrow definition to intuitive as above, turning out to be very single-mindedly focused on why it is better to have your child sleep in your bed, why immunising your child is not worth while, why breastfeeding is so very, very important, etc.... . 

Don't get me wrong, I agree breastfeeding is important, but what does 'long breastfeeding' mean anyway? What about the poor women who are not able to breastfeed for a long time? Are they automatically branded as 'unnatural' mothers just because they couldn't live up to what is some people's very dogmatic definition of parenting? 

I, also, do not find avoiding immunisation intuitive. It is my belief that we live in a very safe world, particularly in the developed part, thanks in part to immunisations and that to not pass them on to your child is to benefit unfairly from that fact and relying on others getting their children immunised. This is, however, my personal opinion, which I do not expect others to share. 

I resent other people dictating what 'listening to the wisdom of your heart' is to others, whereas I have to state this is not directed at the book of Debra Snyder, who supports a more direct, intuitive communication with ones child. I can get on board with things like that. What I do not find intuitive is forcing my opinion on others. Intuitive, to me, implies the greatest of openness, which is in opposition to attempting to indoctrinate others with one's own narrow-minded definition of the word. 

Our approach to intuitive parenting, which i should probably call something else - personal parenting, as it suits our's and Baby's personal needs - seems closest to the method Jesper Juul propagates, where being a good parent means neither subjugating yourself and your wishes to those of your child, nor vice versa. It is focused on the individual needs of each member of a family and bringing these together while treating each other with respect and equal dignity, thereby enabling our children to learn that happiness comes from within ones' self. Family life need not follow the rules of a totalitarian or a 'laissez-faire' regime in order to be happy. We no longer need to follow the dogmas of 'children must be heard and not seen' or 'only when your child is happy, can you be'.  

Unfortunately it is quite hard to find relevant links for this in English, but here are a few, and some German ones too: article 1, article 2ZDF, JJ book, Erziehung mit Bauchgefühl.

These are my certainly not complete nor wholly qualified thoughts on the topic of intuitive parenting. Hope you found it interesting. If you want, please feel free to get in touch with yours! 

PS: Meine Gedanken zu intuitiver Erziehung und warum diese für uns sehr persönlich ist.

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