Relying on Kindness

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.



Image: graur razvan ionut /



Pronunciation:, kīnd/


  • having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature:

A fellow mother once said to me, in reference to her own baby, “I just want him to grow up to be kind.” Much to her surprise I responded by telling her she couldn’t just stop at kindness.

I understand her sentiment because I used to feel the same way. Most of us truly want our children to grow up to be good, decent people. It’s why we like our children’s stories to be morality tales disguised as entertainment. It’s why we want our kids to share their toys with others. It’s why we ask them to say “please” and “thank you.”

And yes, I do want Baby E to grow up to be kind. What I have come to realize is that I can’t really teach my son kindness if I don’t also examine the unearned privileges we get just because we were born on a certain level of societal hierarchy.

Will my son really  be a kind person if he gives to charity regularly but freely uses classist, ableist, sexist, etc. language?

Will my son really be a kind person if he’s only kind to those who are most visible in society?

Will my son really be a kind person if his well-intended kind act causes harm to another person who is marginalized in ways that he is not?

Will my son really be a kind person if he says he loves all people but fails to see how his privileges reinforce prejudice?

I don’t expect Baby E to be a perfect child nor a perfect adult because he is only human. I’m certainly not perfect in this and I am learning, un-learning, and re-learning everyday.

So how can I teach my son to be kind and then some?

I know that it involves teaching and modeling empathy. This means that when he’s upset, I stop to think about his feelings from his perspective, and address them from that perspective instead of only from my viewpoint.

It also involves teaching and modeling respect. So when he doesn’t want to be tickled, or kissed, or picked up, then I respect that. It means things like teaching him a safe word when he’s older, to be used during tickle sessions so that we can be sure there are no misunderstandings when we want to stop.

It means watching my language and pointing out problematic language that serves to marginalize others.

It means talking about social issues at home, regularly.

It means reading him books that feature marginalized persons as fully realized human beings not stereotypes.

It means not excluding persons who are marginalized in various ways from our lives.

So yes, I want my son to be of a “friendly, generous, and considerate nature” but it won’t mean much if that’s where his “kindness” ends.


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):

    • 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

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 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

Posted on November 9, 2010, in Blog Carnival, My soapbox, Natural parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Such wise words! I have been consciously trying to incorporate some of these things into the conversations Kieran and I have. To help him realize that our way of life is not the only way, that there are people with different beliefs, different realities, different opinions. And you’re right – it helps to be aware that we are all always relearning and unlearning too.

  2. I too want my children to be both kind and cognizant. To learn about different “isms” (sexism, ageism, racism, etc.) and that it’s a journey, not a destination. It can seem like such a large and daunting task, especially since it involves talking about things that many people would rather sweep under the rug or pretend they don’t exist. I really like that you’ve outlined some basic steps toward realizing this goal – thanks!

  3. Nicely done. It is true that being kind isn’t enough in today’s world. You will very likely raise a very intelligent and kind son who will go on to do wonderful things in the world. I am fortunate to have a very kind step son, and while he doesn’t necessarily have all the qualities you speak of (His mom has raised him up until this year – he is 17), he is still a pretty great kid. But he is very lazy and doesn’t put much effort into activities outside of video games. His mom would say “but at least he’s kind,” and while that is definitely one of the best traits to have, it isn’t everything one needs to get by in the world. In our experience.

  4. Wonderfully thought out and key to being a natural parent. Our place in this world as a person who considers ALL people kindly is not often highlighted as a characteristic of NP’ing or AP’ing but a very important foundational characteristic of a natural minded-person who would go on to consider their affect on the world as a whole.

  5. What a thoughtful post. It’s definitely given me a lot to think about in how I teach, and model, kindness for my daughters.

  6. Thanks for elucidating the inanity of focusing only on a superficial form of consideration toward others. It’s kind of like how women/girls (especially) are taught to be “nice” — even if it’s at their own expense, and even if they don’t mean it. I also have been trying to incorporate ways to open my son’s eyes to different perspectives and help him examine his own privileges — it’s a little challenging with a three-year-old, but I have to start somewhere!

  7. Yes! It does go so much deeper than ‘kind’. Thank you for bringing up the point with your friend and here for many more friends 🙂

  8. Teaching more than just kindness is such a challenge, because it requires that I see where I need to learn more than just kindness myself. But, in our increasingly hot and crowded world, it’s a challenge that is necessary to take up. Thank you for this post.

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