FatherhoodNatural Parenting

Natural Fatherhood: My Credo

I’ve had a number of dads (and moms) ask me why I choose to use the term ‘natural fatherhood’, as opposed to just fatherhood or parenting. One of the first things I bring up is the idea of natural parenting – a parenting style that fits closely with my personal ideals.

Everyone defines it a bit differently, and because attachment parenting has a pretty defined scope, it’s not the same thing.

So I sat down and attempted to put together a credo for natural fatherhood, as defined by my personal beliefs. You may not agree with me, and that’s ok. Different strokes for different folks…

Natural Fatherhood Credo

This natural father believes:

  • Homebirth is awesome. It’s been happening for thousands of years without doctors and hospitals. If you feel the pull toward homebirth, do your homework, talk to midwives and doulas, and make an informed decision.
  • Unassisted homebirth is the ultimate DIY project. I highly recommend it.
  • Circumcision is barbaric and cruel. Go watch one if you disagree. Please reconsider routine circumcision.
  • Agreeing to vaccinate your child without fully researching the issue is irresponsible. Giving small babies multiple vaccines is so new that we don’t know the consequences. Maybe autism. Maybe SIDS.
  • Co-sleeping is where it’s at.
  • Wearing your child on your body, in a sling or in a soft pack (Ergo-carrier style), is as natural as birth.
  • Infant Potty Training is a great way to eliminate the need for diapers early in your child’s life.
  • Homeschooling works. Unschooling works even better. It’s not hard. Different, but not difficult.
  • Your children are miniature people. They learn by watching you, and just because they don’t know the language doesn’t mean that they are dumb.
  • Our children are also our friends.
  • Kids need guidelines. Natural parenting is not permissive parenting.
  • Natural foods are the basis for health in children and adults. Eating quality nutritious food will save you grief and money in the long run. It’s your health plan.
  • Grow your own food organically in whatever space you have. It makes sense.
  • It’s important to have “papa time” that is just for you. You have to work on yourself and listen to what your needs and wants are. Just because you are a father does not mean that your personal development is done. Quite the contrary.
  • Sometimes it takes superpowers to be a dad.
  • Everyday brings a new lesson, a new opportunity. Make the most of it. Be present with your children.

Natural fatherhood is not mothering for men.

It’s the role of a man fully engaged in raising his kids in a good way without the macho b.s., a man that is awake and aware and growing. A man that has a strong spiritual path will naturally pass on that tendency to his children through spiritual fathering. And when I look around me at the world, I see a big need for men that are strong fathers, spiritual fathers.

There is a lot of focus on mothers and mothering, and it would be great if we started hearing more about fathering. I say fathering instead of fatherhood: fathering is active, and fatherhood a state of being, seems to me. I’m going to use natural fathering to describe what I do, and natural fatherhood is the state I aspire to.

What would you add to this? Disagree? Leave me a comment, or write your own credo and let us know where to find it!

Image: kevinzim at Flickr

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

13 thoughts on “Natural Fatherhood: My Credo

  • I wish more men would embrace this method of parenting… Be present in your child’s life & they will be more likely to be present in yours down the road.

  • Excellent post Papa D!

    I can almost entirely agree with everything you wrote.

    My 2 amendments: 1) Homebirth, yes. Unassisted (which I read as no midwife in attendance) seems like turning away from a community opportunity. There is a place for assistance, and I don’t think birth is the place to go it alone. The midwife serves the village, call on her. Leave the DIY/Extreme challenges where they belong.

    2) infant potty training works when you’re always outside or in another traditional setting, but if it is the modern “read the cues and get the child to the potty” interpretation, I’ve seen a kid who that caused anxiety in into his 3rd year and actually regressed. Very hard to do in a way that doesn’t make the child overly self conscious of the act, IMHO.

    But again, minor points. Thanks for so clearly articulating my approach as a Papa!

    • Derek Markham

      Thanks, Chris.

  • I *almost* totally agree. I have a stepdaughter and my first on the way, and your articles are awesome.

    The main thing is, of course, to do what feels right. I wouldnt do a homebirth because I dont feel either my wife or myself have the coping ability to deal with it. On the other hand, growing our own food is something I totally agree with and want to constantly push on people ­čÖé

    Remind me at the end of the month to swap links with you when I get my blog set up on the new domain… ­čÖé

  • Great list, Derek,

    We also believe in co-sleeping, babywearing, unschooling and natural living (less is more, return to nature). I’m glad you added the part about being aware of your personal needs. I think this is especially important to today’s dads who want to be involved fully in family life. Fathers are an integral part of family life and they do things in their own unique way. It’s good to embrace these traits and understand how they work in tandem with mothering.
    .-= Christine┬┤s last blog ..Last Minute Gift Idea: Buy a Recycled Bike and Help Chicago Youth =-.

    • Derek Markham

      Christine –

      It’s still a lesson I’m learning – to take care of myself. Mothers also need to do that, and trading off with your partner so you each get what you need is a good way to start.


    • Derek Markham

      Jennifer –

      Yes, the homebirth option (especially unassisted) is not for everyone, and is one that I don’t mention often, as many people have experiences that refute my own. I just think homebirth is worthy of being considered – and unassisted birth is something that really needs to be thought through.

  • Thanks for being a leader and Natural Papa Derek!

    Here’s what I can add from my own experience –

    1. Co-sleeping only worked to a point for me (us). It mostly became co-waking and co-exhaustion.

    2. Some women are simply not able to give birth without medical intervention. I love the idea of natural (even unassisted) birthing, as have both moms I’ve been blessed to father with. Sometimes though, it’s not meant to be. And at those times our women and children need us to show up especially powerfully.
    .-= Justice Marshall┬┤s last blog ..12/1 is Good Men Day =-.

    • Derek Markham

      Justice –

      On point two: You’re absolutely right, and as a father and a man, the most powerful thing we can do is to support our family in whatever way is best for them. Which may be in a hospital… Having also had that experience, I can say that ‘defending’ my family, so to speak, in a hospital was an intense thing to go through.

  • Really amazing to read this. I’m not married or a father. But I’m really impressed by the idea of paternity and I found noone with me. But now, I discover that I’m not exactly alone.
    Thanks a lot. I really appreciate fathers as they are the visible gods as I’ve studied in our catechism when I was a child.

  • I’m happy to read about “natural fatherhood” being passionately described in your post. Indeed, fatherhood is not the same as mothering kids. It has its own brand. The thing is, men don’t usually get together to talk about fatherhood unlike women. Perhaps that’s why in the busy world we are in, “natural fatherhood” has not been communicated well among generations of men. Instead, many fathers are stuck with the “macho b.s.” that apply primarily to single men looking for women to impress. I would go as far as saying that fatherhood is the end goal of all that “macho b.s.” that men go through in life. Now that we’re here, it’s time to convey to other men what fatherhood really is. It’s not “macho b.s.” It’s different. It’s not motherhood by men. It’s fatherhood. Whatever that means, let’s discover it by listening to real men who relish fatherhood.
    .-= Marvin┬┤s last blog ..Speaking the Love Language of Receiving Gifts =-.

    • Derek Markham

      Marvin –

      I think you hit the nail on the head – men don’t usually get together to talk about it. I’m struggling with how to empower more men (including myself) to do so. Thanks!



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