Cornell University College of Human Ecology says, “Spanking Should be Discouraged.”

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The College of Human Ecology at Cornell University collected data and research on the common parenting practice of spanking in our culture. It is estimated that two-thirds of parents use spanking as a parenting tool in the United States. To find their conclusions, they used research from places like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, to name only a few. You can find the complete list of references at the bottom of this fact sheet. What they found can be categorized into three major points along with relevant subpoints. These include:



 

  • 1. Spanking is Ineffective.

  • Time-outs yield same short-term compliance as spanking.
  • Long-term compliance: spanking is not effective.
  • Spanking increases child aggression.
  • Spanking sends mixed messages.

 

  • 2. Spanking is Linked with Negative Effects.

  • Reducing spanking will also likely reduce risk of child abuse.
  • Negative effects span across cultures.



 

  • 3. Spanking Violates Children’s Human Rights.

  • Spanking is increasingly disavowed by professional and community organizations.
  • Growing consensus among human rights advocates about spanking.

According to this analysis, the conclusion is:

“Research findings demonstrate that spanking is ineffective and harmful to children. In addition, there is increasing support from prominent professional, religious, and human rights organizations to avoid and eliminate spanking practices. However, spanking is still a common and accepted practice in the United States. Based on the evidence discussed in this fact page, national leaders, community stakeholders, parent educators, and parents should consider finding ways to discourage spanking as a viable discipline strategy.”

To read the complete breakdown and details on this research analysis with peer reviewed references included, [CLICK HERE].



 

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10 Points that the Pro-Spanking Crowd Totally Missed.

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Last week I wrote an article outlining the fifty-year-long study on spanking conducted by the Universities of Texas and Michigan. This post got real popular, real fast. As in, it went viral in like three days. Apparently, spanking is a hot topic. I think that is because it attracts people from both sides. You are either for spanking or you are against it, and no one comes to the defense of their cause quite as fast as a pro-spanker. People put a lot of energy into defending their “right” to hit their kids. I can hear it now.

“It’s not hitting, it’s spanking! Huge difference.”

Yea, yea. I’ll get to that in a bit. As I opened my email, the comments were pouring in. At first, it was all praise and in agreement with the sentiment that hitting is abusive (shocker), but as the post spread like wildfire, it inevitably began to reach…everyone else. And everyone else had something to say. Which, I get. Who likes being told that what they do is harming and hurting people? I started sifting through the comments and there was just no way to get through all of them. There are about 1000+ of them and I don’t really have the time or energy to do it, so I came up with an idea. Instead of addressing everyone’s comment individually, I will just write a post responding to all the defenses of spanking children. Which is pretty easy because there are only a handful that I hear over and over again. My hope is that I can shed a little more light on this topic and help radically shift the mindset that these people seem to be deeply conditioned in.

Get a “Stay Wild Moon Child” Toddler T-shirt NOW!

If you want to read the article I am referring to first, [click here] to do that.

Here are 10 things that those who are defending non-consensual spanking of young children are not considering:

Argument #1: “I was spanked and I turned out fine.”

To be blunt, no you didn’t. Do you have social anxiety? Any relationship dysfunctions? Eating disorders (this includes overeating)? Learning disorders? Anxiety? Hard time expressing emotions? Serial dater? I mean, really, the list could go on and on. We all have something. In my experience, those who are quick to insist on how fine they turned out are actually the least fine of most people I know. Being unaware of your patterns that stem from trauma doesn’t make you fine. Someone once told me they turned out fine who was on anti-anxiety meds. The thing with being raised in a trauma-based culture is that the things that are a result of the trauma are normalized to those who have been traumatized. In many people’s reality, these things are normal and not even self-inquired about. But it is not normal that a large percentage of people have mental health problems, weight problems, and chronic disease. It is not normal that most marriages end in divorce (or the whole modern day relationship paradigm, but I digress). It is not normal that you think a child needs to be hit to learn. You did not turn out fine. I agree that maybe you can function really well in society, but that is no measure of your well-being. Humans raised in a culture rooted in trauma often have no idea how good it is all meant to be and feel.

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Argument #2: “I’ve tried everything and spanking is the only thing that works.”

The problem with this argument is that it implies that the only goal here is to stop the current behavior. It implies an agenda of control. Actually, I heard this argument when referring to a tantrum. “Spanking is the only thing to make a tantrum stop.” Listen, the problem isn’t the tantrum. The problem is that you think there is something wrong with a child having a tantrum. You think there is something wrong because you were taught that the full expression of your emotions were not okay. Your discomfort of your child’s emotions are a reflection of your discomfort for your own. Tantrums are developmentally normal. Your job is not to stop a tantrum. Your job is to be a present and loving adult who can help guide a child through their emotions. Not go on their ride with them.

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Secondly, when parents say they have tried everything else, they start to list off, “I’ve tried saying ‘no’ over and over, I have done time-outs, I have taken things away. Nothing works.”

What do these all have in common? Disconnection. What the parent hasn’t tried is, connection. Connecting to their child. Because here is another big thing everyone is missing:

It isn’t about the behavior. It never is. It is about the underlying emotion that is driving the behavior. 

If you can get more curious about the emotions driving the behavior rather than focusing on the behavior itself, this parenting thing will be a whole lot more enlightening.

One more thing: Lower your expectations and take action where you can. If you have told your two-year-old ten times to get out of the trash can and he still doesn’t, it is because the part of his brain that controls his impulses is not fully developed. Two-year-olds are hard wired to touch and explore and figure out everything for themselves. THEY CANNOT HELP THIS. I would be more worried if he never tried to dig in the trash can. This is where you, the adult comes in. Move the trash to a place they cannot reach it. Create “yes” spaces.

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Argument #3: “Kids need to learn respect. My parents spanked me and I respected them.”

No, you didn’t. You feared them. You do not respect someone who hurts you. Do you respect anyone who would hit you now? I hope not. I surely don’t. Kids do not respect people who hit them. They fear those people and then comply out of fear, but please, let’s not conflate that with respect. Do you know who I respect? I respect someone who is rational and emotionally mature enough to connect with me when I am having a hard time and who can communicate to me when they are having a hard time. I REALLY respect someone who can stay calm and present when my emotions are going crazy.

Not to mention, the fact that you think respect is earned by physical force and pain is very disturbing. I don’t even know where to begin with that notion. Therapy, maybe? I don’t say that in a condescending way. I think therapy is good. I have been myself. If you believe that the only way children can learn the concept of respect is by being spanked then I would say you need to really look at your ideas of self-love and worth. It’s a very low-lying world view.

Argument #4: “Kids need discipline. That’s the problem these days. No one is spanking their kids anymore and the youth are little assholes with no discipline.”

First of all, most people admit that they spank their kids. It’s not like gentle parenting is taking the world by storm (yet). There is only a very small percentage of us who do not use hitting, punishing or shaming as a way to teach people things. Secondly, no one said ANYTHING about not disciplining children. Why is spanking and discipline synonymous to you? Is spanking the only form of discipline you know of? Discipline comes from the word, “disciple” which means, “to teach.” Children learn what they live. If you spank them when you don’t like what they are doing then they learn that hitting and being aggressive is how you handle situations in which you are having trouble getting your point across. Think of your child in a situation with someone who was giving them a really hard time. How would you want them to handle it? Would you want them to hit the person? Or remain calm with an advanced ability to communicate? However you would want your child to handle stress, then do that, because how you are is how they learn. It is really not rocket science.

punishment-versus-discipline-chart

Argument #5: “They are too young to understand when I tell them to stop and hitting is the only way to get my point across.”

If your child is too young to understand something, then they are too young to understand why someone they love and trust is inflicting pain upon them. All the more reason to lower your adult expectations of a toddler and use gentle techniques. We want our children to learn through experience, not to simply comply out of fear. My goal is not to raise an obedient human. My goal is to raise an independent, driven, outspoken, child who isn’t afraid to speak and question people, including myself.



Argument #6: “Children need to learn real world consequences. If you touch a hot stove it is going to burn you.”

Well, you are not an inanimate object so give yourself a little more credit. You are a feeling, thinking, free human who has a choice. Yes, there are what I like to call, “natural consequences,” in life. Hitting a child is not one of them. It is a choice that you are choosing to make. Touching a hot stove and then getting burned would be a natural consequence. Another one would be that if my child doesn’t want to put a jacket on, then he will discover what it’s like to get cold and then learn on his own the benefits of wearing a warm coat. Hitting him to get him to put a jacket on does not teach him this valuable lesson. Now, if what you mean by using the hot stove analogy is that you are like the hot stove waiting to burn someone, then as a human as opposed to an object, it is your job to cool yourself off to ensure you don’t take it out on and burn those around you. It is not your child’s job to make sure she doesn’t come near the stove.

Argument #7: “Spanking and hitting are not the same thing. I do it on the fat of the butt where they can’t even feel it.”

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In this culture it is not uncommon to use certain words to make the reality of something seem less severe. For example, the reason we call hitting a child,’ spanking’ is the same reason we call eating a pig, eating ‘pork’. It is the same reason we call genital mutilation, ‘circumcision.’ These terms lessen the impact of reality. It has it be that we are less likely to question our conditioning. But the truth is that if you treated ANYONE else in your life the way you treat your child, it would be looked down upon. That is the difference. Spanking children is socially acceptable by most people in this culture, therefore there is no one to hold you accountable for your actions like there would be if you hit your wife or your husband. In 52 counties spanking has been banned because they understand that spanking is, in fact, hitting.

Also, if the point isn’t to hurt them then why are you doing it? Why do people defend spanking by saying it doesn’t hurt their child? If the point is not to get them to submit by way of pain or force, then what is it? Why else would you spank? In my opinion, to defend spanking by insisting it doesn’t hurt implies a level of guilt about your actions. You know it is wrong so you insist it doesn’t hurt, but of course it hurts. They don’t listen to you because it feels good. And even if it isn’t physically hurting, it hurts emotionally, which is probably worse.



Argument #8: “Not all kids are the same. Don’t act like you know my kid. Some kids need a spanking.”

Saying “not all kids are the same,” is for things like which shows they like and what their favorite color is. It isn’t for physical pain. No human, of any kind, deserves to be or thrive from being hit. Just insert the word, “wife” into this argument. “Not all wives are the same. Some just need to be hit.” How humans respond to stress and pain is actually very similar. We are hard-wired for connection and have limbic systems that has us be able to feel each other like all other mammals. We are more alike than you might want to admit. What makes children so much different is their environments and how they are raised. So if your child is continuously “acting out”, look at yourself and how you played a part in that.

 

 

This same logic can be applied to spanking.
This same logic can be applied to spanking.

 

Argument #9: “Don’t judge me! Let people parent how they want to parent and mind your own business.”

I won’t go too deep here because I wrote a whole article on the “don’t judge me,” fallacy. Basically, when people inside a group of a larger whole see that other people who are a part of that group are doing things that inadvertently affect the rest of the group, then those people are going to have something to say. My son will grow up to be an adult in a world of adults who were hit as kids. I don’t want that for him. I want better. Do you judge people who hit their spouses? Or people who commit rape crimes? I hope so.

“Did you just compare spanking to raping someone?!”

No, I didn’t. I used it as an example for why it is totally necessary to make judgments on people’s actions sometimes. BUT since we are on the subject, let’s compare the two:

Both are:

-Requiring of a victim and a perpetrator.

-Inflicting pain, harm, unwanted actions onto another person’s body.

-Doing so without consent.

-Using dominance, strength, and force to do so.

-Leave the victim feeling hurt, shame, isolated, fearful, etc…

Argument #10: “I agree you should never spank as a reactionary response out of anger, but rather I think you should do it calmly and rationally.”

Ok, this just creeps me out. No one who is calm, collected and thinking maturely and rationally wants to hit their child. To use aggression towards someone (and hitting is aggressive) you have to be feeling some level of tension, anger, frustration, etc.

If you insist that you hit your kid when you are calm, you are either not actually calm and not aware of it, or you are a psychopath of sorts. If you are calm and collected, then you know there are a number of ways to handle tough situations with your children that do not require striking them. Not to mention how confusing it must be for a child to see a calm adult using a hurtful act against them. The tone doesn’t match the response and I imagine that can be pretty disorienting for a child.

 

Listen, I don’t think there are bad parents. As one blogger just recently wrote, “there’s no cool mom or mean mom…there’s just parents who understand how the brain works, and those that don’t, yet.”

What is required here is a better of understanding of children and their development, which is to say a better understanding of ourselves as humans. I am not perfect. I have never hit my son, but I have definitely wanted to. Well, I don’t actually ever want to hit my child, but there have been moments where it felt like it would feel so good to do so. The difference is awareness. I am aware that the feeling and thought has nothing to do with what my son is doing. It is a result of the way I was conditioned and raised. It is how I was taught to handle anger, frustration, etc.  Parents, let this be your new mantra:

My child is not giving me a hard time. My child is having a hard time.

If you were not raised in a peaceful environment then it is going to be hard to rewire your system for parenting your own children (I speak from experience).  Again, it is not about perfection, it is about awareness. Just keep redirecting it towards you. How can you adjust, shift, change, act? Don’t make it about your child. That is where the healing is. If you are lost as to what to do in certain situations or you are overall having a hard time not using corporal punishment, I offer coaching for parents just like you. [Click here to learn more]

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Denmark Study Shows Circumcised Boys are More Likely to Develop Autism. 

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As if we needed another reason to detest routine infant circumcision (RIC), a Denmark study (2015) is showing a positive correlation between boys who were circumcised and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

According to [THIS STUDY] “regardless of cultural background, circumcised boys were more likely than intact boys to develop ASD before age 10 years.”

Of course, correlation does not equal causation. With that said, anytime there is a correlation, one must beg to question further. A correlation is reason enough to cause suspicion and curiosity about the relationship between the two variables, especially when it is as profound as circumcision and autism.



How would circumcision cause autism? Their theory is that it is a psychological consequence of extreme pain, stress, and trauma associated with the circumcision.

” Long-term psychological, emotional or behavioral effects of circumcision-associated pain beyond the first six months of life have been little studied,17 but other types of neonatal injury have been shown in animal and clinical studies to produce permanent deficits in responses to stress and an increased rate of psychological problems.6,25

The old adage that says babies do not feel pain is simply not true. They are humans and have a nervous system just as adults do. This study even suggests that newborns undergoing circumcision feel significantly more pain.



” The procedural pain associated with neonatal circumcision is plausibly more severe and the postoperative pain of longer duration than in older children and adults, because the foreskin of most neonates must be forcefully separated from the glans to which it is fused before it can be cut off.16 This leaves the circumcised infant not only with a painful incision of the foreskin but also with a raw, wounded surface of the glans that is exposed to friction and chemical irritation from urine and feces until healing.”

Not to mention the circumcision study that was halted in 1997 due to babies experiencing trauma.

Is it possible that it is a complete coincidence that circumcised boys are at higher risk for developing autism? If it is not due to pain and trauma, another theory I have is that those who do not research circumcision for their babies, might also be likely to not research things such as what they feed their child, vaccines, and formula feeding. All of which have been associated to some degree with autism. But this is only personal speculation. Ultimately, I find much logic and reason in the theory that says,

” neonatal injury have been shown in animal and clinical studies to produce permanent deficits in responses to stress and an increased rate of psychological problems.6,25

What do you think?

To read more interesting findings in this study, CLICK HERE.



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Ditch the Nursery: 4 Alternatives for More Bonded Sleep.

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As we become parents we are bombarded by the idea that we need so many things for our new baby. Like many other things, having a baby has become a profitable industry for some people. And why wouldn’t it? With hundreds of babies being born every day, these companies have a guaranteed clientele base. But in my usual fashion, I am going to lay down a little truthpaste:

The vast majority of marketed baby items are a waste of your money, at best, and create a lifelong disconnection between you and your child, at worst.

Then you have everything in between that these products can do, such as undermining the innate intelligence of children and even hindering their optimal, physical human development. I could honestly devote an entire blog post to useless, overbought baby items, but in this article, I am only addressing one:

The crib.

Ok, let me back up. The crib might not be totally useless if you already have one, but I will get to that soon…



Many of us were sold on the notion that babies need to learn to sleep by themselves (because that’s what we have to do as adults, right? Not…). To be bold again, that is simply a harmful lie. Human contact and connection is imperative and it is especially imperative for babies because they are born with a biological need for attachment. This innate drive of theirs does not go away at night. In fact, feeling attached and secure is crucial at night because for a young infant or toddler, being alone in the darkness is very terrifying. Heck, being alone in the darkness is scary even for me. At this age, they cannot formulate the concept that their caregiver is in the other room. Biologically speaking, they are expecting their mother’s body. If it isn’t there for a long period of time in the beginning stages of life, they sense abandonment and respond to it as such. Only when and if their need for attachment is met early on can they develop and trust you will return later once they are older. You cannot enforce independence onto a baby. Independece can only happen naturally once the human has been made to feel secure in their attachment, and therefore feels safe to venture into independence. If it is forced before they are ready, they will try to get the need met in other ways that often feel inconvenient and stressful to the parent. Forced independence can also be in-part to blame for much of the adult co-dependence and relationship dysfunctions we see today. This is actually adults still fighting for their need of attachment. For a more detailed outline on the benefits of co-sleeping, check out another blog post I wrote titled, “5 Reasons Why I am Not A Crunchy Mom.” 

People often hear the term, “co-sleeping,” and assume it is dangerous. James J. McKenna, PhD describes co-sleeping as:

“-any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. Room sharing is a form of cosleeping, always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is. ” 

While I highly promote body contact, the utmost important thing here is responding to your baby, and being in close proximity makes it easier for you to do that. If you have a child on the way or you already have a baby and you are understanding the importance of bonded infant sleep, here are four alternatives to putting your baby in a crib in the nursery.



  1. A mattress or comfortable mattress topper on the floor in your bedroom.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t feel quite comfortable sleeping with your baby then this is one of your best options, in my opinion. Aside from sleeping apart from your baby, the crib itself has some downfalls, and this setup offers to remedy those. According to the Montessori philosophy, a crib is a limitation to a baby’s natural mobility and stifles independence. Having a floor bed is a safe way to allow babies to move around and explore their world. If you fear your child will fall off the mattress while sleeping, you can simply line the floor with pillows or cushions. We used a mattress topper so our son couldn’t fall. The bigger the bed space, the better.

2. Side-car the crib or a bassinet next to the bed.


Sidecar by www.amandamedlin.com

This is a good option if you already have a crib and or a designated sleeping contraption such as a bassinet for your baby. Most cribs will allow you to remove the side and then you can push the opened area up against the side of your bed. This option makes baby easily accessible and allows you to respond to her cries and other cues promptly.



3. Hammocks.


IG @Kadihill for island birthing, sleeping, and living.

A friend of mine had her baby in a small village in Panama where everyone sleeps in hammocks. Even when she came back to the states she slept in a hammock with her daughter. In many villages and cultures, it is not uncommon for babies to be raised sleeping in hammocks with their mothers into toddlerhood . The natural, steady sway provides a sense of ease and comfort. I get the not everyone is comfortable with sleeping so close to their baby, so you be your own judge on that. I personally am not going to suggest babies sleeping in hammocks alone until they are a little older. If it were me I would have him sleep on my chest since I am 100% confident in sleeping skin to skin. For your older babies, toddlers and kids, I cannot say enough about Lunalay Baby Hammocks . From the material to the design I have found they are perfect for napping your baby and a gentle way to fall asleep.

http://www.lunalayhammocks.com/
http://www.lunalayhammocks.com/


 

4. Bedsharing.

Room I nested for baby and me when I was pregnant. No crib required.

Yes, bedsharing is an excellent option if done safely. It is they way I have slept with my 2.5-year-old since the day he was born, and I never even had a crib. I am a light sleeper and even more so after I had my son, since becoming a mother naturally made me more vigilant towards my child. My suggestion would be to get a big floor bed to give yourself enough space from baby if you fear sleeping too close. Avoid big pillows and blankets around newborns, and do not sleep with babies if you are under the influence of any kind. Some people opt to put one of [these] to-go, portable infant beds next to them if you wish to create a solid barrier between you and baby, but it is not required for safe bedsharing.




Just remember that you can’t spoil a baby. As humans, our drive for contact is lifelong, and one can never have too much love, touch or connection. This is especially true for babies. Terence McKenna has said, “Culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions.”

I think the invention of the crib and the whole nursery epidemic falls into this category. It was sold to parents as a convenient tool for baby sleep. In reality, separated sleep doesn’t serve the basic human need for attachment, it only serves those who profit off of new parents who think they are doing their best. Simply look to nature if you have any questions about infant/mother sleep. You won’t see murals or cribs or monekys sleeping away from their mothers.

I’m curious how you co-sleep? Do you do any of the things I mentioned or something completely different? I would love to hear other ideas!

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Five Decades of Research Confirms: Spanking Produces Similar Outcomes in Children as Physical Abuse.

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In the opening paragraph of the University of Texas article outlining, “the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking,” it states that:

“The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.”

Of all parenting topics I write about and raise awareness to, spanking is, by far, one of the, if not THE most controversial ones. People put a lot of energy into defending their right to hit their child. What they have forgotten is their impact. Children learn what they live. If you cannot control your hand and temper in times of frustration and high sensation, then you cannot and should not expect such from your child.



According to this research,

“The more [they] were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.”

When I speak out against hitting children, I often get the comment, “But look at you. You were spanked and you turned out fine.”

Fine. I cringe everytime someone uses the word “FINE” to justify harmful actions being carried out on them or their child. But look at us! We’re all FINE!

I AM NOT FINE. I grew up and still deal with anxiety (mental health problems). Making eye contact with another human can be excruciating (anti-social). I have hit and physically attacked my partners in the past. Not fine. If by fine you mean functionable in a trauma based society, then yes, we are fine. People get raped, too, and can still have relationships, kids and go to work everyday, but those things are no measure of “fine.”

Behaviors we often believe to be totally normal human behavior, are not. It is the result of being raised in a society who promotes and carries out disconnected parenting.

For one, F.I.N.E is a great acronym for “Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”

Ask almost anyone how they are and if they insist they are “fine!” I can almost assure you they are not fine. Because if you are fine, like truly fine, then you don’t use the word fine to describe how you are. Think about it. If someone asks how you are and you are feeling good, do you say, “I’m fine?”

Fine is a word of settling. Fine is deflection. Fine is, “I am fine but not really and I don’t want to tell you how I really feel so I am fine.”

People, we don’t want to be fine. In this society, what is fine, what is normal in many cases, is actually fucked up. We are fine because we are not feeling, because we were taught that feelings were bad. We are fine because we are all walking around as half versions of ourselves because our authentic expressions were spanked out of us.

Jiddu Krishnamurti says, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Fine simply means you have adjusted to a society who primarily believes that hitting children is an acceptable and even necessary form of discipline. You are not fine for being hit and neither am I.

There is a reason spanking has been banned in 52 countries. With this new research we now know what these countries have known all along. That, “spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Spanking has nothing to do with the child and everything to do with the adult’s inability to hold the uncomfortable sensation being triggered by their child, and hitting is how they dissapate the sensation. Spanking reflects your lack of self control. The very thing you are trying to teach your child to have, you are inadvertently teaching them the opposite, which is also confirmed in this reasearch.

To read the full analysis of this research, CLICK HERE. And if you lack the skills to parent your child without using physical force, then please read the works of people like Janet Lansbury and Laura Markham. Finally, take responsibility of your own emotional state, but don’t take it out on your child.


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5 Everyday Household Items that Waste your Money and Destroy your Health.

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My journey to living a healthy, minimalistic lifestyle has naturally led me to question the most common of practices we do on a daily basis as a society. What I have learned is that often times, many of the things we consume we do for no other reason but tradition and habit. In some cases we don’t do things because it’s practical or it makes sense, we do it because that is how everyone else does it. We mostly are not considering a better alternative or that something might be unnecessary altogether. It is hard to see our impact on a mass scale, therefore it is easy to overlook the accumulated damage.

What if I told you that some of the items you may or may not purchase on a regular basis for your home are a total waste of money and you could get along just fine without ever having to purchase it again? Not to mention, some of the items I have listed are harmful to your health as well as the environment. The good news is, giving them up doesn’t mean you will have to sacrifice convenience in the long run, although if you are really attached to something it might feel that way in the beginning. Choosing to give up modern conveniences and mass-marketed items will only save you money and create a healthier inner and outer environment.



 

1) Trash bags and paper towels.

One day several years ago, I was in my mom’s kitchen and noticed she had a big drawer full of plastic grocery bags, as well as a box full of trash bags under her kitchen sink. The environmentalist in me cringed. I think this might be a common picture for many households that is innocently born of habit. Grocery bags serve as great trash bags. There is no reason to have a ton of plastic bags you are not using and to continue buying trash bags. Not to mention they are free. In the city I live in plastic grocery bags are fortunately banned and we are encouraged to bring our own. If you don’t bring your own you get brown paper bags, which is what I use as a trash bag. I “forget” my bags enough times to have a decent stash. You may find yourself taking the trash out more often, but this can be avoided by being conscience of buying waste and packaged stuff and knowing how to organize your trash. We recycle all recyclables and have a designated compost area in our backyard for all food scraps. If you live somewhere like an apartment and don’t have space for a compost pile, you can always buy a larger indoor composting bin and check out what your area offers in terms of compost disposal. You can also donate it to a friend or neighbor in need of compost.

Paper towels do not require much explanation and were probably the easiest thing for me to stop buying many years ago. I simply use cloth hand towels to clean up spills and wipe down surfaces, and reusable plates to serve things on. If you believe it is a matter of convenience, I assure you that there has never been one single time that I wished I had a paper towel right now. Not to mention it has probably saved me a decent chunk of money.

 

2) Dryer Sheets

Aside from the fact that dryer sheets leave a film on the machine hose that clogs the dryer, these sheets are extremely toxic. You might enjoy that strong florally aroma, but what you are actually breathing in is classified toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that have been linked to nervous system disorders, skin issues, headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc.

If you are concerned about static clothing, you can simply wait to take your clothes out of dryer instead of immediately removing them when they are done drying. Another good alternative is to use wool balls with some drops of essential oil on them. They are reusable and you can use them again and again. For a vegan version, you can buy reusable static eliminator sheets. 




 

3) Candles, air fresheners, sprays, plug-ins.

The mainstream attempt to keep our homes smelling fresh is poisoning us, to be blunt. Candles and air fresheners of all kinds contain toxic and carcinogenic ingredients in them that fill our air with sickness that smells really pretty. I have lived without synthetic scents for so long that now when I go somewhere that uses these things I almost immediately get a headache, scratchy throat and start sneezing. Opt for natural scents like burnt sage, cedarwood, a vase of flowers, or essential oils. My favorite way to make my house smell nice is to put a few drops of essential oil in my diffuser. The sweet thing about a diffuser is that you can use it over and over again. Another fun option is to make your own air fresheners with all natural ingredients.

 

4) The Microwave.

Do you know what question health conscious Airbnb hosts get asked most frequently?

It’s, “Where is your microwave?”

It is only then that I remember how commonly they are still used. I didn’t even think to get a microwave for my guests! And knowing what I know about them, I won’t be. According to Dr. Edward Group:

” A microwave is a form of non-ionizing radiation. As a matter of contrast, ionizing radiation changes the electromagnetic nature of atoms, or ionizes them. This alters the way they interact with other atoms and molecules around them. X-rays, gamma radiation, and nuclear medicine (CT scans, barium swallows, and mammograms) are types of ionizing radiation. Your food is being zapped by high-frequency waves of heat, and some people argue that this radiation can be harmful to your health. One study by Dr. Hans Hertel explored how microwaves change the molecular structure of food and the effects of that food on the human body. In his study, he found that individuals who consumed the microwaved foods experienced a decrease in HDL cholesterol, a reduced red blood cell count, and fewer white blood cells.”

Sure, a microwave might feel convenient, but it destroys your food and in turn your health. If you find that you have so little time that you cannot use stovetop to heat something up, personally I would question my lifestyle at that point, but I would not justify using a radiation machine to warm my food.



 

5) Fluorescent Lighting.

These are more commonly used in schools and office buildings, but they are found in homes as well. The lighting we live under isn’t something we normally consider, but studies have shown significant detriments to our health from ignoring our natural sun cycles and living under artificial light. We are sun people and our natural circadian rhythms are synced with the sun. Artificial lighting messes that up and in turn there are health effects such as:

Not to mention the flickering of fluorescent lights can cause people to have headaches and anxiety. One of the worst common birth practices, in my opinion, is bringing babies into this world under bright, obnoxious, artificial light. It is really telling of the values of the society we live in.

Opt for natural lighting during the day if possible. Open all your window blinds. For night time I use salt lamps and other lighting sources with warm bulbs.

 

Please comment below with your thoughts! I am curious to know if you already live without some or all of these things or if you were inspired by this information to go without any of it. Until next time…. 🙂



 

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Simplicity Parenting: De-stress your life by getting rid of these 10 toys. Watch Video!

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I have been seeing a common theme in my online parenting groups lately. It sounds something like, “My kids won’t clean up after themselves! How do I get them to clean their rooms? I am so stressed!”

If you think you are stressed about the clutter and piles of toys, how do you think your kids feel? Even though they may not be able to communicate it, children are just as overwhelmed by having too much stuff as we are (maybe even more so).

The answer, I tell them, isn’t to find a way to coerce them to clean up the mess, but rather to simplify and declutter so that when they do play, there is never that much to put away. That way, it never feels overwhelming to them.

Watch this video of a Simplicity Parenting coach break down the ten types of toys you should avoid having in your home for your kids. Watch until the end to hear her suggestions for the best types of toys to keep around for your children.

For more info on the benefits of Simplicity Parenting and minimalism with kids, read the book, Simplicty Parenting and check out the article, “The Best Toys For Babies Don’t do Anything,” by Magda Gerber.





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4 Reasons Why Living Without Television is Better for you and your Kids. {Video}

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I often joke that my mom put a TV in my nursery as soon as I was born. Not really, but I lived with a TV in my bedroom for as long as I can remember, and went to bed with the TV on every single night until I was 23 and decided to ditch the tube, cold turkey.

Nearly six years ago when I stopped watching television, I felt so good and different that I vowed to never return to it, and that any future children I had would also grow up without TV (naturally, since I don’t keep one in the home). Not having a TV forced me to get out of my house. I was in nature so much more and almost instantly made an amazing group of friends. I also no longer have battles with binge eating, since in front of the TV was the place I would eat without really thinking about what I was doing. I stopped caring about all the things advertised on TV and no longer compared my life to those in reality shows. About a week after I let go of my 23-year long habit, I met my current partner. It was meant to be, I’d say 🙂

Kevin Cosmo of High Energy Parenting explains four reasons why he, his wife and their children do not watch television…at all…ever. Watch all the way to the end where he gives alternative solutions and ideas for a no TV home!

If you want to go deeper into the effects that television watching has on children, THIS ARTICLE on Janet Lansbury’s website titled, “Screen Time Studies Parents Should Know About,” goes further in depth. Check it out!




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Why I Wouldn’t Give My Baby Formula, Even if I Couldn’t Breastfeed. And What I Would do Instead.

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Let me start with pointing out that the title of this article states that *I* would never give my child formula, and what *I* would do instead. While I hope to inspire those with nursing struggles, I am not here to tell you what you should do, because I don’t know what it is like to struggle to nurse my baby (so long as blistered and bleeding nipples don’t count as a struggle. Heh.) I am simply here to exterminate the “it’s either breastfeeding or formula feeding” dichotomy. Well, that, and explain why I think we can do better as far as what we offer non-breastfeeding mothers as milk alternatives. Because I believe what we currently carry on the market is doing babies a disservice.

I recognize that the fact that I have chosen to never give my baby formula is largely because I have the privilege to not have to do that based on where I live and the resources  I have access to. Not everyone will have the same advantages as me, and I get that. Of course, if I found myself in a situation where the only thing available was infant formula, then obviously I would do what I had to to keep my baby alive. But still, I don’t believe that is saying much, because I would give my child anything if it meant keeping him alive. Those people who lack the resources are not so much who I am writing to here.

I will also add that my recommendations are not meant to replace breastfeeding. I will always promote breast as best. The ultimate agenda here is to provide more breastfeeding support and education to new mothers and less pushing and advertising of formula in hospitals and by formula companies. We need to grow up seeing our mothers, aunts, cousins and community nursing out in the open. It needs to be normalized from the time we are young. All new mothers need free access to a lactation consultant and be supported by educated loved ones who know the importance of breastfeeding for the baby and the mother. Our culture needs a fundamental shift in the way we view feeding and raising babies. This statement might sound harsh to some people, but I believe children have a right to be breastfed, and to carry out the developmental disruption of not nursing comes with inevitable consequences, which are going to look differently from child to child (health problems, attachment issues, etc).




Look, I know that not all women can breastfeed, but in 2011 only 49% of babies were being breastfed at 6 months old in the U.S.! That is less than half. By a year old, only 27% of babies are still breastfeeding. These numbers are too low and raise concern for the public health. Sometimes a woman cannot breastfeed, but 51% of American women are not physically unable. The World Health Organization suggests nursing for at least two years and estimates over 800,000 lives could be saved per year if every (or most) women nursed their babies. With that said, I have seen women struggle and be tortured by the fact that they were having such a hard time nursing their babies. It is part because we lack the education and support, and also because with the way we live our lives these days (unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyles, etc etc) has it be that our bodies don’t always function in ways that are biologically normative. But when you are sitting there with a new baby and struggling to feed her, the last thing you need to be doing is figuring out why your body isn’t working as it should. The thing that calls for immediate action is to feed your baby and that is why we have and need alternatives. Healthy alternatives.

Here are the reasons why I would never give my own baby formula and what I would do instead, given the resources I have.

  1. I don’t see formula as the next best thing to breastmilk.

For me, keeping my child as healthy as he can be is very important to me. As I look at the healthiest option for my baby, formula falls so far down the list that it has become a non-option.  I know sickness happens, and I welcome the rare times he gets sick because I know it is building his strong immune system to be even stronger. So for me, if I couldn’t breastfeed, I would only and obviously want to give him the next best thing, and formula is not that. It isn’t even the third best, in my opinion. We have a way of thinking that says a baby is healthy so long as baby is alive and more or less hitting their milestones. In my opinion, there are so many other things that indicate true health and vitality that are too much to talk about here (maybe another blog). I believe that because of many of our modern parenting practices, we don’t actually get to often see how truly healthy and vibrant children are meant to be.



2. The ingredients.

What makes it not healthy you say? Let’s take a look: The first few ingredients found in mainstream formula brands, like Similac are Corn Syrup Solids (gmo), Soy Protein (gmo), and Sugar (this is added, processed sugar. Not natural glucose that our bodies and cells require. They are not created equal). It goes on to list a slew of other ingredients I would never give myself, much less my baby. Amongst them are casein (milk protein), choline chloride (first isolated from ox bile, an ammonium salt often used in pet and livestock feed), and synthetic vitamins.

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So then what would I do?

1.) Wet nurses and donated milk.

I would have other people nurse my baby and give him donated breastmilk. I know two women who adopted children in my area that were able to feed their babies on pumped breastmilk for a year without supplementing with formula. I truly am blessed to live in a big city full of nursing mamas. Between Facebook groups, community connections and word of mouth, it isn’t impossible to have a freezer full of donated milk. I would post in all the local mom groups, tell my friends and close connections to reach out to everyone they know and rally to get me a good stash. If you live in a city or larger town (or within an hour or so of one) I highly recommend this. Thank God for social media in this day and age. I’ve seen it help so many women in this way.



2.) Milk Banks

Where I live there are milk banks where women can donate their milk for babies in need. Now, typically the milk at milk banks is only prescribed to babies with unique situations like preterm babies, failure to thrive and those with allergies and formula intolerances. This is still a good option for those who find themselves in any of those situations. The only downside is that all the milk is pasteurized, but still a better option than formula.

3.) I would make my own.

I make my own food, my own medicinal remedies and baby bottom spray….why not make my own baby formula? That way I can be the one who is 100% in charge of what I am putting into my child’s body. I suppose no matter what we choose, we are in charge of what goes into their body. I want to empower myself and take responsibility for our health and well-being by choosing the best ingredients for my child. There are so many homemade baby formula ingredients to be found online. Choose the one that works the best for you and your child and DO YOUR RESEARCH. The making of your child’s formula is something to take very seriously and be well educated on how, what they need and how much. I will leave the links to a few reputable ones down below.

A recipe with goat milk

A recipe using coconut milk

Weston A. Price recipe (Honestly, not my favorite. Way too much dairy for me.)

**Please always consult with your doctor before giving your child a homemade formula**

 

This is not meant to shame formula feeding moms. I get that based on our choices and lifestyles, we all have different priorities in life, and for me, health is a BIG one. It comes before how much money I make, how big my house is and what type of car I drive. Once we know better we can do better and how can that happen if we don’t open an honest dialogue? Like all big industries, the formula industry stays profitable with your business. In order to keep your business, sometimes companies have to sell you information that might not always be in your best interest. Again, I understand that not everyone has access to loads of pumped milk and/or the money to continuously buy fresh, organic ingredients to make formula themselves. Then again, I know people feeding their babies formula that do have those resources, and maybe they would like a better alternative. That is what I am offering here.




 

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4 Health Trends I Will Never Follow.

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Ever since I started becoming aware of the correlation between what you eat and how you feel (I know, duh, right?) I have seen so many health trends come and go. Nearly ten years ago when I started experimenting with my diet I tried it all. Low carb, low fat, South Beach, Weight Watchers, the list goes on and on. Over time I learned about how the body works, what it needs for optimal digestion and energy, and so on. Learning more about the inner workings of the human system and being able to tap into what felt best in my body, really helped me come to a lifestyle change and drop the yo-yo dieting and latest health fads.

The thing with health fads is that they continue to resurface but use different words to describe them. For example, today’s Paleo diet is a lot like yesterday’s Atkin’s diet. I don’t believe the best diet is going to have a buzz word. Everyone knows “fruits and vegetables should be eaten in abundance.” That is a statement that has stood the test of time with little to no argument. Everything else though, seems to be debatable.

In today’s trending health world there are some things that have really caught popularity. These days I try to base what I eat off the knowledge I have gained about health and what makes the most sense in terms of efficiency (because I don’t think eating is supposed to be complicated) and what my intuition tells me. These are four health trends that I do not follow:



1. Bone Broth.

bones

I mentioned efficiency above, and this is a perfect example of that. It is hard for me to believe that we need to kill an animal, process an animal and boil down its bones to get something essential. The trend of bone broth also caters to our propagated ideas about protein. We are obsessed with protein…and it is killing us. Yes, protein is essential to the human body, but Americans take in up to five times the amount the human body can take. High animal protein diets are linked to things like cancer, kidney failure and heart disease to name a few. Cultures who have significantly lower rates of cancer than the U.S. eat minuscule amounts of meat, as opposed to hearty portions for every or every other meal. The idea with bone broth is that is has collagen, but our bodies naturally make the collagen in the bones (just like it does for the animals) and cannot take in excess of what we already have. One last point is that boiled bones is acidic to the human body. Acid forming foods promote disease. Eating should consist of mostly alkaline foods. When we eat overly acidic foods our bodies get depleted because they have to pull minerals to neutralize the acid.



 

2. Coconut oil in and on everything.

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Let’s get something out of the way: Extracted oil of any kind is NOT A HEALTH FOOD. Extracted oil is pure fat (not the good kind) and is void of fiber, nutrients and minerals. According to Harvard Department of Nutrition, coconut oil in particular is 90% saturated fat which is the type of fat that clogs arteries and raises “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Somewhere along the way we bought into a myth that oils are healthy fats, but this isn’t true. Medical Doctor and founder of Nutritionfacts.org, Michael Greger states:

“Those selling coconut oil say one needn’t worry because coconut oil contains a type of saturated fat that doesn’t raise cholesterol. That’s a page straight out of the beef industry playbook:

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is always going on about how beef contains a saturated fat called stearic acid.  Unlike the cholesterol-elevating saturated fats (palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids), stearic acid has been shown to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. That’s true, and beef does have stearic acid, but it has twice as much of the palmitic and myristic, which they admit does raise cholesterol. That’s like coca cola saying they know for a fact that soda doesn’t make you gain weight because it contains water and water has a neutral effect on weight gain.”

I am afraid the industry of coconut oil is not much more than a really good marketing scheme. One I bought into for a really long time. I still like to rub oil on my body, on squeaky wheels, and on my baby’s tooshie from time to time…but I don’t put it in my body.





 

3) No/low carb diets.

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This is the one that makes me cringe the most. When I see people avoiding carbs I want to scream. We have become so carb phobic that we are avoiding foods that are essential to our health (like fruit). The human body runs on carbohydrate. Our cells and brains run on glucose, by nature. Now, I am not saying we need to be eating ding dongs, Little Debbie’s cakes and bagels for days. No, I am not promoting processed carbs here. I am promoting whole foods, plant based carbohydrates. Carbs alone do not make you fat. Carbs in combination with more fat than the human body requires and overeating makes you fat. I believe other things affect weight, too, such as stress and your emotional state, but I digress.

Everything we eat, our body has to use energy to convert it to glucose because that is what our bodies run on. The further away the food is from this state, the harder our systems have to work to convert. It takes a lot of energy to convert a steak to glucose. It takes nearly nothing for the body to assimilate a banana. This is a perfect food for humans with the simple carbohydrate (sugars), fiber, vitamins and minerals. In starving yourself of healthy carbs you are starving your brain (hence why you will eventually have cravings and feel hungry). Healthy carbs are also low in bad fat and are the best foods for a healthy heart. Think fruit, sweet potatoes, squashes, rice, oats, beans, etc. If you are on a no/low carb diet you are going to have to make up in calories by eating a ton of fat and that is not healthy. While the body does need fat, there is such thing as too much.

 

4) Raw Milk.

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There are several reasons I don’t drink raw milk but the main reason is simple: I am not a baby calf. 

Maybe raw milk is “better” than pasteurized milk, but it is still cow milk. It was designed perfectly and exactly for the system of a calf. It has no more business in the human body than pig or giraffe milk. Sure, raw, grass fed, organic milk doesn’t have added hormones but it still has the natural cow hormones in the milk that are needed to make a baby calf into a big fat cow in a short period of time. The only milk humans need is human milk (surprise, surprise), but humans are the only species who go on to keep drinking milk from another species once they no longer need their own milk. There are some claims that raw, non-homogenized milk has benefits, but dairy in general is acid and mucous forming. The protein in milk called casein has also been linked to many health issues including tumor growth.




 

When choosing which foods are best, I try to stay away from what is trendy. That isn’t to say that something that is currently trending will automatically be unhealthy, but I like to look deeper than the surface. With that said, I do not have all the answers about diet and nutrition. There is so much conflicting information out there on this topic that it takes so much time and energy to sift through what is true and what might not be. While I have been researching for nearly a decade, and I would say I have a vast understanding, I am no expert. When doing your own research and experimenting, question everything, including what I have to say 😉




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