Raising kids is a very tough job, and trying to perform that job in a holistic manner can make it all the more challenging. Nobody knows this better than Kathy Arnos, who started investigating alternative health options when an onslaught of illnesses beset her infant daughter, and allopathic (i.e. mainstream) medicine seemed only to exacerbate the problems.
One peer-to-peer newsletter series, two books and a healthy 21-year old daughter later, Ms. Arnos continues her studies, while encouraging others to do the same. In the midst of a very busy schedule, Ms. Arnos was kind enough to grant Yogi Times an interview especially for our children’s issue about parenting in today’s society.
Yogi Times: Could you describe in the nutshell what you think it means to be a parent?
Kathy Arnos: I think that we grow into adulthood with one idea of what parenting is all about, and for many of us that all changes when we have a child. I think that being a parent is about being an adult and taking on the responsibility of making educated decisions for the health and well being of not only the child, but of the whole family. Many of us have grown up in dysfunctional families, and if we aren’t careful can inadvertently pass down some of these habits to our children. We each have our own set of blueprints or lessons and our children are our biggest teachers – a reflection from which to learn and grow. I believe children teach us about compassion, patience, honesty, boundaries, and unconditional love. If we can embrace these lessons with grace, it can teach us how to grow to our fullest potential, and how to be the best parent we can possibly be.
There really is no handbook on parenting – no one can give us that great sage wisdom. Many of us are missing that sense of a tribe: a community, which nurtures us and makes us feel safe. When you’re born into a tribe, there’s a whole community that helps support that person and takes care of that person. I feel that my generation on many levels has lost that connection, a connection that is so important.
Yogi Times: What is your advice for parents today?
Kathy Amos: First and foremost, always do your best to be a good role model. Teach honesty, show compassion, have healthy boundaries, practice patience, be forgiving, walk the talk – and if you mess up, forgive yourself. We are not perfect – we are all just a work in progress.
It’s important to be educated about every aspect of what’s going to affect or impact your child or your family. Do your homework, don’t just go with the mainstream flow and trust all authoritative figures – they may not have the right answers for you. Try and remember that most television commercials are usually trying to sell you something and are supported by companies that traditionally may not have your best interest at heart.
Take the time to learn about what you are putting in your child’s bodies, on their bodies and around their bodies. We are exposing them to vaccines, foods, personal care products, cleaning products, pesticides, bedding, furniture, etc. Using toxic products has consequences. Most people don’t realize that all of these things play a part in how their children are behaving, their aptitude for learning, concentration, energy levels, ability to cope with stress, and that they impact their immune systems, and can even cause cancer. For instance, most have no idea that traditional household cleaning products are truly considered hazardous waste. These bottles shouldn’t be thrown out in the trash, but rather delivered to the local toxic waste pickup station – and yet many families are using them to clean. Parents need to know that when they put on perfume in the morning it may impair their child’s ability to concentrate at school. These are what I refer to as the invisible toxins. The great part is that when parents have this knowledge, they can make good choices for supporting a healthy household and environment for protecting their children – all these things impact them: mind, body and spirit.
I believe that listening is another big part of parenting – learn to listen. Play with your children and listen to what they are saying. This will help you to develop amazing lifelong relationships with them. Someone recently said to me, “It’s funny how I always remember the good things I do for my son, and he only remembers the bad.” It may not always be smooth sailing between kids and their parents. I know personally that learning healthy communication skills with my daughter has been one of my biggest challenges, but it has taught me so much about myself. Our relationship has proven to be one of my most precious gifts.
YT: What is the role of allopathic medicine?
Kathy Arnos: I am extremely grateful for the amazing abilities of allopathic medicine for emergencies and life-threatening situations. However, I think that we have become a generation of parents who are far too dependent on pediatricians for common, everyday childhood illnesses. The human body has amazing healing capabilities and if we are feeding our children and nurturing them properly – the common cold is just that, a common cold. I also believe that we should not routinely give away our power to doctors, but it is only through this type of education that we can take back this power.
If it is recommended that your child take a prescription medication, learn about it. What is it used for? What are its side effects? How does it interact with other medications? I think just basic education is really important – not just to listen to what’s being presented to you, but take it a step further – think outside of the box. That way you will have all the information and be able to make an educated decision about what is best for your kids and family. Everyone’s answers and solutions will be different.
YT: When you say “outside the box,” what does that mean? Where should a parent start?
Kathy Arnos: I feel that thinking outside the box is basically just questioning the norm – not just going with the flow – questioning things that you read, or see on the world wide web, or taking the time to look for a pediatrician who is in alignment with your beliefs. [It’s important to find] someone that they can talk to who isn’t threatened by their questions, and who honors their knowledge, and respects them: a partner for making educated decisions. A good place to start in finding this person is to hook up with like-minded mothers, either through a local health food store, or one of the many organizations like the Holistic Pediatric Association or the Holistic Moms’ Network. Get creative.
YT: Is there anything currently in our society that you are really happy about seeing, with regard to raising our kids?
Kathy Arnos: Absolutely, there are wonderful things happening for our children. I think that alternative schooling practices are blossoming everywhere, which nurtures and enriches the learning experience on a whole new level. The home schooling community reminds me of the tribe. The families show up in a big way for both the kids and each other.
Unfortunately, not all families can afford to stay home or have the patience to home school. That’s where programs like Kindergarten Enrichment [Inc.] come in – they provide after-school care in both public and private schools to bring the lost element of enrichment learning back to our kids. Cosmikids is another great program, founded by Judy Julin. She started the program at the infamous Chopra Center for the kids of families who were going there for their own healing. They use spiritual tools to inspire kids, like the vibration station, incorporating color with affirmations inside a pyramid. Yoga is being brought into the schools, and meditation is on the horizon through the soon-to-be launched Impact Foundation’s “SMART in Education” program.
If you are looking to deepen your relationships and learn the basics of authentic communication (with yourself and others) take a look at this online course – Transformative Communication – an easy and life-enhancing approach for better relationships.
The Holistic Mom’s Network – holisticmoms.org – The Holistic Pediatric Association – hpakids.org – Kindergarten Enrichment – enrichmentkids.com – Cosmikids – cosmikids.org
Impact Foundation – impactfoundation.org