How To Raise Healthy, Happy Kids
When I wrote the title of this blog, I think I might have been overly ambitious. How DO you raise healthy, happy kids? It’s a question I ponder almost every day and one my readers ask me about frequently.
Because I’m a mom, doctor, and entrepreneur, I’m often asked about my parenting choices, and as you may have noticed in my blog, I pretty much steer clear of anything you might call “mommy blogging,” not because I don’t have plenty to say about the topic but because:
a) anything even beginning to resemble parenting advice can push a parent into a shame spiral quicker than you can blink
b) I want to protect Siena’s privacy
c) I don’t want to bore you with all too many details of my home life
d) With fabulous writers like my friend Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery mommy blogging, I have no business even getting in
Parenting is one of those areas of greatest vulnerability for most of us. From the moment I saw the plus sign on my positive pregnancy test, I just knew I was going to do it all wrong.
Like me, most of you who are parents probably question yourselves all the time. We bumble through life as parents wondering whether we’re feeding our kids the right foods, sending them to the right schools, pushing them hard enough to excel vs. pushing them too hard, disciplining them enough but not too much, loving them well with our limited time and patience, teaching them the right life wisdom, boosting their self esteem enough.
YOU Know Best How To Parent Your Children!
The ways in which you can screw up as parents are endless. Some of you write to me and ask me about my parenting choices, and I’m reluctant to answer you, because ONLY YOU know how to best parent your kid. The choices I make as a mother only apply to my little family- not yours. And I don’t want you to judge yourself- or me- based on the choices I make.
But with that disclaimer, I’m going to dedicate this blog to a few select questions from readers, as long as you promise not to use them as some measuring stick by which you’ll judge anyone, especially yourself. I’m sure you’re doing a great job with your own kids!
1. From your Facebook posts, Siena seems so self-assured, creative, and spiritual. What have you done to raise such an exceptional child?
Yes, Siena is exceptional. But every child is exceptional. I believe every child is born with an inborn divine spark, and the worst thing we can do as parents is extinguish this natural spark. We do this by trying to impose our will upon our children, by controlling them, by competing with them, by criticizing them, by undermining their natural genius, by dismissing their creativity, by physically harming them, by neglecting them, by manipulating them, and by imposing upon them the limiting beliefs, self-sabotaging behaviors, and patterns we’ve inherited from our own childhoods. We do many of these things unconsciously through habitual behaviors, so the best thing we can do as parents is increase our own awareness through personal growth work aimed at helping us be more conscious, mindful individuals aware that we are all spirits having a human experience.
2. How are you educating your daughter?
Siena attends a private school inspired by Waldorf, not because we have elitest beliefs about public school (Matt and I both attended public schools), but because she attended her school for preschool and we loved the school’s philosophy so much, we chose to keep her there. What I love best is that the school nurtures the spiritual growth of the children without being religious, and it fosters immense creativity, as well as very healthy non-competitive social skills.
3. What do you feed Siena?
Whatever we’re eating. She never gets special food. Even as a baby, we just blended our dinner in a food processor and turned it into baby food. I joke that we’re “raw vegan omnivores” because we eat a lot of raw, vegan foods, but we also eat meat from time to time. Siena loves vegetables, and I’ve taught her how to help me cook, so she’s really proud to eat the stir fry she cut and stirred herself. She adores heirloom tomato soup, which we just made this week from tomatoes we got at the farmer’s market. She won’t drink the green juice Matt and I drink daily, but if we mix it with half apple juice and freeze it into molds, she loves “green apple popsicles.” She also loves my go to smoothie- kale, frozen mango, and coconut water.