Don’t get me wrong. Some organic, crunchy granola parents may start a witch hunt for me after reading this, but it has to be said. Sometimes the best intentions can produce terrible results. This has been the case more and more as natural parenting as the Age of Organic is now fully upon us.
You may have heard about vaccine dodgers, where parents will keep their children from any and ever vaccine. Some of these fears are warranted, but most are not. However, this article is not about the vaccine craze. Today we’re talking about a few lesser known problems with opting for treating children ‘naturally’.
Yes you heard me correctly. Parents all over the world have been jumping on the natural essential oils band wagon for years now. You can find these essential oils all over the place. There are shelves and shelves of them at any natural grocery store. You can also get them easily only. No prescription required.
What many parents don’t know, is that these oils are often toxic to children because their physiology is much different from an adult. Not only is there the issue of their skin being much thinner and absorbing too much of these oils, but children have been known to consume these oils which are often left around the house.
While working in social work in the early 2000’s mindfulness began to rear its vague and feel good head. It was in practically every discussion with every psychologist, not to mention every staff meeting. Now, there’s nothing wrong with adults pondering existential questions about ourselves. But when we pull children into the confusion, there’s a lot of damage to be done.
Mindfulness is never fully explained by an practioner and there’s a good reason. Simply telling a person to ‘become more aware’ is silly advice in any form. A close friend of mine was beating this drum recently and I just couldn’t take them seriously. When I asked how it was that they could become ‘more aware’ – how a person can ready their mind to have awareness of more than say seven separate things, they didn’t know what to say. This has been the case with any guru I’ve spoken with. Not only does it not make sense, but it leads nowhere. It’s the same as discussing duality with a monk. Where we exist but don’t exist. Where there is no sense in it. No point. Nothing based in reality. We might as well be talking about the Fluffle-umpagus that lives at the top of the tree outside your house.
When discussing thinking exercises with children, it is important to focus on what you know. How useful is it to a child to hear an adult describe nonsense as if it makes sense? I’d wager it breeds complacency in ignorance. Perhaps a child breaks out of this and realizes the nonsense, and grows stronger in understanding because of it. Perhaps not. But if we are going to live in this way and raise our children like this, then our school system and parenting should follow suit.
A child’s diet is an interesting thing indeed. Sometimes kids will eat mass quantities a few days in a row, only to crash on the couch an hour before bedtime. Their body is priming up for a growth spurt. But what happens when parents and parental figures begin looking at children like they do their own bodies?
One interesting anecdote came from my social work career where the director was at least 75 pounds overweight. One meeting I remember quite clearly involved her investigating the health standards of what the children were eating in one home. I had to laugh. How can a person who is grossly overweigh advise others on what to eat?
Children learn from example. They learn from what their parents do, and what is culturally within the home and outside of it, considered normal. So if their parent gorges on a bag of Doritos and Coke, and that’s normal, expect them to repeat that behavior. But if a parent focuses on eating healthy most of the time, so too will a child.