or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Consensual living
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Consensual living

post #1 of 153
Thread Starter 
Is consensual living different from gentle discipline? If so, how?
post #2 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsfatty View Post
Is consensual living different from gentle discipline? If so, how?
Consensual living is a philosophy of discipline that is gentle but there are people who discipline quite gently who are not cl.
post #3 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by allgirls View Post
Consensual living is a philosophy of discipline that is gentle but there are people who discipline quite gently who are not cl.
Thats bound to confuse anyone! lol

We try and live consensually...but I am not 'professional' on the matter tbh despite the fact we are doing well and I would really love to be an advocate for it becasue its just...great!....

Here is the website: Which can explain it a lot better than I can!
http://www.consensual-living.com/

CL and GD are two different things. The best way for me to describe it is that with CL - you don't control your child. This is where the divide is I find... a lot of people have a hard time grasping that. I often hear questions such as 'but surely you have to control your child? - surely you have to make your child do something they dont want to do'...etc etc... I think the first step into understanding CL is to try and get your head around that and realise that there doesnt need to be control either way - that you can live consensually (for me, it took just 'doing it' to trust it and see the 'results') but I realise its a hard step for a lot of people to take for many reasons - a lot of us were 'controlled' as children so become 'controlling' ourselves and a lot of us just cant handle the spontenaiety of things, the giving up knowing whats going to happen next. For one with OCD myself and an abusive childhood, this was a huge step!

I think CL goes much futher than GD. Becaues there is no controlling, there are no punishments, no praise, no threats, no conditions, no 'logical' concequences, etc...you are just living with respect for the other as you would any being - you are just living consensually. It goes beyond TCC and its more than just 'taking your child seriously'. Its probably considered the most 'out there' parenting around lol

Obviously this can be tricky in some situations because children are smaller and cant always voice what they are thinking and/or feeling or simply do things they would like to do because they cant do them physically yet or simply just dont know about certain aspects of our world yet being so young in it...but I feel as the parents, thats where its out job to help them and model consensual living and this involves a lot of 'letting go'.

I have noticed though, that the more consensual we are living the less 'issues' we are having. There are no more 'power struggles' because my son has complete power over his autonomy through my repsect for it so he is no longer feeling the need to do something simply to gain any control over his own life and wishes, etc. Its helping me deal with my own issues of 'impatience' and my own 'angers' inside of me and how to not reflect this onto my son through how I interact with him. There is a great balance of harmony in our house. It is very peacful parenting.
post #4 of 153
Thread Starter 
How does CL work for small children and danger situations (like running away in a parking lot, or an "older" sibling hurting a younger sibling--like three and 7 months, or fires, etc.)?

How does CL work for hygiene issues (brushing teeth and washing body)?

How does CL work for eating (like if they only want cookies or something, or have a difficult time trying new foods)?

How does CL work for the high needs/spirited child?
post #5 of 153
Are parents who practice CL ever worried what will happen when their child grows up and enters the maistream world, which is by and large not consensual, but reward/punishment driven? It seems to me it would be a HUGE culture shock. Or are most families not planning on having their children enter mainstream society? I mean that with no snark intended.
post #6 of 153
I can not answer all of those questions - however there is a consensual living yahoo group where many people will be willing to answer all of your questions collectivly!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Consensual-living/

I am quite positive there are archived saved files to every one of those questions with answers to them you can find easily.

http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/4G8cSO6...20Toddlers.pdf
post #7 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsfatty View Post
How does CL work for small children and danger situations (like running away in a parking lot, or an "older" sibling hurting a younger sibling--like three and 7 months, or fires, etc.)?

How does CL work for hygiene issues (brushing teeth and washing body)?

How does CL work for eating (like if they only want cookies or something, or have a difficult time trying new foods)?

How does CL work for the high needs/spirited child?
We practice CL as much as possible and it has made our lives so much better. A few examples of how we've handled the things you've brought up, although solutions change around here to meet needs:

How does CL work for small children and danger situations (like running away in a parking lot, or an "older" sibling hurting a younger sibling--like three and 7 months, or fires, etc.)?

CL in a parking lot is near and dear to my heart. I freaked at first having two to look after near cars and did some yelling. Then I stepped back and figured out ways to meet BOTH our needs (dd1's and mine). So often she gets to run in parking lots after I've confirmed it's safe to do so. Since I've worked on being realistic she's gotten WAY better about listening to me and staying nearby if it's busy and necessary. Last week I brought them to NYC and took the subways, crossed busy streets, etc. and had an amazingly high level of cooperation. We have lots of communication and brainstorming.

Similar for children hurting each other. I focus first on the one who's been hurt, empathize, brainstorm, etc. It has helped immesurably in inter-sibling interactions.

How does CL work for hygiene issues (brushing teeth and washing body)?

We work on mutually agreeable solutions. I also work on my own issues (like, will the world really fall apart if her hair doesn't get brushed or washed).

How does CL work for eating (like if they only want cookies or something, or have a difficult time trying new foods)?

I never force foods--wouldn't even if I wasn't CL. I do ask that high sugar foods not be eaten late at night, as I am pregnant and too tired to stay up super-late with two small children. I do talk a lot about foods in honest terms and we work together on solutions (like homemade healthy baked goods, etc.). I try not to get too worked up if they want to eat candy, etc.

How does CL work for the high needs/spirited child?
Dd1 could be characterized as high needs or spirited. It's hard to describe how much better life is when we work together on consensual living rather than on top-down parenting.

It is really important to note that consensual living means taking everyone's needs into account. Not just the child's, as is sometimes mis-perceived. It requires lots of thought and creativity but in our house anyway, makes life more fun and cooperative.
post #8 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusBirthMama View Post
Are parents who practice CL ever worried what will happen when their child grows up and enters the maistream world, which is by and large not consensual, but reward/punishment driven? It seems to me it would be a HUGE culture shock. Or are most families not planning on having their children enter mainstream society? I mean that with no snark intended.
CL helps children think outside the box and find solutions that don't have right/wrong and punishment/reward as the only answers. This works in the real world, where things aren't all black and white.

I don't want my children to be treated badly in a job they hate and feel they have no choice, if that's what mainstream means. But I think that in living this way they acquire many more problem-solving skills than otherwise. I've met some teens recently who have been raisedthis way and it's very inspiring.
post #9 of 153
I am not very qualified to answer the specific questions asked about CL, but I espouse the philosophy. Here's my take on thsoe situations that I have experience with:

How does CL work for small children and danger situations (like running away in a parking lot, or an "older" sibling hurting a younger sibling--like three and 7 months, or fires, etc.)? For safety issues, the situation can often be controlled rather than the child. I work to not expose DD to a dangerous situation that she's not prepared to navigate. Where this is unavoidable and she can't be depended on to vouch for her own safety (which is true for us in parking lots at the moment) she and I have found a mutual solution with her riding piggy-back.

How does CL work for hygiene issues (brushing teeth and washing body)? I've found that left to her own devices, DD is not opposed to doing these things, particularly doing them with me. When a problem arises (she doesn't like her hair washed these days), we search for something we can both live with.

How does CL work for eating (like if they only want cookies or something, or have a difficult time trying new foods)? Again, I think kids have a better handle on diet than we sometimes give them credit for. If something was so tempting that it was all she wanted to eat, I'd probably keep it out of the house. I can respect difficulty trying new foods, personally, it doesn't bother me.

How does CL work for the high needs/spirited child? I don't think my daughter is more spirited than the average 2 year old, so I'll leave this for someone more experienced.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusBirthMama View Post
Are parents who practice CL ever worried what will happen when their child grows up and enters the maistream world, which is by and large not consensual, but reward/punishment driven? It seems to me it would be a HUGE culture shock. Or are most families not planning on having their children enter mainstream society? I mean that with no snark intended.
I don't worry about this, and I'll be honest with you: I don't find that the mainstream/real world is reward/punishment driven. My life isn't. As children start interacting with other people more and more, they find that other people have their own ways of doing things and we all have to navigate that, but I think it's still possible to make our individual choices based on our intrinsic motivation and personal values and goals. It's largely a matter of perspective, I think; that's my take on it, anyway.
post #10 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsfatty View Post
How does CL work for small children and danger situations (like running away in a parking lot, or an "older" sibling hurting a younger sibling--like three and 7 months, or fires, etc.)?

How does CL work for hygiene issues (brushing teeth and washing body)?

How does CL work for eating (like if they only want cookies or something, or have a difficult time trying new foods)?

How does CL work for the high needs/spirited child?
I think parents feel a need to subscribe to one philosophy, and mind the rules. Perhaps it starts with pregnancy when we are encouraged to make our birth choice, and it always seems like you are just supposed to go down one road after you choose it, no stepping on the grass.

I subscribe to nothing, but find I'm a bit of everything. I handle my kids with empathy and respect, this leads to a lot of what could be CL, however, I do see that my young undeveloped offspring need some control too, then I appear more GD, yet, there are times when things are going really wild, and I flat out remember and remind them, that I am the mother, and YES, that DOES give me the final say. Period. And that can almost make me seem mainstream. But we have a wonderful household. Everyone is helpful, respectful, empathetic, and above all HAPPY. And it is an everchanging culture. As we all age, have new additions, move, etc., the "rules" are ever flexing and elvoving so that they meet all of our needs.

Follow your gut, use your head, always feel with an empathetic heart, remember when you were their age, and don't forget to be selfish sometimes too!
post #11 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusBirthMama View Post
Are parents who practice CL ever worried what will happen when their child grows up and enters the maistream world, which is by and large not consensual, but reward/punishment driven? It seems to me it would be a HUGE culture shock. Or are most families not planning on having their children enter mainstream society? I mean that with no snark intended.
We don't practice CL here, but it seems to me that the mainstream world by and large IS consensual. Think of how you generally relate to your friends and neighbors, your coworkers, or your spouse. Do you ever tell those people what they MUST do, and what the punishment will be if they don't comply? Most adults, most of the time, use polite requests, discussion, negotiation, sharing of feelings and opinions, etc. to influence other people's behavior - not rewards and punishments.

Of course there are rules governing your behavior at most jobs - but you're not forced to take any particular job, or to keep working at a job where you don't like the rules. There are also laws you may feel forced to obey - but, really, how many things are there that you avoid doing just because they're against the law? Don't most of us have other reasons not to do things like stealing or assaulting people - reasons that don't depend on our having had rules and punishments as kids?
post #12 of 153
But I have never had a boss who was OK with me NOT doing what was requested. They may ask me politely but its not really a request, ya know?
post #13 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusBirthMama View Post
But I have never had a boss who was OK with me NOT doing what was requested. They may ask me politely but its not really a request, ya know?
Yeah, but the boss/employee relationship is not at all typical of most of your relationships. And the relationship is consensual in that you enter into it voluntarily, and can choose to end it at any time. And a lot of bosses - most, I would guess - are at least willing to listen to you if you have a good reason why you don't think you should do what was asked.
post #14 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sari Mama View Post
I think parents feel a need to subscribe to one philosophy, and mind the rules. Perhaps it starts with pregnancy when we are encouraged to make our birth choice, and it always seems like you are just supposed to go down one road after you choose it, no stepping on the grass.

I subscribe to nothing, but find I'm a bit of everything. I handle my kids with empathy and respect, this leads to a lot of what could be CL, however, I do see that my young undeveloped offspring need some control too, then I appear more GD, yet, there are times when things are going really wild, and I flat out remember and remind them, that I am the mother, and YES, that DOES give me the final say. Period. And that can almost make me seem mainstream. But we have a wonderful household. Everyone is helpful, respectful, empathetic, and above all HAPPY. And it is an everchanging culture. As we all age, have new additions, move, etc., the "rules" are ever flexing and elvoving so that they meet all of our needs.

Follow your gut, use your head, always feel with an empathetic heart, remember when you were their age, and don't forget to be selfish sometimes too!
Great post! That's us, too.
post #15 of 153
I am not totally CL (yet!) but I aspire to be....here are my suggestions:

How does CL work for small children and danger situations (like running away in a parking lot, or an "older" sibling hurting a younger sibling--like three and 7 months, or fires, etc.)?

With regards to the parking lot issue, I was able to convince my DD that she needed to hold my hand -BUT I would take the time to walk wherever she wanted to and examine whatever she needed. That was a good compromise that actually worked better than any of the yelling, forcible carrying, etc that I was doing.

With regards to hurting the sibling, my philosophy is that everyone must respect other's "body" space. That's part of living consensually. And it has to be taught. So when DD tries to hurt her brother, I state "we don't hit others" and then offer her other solutions "If you are angry with him/me, you say "that makes me ANGRY" with a loud growl or whatever". She likes being given positive alternatives and so far that has really helped. I've also helped her work through her confusing emotions by letting her express how unhappy she was with the new arrival by playing with dolls and treating them "badly" or letting her dolls get in "big trouble". If she really gets out of control, I've taught her that a retreat to her "safe space" (her bed) is needed until she is under control. She is allowed to slam her door and I only enter after knocking and asking if she is ready to talk.

That's just what we do.

Not sure what the "fire" issue is....

How does CL work for hygiene issues (brushing teeth and washing body)?
This is the main area where I am NOT CL - I've tried putting her more in charge of this but with her sensory issues, thing get out of control quickly (her hair, oh her hair!)....although lately I've thought maybe just let her grow dreadlocks would be an acceptable middle ground - I saw a little girl with them and she was really cute. Hmmm....She's an enthusiastic bather and tooth brusher though so I haven't had problems there.

How does CL work for eating (like if they only want cookies or something, or have a difficult time trying new foods)?

I never force DD to try new foods. If she says "no" I just leave it out and sometimes she will get around to eating it. She also often has backwards dinner - with dessert first she is often willing to move on to other options. We do have a rule of "only one" (not unlimited desserts) but that's because everyone in our family has to share and you can't hog them! LOL

How does CL work for the high needs/spirited child?

It is not easy. The main struggle for me is that much of CL seems dependent on your child understanding what the options are, and my child has been very low verbal most of her toddler-hood. Now at 4.5 she is just beginning to understand more complex language and CL is getting easier and easier. But for a low verbal child, you have to really think in very simple, black/white terms. And some issues seem impossible to explain the options to the child if they don't understand what you are saying. I just tried to "honor the impulse" as much as I could, but I would not say we were strictly CL because it just wasn't possible - despite what folks have posted on other lists. But then my DD is special needs so maybe it depends on the child and what their needs are.

OTOH, if you child is merely "resistant" or strong-willed, CL is MUCH more peaceful because then it give the child more "say" over their life and things proceed more smoothly - at least I think. DD and I rarely get into power struggles. But I've seen her really get into them with my MIL who is much more "authoritarian" when she is with her....

hth
peace,
robyn
post #16 of 153

Living Consensually....VERY LONG!

Greetings mamas!

I am so thrilled to see a thread about CL here on MDC. I have been a member of the CL yahoo list for many months now, and since *I* have adopted a more consensual way of living, I am amazed at the amount of freedom and joy I feel...which reflects on everyone I come into contact with.

While I am a work in progress, and not a CL 'professional' (to borrow from another mama on this thread), I would like to share some of what I have learned about CL - both from mamas and papas on the yahoo list who have been living this way for many years...some for decades, as well as from my own experience.

The following is cut and pasted from the CL homepage:

Consensual living is a process, a philosophy, a mindset by which we seek to live in harmony with our families and community. It involves finding mutually agreed upon solutions, where the needs of both parties are not only considered but addressed. Everyone’s wants and needs are equally valid, regardless of age. Conflicting wants or needs are discussed and mutually agreeable solutions are created or negotiated which meet the underlying needs of all parties.

Consensual Living is broad and far reaching. It influences the way we interact with everyone, from our immediate families to our community and the world at large. It is about assigning positive intent and looking for solutions. This can apply in so many arenas. It can change interactions, even if they are historically adversarial.


First, I want to be clear that this is *my* perception of CL. This is what CL means to me. CL will look different in every home, in every relationship. There is no one *right* way to do CL. Sure, there are principles, but there are no *rules*.

My understanding is that CL is *not* a parenting style. It is a way of living. While it seems that most people do come to CL through the parenting journey, it does not end there. It extends to all relationships, all interactions, both within our homes and our communities.

After practicing CL for many months, and experiencing a *huge* evolution in not only my relationships, but in my thought processes, there are some 'concepts' that I kind of keep in the front of my mind. They are:

Trust...that there *is* a solution that will work for everyone. Each person has an innate wisdom, each person is walking their own journey...regardless of age. Trust that innate wisdom...When we learn to trust ourselves, the people around us, and the process, then each person is able to trust his/her innate wisdom as well. This does not mean we will agree with *everything* that the people around us choose...this does mean that we trust that they are making the best choices they can, with the information they have, right now. This means to trust that each person is right where s/he needs to be, right now.

Consider...each person as an individual. That each person has different needs, and that is okay.

Let go...of the stories we tell ourselves, of judgements, of expectation, of dogma. (For more on this, visit www.thework.com) Just like the Law of Attractions states...what we put out will come to us. So if we are expecting our children to act a certain way, it is very likely they will live up to our expectation. When we attach stories or judgements, we are then coming from a place of division rather than a place of connection.

Choice...There are *always* choices! Someone mentioned an employee-boss relationship. Yes, when we work at a job, we are *expected* to accomplish certain tasks. However, we *choose* to work at that job. When we choose to work at the job, we are then *choosing* to do the work that job entails. We can choose to work somewhere else, we can choose to work from home, we can choose to not work at all. Yes, if we choose not to work, then we also choose not to make money. But it is still a choice. Sometimes we need to think *way* outside the box to come to this realization...but there are *always* choices. Same goes for our children...there are always choices. Yes, the younger they are, the more creative we have to be. But there is a way to honor their individuality and autonomy...even when they are so little. The best way to understand more about this is to visit the CL website (www.consensual-living.com) and the yahoo list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Consensual-living)

Underlying needs...In the situation someone described about a child hitting his sister, a consensual way of thinking (IMO) is first come from a place of empathy, not judgement. First, it helps to let go of the 'hitting is wrong, he *should* not be hitting her', we let go of the right/wrong mentality and 'shoulds' (there's actually a great thread about this currently on the list). Next, we can state what we see, without judgement, refelct back what we are hearing from each child, and find ways to help. The thought is that when a child is acting out, there is an unmet need. We might think what happened up to this point to create this 'space'? We might think about 'HALT' (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired). We use 'I' statements rather than 'you' statements (visit the Center for Non-violent Communication for more on this: The Center for Nonviolent Communication).

In this specific example, I would probably go to the person who is hurt first. I will also try to remember that when someone lashes out to hurt another, they may be hurting inside too, and they are using the information they have right in this moment to express themselves. After helping with any hurts, I would then find out what the need is. If someone is hungry, tired, lonely, etc., I would find a way to meet the need. If the 'hitter' just moved on and continues to play...I might wait for an opportunity to talk about it later, when we are out of that space and we are in a place of connection. I might role play or brainstorm ways to express our anger without hurting. I will definitely listen, and offer empathy for what the child was feeling...knowing that whether or not I agree with the action, that their feelings are valid.

This goes for *everyone*. The parents count too! When I have an unmet need (lack of food, water, sleep, tidy house, etc.), I become more coercive and authoritarian...I resort to what I grew up with, what I *know* because it had been ingrained in me for so long. So it is important that I find ways to meet my needs as well. I have found that the less I judge, the more open I am to *all* possibilities (even ones that seem impossible), the more my children open up to this as well...and now they actually come up with the solutions to their own problems...or ask to help. It does not happen everytime, but it happens more and more. They even find ways to help me get my needs met now, and are more willing to give a little so that everyone can be happy, rather than just themselves.

Working together...With CL, there is a focus on connection and working together, rather than coercion and division. Something someone wrote to me on the list that sticks with me is 'when children are not pushed, there is nothing to push against'. I keep this in the forefront of my mind. It is important that *I* eat organic, that *I* stay away from wheat, that *I* stay away from sugar, that *I* limit my TV/computer time. I *know* this to be true (for *me) because I have had a relationship with all of these things, I know how I feel when I over-induldge, so I have learned how my body reacts, and what I need to do to take care of me. Within the context of CL, only my children will *know* what their bodies need...and they will learn this through experience. While I may share my thoughts and experiences with them, ultimately, the final say is *theirs*, not mine. I am here to support them, not make choices for them. This means that they might make choices I dont' agree with. This may mean that their choices may render consequences they did not expect or foresee...in that case, it is my role, again, to support...to be there to empathize, to help them find ways to work through it. This is not a space for me to judge, to say 'I told you so' or that 'You got what was coming to you'. This is their chance to learn valuable lessons for themselves, and really internalize the experience, rather than always having to rely on someone else's judgement, which to them is probably pretty abstract. Again, it is my place to offer empathy and support.

Someone mentioned hygiene...so I'll work with that example. My kids are not forced to brush their teeth. They never have been. I might suggest it. I might share with them why *I* feel it is important to brush their teeth. I have one child who has always been very conscientious about oral hygiene. I suppose because I model by taking care of my own mouth, I answer her questions when she asks why I floss, use mouthwash, what happens when one doesn't brush (my answer to this is that it is different for everyone....that usually leads us into a talk about genetics). For my little boy, who doesn't like to brush his teeth because the sensation is very uncomfortable for him, we find creative ways to take care of his mouth. I suggest swishing with water after meals, I suggest certain snacks that are good for teeth (apples, carrots), they chew xylitol gum, he uses mouthwash, sometimes he will wipe out his mouth with a cloth. And sometimes he chooses to brush, and sometimes I notice that it's been awhile, and offer to help him. And sometimes he skips a day...and sometimes more than one. Over all, he and his sister have very healthy mouths. And there is never a time where we argue, because I don't push or force them to do it. Last night...about an hour after they went to bed, they came downstairs and said they were discussing teeth, and would like to brush their teeth.

I'm sure there is so much more I could go into...but the kids are ready to listen to a story they want me to read...so I'm going to go. I hope this helps. I think the main point to remember is that CL will look different in each family...we are all unique, and have our own, unique needs. I highly suggest visiting the websites I listed for more clear and concise information and ideas. I have a tendency to be very long-winded...

Happy travels!
:
post #17 of 153
Consensual living is a philosophy of discipline that is gentle but there are people who discipline quite gently who are not cl.

CL is more a philosophy of life...a way of being, rather than a form or philosophy of discipline. It is a way of living in which each person is valued for who s/he is in this moment, and empowered to be the conductor of his/her own experience. (IMO)

With regards to hurting the sibling...

In the past, I would ask the 'perpetrator' to find a 'safe place' where she could find peace and regain control. What I have found is that this actually serves to sever the connection, and alienate her. Once I began listening with not just my ears, but, more importantly, with an open heart, I realized that there were underlying needs she was expressing that were ummet...When I chose to separate her from the family (and from the process), and came at her with judgements about hitting and what was *expected* or how things *should* be, I was, in essence, shutting her down, and alienating her.

What she needed most was to be heard. What she needed to know was that her feelings were valid, regardless of the behaviour and how I *felt* about it. What I try to do now is assume positive intent and accept dd for who she is, right now, in this moment. I try to see the action as an expression of something (a feeling, a need, etc.) rather than as a 'negative' or 'mean' (or whatever word one might associate with hitting) act. I try not to suspect that Dd is out to hurt her brother. I assume that she is doing all she knows how in that moment to get her needs met.

Dd is what I suppose some might call a 'spirited child' (I try not to label, but I think this will be helpful for this discussion). She certainly uses her body to express her feelings, especially when they are very intense...which is almost always. Both her anger and her love pour out of every one of her pores....

When I judge her actions without empathizing with where she is coming from, without validating her feelings and looking for unmet needs, I am essentially closing down the lines of communication, and giving the message that I do not accept her, or that I only accept her when she is acting in an 'appropriate' way. While the 'hitting' may bring up certain feelings within me, I know (now) that this is *me* and the stories I tell myself about hitting (www.thework.com).

I also believe that hitting, in and of itself, is not 'wrong'. There are several situations where I think hitting would be an appropriate response. So I do not want to teach my kids that hitting, in and of itself, is wrong. What I do want to do is support them in learning what their needs are and how to meet them. The best way to do this is work through the process together, from a place of empathy and understanding, of connection and together-ness.


Are parents who practice CL ever worried what will happen when their child grows up and enters the maistream world, which is by and large not consensual, but reward/punishment driven? It seems to me it would be a HUGE culture shock. Or are most families not planning on having their children enter mainstream society? I mean that with no snark intended.

When I first had a child, I made parenting choices based upon how I wanted my child to 'turn out'. Everything I said and did was very thought out...I edited my speech and what she experienced based on what *I* wanted her experience to be, based on what I thought it would do to her as an adult.

Now that I practice consensual living (to the best of my ability...which isn't always *my* ideal...but I am working towards that), I find that when I focus on expectations and desired outcomes, I am not grounded in the present. I am instead focusing on hypothetical situations that really have no basis on reality. I think mindfulness really comes into play here. What about right *now*? What will work in this moment? What will work for everyone? What will bring about connection and joy? What *feels* good? When I live for the future, I find that I often lack confidence in my decisions. Looking back, I think it's a sad thing when a child comes to me and asks 'can I have some ice cream' and I have a debate with myself in my head about the effects of ice cream, and how, if I say yes this time, it might be harder to say 'no' next time, and how will they turn out as adults if I 'give in' and say yes to ice cream right now...OY!!! What a headache!

Since I have let go and created the space for my children to explore their world without restrictions, they no longer ask to have ice cream. If I see that's all that they are eating, I might look to an underlying need...perhaps they are craving sugar because they haven't eaten protein lately, perhaps they need calcium, or maybe it's just fun to eat something cold and sweet and sticky...either way, I do not choose for them...I might offer my opinion, I might strongly suggest something more or different, or I might add some strawberries to their ice cream to make a more well-rounded snack...but all in all, it's up to them to decide what they have, how much, and when to stop.

It is also important to me to eat organic and support organic companies and local farmers, so these are the types of foods that are available in our home. If we are at the grocery store and they see something they'd like, I'll try to find something similar if it has preservatives or dyes or something like that. But I am really trying to practice living in a way that brings more and more joy into our lives...right now.

I also live by the words of Ghandi 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' I don't feel I or anyone has to live based upon what others are doing. What I want is to live in a way that feels good, connected, and joyful to me and those around me, right now. This incorporates consideration of others, because I would not feel good if I knew a choice I was making affected someone in a negative way. That is what I want for my children. I want them to follow their hearts, and know that they are loved and supported throughout.

I do not find that it is my role to make decisions for them, to direct their journey, or even to guide. I feel that it is my role to unconditionally love, support, and help. I feel it is my role to share my journey with them...my job to share my experiences and the wisdom I have gained throughout my life. I feel it is my job to honor them each as individuals, and know that while I will always share my values with them, I will not expect that their values will be the same as mine. I think it is my role to walk my talk, so that they have role models in their lives who are true to themselves and their words. I think it is my job to find ways to connect with my family, help them find ways to meet their needs, and create a climate of joy and cooperation in our home.

I hope to treat them as equals, with the same kindness and respect I would afford any other human being.

If they were in the middle of the road and about to get hit by a car, you bet I'd run out there and get them out of the way without asking...but I would do that for anyone I saw in that situation. Of course, there are those kinds of things that require immediate action.

Okay...I'm sure you've heard quite enough from me for now...I write so much because I want to share how beautifully my relationships have evolved as I have moved into a more CL way to live...and this goes for all of my relationships...not just my parenting.

I think there is a lot of misconceptions of what CL really is about. For anyone who is intersted in exploring CL either as a concept or as a way of life, I really recommend checking out the CL website or yahoo group.

Blessings!
:
post #18 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusBirthMama View Post
Are parents who practice CL ever worried what will happen when their child grows up and enters the maistream world, which is by and large not consensual, but reward/punishment driven? It seems to me it would be a HUGE culture shock. Or are most families not planning on having their children enter mainstream society? I mean that with no snark intended.
Nope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusBirthMama View Post
But I have never had a boss who was OK with me NOT doing what was requested. They may ask me politely but its not really a request, ya know?
Actually boss/employee relationships are perfect examples of consentual living. Prospective employer is looking for someone to do xyz tasks and willing to pay abc salary. I am looking for a job that pays abc salary and capable and willing to do xyz talks. If I'm not willing to take the salary they want to pay or unable or unwilling to do the tasks they want I don't take the job. It's that simple. Sometimes my need for income exceeds my desires for job description but regardless it's a choice I'm making to take the job or not. I'm consenting to the parameters.
post #19 of 153
I loved! your post I think I am going to print this out for my dd who is a new and very young mama - beautifully put ... thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainskymama View Post
Greetings mamas!

I am so thrilled to see a thread about CL here on MDC. I have been a member of the CL yahoo list for many months now, and since *I* have adopted a more consensual way of living, I am amazed at the amount of freedom and joy I feel...which reflects on everyone I come into contact with.

While I am a work in progress, and not a CL 'professional' (to borrow from another mama on this thread), I would like to share some of what I have learned about CL - both from mamas and papas on the yahoo list who have been living this way for many years...some for decades, as well as from my own experience.

The following is cut and pasted from the CL homepage:

Consensual living is a process, a philosophy, a mindset by which we seek to live in harmony with our families and community. It involves finding mutually agreed upon solutions, where the needs of both parties are not only considered but addressed. Everyone’s wants and needs are equally valid, regardless of age. Conflicting wants or needs are discussed and mutually agreeable solutions are created or negotiated which meet the underlying needs of all parties.

Consensual Living is broad and far reaching. It influences the way we interact with everyone, from our immediate families to our community and the world at large. It is about assigning positive intent and looking for solutions. This can apply in so many arenas. It can change interactions, even if they are historically adversarial.


First, I want to be clear that this is *my* perception of CL. This is what CL means to me. CL will look different in every home, in every relationship. There is no one *right* way to do CL. Sure, there are principles, but there are no *rules*.

My understanding is that CL is *not* a parenting style. It is a way of living. While it seems that most people do come to CL through the parenting journey, it does not end there. It extends to all relationships, all interactions, both within our homes and our communities.

After practicing CL for many months, and experiencing a *huge* evolution in not only my relationships, but in my thought processes, there are some 'concepts' that I kind of keep in the front of my mind. They are:

Trust...that there *is* a solution that will work for everyone. Each person has an innate wisdom, each person is walking their own journey...regardless of age. Trust that innate wisdom...When we learn to trust ourselves, the people around us, and the process, then each person is able to trust his/her innate wisdom as well. This does not mean we will agree with *everything* that the people around us choose...this does mean that we trust that they are making the best choices they can, with the information they have, right now. This means to trust that each person is right where s/he needs to be, right now.

Consider...each person as an individual. That each person has different needs, and that is okay.

Let go...of the stories we tell ourselves, of judgements, of expectation, of dogma. (For more on this, visit www.thework.com) Just like the Law of Attractions states...what we put out will come to us. So if we are expecting our children to act a certain way, it is very likely they will live up to our expectation. When we attach stories or judgements, we are then coming from a place of division rather than a place of connection.

Choice...There are *always* choices! Someone mentioned an employee-boss relationship. Yes, when we work at a job, we are *expected* to accomplish certain tasks. However, we *choose* to work at that job. When we choose to work at the job, we are then *choosing* to do the work that job entails. We can choose to work somewhere else, we can choose to work from home, we can choose to not work at all. Yes, if we choose not to work, then we also choose not to make money. But it is still a choice. Sometimes we need to think *way* outside the box to come to this realization...but there are *always* choices. Same goes for our children...there are always choices. Yes, the younger they are, the more creative we have to be. But there is a way to honor their individuality and autonomy...even when they are so little. The best way to understand more about this is to visit the CL website (www.consensual-living.com) and the yahoo list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Consensual-living)

Underlying needs...In the situation someone described about a child hitting his sister, a consensual way of thinking (IMO) is first come from a place of empathy, not judgement. First, it helps to let go of the 'hitting is wrong, he *should* not be hitting her', we let go of the right/wrong mentality and 'shoulds' (there's actually a great thread about this currently on the list). Next, we can state what we see, without judgement, refelct back what we are hearing from each child, and find ways to help. The thought is that when a child is acting out, there is an unmet need. We might think what happened up to this point to create this 'space'? We might think about 'HALT' (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired). We use 'I' statements rather than 'you' statements (visit the Center for Non-violent Communication for more on this: The Center for Nonviolent Communication).

In this specific example, I would probably go to the person who is hurt first. I will also try to remember that when someone lashes out to hurt another, they may be hurting inside too, and they are using the information they have right in this moment to express themselves. After helping with any hurts, I would then find out what the need is. If someone is hungry, tired, lonely, etc., I would find a way to meet the need. If the 'hitter' just moved on and continues to play...I might wait for an opportunity to talk about it later, when we are out of that space and we are in a place of connection. I might role play or brainstorm ways to express our anger without hurting. I will definitely listen, and offer empathy for what the child was feeling...knowing that whether or not I agree with the action, that their feelings are valid.

This goes for *everyone*. The parents count too! When I have an unmet need (lack of food, water, sleep, tidy house, etc.), I become more coercive and authoritarian...I resort to what I grew up with, what I *know* because it had been ingrained in me for so long. So it is important that I find ways to meet my needs as well. I have found that the less I judge, the more open I am to *all* possibilities (even ones that seem impossible), the more my children open up to this as well...and now they actually come up with the solutions to their own problems...or ask to help. It does not happen everytime, but it happens more and more. They even find ways to help me get my needs met now, and are more willing to give a little so that everyone can be happy, rather than just themselves.

Working together...With CL, there is a focus on connection and working together, rather than coercion and division. Something someone wrote to me on the list that sticks with me is 'when children are not pushed, there is nothing to push against'. I keep this in the forefront of my mind. It is important that *I* eat organic, that *I* stay away from wheat, that *I* stay away from sugar, that *I* limit my TV/computer time. I *know* this to be true (for *me) because I have had a relationship with all of these things, I know how I feel when I over-induldge, so I have learned how my body reacts, and what I need to do to take care of me. Within the context of CL, only my children will *know* what their bodies need...and they will learn this through experience. While I may share my thoughts and experiences with them, ultimately, the final say is *theirs*, not mine. I am here to support them, not make choices for them. This means that they might make choices I dont' agree with. This may mean that their choices may render consequences they did not expect or foresee...in that case, it is my role, again, to support...to be there to empathize, to help them find ways to work through it. This is not a space for me to judge, to say 'I told you so' or that 'You got what was coming to you'. This is their chance to learn valuable lessons for themselves, and really internalize the experience, rather than always having to rely on someone else's judgement, which to them is probably pretty abstract. Again, it is my place to offer empathy and support.

Someone mentioned hygiene...so I'll work with that example. My kids are not forced to brush their teeth. They never have been. I might suggest it. I might share with them why *I* feel it is important to brush their teeth. I have one child who has always been very conscientious about oral hygiene. I suppose because I model by taking care of my own mouth, I answer her questions when she asks why I floss, use mouthwash, what happens when one doesn't brush (my answer to this is that it is different for everyone....that usually leads us into a talk about genetics). For my little boy, who doesn't like to brush his teeth because the sensation is very uncomfortable for him, we find creative ways to take care of his mouth. I suggest swishing with water after meals, I suggest certain snacks that are good for teeth (apples, carrots), they chew xylitol gum, he uses mouthwash, sometimes he will wipe out his mouth with a cloth. And sometimes he chooses to brush, and sometimes I notice that it's been awhile, and offer to help him. And sometimes he skips a day...and sometimes more than one. Over all, he and his sister have very healthy mouths. And there is never a time where we argue, because I don't push or force them to do it. Last night...about an hour after they went to bed, they came downstairs and said they were discussing teeth, and would like to brush their teeth.

I'm sure there is so much more I could go into...but the kids are ready to listen to a story they want me to read...so I'm going to go. I hope this helps. I think the main point to remember is that CL will look different in each family...we are all unique, and have our own, unique needs. I highly suggest visiting the websites I listed for more clear and concise information and ideas. I have a tendency to be very long-winded...

Happy travels!
:
post #20 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie2 View Post
I loved! your post I think I am going to print this out for my dd who is a new and very young mama - beautifully put ... thanks!

Awww, thanks Cherie2!

:
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Consensual living