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Do you prefer a family Hierarchy or Consensuality? Updated! - Page 7

Poll Results: Family Dynamics: Hierarchy or Consensuality?

  • 2% (17)
    Definite hierarchy with rules, strict structure; decisions made on behalf of children.
  • 29% (176)
    Hierarchy with guidelines, routine, soft structure; most decisions made for children.
  • 9% (56)
    Consensual family; decisions round table, children are self determining; few or no rules.
  • 10% (61)
    Mostly Consensual; guidelines, choice where possible, highly structured
  • 45% (277)
    Combo; children know their place in hierarchy but have as much freedom as poss within that structure
  • 2% (18)
    I don't know what you are talking about.
605 Total Votes  
post #121 of 1044
We just switched to having our older two share a room because we are renting a 2 bedroom house and trying to figure out the best living arrangement for everyone. I thought this wouldn't work with our kids, but actually, works even better then out old arrangement so far.

My son got in the habit of sleeping with a light on though, and DD can not. I don't think he really needs it, but he does need things "not to change" he gets "stuck" on things being "just so". We all agreed to a nightlight. So we got the nightlight and put it in, but as we left the room DS got very upset. He told me the light in his room must be broken and asked that DH or I fix it. I tried empathizing. I tried explaining. He wanted that light on. He cannot sleep in the dark, and DD can not sleep in the light. I told him to wait there and I would get DH. I got DH and my husband handled it. He turned the light back on, and spoke to him. My son decided he didn't want the light off, but was okay with it being off. My son turned the light off, went to bed, and has (so far) left it off. Perhaps this means I am lucky with some kind of super reasonable child. Whatever, it works for us, and others should do what works for them. At the same time, at one point I did not think my son was capable of such a reaction. I felt he was far from reasonable and anyone this method worked for was lucky or didnt know what it was like to have children like mine, especially my son with Autism. Turns out though, it wasn't my children that it wouldnt work for. It was me. Now that it works for me it works for them. And if it didnt work for us that would be okay too. But it does. which is why we do it. and I do think decisions like these are consensual. Sometimes I will do something I dont want to do because I have compassion for the other person or I am being considerate of them. It doesn't mean im not being consensual or consensting to the idea just because it wasnt what I "wanted"..

All I know is this: I've read the definition of CL on the CL website. I have read several books from the CL website's recommended reading list. I am basing my idea of what CL is based on that. I am not basing it on other CL mamas I speak with here or otherwise, because I feel CL looks different in every family, and I am just trying to get the overall idea of what CL means. What does CL mean in general. I know some parents who things they arent AP because they don't cloth diaper - well you can be "ap" even if you use disposables, but a lot of AP mamas use cloth. this stands for a lot of different things. Just because most CL mama's ( or even in some cases all CL mamas that on person in particular knows) practice TCS as well (perhaps without realizing it) does not mean that TCS has to coincide with CL
post #122 of 1044
Originally Posted by Super Glue Mommy View Post
im sorry it doesn't make sense to you.

let me try to meet you on your level. here are what some moms from around the web have said about consensual living:

"from what I have understood so far, consensual living doesn’t mean that noone every has to do something that they don’t want to do, but it does mean that everyone’s needs are considered and everyone has a say in the decision making process. Ultimately, while not everyone will necessarily be happy with every decision, they should be able to agree on a compromise that is best for everyone."
This is pretty much what people here have talked about. So - compromise. I've never seen a family that doesn't compromise, so I don't really get putting a label on it. Honestly...the hardcore consensual living sounds like harsh tyranny to me, but I do tend to see things differently than most...

maybe they explained it better. IDK. CL looks different in every family, and as I said, we lean that way but havent fully embraced it. What we are doing BY DEFINITION provided on the CL website is consensual living. Other CL mamas may have definitions of what CL looks like in *their* family though. So the way we practice it in my family sounds workable to you, so therefore it must not be CL since other CL approaches don't seem workable to you. I am sorry I am unable to understand that reasoning as it seems, well, unreasonable!
I'd never heard of the CL website before. I didn't realize this was an official movement. And, it's not that what you're doing doesn't sound like consensual living because it sounds workable. It doesn't sound consensual. It sounds like the way every family I've ever seen does things, even without calling it consensual living.

agreement in the judgment.... I gave an example, but basically to be in agreement of the judgement would be to say we got a car that wasn't the car I wanted. we didnt agree on the car we got, but we agreed that the judgment that my husband pick the car since he drives and I don't and the car was more for him was the right judgement for our family. Opinion reached by a group would mean that while some of us like red and some of us like blue, our opinion as a whole may be more purply. it maye be a blueish purple, or a redish purple. Or it may just be read or blue. But our opinion is colored (if you will) by the opinions of the GROUP. and our decisions are based on that. my definition may be at odds with how other have expressed their understanding of it - but my definition is just what I read from consensual living.com.
Well, yeah - on choosing a car, dh would go along with a car that he didn't like, if I preferred it, because I do the driving. That seems like kind of a no-brainer, really. However, what you discuss about the colour seems to be what I've come across before - it's better to have something that nobody likes, rather than something that somebody really dislikes. That's not a very happy way to do things, to my way of thinking.

I am yet to meet a person who doesn't understand how mathmatically 40 weeks is equal to 9 1/2 months not 10 (please if anyone understands this speak up so I dont feel so alone!) and yet, it is still fact. While every person so far I have spoken to online feels that 40 weeks equals exactly 10 months that does not mean it is so. A month is a little over 4 weeks (except february) and therefore 40 weeks is a little under 10 months.
I think I got lost in an extra negative somewhere in here, but if you're saying what I think you are, you're saying that you've never met anyone online who understands that 40 weeks isn't the same as 10 months. Is that right? It seems remarkable, because I've never met anybody, irl or online, who thinks 10 months equals 40 weeks.

Now, in my experience, every CL mama who has ever defined CL to me has sounded very different from every other CL mama who has defined CL. I always accepted this because CL looks different for every family.
Fair enough. That's not my experience here at all. What you describe sounds livable. What I've seen described as consensual living every other time I've seen a discussion about it sounds absolutely hellish.
post #123 of 1044
*double post*
post #124 of 1044
well CL (in the sense we have so far embraced it) has been wonderful and while I never ran a dictatorship and was always willing to compromise, it is very different from the way we used to parent (we were always willing to compromise, we were not always consensual) only call it similar to consensual living because of the definition on consensual-living.com. Your definition of consensual living is based on other resources - I respect that!

That being said, call it whatever you want. I confess! I practice "poopy toilet with peepee splatter stinky yuck soda can floating with turd in an unflushed toilet" parenting! I don't care what you call it lol works for us. Please don't tell anyone I practice "banana apple cheesecake with a side of pickles on a acorn plate" parenting!


but hey I say good job more then I would like, I sing "pee pee on the potty! pee pee on the potty! just like your mommy! just like your daddy!" and heck yeah I bet that is as coercive as it gets. And did I mention, sometimes I yell! I do rewind, repair, replay, but I wont negate the fact the yelling took place! I know I'd be off my rocker to insist I fully embrace CL. It's an ideal though. Maybe one day I'll get there. Maybe I'll stick too "raisen tunafish on a snowboard in june while doing a handstand" parenting though. Ya never know!
post #125 of 1044
I know you're kidding, but you kind of have a point. I don't like labeling my parenting. I'm not even comfortable calling it AP, because once I put a label on it, it's no longer just parenting...it's part of...something. So, even if I did practice consensual living, I probably wouldn't call it that...
post #126 of 1044
yeah I felt it was time to bring some light to it all - getting way to serious and really, what is the importance? As I said, I dont think my way is better then anyone elses, I just know its best for my family. and hey, that may change right? and thats okay too! I'm not exactly anti labels, but I really don't need any kind of badge associated with any label either. Labels can be useful to sum up what you do, but if I have to describe it that far in detail then obviouslt the "label" isnt doing its "job" so heck might as well resort to comparing my parenting to applesause and call it a day And no matter what you call it or don't call it, it will be part of something (your own personal walk in life), and it doesn't have to be dictated by anything (you dont have to embrace all aspects of a philosophy, and you especially do not have to embrace other ideals that others who embrace that philosophy embrace).

there I go theorizing again. peanut butter
post #127 of 1044
Well, I'm afraid I'm contrary by nature, just like dd. We both have a strange way of looking at things, and we're also both really bad at disengaging...

Besides, I ate way too much at dinner, and I'm putting off starting my step workout.
post #128 of 1044
oh dear, you are preaching to the quoir! (not that its a bad thing - i find that quiors by nature dont mind being preached to) You and I are alike in more ways then one We both ate too much dinner and both are avoiding excserize! (okay, and perhaps I have a strange way of looking at things and an inability to disengage as well... is it obvious?!) but really, I always enjoy debating with you. You keep it clean and you challenge my thinking. I don't care if we agree, I can still admire you for both our similiarities and differences. Definitely one of the most fun people to talk to on MDC thats for sure!
post #129 of 1044
I want consensuality within my system of values, but that seems impossible.

I think the problem is I always want consensuality, and this has been a trait of mine since I've been an adult. I was really an ineffective manager. I figured we all were adults, we knew what we had to do, there was no reason to be unreasonable and bossy. But then people just did what they wanted to do, and I had to get pissy sometimes.

And that's the same kind of parent I am, and it just doesn't work. I mean I'd like us all to realize that we have needs to be met and we can cooperate, but it seems my kids feel I just exist to cater to their every whim. It seems like they push until they hit some sort of boundary, so for my own sanity, it needs to come sooner than later.

I described myself as a path of least resistance parent one: "Oh, honey, you want to stick that fork in that electrical outlet while standing in a pool of water? I don't think that's such a...well, if you must, but BE CAREFUL!"
post #130 of 1044
I'm with the majority, wrt to poll.

This caught my eye:

Originally Posted by Super Glue Mommy View Post
I am yet to meet a person who doesn't understand how mathmatically 40 weeks is equal to 9 1/2 months not 10 (please if anyone understands this speak up so I dont feel so alone!) and yet, it is still fact. While every person so far I have spoken to online feels that 40 weeks equals exactly 10 months that does not mean it is so. A month is a little over 4 weeks (except february) and therefore 40 weeks is a little under 10 months.
Are you referring to 40 wks of pregnancy? I was under the impression that it is calculated as 40 wks from the first day of the last menstrual period--which is typically 2 weeks before a woman ovulates again (and pregnancy occurs). So the woman *is* actually pregnant for 9.5 months, not ten. The 40 wks includes the (average) 2 weeks before ovulation/conception.

(re-reading, and realizing you may not be talking about pregnancy....just 40 wks. Gah--just ignore me )
post #131 of 1044
Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
I'm with the majority, wrt to poll.

This caught my eye:

Are you referring to 40 wks of pregnancy? I was under the impression that it is calculated as 40 wks from the first day of the last menstrual period--which is typically 2 weeks before a woman ovulates again (and pregnancy occurs). So the woman *is* actually pregnant for 9.5 months, not ten. The 40 wks includes the (average) 2 weeks before ovulation/conception.

(re-reading, and realizing you may not be talking about pregnancy....just 40 wks. Gah--just ignore me )
I am talking about 40 weeks equaling 9.5 months not 10. if you dont invlude the 2 weeks before conception actually occurs its 9 months, not 9.5 but since we include that its 9.5

Peopel seem to thing 4 weeks in a month so 40 weeks divided by 4 equals 10 weeks. Where as I understand that its more like 4.33 weeks in a month for 40 weeks equals something more like 9.25 months.

I have gone as far as to explain:
7 days in a week multiplied times 4 weeks would only equal 28 days and most months have 30-31 days, but alas, I cannot seem to get through to those who feel that 40 weeks divided by 4 weeks in a month equals 10 months.

post #132 of 1044
Originally Posted by Super Glue Mommy View Post
Peopel seem to thing 4 weeks in a month so 40 weeks divided by 4 equals 10 weeks. Where as I understand that its more like 4.33 weeks in a month for 40 weeks equals something more like 9.25 months.
That makes sense....but most people I know would agree. After all, there are 52 weeks in a year and 12 months.....and 12 x 4 (weeks) is only 48....so obviously there are some extra weeks to make up!
post #133 of 1044
I picked Hierarchy with some softness to it. Probably we're more of a combo, but my heart lies in a hierarchy.

I've read about CL, I've even tried it out and discovered I'm terrible at it. *I* am not a good parent when I try to work that way.

My bottom line is this: What's wrong with someone being disappointed some time? Disappointment is part of life. (You can't always get what you want...) I'd rather spend my energy helping my child learn to deal with disappointment than searching out solutions that least disappoint everyone. OK, maybe that's an unfair characterization of CL, but that seems to be how it works in practice for those that I know who try it.

I also object to CL because I think it's unrealistic - parents DO have more power than children (however benevolently wielded), and considerably more knowledge of how the world works. They have control over the money, the housing, transportation and access to a lot of things such as schooling, health care, etc. Even if you don't do these traditionally you know what the OPTIONS are. A 3 year old doesn't and an 8 year old's opinions are still going to be very swayed by their parents. Has any 8 yo come to their parents and said "I've done the research, I want to be vaxed"?

My other objection is that I don't think CL is developmentally appropriate for young children. A 3 year old is going to have a very very hard time seeing someone else's point of view, if they can do it at all. A 6 year old can see someone else's point of view but is still going to blame everyone but themselves when something goes wrong (it's developmental). A teenager may be unable to see the risks that I see clearly.

That doesn't mean I'm inflexible. That doesn't mean that I don't listen to my children or encourage them to voice their opinions when they're different from mine. I certainly empathize with them. But it does mean that when push comes to shove, the grown-ups make the decision. And it means I don't negotiate over some things.
post #134 of 1044
Jumping in late here: I could not vote for the combo option because you used the word freedom and none of us have the freedom to do exactly what we want regardless of the consequences. In areas where a conflict could present itself, our family look for a win-win situation and we keep looking until we find one. There is never a point where I allow my needs to be ignored in the quest for meeting my child's needs.
post #135 of 1044
Consensual living is a nice thought but, I think it can be taken way too far, same with AP. Kids NEED boundries, they test the limits for a reason- to see where the line is. Out in the real world there are rules and real life concequences, some of them quite serious.

BUT, I also think it is very important to a child's developement for them to learn how to negotiate rationally. Rationally being the key word.

I'm not against CL or AP but, I do think there is a fine line and I have seen that line crossed many times with other families. Some of the kids I have seen are whiny, rude, & inconsiderate of anyone elses feelings or physical well being while the parents are miserable. Please don't take my response as a slight to CL or AP. I consider our home a good balance of CL/AP/Hierarchy.

We have rules that are unbending like being left alone with the IL's dog whom has attacked me and tried to attack DS. (I hate that dog) But things like playing Wii have been negotiated- DS said he will play Wii only 3 days/week for no longer then 2hrs. DH and I liked the sound of that
post #136 of 1044
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
My bottom line is this: What's wrong with someone being disappointed some time?
Nothing is wrong with that. We let our children experience their disappointments. Then again, I am not CL by MDC standards only by the standards of the many CL-friendly books and the CL.com definition of CL.
"Has any 8 yo come to their parents and said "I've done the research, I want to be vaxed"?" not that I know of - but they might decide that at an older age.

A 3 year old is going to have a very very hard time seeing someone else's point of view, if they can do it at all. - My son is 3.5 with autism and isn't struggling with this. I understand what you are saying. Thats why we follow the ideals set in unconditional parenting. IDK if you read my other responses, but it answers all your other questions more clearly
post #137 of 1044
What's frustrating is that we had CL parents, and I think that included the person or people who started that site, telling us over and over again things like that if people have to compromise, that it isn't a mutually agreeable solution. Everyone has to get what they want - no one should compromise. To use an earlier example, it's like you are talking about Italy but we're seeing Belgium. I'd call what you're calling CL simply "gentle discipline."

I agree that it doesn't matter what you call it so long as it's working for you. It's only frustrating because of earlier conversations about CL from a long, long time ago.
post #138 of 1044
Perhaps there are some extremests out there. I have read what they said too and it had me really confused about what CL is especially since all the books they recommend are more what I do.

I notice a lot of time out, natural and logical consequences, etc with GD, so to me its not just about GD as those are things I no longer do. Also, it's not always about discipline or behavior. its a way of life, not a way of discipline. Often the only people who agree with me on the GD board are CL mamas - I do feel like I am in between "groups" like I practice CL, but I don't use that term because the way others here practice CL.... I know most CL mamas don't think I'm CL and most non-CL mama's think I am and tell me that "CL doesn't work for everyone" So when I give insight on what works for me I am told "CL doesn't work for everyone" but if I say I am CL then I am told "you aren't CL because other CL mamas practice CL this way" So I'm getting mixed messages from MDC as a whole. Some say they cant use my advice because its CL and then others say what I'm doing is not CL and is the same things everyone else is doing. Talk about confusing! I guess it depends on the person. To some its important to them I don't call myself CL and to others it's important that I do say I'm CL. To me its just important that everyone in my families opinions and feelings are viewed and considered equally and that all their underlying needs are met. All the books recommended on the CL website seem to have all the same information in them, however they aren't CL books. Really I just think that maybe the reality of it is that most CL mama's let children be more self determining then others. One may not make her child brush teeth, but would stop them from jumping off the roof. Another may try to find a safe way to jump off the roof, but if they cant and the child still wants to they would let them do it. And that same parent might pull their child out of the way just before a mack truck runs the child over. I think there are varying degrees of letting a child be self determining, and I do think trying to encourage autonomy is an important part of both GD and CL. I don't think you have to be willing to let your child get run over by a car to be CL, but if someone thinks I'm not CL because of that then it's really no different to me. I might not understand why some people can't accept the fact that CL looks different in every family. Perhaps some CL mamas excluded them saying they weren't CL and so now they need to find healing by telling me that what I'm doing isn't CL.

I wont get into the compromise issues, because then you'd really be confused, but to be clear I am not suggesting anyone compromise their underlying needs!

but more accurately I would say I am a peanut butter rice cake peach applesauce orange juice almond milk fresh druit mommy. really, the only thing I seem to be successful at doing consistently is buying those foods when I go grocery shopping haha
post #139 of 1044
Thread Starter 
Well, it seems the whole discussion worked itself out nicely! Thanks for all the responses and votes!

I think what causes so much confusion is the fact that CL contradicts itself sometimes. I'm not sure if it is just the way it is interpreted by different people. It happens because things like this are written on the website, and supported by the hard core CL-ers:

With accurate information, only the individual is capable of making decisions regarding what is right for him. No one is better at making those decisions than the individual. We are masters of our own fate. If we take the right to self-determination away from any individual, we are changing the course of their life, and may never come to know the person they were meant to become.

Age is not taken into account here. And considering it is 99% for families with children, that seems fairly remiss. Children's abilities grow and change at an alarming rate, their reasoning ability changes. My son, only one, is leaps ahead of where he was at 6 months. My daughter, at 7, is in a different maturity area again. I can say that for my daughter, yes, the above statement of CL is almost entirely workable and true. I have seen her grow and believe that for many of life's challenges, she is the best one to make decisions for her and master her own fate.

However, my son? Get real. He is 12 months old, he just mastered walking, fate will have to wait a while. As for decisions, they revolve around whether to eat his own poo or the dog's poo, whether to run on the road or rip up the mail... although this is amusing for its facetiousness, the fact is, at what point do we say now they are mature enough to cope with such decisions, self-determination and fate mastering? Two? Four? Is each child different or is there a magic age? Or is it a blanket statement where I am to somehow negotiate with a baby to reach a consensus?

River Scout makes a valid point. I can negotiate with a child about how to wear a seatbelt, but not if they'll wear it. I can negotiate on what song to sing while wearing it... yes, all that. But there is only one way to do the seat belt – and that is buckled.

As someone mentioned, all the options on how to do something (the seatbelt, for eg) are just manipulation, or redirection. Which after a certain age is condescending for children and adults alike. They need to deal with the issue directly or they think you're taking the piss. So I give my daughter that respect and deal with the issue - “No, you can't ride in the car without a seat belt. Want to talk about it?”
I could offer her "stuff" and songs but she would just look at me like I'd lost my mind. Redirection, the ol' bait and switch, was lost on her years ago.

I let my children touch the stove though. I let them fall under water. I let them climb and fall down stairs. I let them go yea verily through the valley of the shadow of death... and stuff. If I didn't, I'd have to “parent” them constantly. One good fall and they don't climb the furniture anymore, or if they do, they do it with the respect and caution only experience can bring.

DS used to run at the waves at the beach and I'd have to keep pulling him away from the water until eventually it was voted “too hard” and we didn't go. One day, we took DD and the dog just for a walk along the water and DS kicked to get out of the sling and although we were all fully dressed and I wasn't in the mood, I shot a look at DH and we both waited. He bolted into the water and fell flat on his face and started flailing and panicking (all in the matter of seconds) and I grabbed him by the arm and reefed him out and plonked him on the sand with a smile and a cuddle of reassurance. He has never done that since, and we've all been freed up to go back to the beach. He has respect for the ocean, respect that no amount of “no” and redirection was ever going to give him.

Consensual living with a baby... God help us all.

My daughter has had this method used on her for 7 years. Poor sod. Made parenting a breeze though. She can negotiate her environment like a freakin' SAS soldier, and I reckon it's because she had to. Pure laziness on my behalf. Most of the time I let life sort her out. No ironed shirts in this house, put it that way.

DS was only 7 months old and kept reaching for hot cupfuls of tea – as they do. The drinker would say, “oooh no, hot!” but hot meant nothing to him. He needed to relate the concept of HOT to the reality. So I let him touch a few hot things, starting with a hot cup. He won't go near a hot cup now. He kept reaching for the oven and I said, ok, but it's hot. He touched it and started crying, bringing his hand for me to kiss. Now, I command great authority with the word “hot”. If I say it, he gives it a wide berth. I may have saved him from a much worse incident. Nothing like the power of experience to guide a child.

I believe in the child's own direction, this is intrinsic discipline, one that can guide for a lifetime. Whereas extrinsic discipline requires the parent/law/authority figure to be there to “guide”, causing troubles for teens and adults when the figure is not there to do the guiding anymore. In my opinion, this is what has gone wrong in our society, the over-worried parenting and kids haven't learned enough intrinsic discipline, cos frankly, most parents aren't brave enough.

The other thing relates to non-physical consequences. Things like homework. I specifically chose a school that doesn't do homework as I am against it , but when she was at one that had it, I let her choose. She'd learn the consequences herself. If I keep protecting her from the consequences, she will start to wonder if there are any, and I'll have to remind her every day about homework, and perhaps become a nag.

Redirection is the only option in many cases for a certain age bracket. Then at some point, redirection becomes useless and insulting. So there is also a whole between period where intelligent children accept redirection but know they're being redirected so essentially it is manipulation and coercion dressed up as, “I can't let you do THAT, but I can let you do THIS, AND we can sing while doing it!” We're kidding ourselves if we think that's not coercion.

Lest we forget that it has been compellingly evidenced that to engage the logic of a child at too early an age and they must forfeit certain other aspects of their development. A child has to be a child, and not have to go through booooooring negotiations all the time. I see my child glaze over when the negotiations hit town, and in the end she's begging me just to give her boundaries and shut the F--- up (she's allowed to swear, too , now THAT'S brave parenting, dammit! Where's my gold medal? Although, she hasn't ever actually told me to shut the F up. I'm sure she'd like to at times, though, cos I can really ramble... uh, or is that obvious la la la).

As mentioned, how does the highly negotiating family reconcile the logic factor with young children? When a child is screaming for direction, security, structure, and we offer them too much choice, there is also evidence that this is harmful... what of that?
post #140 of 1044
Thread Starter 
Regarding instinct, I've had that discussion several times on MDC and the problem with it is that most mothers in the western culture don't know the difference between instinct and learned or knee jerk reaction. Instinct is a really hard thing to follow when your whole life you are taught to ignore it, which is where we are at in our culture. Then suddenly, with a baby, we're expected to switch it on? It's not that simple.

What the CC has done for humanity cannot be compared to any other book, or perhaps any other anything. Other books have altered parents but nothing like it has. And the best part, in my opinion, is that it wasn't a book of instructions or a step by step “plan”, it was observation – that's what makes it so powerful, I think. Whether it instills its own dogma or guilt is irrelevant when we consider that the result is action toward a closer unit and a questioning of our cultural norms. We all have to start somewhere. And guilt is a valid, useful emotion, one that if utilized effectively can harness greatness in one's life. We spend too much time avoiding guilt when in reality this is avoiding the growth that guilt secrets beneath.

I hear mamas say they have never read a book and just go with their gut. To that I retort: how lucky for you that your gut lead you to AP. Because on about a hundred other parenting forums you will read the exact same “instinct” lead mothers to spank, isolated/crib sleeping, and crying it out. They swear up and down it is natural and normal. Who is right? And how do we know for sure? Is it instinct we are talking about or are we confusing it with something else? Why do I feel sick hearing a stranger's child cry but she barely notices? Wouldn't she know her child better than I do, or could I be projecting... so is it really instinct we are dealing with?

When we answer these questions with, “instinct is when something feels right to me”, then that's coming at it from the self point of view. There is a baby involved however, and their point of view rules when it comes to these things. What feels right to them? Luckily for us in the AP world, we feel the answer to that is the most simple one: if they ain't cryin', things probably feel right to them. Is the ability to answer this question effectively the definition of instinct?

Another point of concern is the woman who was raised violently. She is now trying to raise her children non-violently, but the “cycle of violence” dictates that she will do to her children that which was done to her. She must fight this “instinct” every. single. day.

I've come to the conclusion, with the evidence put before me in the last decade, that telling a mama to “trust her instincts” as a parent is about as helpful as tits on a bull, and almost as useful.
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