Natural Versus Adversarial Parenting

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I first learned of Jean Liedloff’s wonderful book, The Continuum Concept,  from someone attending one of my workshops in which I was telling stories about my experiences around childhood and parenting in a very remote Zapotec village where a friend had invited me to come and help him install the plumbing in the house he was building. During those several weeks I had a number of experiences which absolutely turned everything I “knew” about “being a baby, childhood, parenting and being an elder” upside down.

I saw elders in their 90’s carrying huge loads of firewood on a tumpline on their foreheads at a very relaxed trot and whose hair was black with very, very few streaks of gray and who were far stronger and far more fit than I was, at that time, in my mid-thirties. I lived in a village with many nursing babies, none of whom I heard cry. I saw 18 month-olds playing with razor-sharp machetes in large fires with no one (beside me) entering into a panic and interfering with them, and I had a number of conversations about my experiences with a very wise elder who challenged everything I thought about my own humanity.

Later, I would live similar experiences, around the world, with peoples who still haven’t been forced to believe that children are stupid, need to be “taught” or talked to like idiots, interfered with, directed, or “protected” from themselves. I would share these experiences in my workshops as I realized that our view of what it means to be human is very narrow and not very affirming of our natural genius.

One workshop participant asked me if I had ever read The Continuum Concept, “she talks about the same things you do!”  she said, with some excitement. So I read it, and laughed. Jean Liedloff, while living in the Amazon over several years began to notice how different natural versus adversarial parenting could be. She has lent her brilliant attention to what she observed for a lifetime. Her insights are profound.

This is not just about parenting. It’s about how we perceive ourselves, relate to our own capacities and to the world. For those who are receiving the free newsletter, available below, you may begin to notice how this interfaces with the work of Dr. Vincent Felitti M.D., Dr Allan N. Schore M.D., and Dr. Gabor Mate. All of our experiences translate into a Living Structure that WE develop to accommodate the experience..

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