Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We Could All Learn from the Children

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


This month's carnival seems to be all too timely. I've stumbled upon statements lately that fit very well. From the December 2010 issue of Full Time Families Magazine, in an article by Sam Suva titled Focus on the Family; the W'onger Years,

"They will teach us how to forgive, how to lose, gracefully, how to giggle, how to be surprised at simple things, wonder, and how to be generous."

And from the Creasy Clan Adventure,

"The ability our girls have gleaned to make fast friends (never) ceases to amaze me. Just another tidbit that I learn from them as my teachers."

There are things to learn from our children regardless of their age. I think many, many more people could learn from the children, if we just stop to listen. It is easy to think that whatever we're reading or writing or whatever dish we're cleaning is more important than that tug at your pant leg or that "Hey, Mom!" It is so important to just pause and really look at that comparison. I realize the dishes must be done, but what would it hurt to drop everything and sit on the floor for a few minutes with a little one that wants your attention, to share with you a viewpoint that you can nary imagine without their input. Not to mention that our responsibility to them is vastly more important than any bill that needs paying or shirt that needs folding.

I try to keep as open a mind as I can manage in as many parts of my life as I can muster. I realize that any toy that has a purpose can be used in lots of different ways, given a little imagination. That is such an easy idea to grasp. But grasping the concept isn't the same as actually getting down onto the floor (or ground) and exploring this wondrous world through the eyes and perceptions of our children. There is reason to watch that YouTube video your tween daughter wants to share with you, too: to see what she sees. What better way to understand what motivates and effects her than to try to see things as she does.

Heather Burditt of Swiss Army Wife said it so eloquently in her Enjoy Life Unschooling article I’m a level 39 Gnome Warlock:

"So instead of trying to pull them away to do something else, I jumped into their current and went a long for the ride. We now have something that the entire family likes to do! That fact alone makes me incredibly happy."

There is just no telling what opportunities for our own growth await us, if we only make ourselves open and available, listen and watch. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is, to me, one of the larger reasons we even procreate. Perhaps a way to reclaim our own youthful perspective, though that particular wording leaves a bad taste in my mouth (from my own experiences).

Samantha Turns 1
Samantha's First Birthday
May 2009
(Elmo's daughter)

Yes, our children need us to help them learn how the world works and to care for their base needs. But there is just so, so much we can learn from them as well!

I guess the gist of what I've learned from children, though, is to be open to learning from them! Simple and complex enough? :-)


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)


  1. this was great and I'm so guilty of carrying on with the washing up when my daughter is desperately trying to tell me something. Thank you for the powerful reminder of how I could be a better mother .

  2. "I think many, many more people could learn from the children, if we just stop to listen." How true! It's sad that in our culture, most people still operate under the assumption that children have little (or nothing) to offer this world. Thank you for a lovely post!

  3. Listening, I love it as an adult when someone truly listens to me, it seems obvious that children would love the same.

    My little one is just starting to talk, so I'm sure I have a lot to learn in this realm as the days and weeks and months pass, but I'm really looking forward to listening to all that he has to say!

  4. That's such an interesting thought, that having children is a way of reminding us what it's like to be a child. Because it really is easy to forget. I love how many other voices you were able to find who were talking about learning from children! So cool. The one about "I’m a level 39 Gnome Warlock" reminds me to meet Mikko where he is — to get excited about what he's interested in rather than what I think he "should" be interested in.

  5. I love your perspective on this topic, and that you brought in the perspectives of others, too. This is a great reminder to actively seek out ways to be with and learn from our children in the state they're in - right now, rather than simply passively waiting to see what they can teach us. By simply watching and waiting, we can still learn a great deal, but there is so much to be gained from engaging and connecting with them.

  6. You are so right--listening and being open to learning are so important! Great post.

  7. @Mrs Green - I think there is always room for improvement, for all of us.

    @Dionna - the idea that children should be seen and not heard saddens me. The company of a child is such a precious and enjoyable gift.

    @Danielle - The golden rule applies. We should treat them as we'd like to be treated. :-) And I bet you've already been "listening" to him.

    @Lauren - As I read your comment, I remembered crushing on boys or even just discovering you like someone. You learn what they like, you take an honest interest in their interests because you want to learn all you can about them and be close to them. Couldn't the same be said about our relationships with our children?

    @Melissa - Your comment reminds me of parents that want to *wait* until their child is older to work on connecting with them. They want to wait until their child is able to share in THEIR interests. I warn: when they're old enough to share your interests, they won't want to unless you share in their interests NOW. You can't put off building a strong relationship, the opportunity will pass you by.

    Thank you ALL for reading and commenting! And thank you Lauren & Dionna for the carnival!


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