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#1 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Is consensual living different from gentle discipline? If so, how?
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#2 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 02:49 AM
 
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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.
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#3 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 05:07 AM
 
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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.

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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#4 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
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#5 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 11:35 AM
 
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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.
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#6 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 11:42 AM
 
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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

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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#7 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 01:36 PM
 
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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.
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#8 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 01:40 PM
 
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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.
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#9 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 01:53 PM
 
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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.


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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.
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#10 of 153 Old 05-03-2008, 03:21 PM
 
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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!
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#11 of 153 Old 05-04-2008, 10:19 PM
 
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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?
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#12 of 153 Old 05-05-2008, 10:05 AM
 
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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?
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#13 of 153 Old 05-05-2008, 10:13 AM
 
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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.
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#14 of 153 Old 05-05-2008, 10:23 AM
 
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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.
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#15 of 153 Old 05-05-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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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
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#16 of 153 Old 05-13-2008, 10:08 PM
 
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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!
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#17 of 153 Old 05-14-2008, 01:57 AM
 
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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!
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#18 of 153 Old 05-14-2008, 01:06 PM
 
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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.

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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.
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#19 of 153 Old 05-14-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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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!

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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!
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Mom to DD born 1989 DS born 1993 and grandma to
DGS born 2005
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#20 of 153 Old 05-14-2008, 07:36 PM
 
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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!

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#21 of 153 Old 05-14-2008, 11:36 PM
 
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Thanks for this thread. I try so hard to CL but sometimes I get so frustrated!

I'm too tired to quote but the whole issue of violence between and older child and a younger child is one I can't figure out. My DS has Aspergers so he just doesn't get it that when he hurts someone -that they hurt! It is driving us crazy. I need to get more educated and more creative but I'm grasping at straws here.

Otherwise, I love CL!
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#22 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 11:43 AM
 
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Help me understand more.

I went on the consensual living website and the 3 principles of CL are equality, trust, and self determination.

I have trouble with the equality and self determination for the young children. Yes, they are equal in that they deserve to be heard, and respected. Where they aren't equal in my eyes is that they don't have the maturity to decide everything for themselves.

How do children raised under the CL philosophy have any self discipline? I feel like I need to teach them to wash when they are dirty, brush their teeth, eat nutritious foods, pick up their toys, and on and on. If I make all of these things optional and they can do it on their own time because 'they know what is best for their body' how will they become self disciplined adults?

Re: the job/employee issue. I see your point (I don't remember who made the point) that the relationship is consensual. My fear is that my kid will grow up to think that a job is an option and she can quit whenever she doesn't like it anymore. Sometimes you have to keep a yucky job to pay the bills until you can work something else out.

Anyway, I love this philosophy...to a point. Or maybe I love it in my adult relationships. I do my best to be this way with my husband...no expectations just requests. I just can't wrap my mind around letting my kid decide EVERYTHING. I picture her all grown up with ratting hair and decaying teeth, homeless and dumpster diving because she just quit her 99th job since the demands were too much and the boss' breath stank. If everything in life is optional in the formative years, what kind of adult does this produce?
Anyone raise kids with CL philosophy and now they are adults?
TIA...enjoying this thread

DH, and Me plus baby girl (10/07)
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#23 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 12:17 PM
 
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See the way I see it, CL is MORE likely to give you an adult who is completely responsible for themselves. Too many people I know IRL have a tendency to blame someone else for their problems. (Boss, partner, parents, whoever). And I think it has to do with being "forced" to do things as a child and having someone convenient to blame.

I think that if from an early age you have been encouraged to make your own choices (with guidance that you sought or were offered) then I think that you will quickly realize that the "consequences" of your actions are due entirely to your own decisions - good or bad.

I love your image of the dirty dumpster diving girl - so funny! - but I just don't see that being a natural outcome of CL...If anything I think someone who is raised CL would be MORE sensitive to the consequences of their decisions, not less.

I think the key issue is really the guidance issue. For me, I see very young children as needing lots of "guidance" in the sense of us providing them with alternatives, helping them articulate their needs, etc Because they just can't do it yet on their own - or at least not as fully as an adult. But I'm not to sure about coerced guidance....there are areas where I still do that (note: hairbrushing) but I hope to relinquish that as soon as we can find a solution that makes us both happy.

I think it's the consensual part that is important - it's not about "do what you want" - it's about "how do you get what you want while respecting others?" What's the MUTUALLY agreeable solution...As the mom, I'm part of the equation naturally...

....just rambling here - but does this make sense?
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#24 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 12:58 PM
 
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Help me understand more.
Hi Shami! I'll do the best I can to offer what information I have. If you are truly interested in exploring CL more deeply, and getting these wonderful question answered by more than just me, then I would highly recommend becoming a member of the yahoo group. While shifting to a CL lifestyle has definitely created a harmony within my relationships that I never knew could exist, there are folks much more experienced and versed in ways to bring CL in. It is a very compassionate and supportive group of people, and I have found so much wisdom and so many ideas there!

Quote:
I went on the consensual living website and the 3 principles of CL are equality, trust, and self determination.

I have trouble with the equality and self determination for the young children. Yes, they are equal in that they deserve to be heard, and respected. Where they aren't equal in my eyes is that they don't have the maturity to decide everything for themselves.
Before I jump in here, I'd like to state that everything I write here is *my* experience with CL. It really does look different for everyone. While those who live a CL lifestyle may all share similar values and principles, CL takes into account the uniqueness of individuals and situations. It accounts for each person being on their own journey, and thus, has different needs.

The first part of CL for many people is a shift in energy, in thinking, in paradigm. For me, it was the hardest part. I had to let go of *everything* I had *learned* from (read: been ingrained with by) my parents, by our culture, by other parents. I had to really explore my thought processes, and determine what I actually *felt* as opposed to what I *thought* was 'right'. I do not look at things as so black and white any more. No right or wrong, just what *is*. I find it challenging to articulate these concepts, which is why I direct people to the yahoo group...

Part of this paradigm shift happened through doing 'The Work' (Byron Katie). A lot of people are not interested in doing 'The Work', and that is fine. For me, doing 'The Work' was *essential* in moving forward with CL.

I don't think of my children as 'un-equal' based on maturity level. I think maturity and equality are completely different.

I think there is a misconception that CL is permissive parenting under the guise of CL. Living consensually is not a parenting style. There are not rules, but rather principles that apply to all aspects of life. *Every* person involved is considered valuable, with valid thoughts, feelings and needs. And those are taken seriously, regardless of age. With CL, the search for mutually agreeable solutions is something that is done together, in co-operation, rather than one authority-figure making decisions for one or more members of the group to best suit his/her needs, or even what s/he *thinks* the needs of the group are.

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How do children raised under the CL philosophy have any self discipline? I feel like I need to teach them to wash when they are dirty, brush their teeth, eat nutritious foods, pick up their toys, and on and on. If I make all of these things optional and they can do it on their own time because 'they know what is best for their body' how will they become self disciplined adults?
I have come to the realization that while I may know what's best for me (and do I really?) I may not know what is best for another being, young child or no. Yes, I have lots of experience to share. I have insight and wisdom I have gained throughout my life that I choose to share with my children. However, I have found that when I try to make choices for my children, when they are not a part of the process and problem-solving, I essentially strip the experience away from them, and take away opportunity for interanalization and growth.

I do not coerce or force my kids to do things...not to clean up, not to brush their teeth, not to go to sleep at a certain time. The food one was hard for me, but upon letting go, I have found a place of peace and harmony that has been simply beautiful. The question about self-discipline questions brought a smile to my face.

How would a child raised consensually have self-discipline? Well, first, what I hear from you is that you are concerned with how your child will 'turn out'. What will they be like as grown-ups? I have let go of this type of thinking. I *trust*. I *trust* that their journeys will take them wherever they need to go. I *trust* their process, just as I *turst* my own.

I don't know what will happen as they grow up, and I don't plan to waste my time worrying about it. When I spend time worrying about every decision I make, and how it will affect them when they are older, I end up being totally out of touch with my kids, with the situation, with the present moment. I wind up debating in my head whether or not the kids 'should' or 'shouldn't' have ice cream. My kids see me doing this. It serves to sever the connection, rather than bring joy and harmony. If I have a thought about why *I* don't think ice cream for breakfast is a good idea, I will share it. Ultimately, the choice is up to them.

Self-discipline...I trust my children. I share my journey and experience with them. I answer their questions, explore concepts and ideas, and work through their processes and challenges *with* them. I don't ultimately decide for them. I do not listen to them and 'hear' what they have to say, but then say that *I* have the final decision...to me, that completely invalidates the decision. I don't think another person can *make* another have self-discipline. I think that is something one can do for themselves. If my children make their own decisions, learn from their own experience, then all will be well.

Again, when someone is pushed, they are bound to push back. I always thought my young daughter was rebellious (at age 3? 4?). Once I stopped forcing and pushing, our relationship is built on unconditional love, support, and trust. We now both listen to one another, and I see her not only considering the needs of her family members more and more, but friends too. Her play has changed because she is now ready to problem-solve *with* her friends, rather than hit them and melt down because she wasn't getting her way.

My parents *forced* me to eat certain foods, to clean my room, to go to bed at a certain time, to do my homework, etc. I railed against all of it. Now, I have absolutely *no* self-discipline...because it always came from outside of myself. Arbitrary rewards and punishments served to take away my experience, to take away the chance to learn and grow. A child will learn SD by learning what works and what doesn't for *herself*. How can she learn how her body feels after eating too much ice cream if she has never experienced that feeling? How will a child learn to trust her own internal rhythms and go to bed when she is actually tired, if she is forced to *sleep* at an arbitrary time when she's not tired?


Quote:
Re: the job/employee issue. I see your point (I don't remember who made the point) that the relationship is consensual. My fear is that my kid will grow up to think that a job is an option and she can quit whenever she doesn't like it anymore. Sometimes you have to keep a yucky job to pay the bills until you can work something else out.
First of all, when I make decisions based on fear, I am not being present, and I am not in tune with my child or the situation at hand. I am now dealing with a hypothetical future situation that may or may not happen. Where is the joy in that? Where is the connection?

And so what if your kid grows up and thinks it is an option to quit a job whenever she wants? Is it up to *you* to decide what your kid thinks? Maybe once she is finally set free from someone else's thoughts about what is 'right' and 'wrong', she can decide for herself what works for *her*, and what doesn't. And I don't find that sometimes you *have* to keep a yucky jon to pay the bills...that is a choice. There are many other options, but many are probably way outside of the box. Perhaps they are not clear, perhaps they seem impossible to you.

The whole point is that the possibilities are endless. There is *always* a choice. Yes, there are consequences (I am not talking about punishments or imposed consequences). Many people do not pay their taxes because they don't feel it is 'right'. The consequences are many...they may get audited, they may have to pay back-taxes, their wages may be garnished, they may go to jail. They still *choose* not to pay their taxes, and this is a decision that is right for them. They are aware of the consequences, and they will deal with it if and when the time comes. Do you think their parents agree with them? Maybe some do. Maybe some don't. Maybe some don't know about it in the first place. Either way, they made their own decision.

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Anyway, I love this philosophy...to a point. Or maybe I love it in my adult relationships. I do my best to be this way with my husband...no expectations just requests. I just can't wrap my mind around letting my kid decide EVERYTHING.
I find this really interesting. It is in my relationship with Dh that I have the toughest time with!

CL is not about *letting* kids decide everything. First of all, there is no *letting*, because they are autonomous individuals on their own journey. By *letting* them do anything, they are still under your *control*. I do not want to control my children. The other thing is, no one *decides* everything. Consensus is such that people work together to find mutually agreeable solutions.

We went to a part a few weeks ago. People were eating foods I wouldn't have normally wanted my kids to eat. I completely let go. I did not force them to eat veggies and protein *before* they had the chocolate like many of the other parents were doing. (I totally related to why they were doing this. I do not judge these parents, because they were doing what was right for them, at that moment). My kids came to me about the chocolate and marshmallows (ew), and asked what I thought about it. They asked what the marshmallows even were. I reminded them to just listen to their bodies. Dd has an allergy to chocolate, although she likes it. She had a small piece and that was it. I didn't say 'you're allergic, you can't have any.' She chose to eat enough that satisfied her sweet tooth, yet that her body could handle. She roasted three marshmallows. Ds had 2 and chose no chocolate. I didn't think about how this moment was going to affect them as adults. I didn't worry that there might be a tummy-ache later. I didn't force them to eat 'real' food before they had that stuff. I simply backed off.

On the way home, Dd asked what was in the marshmallows. I told her. She said 'ew, gross!' She said they sure tasted good. I said 'yeah, kind of funny how something so unhealthy for you can taste so yummy, huh?' She said 'yeah...I just don't want to have any more of those for a long time.' Then she said 'how about we make a fruit and yogurt smoothie when we get home.'

She was in a space where she was able to listen to her body, and decided what was best for it. She ate little chocolate, a couple of marshmallows, then felt what all that synthetic stuff was doing inside her body, and needed to balance it out...fresh bananas, strawberries, whole milk yogurt, lemon juice, flax meal....what a healthy choice! I'm so glad I trusted her...in doing so, she learned to listen to and trust her body. I don't think it is up to me to know what her body can handle....only she will know that. Self-discipline.

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I picture her all grown up with ratting hair and decaying teeth, homeless and dumpster diving because she just quit her 99th job since the demands were too much and the boss' breath stank.
First of all...so what? She will still be your daughter. She will be living her own life. Perhaps this is a part of her journey that needs to happen. Again, it is a what if scenario, and I try to stay away from those. Why bring that kind of energy in? I think when kids feel validated, their voices are heard, they are unconditionally loved, and they are supported, and they have people in their lives who model healthy lifestyle and sound principles, then there is nothing to worry about. I have been trying lately to focus more on joy and connection rather than desired outcomes. I want my kids to be who they are, not who *I* want them to be. That is unfair to them, and sets them up for failure in my eyes.

By the way, my husband slept over after our first date (I picked him up hitchhiking that day) and we have been together ever since...I have dreadlocks (ratty hair) and I go to the transfer station (read: the 'dump') to pick up used items that I have a use for....it's called re-using and it is one of the many gifts I give to the Earth...keeping it out of the landfill (it is also free). For the first 4.5 years of my motherhood journey, I chose not to work, even though we were piss-poor, because I knew it was important to be with my kids. In the past, I have quit several jobs based on my principles. I have now chosen to work from home both for a local artisan, and I make my own crafts to sell.

Judgements and expectations cloud our vision of reality.

If everything in life is optional in the formative years, what kind of adult does this produce?

I am not worried about production. I am a mother. I want to be *with* my children, experiencing joy and harmony, where all people are considered, are seen as equal, valuable, and are supported. I trust that their journeys will take them wherever they need to go, and I will always be here to love them unconditionally, share my insight with them, and support them when needed.

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Anyone raise kids with CL philosophy and now they are adults?
TIA...enjoying this thread
Yes, on the yahoo list you will find people who have grown children. I would consider that the end product is not what a lot of people on the list are working *towards*. It is more working *with*, in the present moment. But I won't speak for others. This is *my* view, it is what works for me, right now.

Hope this helps...visit the list if you are interested in exploring more!
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Consensual-living

Love.....
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#25 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 01:09 PM
 
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See the way I see it, CL is MORE likely to give you an adult who is completely responsible for themselves. Too many people I know IRL have a tendency to blame someone else for their problems. (Boss, partner, parents, whoever). And I think it has to do with being "forced" to do things as a child and having someone convenient to blame.

I think that if from an early age you have been encouraged to make your own choices (with guidance that you sought or were offered) then I think that you will quickly realize that the "consequences" of your actions are due entirely to your own decisions - good or bad.

I love your image of the dirty dumpster diving girl - so funny! - but I just don't see that being a natural outcome of CL...If anything I think someone who is raised CL would be MORE sensitive to the consequences of their decisions, not less.

Quote:
I think the key issue is really the guidance issue. For me, I see very young children as needing lots of "guidance" in the sense of us providing them with alternatives, helping them articulate their needs, etc Because they just can't do it yet on their own - or at least not as fully as an adult. But I'm not to sure about coerced guidance....there are areas where I still do that (note: hairbrushing) but I hope to relinquish that as soon as we can find a solution that makes us both happy.

I think it's the consensual part that is important - it's not about "do what you want" - it's about "how do you get what you want while respecting others?" What's the MUTUALLY agreeable solution...As the mom, I'm part of the equation naturally...

....just rambling here - but does this make sense?
peace,
robyn
Robyn, this is very clear and makes a lot of sense to me! I like the way you articulated what CL is for you. I hold very similar values as what you have written here!

My dd had the same deal with the hair. She likes to feel the wind in her hair. Did not like to have it brushed. She had dreads for awhile. She got annoyed by hair in her face, but didn't want to wear it tied back.

One day, her dad and little bro shaved their heads. She wanted to do it too, so she did. *BEST* decision of her life. She loves having short hair...she can feel the breeze without hair in her face. She doesn't have to tie it back...although now she does like to put barrettes in it from time to time. She made the decision, she was very happy with it, it doesn't bother her when people call her a boy or mistake her for her brother, and it *feels* really good to her. Is this what *I* would have chosen for her? No. She is herself...and no one else. She made the choice, after we all talked about our concerns...

There are always choices. We may completely disagree, but that doesn't mean we have the right to take that choice away.

Blessings!
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#26 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 01:27 PM
 
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I can quote but its long lol....

The poster above has reminded me of things I constantly need to remind myself. Mostly - living for *now and not then *when and *then in life.

I just had a thought so I wanted to put this down.

Our society focuses so much on 'tomorrow' I feel.
I find it interresting that a lot of the 'parenting' techniques that are constantly throw at you in the 'mainstream' society focus so much on how our children are going to 'turn out' in the end from it all....yet, the techniques in practice actually only focus on the there and now with a child. From time outs to use praise to manipulate our children into doing something we want them to do as well as the use of punishments, etc... Whilst CL doesnt focus on the future our children may have (as the poster above has expressed), it does focus on the here and now...yet I feel it also is the best way to go to provide for our children a healthy future.

I need to remind myself to live for the now more - and not get so hung up on the what may be and the possible future of my son. Though this is more my nature, my virgo side, my organises self, my OCD... I didnt choose to live consensually because I am raising my son for his future. I just sort of got there. Though it is very important to me to know that I am raising him as best as I can to provide an emotionally healthy future for him.

In some ways I feel it was easy for me. My own 'crappy' childhood. My own grasping at some control over my own life that led me to belief that I didnt want my DS to have the childhood I had...why...and how can I do it differently, to my understanding of the simple fact I can not stand someone trying to control me added to the connection I have with my DS and never wanting to force him or coerce him... just wanting to live in peace and harmony...those words have been used many times in this thread and really, that is what it is its so wonderful...just living consenually.

It is hard though I feel. Its deffinatly something that doesnt always come naturally. I find at the moment, its hard for me as I have a pre-verbal child though his speech is deffinatly improving - its sometimes hard to see how we can come to something consensually but there is more to understaning my DS than him just using words for me to listen.

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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#27 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 02:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mountainskymama View Post
My dd had the same deal with the hair. She likes to feel the wind in her hair. Did not like to have it brushed. She had dreads for awhile. She got annoyed by hair in her face, but didn't want to wear it tied back.

One day, her dad and little bro shaved their heads. She wanted to do it too, so she did. *BEST* decision of her life.

Oooo thanks for the ideas....I had already thought of suggesting the dreadlock route but it is nice for her to have a choice. Maybe I'll sit down with her this week and try to explain what the options might be for her...not sure she'll "get it" with her language delay, but she always surprises me with what she DOES understand....and she does better when given two or three options to choose between....she might like having it super duper short....hmmmm....and I think we will both be happier

eta: I just realized that sometimes its so easy to get locked into the idea that it's "easier" to just force a child to do something than it is to really sit down and hammer out a solution...but then the forcing is this ongoing, low-level struggle that detracts from our relationship. It would be better for me to just spend the quality time, really thinking through the options, discussing them with DD and coming up with a mutually agreeable solution ONCE, then we can move on.....just thinking out loud.



peace,
robyn
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#28 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 03:16 PM
 
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I've really enjoyed reading these posts.

Thanks, especially to moutainskymama.

A lot of what you wrote struck a chord with me. I've been trying to let go of a lot of anger and resentment in my adult relationships by trying to really internalize (rather than just acknowledge intellectually) that everyone is on his/her own journey and that I can't control what they're doing or how they've chosen to make that journey.

Yet I've never viewed my own DS or our relationship from that angle. I do get caught up in "how he'll turn out" even though I know with ever fiber of my being that I'll love him no matter what. You've given me a lot of food for thought.
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#29 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 03:27 PM
 
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Wow...thank you Mountain and Hippie. Things are becoming more clear, but it is going to take a while to digest. I am definitely heading over to the yahoo group.
Let's see if I can do this quote thing... Nope, I'll just do copy paste.

Mountain "However, I have found that when I try to make choices for my children, when they are not a part of the process and problem-solving, I essentially strip the experience away from them, and take away opportunity for interanalization and growth."

Besides needing my entire thought processes rewired, this is what I am looking for in raising my kid. I too was forced to make my bed, etc. Now I never make my bed. I am very messy by nature. However, I strive to pick up my things because I like living in a less messy environment, not because my mom made it a huge ordeal. So, yeah, I think you're right, self discipline comes through your own experiences. Something internal needs to happen before the action occurs.

I haven't heard you speak of modeling. Would you say this is the majority of 'guiding' your children, along with the the problem solving skills?

Re: the matter of what kind of kid will I produce.

I view my child as a gift from God given to me to love, to nurture, to meet needs, to discipline, to enjoy life and to simply be with her. As such, she has been entrusted to me and the way she 'turns out' is important because I don't want her to suffer like I did. Ok, I know, I know, her journey is hers and mine is mine, but I'm a mom. I don't want her to go through what I went through, using drugs to numb myself, cockroach infested houses, poor, and making bad choices by the dozen. So, on one hand she came from God and it is His job to care for her, on the other hand I feel responsible. I don't know how to let the feeling of responsibility go. You mention 'the Work'. I'll check that out.

Mountain "Judgements and expectations cloud our vision of reality."

So true... thank you for pointing out my judgementalness. I hate it
when I do that! I like the way dreds (sp?) look and I have picked up a couch or two on the side of the road, so what am I worried about??!!! When it's my own kid I want her to have the best because I don't want her to suffer. This is MY problem, huh?

Hippie your post made a lot of sense. I love reading others experiences with this philosophy. It's helping me a great deal.

Ann glad to hear your thoughts 'out loud'. I really believe in living in the here and now, but it's so difficult to practice at times!

Gotta run...hoping to hear more from you all and others.

DH, and Me plus baby girl (10/07)
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#30 of 153 Old 05-15-2008, 07:27 PM
 
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but it is going to take a while to digest.
This is an on-going process. I am still chewing and deciding what to swallow and what to spit out Like I mentioned in an earlier post, while there are principles that many CLers value, it will look different for everyone...even within the same family. Also important to remember is that the journey is dynamic, not static...so something that worked for our family last month (or even last week) may not work right *now*. The point is to do what *feels* good and works best *in the moment*. That does not mean just following our impulses without a second thought. It means working together to find what will work for everyone. I have found that my children actually come up with many more ideas (and usually better ones!) than I do, now that we have been practicing this way of living.

Quote:
I haven't heard you speak of modeling. Would you say this is the majority of 'guiding' your children, along with the the problem solving skills?
This is hard to answer. Basically, I do what I *feel* is best for *me*, while also considering the needs of others. This does not mean I attempt to be super-mom or some kind of saint or martyr...I take *my* needs into consideration as well. There are many things I value: kindness, helpfulness, eating organic, supporting local farmers and businesses, spending a lot of time outside, etc. I suppose because I do these things, I am modelling for my children, though I don't (read: I try not to) expect that these will be their values. I am also human...when I am feeling lost or frustrated on my mother-journey, I slip back into what was comfortable for so long, which is coercion and a more authoritarian style.

However, I am learning that judging myself is just as dangerous as judging others...and it actually begins with me. We all project and reflect...we project our thoughts and feelings onto the world around us, and what we put out is reflected back to us. So if I want to see kindness, I certainly need to start with *me*. If I want to see helping, then I need to help.

I don't *expect* help (as in, with housework). I will ask for help when I feel I need it, I will explaing why I'd like to have help, I might talk about how I feel when I don't have help, I might find ways to make it a game...ultimately, if the kids don't want to help because they are busy doing something else, or because they just don't feel like it...I honor that choice. I think about the times when I am busy doing something and the kids ask for help, and I tell them not right now because I'm busy. Well, I think they deserve the same respect of what they are doing. While in my intellectual adult mind it may not be a big deal to me, that is their reality right *now*, so it is important to them, you know? This is hard for a lot of people because they feel that kids help make messes, kids should help clean them up...But as I also mentioned, I try to let go of 'shoulds'.

As far as guiding goes, I suppose I see it more as we are walking together...sure, sometimes I may lead the way when the kids are feeling uncomfortable with the 'unkown' that lies ahead...more often, I would say they are leading the way...carving their own paths, living their own truths. They are guided by their spirit, by their Truth...I am simply there to help, support, love, share in their journey. I am there to guide if that is what they need. Mostly, I would say we are walking together...sharing in each other's journey. Working within the context of each other.

Quote:
I view my child as a gift from God given to me to love, to nurture, to meet needs, to discipline, to enjoy life and to simply be with her. As such, she has been entrusted to me and the way she 'turns out' is important because I don't want her to suffer like I did
I believe that my child *is* spirit...each 'part' of her is a manifestation of her spirit. I believe I was chosen, by spirit, by *her* to be her mother, to walk her path with her. I also believe that *my* spirit chose her to walk my path with me. We are entrusted to ourselves, to each other. I don't feel I was chosen as her mother to walk her journey *for* her, but to be a part of her experience, to share. What is most important, to *me*, is connection, support, unconditional love. I trust that her journey will take her where she needs to go...many of her lessons may be the same as many of mine...many may not. At any rate, the more I focus on desired outcomes and expectation, I am taking the focus away from love and connection, and that is becoming what is most important to me...it is also what seems to bring the most joy into our lives....

I shared this with you not because I wanted to change your opinion...but just to show you how different people have different values and beliefs, and while moving into a CL lifestyle may challenge many of those beliefs...I think those that are really your core *Truth* are the ones that will stick with you, and the ones that were created by culture, but society, by parenting styles, by the mainstream, by religion, whatever, are the ones that will melt away to reveal simply what *is*.

Quote:
thank you for pointing out my judgementalness. I hate it
when I do that! I like the way dreds (sp?) look and I have picked up a couch or two on the side of the road, so what am I worried about??!!! When it's my own kid I want her to have the best because I don't want her to suffer. This is MY problem, huh?
By no means was I pointing out anything...just sharing my Truth, my experience.

Exactly, what *are* you worried about? I think that the thoughts/stereotypes we attach to life, and the stories we tell ourselves really frame how we think about and interact with the world (thank you Byron Katie!). Of course, no one wants their children to suffer...But if we took away their pain, would we also then take away their joy? I think there is a way to offer empathy and support without trying to 'fix' the child or try to create a certain outcome for them...this means that we trust the innate wisdom they brought into the world with them, that we trust that they will learn what works for them, and what doesn't, and when they make a choice that brings about 'negative' consequences, we are there to *respond* with love, support, empathize, validation, and help pick up the pieces...not scold, not react out of anger, belittle, say 'I told you so', or other such things, that server to sever relationships, rather then establish connection and build trust.

I don't think it is your 'problem' perse, but I do believe that, yes, your feelings are *yours*...not your child's. I think it is important to own our feelings as ours...rather than projecting them onto others, and then blaming and judging. Something that you may get very angry about, your child may let roll off of her without a second thought. Something that doesn't bother you in the least, may drive your child absolutely nuts. She is her own unique person, experiencing life only as *she* can...who are we to tell her how she *should* feel, or what is *right* for her?

Quote:
I've really enjoyed reading these posts.

Thanks, especially to moutainskymama.

A lot of what you wrote struck a chord with me. I've been trying to let go of a lot of anger and resentment in my adult relationships by trying to really internalize (rather than just acknowledge intellectually) that everyone is on his/her own journey and that I can't control what they're doing or how they've chosen to make that journey.

Yet I've never viewed my own DS or our relationship from that angle. I do get caught up in "how he'll turn out" even though I know with ever fiber of my being that I'll love him no matter what. You've given me a lot of food for thought.
Darius...thank you for your kind words...I think that while the first step may be intellectual in nature...it doesn't really sink in, deep within our beings (within every 'fiber'), until we are able to internalize it through practice. Sure...it is hard at first. I (and my family) experieced a lot of frustration when I first chose to shift my energy in this direction.

And for anyone who may wonder, Dh is not totally on board with this. He is slowly (much more so than I...I just kind of dove in head first) exploring. But as is the nature of CL, it is not my place to tell him how to parent, or even to agree. I do not believe that I should go with what he says when I don't find it to resonate with my truth, just so the kids see a 'united front'. I think to show my kids that I will do the opposite of what I believe in my heart, as Truth, is showing them that I don't trust myself, that I won't stand up for what I believe, that what I believe doesn't matter.

However, we do take each other's opinions into consideration, we agree to disagree, we have, more and more, been finding mutually agreeable solutions. There are times when there is intense conflict, and we work through the process...but I am finding the more skilled I become at this, the more I am able to apply the same values to him as I do to the kids...He knows how I feel about certain things, but that doesn't mean he is going to choose something different than what he wants, because I don't agree with it. It is getting easier and easier. What, at first felt somewhat contrived and superficial, now feels more natural and joyful.

Quote:
Oooo thanks for the ideas....I had already thought of suggesting the dreadlock route but it is nice for her to have a choice. Maybe I'll sit down with her this week and try to explain what the options might be for her...not sure she'll "get it" with her language delay, but she always surprises me with what she DOES understand....and she does better when given two or three options to choose between....she might like having it super duper short....hmmmm....and I think we will both be happier
The other thing I think is important to remember is to involve *her* in the process. If it's just you laying down the options, you may be missing what *she* is feeling/thinking/needing. 'Giving' choices has a very different energy to me than 'Brainstorming' choices. In my opinion, she should come up with the ideas too...then together you can discuss the ideas, and work out which one would feel good to her.

Quote:
eta: I just realized that sometimes its so easy to get locked into the idea that it's "easier" to just force a child to do something than it is to really sit down and hammer out a solution...but then the forcing is this ongoing, low-level struggle that detracts from our relationship. It would be better for me to just spend the quality time, really thinking through the options, discussing them with DD and coming up with a mutually agreeable solution ONCE, then we can move on.....just thinking out loud.
Yes...sometimes force is much easier...for the parent. I think the child is having a completely different experience, however. What I try to do is consider the child's perspective. While I may think it's time to leave somewhere, and to get to the next spot, I force ds into his car seat. I might be okay with that, I get what I want...but what about ds? What does this look like and feel like to him? Is there connection or division going on? Do I really *need* to go? Can I set up my day in a way that the kids are able to do what they want as long as they want to sometimes? Am I willing to give a little?

These are all questions I ask myself regularly. (And there are many more to be sure). Transitioning into a consensual way of life required me to examine not only my principles and core values (which are *huge*), but also my thoughts and feelings about every day things...Do I really *need* to 'go right now'? Why can't I just take the time for ds to stop and explore everything he sees? What is my rush? Of course, we unschool, so this makes it a heck of a lot easier (imo). But that does not mean you have to unschool to live consensually. Many folks on the CL list have kids who unschool *and* kids who go to school...because they choose to. Like I said...looks different for everyone!

I'm really enjoying this discussion and exploration! Thanks for joining me!

Love, love, love!
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