Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers

Father Nation: A New Global Library Of Dad Interviews

Father Nation – that’s a big name for a big project. And, yes, Jesse Foster – founder of FatherNation.Com, is ambitious. He wants to create the most extensive library of dad interviews available online. Jesse has started to interview dozens and dozens of fathers from all over the world to present their views and thoughts in his podcast.

I think FatherNation.Com is an awesome idea and I personally have listened to many stories from dads who share their ideas, resources, dreams and tips on how to become a better father. It is amazing how much Jesse has already achieved, given the short time in which his project went online and on air.

I talked to Jesse, who is from Colorado, a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed chatting to him. So, I wanted to find out more about him and his great project. Here is a little interview I did with the guy who normally asks the questions:

FatherNation Banner

Torsten: FatherNation.Com sounds big. What is FatherNation and who is your audience?
Jesse Foster: Father Nation does sound a bit big, but I wanted a name that would encompass dads from a variety of different backgrounds. There are dads out there from Iceland with twin two-year old boys and other dads from the US with teenage daughters, but no matter what stage a dad is in and where he lives, we all are in a sense one nation because we can all relate to each other being fathers. Father Nation is for any dad out there who wants to hear about the experience of other dads and gain wisdom in talking about fatherhood.

How did you develop the idea around FatherNation and where did you start?
I developed the idea after my wife was pregnant with our second. I realised that being a dad was one of my most important “jobs” in life and i myself desired to connect with more dads and become a better father. I started basically researching more about podcasting, and over the course of several months the ideas in my head morphed into what it is today.

Do you have a long-term goal for your project?
I would like Father Nation to be the most extensive library of dad interviews available online.

How many dads have you talked to already and where do you find more dads who come on your show?
I’ve interviewed about 40, and I mainly find them online doing various google searches. It takes usually 5 emails to get 1 response, so I’ve probably sent over 200 requests out to various websites/emails

Who is Jesse Foster? Please tell me a little about you.
Jesse FosterI’m 34 with two children, my son is 2 and my daughter is not even 2 months yet. I’ve been married almost 4 years. I’ve taught English overseas and I love sports, but once I had my first child I became more interested in parenting, obviously. I went to the University of Colorado and majored in Philosophy.

What were, so far, the three most inspirational moments when talking with fathers?
I really enjoyed hearing Ted DiBiase say, “Children don’t always do what you say, but they always do what they see you do” because I’ve found that to be so true so far in my parenting experience. I liked hearing about Tim Olsen remind us that no matter what background you come from and your past, you can become a better dad today. And I enjoyed Devon Bandison tell about taking his son to the NBA draft and that it’s not always what you do together, but just about being together.

Where would you like to see FatherNation in five years’ time?
Wow, in 5 years I haven’t even thought too much about 1 year to be honest, I’m trying to focus on one day at a time and my main goal so far is just to do many interviews for the launch and the first 3 months, after that see how it goes. In 5 years I hope it is a success, I may cut back on the amount of interviews over time but we’ll see, I hope it’s a place where dads can come to hear about the experience of other dads, and a place where dads can find information and resources.

What do you enjoy about fatherhood?
It’s difficult to choose just one thing or two, but I really enjoy just speaking to my son now (he’s only 2) and watching him learn and grow. I haven’t met him, but a man named Michael Pearl has a motto, “No greater joy” because being a father should be a joy, and for me mostly it is.

Anything else you would like to share?
For me, as a Christian, I want to share with my son my values, but I know that sharing is usually not enough, you have to live and practice what you value in order for it to have an impact. I think the same is true for fatherhood, I feel like in starting Father Nation I have put more responsibility on myself to be a better dad, but I think we all know that being a father is a big responsibility no matter what we do. I’d just say focus on becoming a better dad, because I think we all can improve in some ways, and if you are getting better, then at least you are going in the right direction!

Thank you, Jesse, and good luck with FatherNation.Com!

Follow on twitter: @Father_Nation and Facebook


Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

Sex And Parenting: Can The Two Of Them Get It On?

AnthonyIn my series about inspirational fathers, I would like to introduce to you Anthony Eldrigde-Rogers. Anthony lives with his partner and their three unschooled children in Italy and he’s interested in many, many exiting things: He has been involved in photography, film making, commercials production, pop videos, producing, directing….marketing PR, environmental projects….writing screenplays…then there was farming fruit and having a restaurant…to name but a few. He has always been interested in people, how people live and make sense of their lives. Now Anthony is working as a Recovery and Wellness Coach…. he trains coaches, and is writing a book (soon to be published), plus various plants for retreats and… you see, the list is long!

I so much love Anthony and his family’s blog which you can find here:

Now, I invite you to read Anthony’s post on sex and parenting and on how creative you can be to find the time for both. Enjoy!

Sex And Parenting: Can The Two Of Them Get It On?

First off a quick warning. I am going to mention s*x in this blog… have been warned.

Homeschooling, unschooling, home education. Whatever we call it usually means that children are around a lot. From dawn to dusk. I love it and so does my partner but…….it raises a challenge for the intimate part of our relationship. Before we had children….yes I can remember it well, we had freedom.

You know, get up late, stay in bed all day. Walk around naked all though the house and generally enjoy an open sensuous life.

We don’t do that anymore but not all has been lost. Now, apart from the intense adjustment that twins bring, having a baby is well a game changer. Post birth, about 12 month in and post breast feeding and before the next one came along there was a brief period where things slightly adjusted. But of course it has never been the same again.

I remember when they were all babies and we talked about schooling. Lurking in the back of my mind was the idea that when school started we might have the chance to kick back for a couple hours a day from time to time (us being self employed and all that) and revisit pre baby adult life.

That did work a bit until we stopped sending the kids to school! Then it collapsed.

But it matters. I believe that the adult carers, usually parents or a couple in an intimate relationship, should be the prime focus of family life as this is in the best interest of the children. Mum and Dad happy and singing off the same (ok, similar) hymn sheet means more harmony, balance and good feeling. Equals better for les enfants terrible.

If the wellbeing of the primary relationship is based in part on intimacy, sensuous engagement and good old in the sack lust then it needs to be kindled and kept burning in the grate of desire.

In our house the windows of opportunity are slim and often ill timed. Sure we can get cracking on these things after the kids are asleep but in reality by 10pm I and my beloved are often basket cases. Can hardly string a word to a word to a word. And we long ago learnt to never, ever ever try to have a serious emotional conversation about anything important that we might disagree about after 4.00pm. Disaster. All the gremlins come out for a party.

So that leaves when? Er, early morning? Well our son has been getting up before us for several years now and even if we could set a ‘love’ alarm early enough can we get past the anxiety that he will get up a bit earlier and find us rolling around? So we lock the door right? True but you cannot put a lock on your psyche so a mere knock at the door might come at any time and he might have been standing there for a few minutes before hand!

And this is assuming we got past needing a coffee first thing (yup, I confess I have a major coffee habit first thing. And I know I am a wellness coach so should be on it and I am really). And then what about actually summoning up the actual desire? That can take a while. I am not a robot you know. Can’t just flick a switch and game on!

So late at night is a challenge and so is early am. That leaves the day. When the kids are around all day more or less. And as the girls schedule is different to our sons then only occasionally are they both out. It seems like once a decade.

We resorted some time ago to using hotels. When we just couldn’t find the space at home we would find a babysitter and go to a hotel. Not for the night necessarily. Sometimes we ended driving home at 12pm to relieve said baby sitter.

BED PICThose trips were and are gorgeous. Not only do we get the chance to slow down and chill and just have a bit of quiet but we get to have a conversation for as long as we want without getting interrupted! Yay! That’s adult gold.

So we plan more of them.

We work at it. We have to. Oxytocin rules. Intimacy makes for positive hormones which makes for closeness and good feeling. We adults need this as part of our natural health. We meet parents from time to time who seem to wear the “Oh we have never had a night alone in 12 years since the kids came” badge of honour. Usually, if we share that we do hotels they look righteously envious and irritated with us all at the same time.

But there is a deeper point here I want to end on.

Children learn by watching and sensing what adults actually do and they are masters of intuition. You can’t bullshit them. They glean and code how relationships work from the ones they see. If they see adults making time for each other. Committing to that, smiling, hand holding, being intimate. Looking like you do when you have had a heavenly hour or two just lying in bed and around with your lover. They feel it and know it for what it is. Love between two people in a relationship. If they don’t get it from us where will they get it from? A book? Er um well our son can’t read quite yet. Anyway you can’t read it into your life.

As I grew up I never realised until I was about 12 that adults actually touched each other affectionately. I was astounded! It made my adult to adult explorations rather difficult as it felt weird for a few years. Now I am affection nut. You name it I will hug it. I sometimes kiss things around the house ( to amuse the kids ) but actually quite enjoy it.

So intimacy requited matters. It binds and bonds and shows all without words but with behaviours and actions.

Anthony Eldridge-Rogers is a Recovery to Wellness Coach

He writes for as well as



Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Society

Here’s What A Dad Did After His Wife Was Asked Not To Breastfeed At A Public Pool

Over the coming weeks I’ll introduce you to more inspiring, creative, hands-on fathers who all live in different places on this planet. It’s always a great joy to meet, to communicate and to exchange ideas and thoughts with other fathers. I like hearing their stories and reflecting on their experiences. It gives me a lot!

Joe ValleyA lot of emotional input for me came from a guy called Joe Valley. He runs the website Empowered Papa and focuses in his work on how to empower and strengthen the role of men in childbirth. Wow! How awesome! Joe and his wife’s work is also aimed at birth professionals, for them to have a greater understanding on how to support dads in the way that dads need.

More about Joe at the end of this post.

Today, I would like to share Joe’s article on breastfeeding in public. Find out, what he, his wife and their baby experienced at a community swimming pool in Missouri:

Here’s what I did after my wife was asked not to breastfeed at the community center pool

Yesterday, I received a text from my wife, Andrea, stating, “Any chance you can get in the car and come down here. They are telling me I can’t bfeed at the pool.” I put on a nice shirt and pants [doing web design from home requires neither] and got in the car for the Gladstone Community Center.

James Ryan Valeii happened to call me about some collaborative work for HypnoBirthing we are doing, and I told him I was on my way to address an anti-breastfeeding scenario. “I want to be respectful while clarifying our position,” I told James. I also told him I was feeling nervous. James was the best person in the world to be calling me in that moment because of what he told me, “Ask to see their policy in writing.” James is no stranger to this scenario because he is married to Kathy Valeii who runs Birth Anarchy, a website devoted to standing up for the rights of women.

With the focused words of James in my mind, I marched into the community center and asked to see my wife, the one with the baby. Without skipping a beat, the guy at the front desk told me how to get to the indoor pool. Andrea was seated in a chair looking out to where Sacha and Grandma were splashing in the kids pool. Andrea had her baby bag next to her and baby Kai was asleep in her arms. She directed my attention to the teenage male life guard who had asked her to cover up. Here is what Andrea reports:

I was feeding my 8 month old son while my older son played in the pool with his Grandma. I had been doing this on and off the whole time we had been there. The lifeguard on duty came over to me and said “If you’re going to breastfeed, will you please move to the changing room,” and I said “No.” He then asked me if I had a towel I could use to cover up. I again said, “No.” I suggested at this time that he go get a manager to talk to me about it, he said it would be his manager’s call. I agreed to talk to the manager about it.

The manager came over to me and said ‘We do ask people to move to the changing room to breastfeed,” and I said, “I’m not moving. I’m not doing anything wrong sitting here feeding my baby.” He mentioned it being the policy. I said, “Has someone complained?” and he said, “No. But someone might walk in and get offended.” I said, “I’m not going to move, so you might want to go get someone else to talk to me about this.” He agreed and said that he would talk to someone else and that they would see, but probably they were going to get me to move. I did not move. I finished nursing my baby to sleep, and immediately messaged my husband asking him to come over to the center to speak to the manager. I also looked up the breastfeeding laws in Missouri to be sure that I was within my rights. 

I went back to the guy at the front desk, introduced myself, and then asked to see in writing their policy on breastfeeding. His name was Adam and he was nice about the exchange, and I could tell he didn’t want to cause a scene; he kept his voice low and remained seated for most of our conversation. He explained that their effort to ask Andrea to move/stop was because they did not want other people to become offended at the sight of a breastfeeding mother. I told him that I understand their awkward position in this circumstance and that they did not want to offend anyone. Adam appeared relieved to hear this. I also explained how Missouri law protects breastfeeding mothers and that he couldn’t find the pool’s written policy prohibiting breastfeeding because it would have been an illegal document. At some point during our conversation, Adam gave me the business card of the community center administrator, and said he would be able to help me better understand the Gladstone Community Center policy on breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding-Natural-ChoiceAfter this pleasant yet awkward exchange, I returned to my family at the pool. We packed up our bags to head out, and then the aquatics director arrived. His name is Jeremy and he was the guy notified by the lifeguard in Andrea’s story above. Jeremy said, “I apologize if I upset you,” and appeared to be going out of his way to act in a kind manner. I inquired about their breastfeeding policy, and Jeremy told me that they do not want to offend anyone, and so they ask breastfeeding mothers to remove themselves. I asked him for documentation of this policy, and that’s when Jeremy fumbled with an answer, stating he didn’t have anything to give me. Andrea told him that a twenty-second Google search revealed that Missouri has laws in place to protect breastfeeding mothers and that it is illegal to ask them to move/cover-up. Jeremy said he didn’t know what the laws were, but that the pool is a public place, so they have to do certain things not to offend their guests. That’s when I looked right at Jeremy, turned my head to the side and arched my left eyebrow. What did he just say?

There are three men in this story that each tried their best to act in a kind, unoffensive way. Here’s the problem; each of them were unknowingly sustaining the patriarchal stance that women are told what they can and can’t do. When Jeremy asked Andrea to move and she declined, he mentioned that he would talk to his manager, who would get her to move. No matter how much this manager was trying to act nice by using a soft tone, his actions were violent.

Hummm….violent seems like a strong word to describe this, right? After all, he wasn’t using brute force to move Andrea; no blood was spilled in this scenario. However, to take a stance that you control what a woman does with her body is an assumption that you have power over her. You are dictating what is appropriate behavior. You are trying to “get her” to do what you want. If she doesn’t comply, then you obtain assistance to “get her” to do so. Here’s the deal: every time you prevent a woman from choosing what she does with her body, you are acting in a violent manner. Do you see where I am coming from here?

You’ll never guess what the lifeguard had uncovered when he was telling Andrea to move. I’ll give you a hint. They are round. There are two of them. They are between his neck and his hips. Ok, it’s his nipples. Both of them were out and for all to see. Andrea had only one nipple out at the time she was feeding Kai. Why was she told her nipples had to be removed from the pool while the male lifeguard could have his out with no question?

Well, you might say that women’s breasts are sexualized in our culture, so we cover them up in the effort to remain decent. Yes, female nipples are sexualized in our Western culture. Here’s the rub; a woman decides when her nipples are sexualized, not a teenage male lifeguard, not a 30-something aquatics director, not any other person in the world.

Let’s look at it this way: if some man gets turned on by the low-hanging oak branches of the trees on the street, we don’t cover the branches because they are sexualized by that one guy. The oaks tickle his fancy, but they don’t tickle mine, so I go about my day, enjoying their summer shade rather than their erotic pleasure. The same is true for nipples, because there are times when they will be seen as a source of erotic pleasure and times when they will be seen as a source of baby food. One doesn’t negate the other.

I think the same is true for women everywhere. If they want their nipples to be sources of stimulating pleasure for others, then awesome. I love that. Thanks. You’re so kind. However, if a woman wants my attention to be focused elsewhere, say on her ideas about our culture, then me staring at her boobs is missing out on a good connection with her. It’s also rude, because it says, “Yeah sure, whatever. I don’t care about your ideas or what you care about, because I only care about you being a source of sexual stimulation for me.”

The same is true for breastfeeding. If a woman decides that her nipples are for her baby, and a guy says that her nipples are inappropriate and that she needs to cover them, then I see that guy as being violent. You might disagree with me here and say I am taking it too far. However, I am coming from the idea that violence is dictating what someone else can and can’t do with his or her own body. Violence is saying that you decide what is right for another person. Violence is negating someone else’s needs in order to serve your own. Violence is using power and force to obtain compliance. Violence is the end of communication and the beginning of war.

To tell a mother to cover up or to move while breastfeeding is to say that your needs are greater than hers. You are trumping her choice for her own body. You are missing out on the opportunity to have connection with her. This is sad, because mothers can be amazing, wonderful people that bring life into the world. Literally, mothers bring life into the world. It’s in everyone’s best interest as a species that we respect the mothers.

How do you respect mothers? How do you see your nipples? What do you think about our culture saying YES to man-nipples and NO to woman-nipples? Do you think that is fair? I remember once when Gena Kirby was staying at our house she brought this up. She said she was pissed that it is OK for a man to take his shirt off when it’s hot, but it’s not OK for a woman to do so. Crap. I felt embarrassed. I had never thought of it like that.

It comes down to this: a woman should have the freedom to decide to use her breasts for feeding a baby just like she can decide to use her breasts to stimulate the attention of a sexual partner. In either situation, it’s her decision. If a man finds the sight of a breastfeeding woman to be stimulating, then it doesn’t mean that he has the right to tell her to stop breastfeeding. It certainly does not mean that the breastfeeding mother is being inappropriate. Remember the low-hanging oak limbs? We don’t cover those up just because someone is turned on by them.

Let’s be honest; breastfeeding is titillating. The female nipple has been sexualized in Western culture in a most tremendous way and to such an extent that the vision of it is literally banned from television, so seeing one provides a thrill because of our cultural conditioning. The same is NOT true for an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea where the women leave their breasts out. The vision of a nipple to a boy or a man would be no more eye-catching than the vision of an elbow or an ear. What I am saying is that a heterosexual Western man will likely have a variety of emotions arising at the sight of a woman breastfeeding her baby. This is understandable. It does not mean he is bad or the woman should cover up.

If we are to march forward into the future with the health of our families in our best interest, then it behooves us to consider the nipple of a mother and what it means to us. We are mammals and all mammals feed their babies from the breast. Consider a world where the vision of a mother breastfeeding her baby is seen as wonderful and natural.

Hold Up: you’ll never guess who just called me. I am not I am typing this post, my phone rang. It was Adam, the front desk guy from the community center stating that they are having building-wide training to address the situation yesterday, and to offer education on the Missouri breastfeeding law to all of their employees. Adam apologized for our experience yesterday and explained that they were in the wrong to ask Andrea to move. He explained that they were unaware of the law and also that they hire some young people whose first job may be to be a lifeguard at the pool. He apologized for the community center’s actions and hopes that we feel comfortable to return to the pool and enjoy our time there. I asked if he had my number from when I called yesterday to get his name. He told me that was true and that it took him a while to find my number in the phone records so he could call me back. Well done, Adam. I feel relieved that you took this seriously and made a strong effort to make the situation right.

Also, THREE CHEERS FOR ANDREA!!! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooraaay! Andrea stood her ground by remaining seated when she was asked to remove herself for breastfeeding. She said NO to the men claiming that they decide what she does with her body.


This article has been originally published HERE.

What Joe says about himself:

Joe Valley is a feminist web designer working from home while supporting his young family. He and his wife, Andrea, have two boys born at home and an aging black cat who must be at least 20 years old by now. Joe came from the world of counseling where he worked with families finding relief from the rigors of life. Joe teaches counseling skills to birth professionals and also cheers for dads’ supportive role in birth at
All the best Joe! For you and your family!



Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

Discovering Yourself as a Father of Twins

Every time when my wife and I found out that we’re pregnant, I thought about hundreds of different things. Things like: Are we gonna be alright? Am I ready for it? How will the older child respond to the news? How will life change? And so on. But to be quite honest, I never thought about the possibility, that actually two little babies could come into our life. I personally know very few families with twins and somehow it didn’t occur to me that twins could happen to us.

That’s why I find it very fascinating to shed more light on parents, and especially fathers, of twins. I’m glad to introduce you to Joe Rawlinson, who is a father of twins, an author and he also runs the website (with awesome podcasts!).

So, sit back and enjoy reading Joe’s story:

Discovering Yourself as a Father of Twins

joe 1It was supposed to be just a normal visit to the doctor. We had found out that my wife was pregnant. This would be our third child.

As was protocol after a positive pregnancy test, my wife scheduled a visit with her doctor. I had gone with her before to these visits for each of our previous pregnancies.

This time is was Christmas Eve and we had two very active toddler boys. I offered to watch the boys while my wife went to her doctor visit.

I drove around in the van with our sons while my wife met with the doctor.

She called me when she was done to let me know the appointment went well. She shared the good news that they had actually done an ultrasound and saw healthy heartbeats.

I was excited that the visit went well but then paused and asked: “Did you say heartbeats? Plural?”

“Yes, we’re having twins!” was her immediate reply.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was shocked. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t process this information. It was so unexpected that I couldn’t fathom it in the realm of possibilities.

I told her I was on my way and hung up the phone.

That night I had a hard time sleeping. My wife did too. The news of twins isn’t something that is conducive to a good night’s rest.

It took a while for the shock to wear off. The mental shock also lead to physical ailments like insomnia, and loss of appetite.

To help recover from the shock and actually do something about our pending twin arrival, my wife and I focused on what we could control.

We started making preparations around the home. We started recruiting others to come and help once the twins arrived.

Little by little we got ready. It is amazing how much comfort you can take in being prepared.

As an Eagle Scout I clearly remember the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. And so it was with us. We got as much ready as we could.

The twin pregnancy was more challenging than that of our two previous deliveries. My wife was on modified bed rest towards the later stages of the pregnancy. This required that we get creative with our daily schedules.

I adjusted my work schedule. We recruited a babysitter to come help with our two boys so Mom could rest.

Little did I know that the challenges of the end of the pregnancy were really practice for the work that was ahead of us.

Frankly, each of our boy’s infant months and required care were relatively easy on me as the Dad.

Yes, I helped the best I could during the day and night. However, since my wife was breastfeeding, my ability to help during the night was limited.

That pattern of parenting all changed with the birth of our identical twin girls. With twins, it is all hands on deck. No one rests. Everyone (at least all the adults) turn into sleep-deprived zombies.

As most twins do, our girls arrived early. 40 weeks is full term for a singleton baby but twins rarely go that far. At 36 weeks our baby girls arrived via a c-section.

We were blessed that our girls were born healthy and didn’t require any time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This meant that Mom and our babies came home from the hospital and we were off on our twin journey.

The first year with twins can only be compared to a foggy hazy blur. Sleep deprivation hung over us like a persistent cloudy day.

I took joy in the little moments with my girls. Often these were one on one during the nighttime feedings.

However, the physical and mental burden of caring for infant twins and still working a day job combined to wear me down.

Good friends of our told us that the first year was crazy. They told us it would be harder than we could imagine.

They were right.

joe 2Despite the intensity of the first several months, we made progress with each passing week with our twins.

They sleep for longer stretches during the night. We figured out their quirks. We learned what worked and abandoned what didn’t.

By the end of the first year, we were in a pretty good pattern.

Looking back on our experience, I realized that there just wasn’t a lot of good information out there for fathers of twins.

So I started to chronicle what I had learned on and ultimately wrote a book, the “Dad’s Guide to Twins”, for dads to help them survive the twin pregnancy and prepare for their twins.

Our girls are 6 now and we have moved past the mere survival mode of infant twins. Now, we really have to do our best as parents. Instead of just worrying about feedings, diapers, and sleep, we really have to focus on raising good kids.

As our twins get older, the challenges are different. But there is still great joy in the journey of being a father of twins. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


About Joe Rawlinson:

Joe Rawlinson is the author of the “Dad’s Guide to Twins” and shares tips and tricks for having and raising twins via his site and podcast. He also recently founded the Twin T-Shirt Company.








Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships, Society

Celebrating Co-Parents: The Importance of Secondary Care Givers in Attached Families

Today I would like to introduce you to a great writer, Amazon bestselling author and mama: JL Morse

In all her writing JL Morse is focusing on Natural Parenting, Alternative Education and Attached Families. Very recently she published her new book ‘The World of Wickham Mossrite’ (which I can highly recommend to you) – but more on that later.

Now I want you to get you a nice cuppa or a mug of coffee and enjoy reading JL’s guest post about working together in a family and how we can and should support each other. Because this way life is so much easier and so much more fun!

Celebrating Co-Parents: The Importance of Secondary Care Givers in Attached Families (by JL Morse)

I never wanted children.

I never wanted to get married. No big white dress.

All that stuff you’re supposed to dream about. I wasn’t all that bothered about settling down, about having a family, although I did always want a dog.

One of these in particular… JLM2

Here I am at thirty-two, and two out of three ain’t bad – and it’s the unexpected treasures that have been oh so sublime. I’m still waiting for my perfect pooch (husband says yes, when the kids are old enough to pick up poop other than their own), but I’ve gone about as domesticated as Martha Stewart, minus the jail time.

Why the 180? Why the strong, solitary stance in the first place?

Because, coming from an only-child plus single-parent background and knowing how damn hard it can be at times, I just didn’t want that for my babies. And I didn’t think that any man (or woman, I’m all for gender equality after all) could or would put up with me for any significant amount of time. At least the amount of time it would take to make and raise a family.

So, long before I even hit puberty, I sort of wrote it off ever happening.

I’m not saying I had a tortured, fractured childhood. Those sorts of posts are for another blog than mine. I’m all silver linings and happy little clouds over here (fan’s of Bob Ross will know what I mean).

Whatever our circumstances, I did know I was deeply loved – which ultimately, is the best parenting advice I could ever give anyone.

JLM4I do remember however, the strong, determined message to learn to support myself. To not rely on anyone else, to get a good education, to get a good job, to never truly be dependent on anyone, especially financially. This was the eighties and nineties, after all. Sisters were doing it for themselves and all that. Girl Power.

So, I did it. And it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be if I’m honest.

And then, life changed.



JLM5Friends from my old pre-child life can’t still believe how extensively I’ve gone full earth mother. Not just one, but three children in less time than it takes to renew your passport (ish). We haven’t gone down the nursery or childminder route, as I have zero intention of going back to my previous career. I am a properly 1950s housewife, with the pinny to prove it.

I consider myself to be a Attachment Parent. I babywear, bedshare, nursed on demand, practice gentle parenting (no crying-it or timing-it out for us), and am very needs-driven. As in, what is my child trying to communicate and how can I meet that need? We as a family have adopted Non-Violent-Communication, which is all about engaging at a ‘needs’ level – how our words and actions shape and serve our needs for respect, love, support etc, and how we can interpret others’ communications as desire for their needs to be met.

If your toddler is whining, they likely need a drink, a cuddle or a sleep. Usually all three.

Thing is, throughout my friendships with other families, I’ve noticed a concerning trend – not in any way limited to AP, but perhaps JLM6magnified by it as its such a responsive way to communicate with our babies – and that is mothers (in the main) who are admirably giving everything they have to meet the many and significant needs of their babies, and totally neglecting their own needs, let alone that of the significant others in their life.

Dad, this often means you. Sorry.

Women who are so desperately trying to do everything right by their child, that they forget the people that helped make them in the first place. “I’m responsible for their needs, Daddy can sort himself out.” Mothers who feel like they just don’t have anything else to give.

Small people who cannot meet their own, very immediate needs, of course must come first. I wouldn’t dream of making my husband a cup of tea before feeding a newborn. My four year old can get a snack for herself whilst I help two year old totally miss the potty for the eighth time in a row. Sometimes the two year old will fetch Daddy a new loo roll when four year old has used it all for her copious crafting…

But that’s the thing – we’re a family. We all work together. That’s one of the beautiful things about sharing our lives, is we help each other out. And whilst never for a second trying to put another task on anyone’s heavy, sleep-deprived shoulders – through the glorious haze of motherhood, I would from my experience ask you one thing:

Don’t forget Dad. If he’s whining, he probably needs a cuddle too. From you and the baby.

Or perhaps it’s Auntie Jo, or Cousin Freddie – or whoever it is that is there to support you. However well they manage to do it, however frequently, however little they can truly understand what it’s like to not have showered possett out of your hair for the past three days. Even if whoever you do have on hand is really freekin’ annoying at times (Grandma, I’m talking directly to you) – they are there for you.

Let them help. And if you can, help them back.

The way they might offer help, especially as a new mother (and especially if you are breaking from mainstream, or the way you yourself were parented), will may feel totally inadequate, or worse, undermining. Baby wants you and no-one else. Or you’ve been battling for hours and baby settles instantly for smug Daddy. Toddler crying? Only Mama’s arms will do. Picking new outfits, reading together, bathtime, bedtime – such precious fleeting moments you want to cling to despite the delirium. Why give the good bits away?

But these secondary care-givers want to be part of baby’s life too – they want to be part of your life. They are trying to help. Even if sometimes you have to write explicit instructions, in blood, three times over.

Let them.

JLM8Let Dad be the one to do bathtime. Encourage him to get in on the sling action (he might get more addicted than you at churning stash). And especially when babies turn into toddlers, Dad’s are great at playing, at reading, even just being the one who gets to have a cuddle when its quiet time. The more you let them in, the more they can support you. The closer they’ll be to your children, and therefore to this brave new world of motherhood you’ve entered. The closer you’ll be as a family.

Same goes for Granny. Sure, there are times when you just can’t face your mother telling you how it was done in her day – but there are days when all you want to do is sleep. Grannies are good for enabling you to do that, even if its only ten minutes.

Modern life and certain parenting techniques (and especially schooling in my humble opinion) is geared up to teach children to be independent at as young an age as possible. I don’t want to teach my children to be independent.

I want my daughters to know there are good, reliable men in the world – just like their daddy. That they can zig-a-zig-ahh it if they want to, perhaps if they need to, but not because that’s just the way it is. It doesn’t have to be by default. I want to teach my son to be a good father (if his life blesses him in that way) – and yes, he plays with dollies too. I want him to know how to change nappies, to cook and clean, to be compassionate and giving.

I want them to have all the joy they have given me, as part of a unit. A team.

I want to teach them self-reliance and resilience, but that relationships are crucial to our happiness in life. That its not a cruel and solitary world out there. That if you cry out in the night, someone will always come to be there for you.

And secondary care givers offer more than support to you. They offer different perspectives on the world to your children. They let them know there is a network of people out there that love them, and that they can rely on.

JLM9For me, the principles of Attachment and Gentle Parenting therefore need to be reinforced with a big giant caveat…

It’s Attachment Families – not just parents.You can do it all alone, Beyonce. Sure. But you don’t have to (In fact, I’m pretty such Beyonce has a pretty large entourage for such an Independent Woman).

Motherhood is not an exclusive invitation-only party. You can have a plus-one. If you’re lucky, two or three or four. They say it takes a tribe to raise a child. Find, and then celebrate your tribe. Even if its a hotchpotch collection of vagabonds and vagrants other than your immediate family. There are literally millions of people in the same situation as you.

As they say, there’s one born every minute. Each of those babies comes with a potential support network for you too, life’s about letting people in. For every one of the people in your life that can’t (or doesn’t) offer the support you need, there are others out there looking for someone like you too.

We are all in this together. I’ve learnt that now.

JLM11I still don’t believe that a perfect family has to be a 2.4 – perhaps less so now that I actually have that. For me, it was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Actually wanting the life you’re supposed to have after spending so many years renouncing it. I met someone that I actually wanted to rely on.

I’m expecting our third child in four years, have the most wonderful older step children (times another three – so I’ve gone from just me growing up to having my very own Brady Bunch), and a husband that is in every way is my Mr Perfect.

Honestly. I lucked out.

But what about those that don’t strike so lucky long term? My buddhist inclinations remind me that every rainbow has its storm – every joy is amplified by its sorrow. The one permanent thing about life is change, and therefore gratitude with the blessings of the moment is the surest way to hold onto them. How would things be if they were different? What would I do if our circumstances changed? How much would it matter if he (I) hadn’t done the dishes if one day there were less dishes being used?

My life could be very different. So I cherish it whilst I can.

JLM12There are times when you flat out want to punch someone in the face for Just. Not. Getting. It. But there are times when you have that little something to give, that extra kiss in the morning, the appreciation of the hard day they’ve had. It’s not always about you, even when they scream at you that it is.

This is not designed to be a post about single parenting – we all take our hats off to every man and woman out there fighting their solo corner. Things happen beyond our control, life turns in mysterious ways; perhaps there is always a plan? I now celebrate the mountains in my life because the view now is so stunning – and I’m better at navigating potholes. I would never have the exact children I have now, or be the parent I am to them, without every single experience along the way.

One day I might yet walk in their shoes, and I know that I would be ok (thanks Mum).

What this post is about, is remembering and celebrating the partners we do have in life – whether romantically, in parenting, in extended or blended families, or just a neighbour that you know always has that cup of sugar for you. Its about Attachment Families.

And as those Blues Brothers told us back in 1980, “everybody, needs somebody.”

And in my case, my Mr Perfect – I need you.



Thank you, JL Morse! 
In our families we need each others support and help. We live together, we learn together and we enjoy life together. We feel connected, nurtured and loved. That’s the true meaning of attachment parenting to me. ‘It needs a tribe to raise a child. Find your tribe.’ So true!


JLMJL Morse is an Amazon Bestselling Author, focusing on Natural Parenting, Alternative Education and Attached Families. She is a mother of two (nearly three), and lives on the South Coast of England in her big hippy bubble. Her latest novel, The World of Wickham Mossrite, follows a family a little bit like hers.

You can find out more at or her publishers,

Here more about her latest book:

Wickham Mossrite is a reluctant hero for the Natural Parenting generation. A gentle-giant nature boy, raised consciously and living compassionately in an alternative lifestyle. Encounter his thirst for knowledge about who, and why, and what the world is, and how he is to take his place in it. His ever-loving Meema and Papa, and their plans of Great Escape, his strident older sister Miss Salt, expectations of a younger sibling Bubba Boo, and best friend Hes; a girl struggling with her own identity in a world of labels and conformity. As W.C. Fields said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Wickham is a boy who stands tall where it counts. Wickham has a refreshing take on life, seeing the connectedness in all things, their beauty and their fragility. These are the stories of his discoveries, his homeschool adventures and touching relationships. His observations of the way the world turns are refreshing and inspiring in turn. For a FREE book trailer – see –>


Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships

100 Ways To Be A Better Father

I love reaching out to other fathers/parents! Back in May I discovered Derek Markham’s blog and I re-posted his great article about how to be a better husband.

I find Derek’s blog very inspirational and I love his writing. He talks about attachment, natural parenting, co-sleeping, natural living and so much more. Please visit his site and enjoy reading his awesome stuff!

Today I would like to share his post about 100 Ways to Be a Better Father. I agree with most of the points Derek has made. But when he talks about praise, I see that issue in a different way and refer to Alfie Kohn’s work on ‘Unconditional Parenting’. Have a read yourself and enjoy!

Fatherhood: 100 Ways to be a Better Father

100Fatherhood is a tricky proposition. We all want to be great dads, but chances are, our fathers never sat down with us and taught us how to be one.

And we don’t necessarily want to be our fathers. I mean, we want to emulate their positive influence on us, but we also want to do it our own way. And because children tend to spend more of their time with their mother, not being the greatest dad ever isn’t as obvious. No matter who we are, though, we can always improve our relationship with our kids and our spouse, and we can redefine the meaning of fatherhood each and every day.

There’s not as big of a movement toward better ‘fathering’ as there is toward better mothering. No big fancy fatherhood magazines, no Oprah for dads, no real exchange of fatherhood improvement programs. There’s just Natural Papa. (I’m kidding. There’s a bunch of great dad blogs out there.)

I’m a crappy dad sometimes, yet I hope that I’m always learning how to be a better father, so I felt moved to put some of my thoughts on fatherhood down in words to share with you.

I read a post called ‘Tackle Any Issue With a List of 100′, by Luciano Passuello, a couple of weeks ago, and then later I came across ’100 Ways To Live A Better Life, by Dragos, which was inspired by ’100 Ways to Be a Better Leader’, by Mike King, which was inspired by ’100 Ways To Show Boldness’, by Armen, which was originally inspired by…  You guessed it, Luciano’s post about lists of 100. Whew. Got that straight?

Anyway, after reading those, I thought I would format my ideas on fatherhood into my own list of 100. If you have something to add, I’d love a comment about it.

100 Ways to be a Better Father

  1. Be present with your children.
  2. Heap lavish amounts of praise on your kids.
  3. Focus on the positive when speaking to your children.
  4. Say I love you. A lot.
  5. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions to your family.
  6. Work on improving your relationship with your wife or partner.
  7. Take time out from work for family time.
  8. Laugh at yourself. All the time.
  9. Listen to your kids with all of your attention.
  10. Learn new things by teaching your children about them.
  11. Start a personal journal.
  12. Hold your kids accountable for their actions and words, but don’t use punishment to teach..
  13. Leave your watch and daytimer on your desk sometimes.
  14. Make a meal for your family.
  15. Do something wacky and unpredictable in front of your kids.
  16. Spend some time one-on-one with your child.
  17. Get moving. Have a fitness plan in place and get your kids to join in.
  18. Take more walks, and leave the car at home.
  19. Fall in love with your wife. Again.
  20. Admit you’re wrong when you are.
  21. Forgive your dad for any grudges you hold against him.
  22. Teach a new dad what you’ve learned so far.
  23. Take time for yourself, so you can bring that sense of fulfillment with you to the family.
  24. Remember what you hated to hear from your parents as a kid and vow to be different.
  25. Read out loud to your children.
  26. Leave your work issues at your job. Don’t dump on your kids because your day was bad.
  27. Drop your change in a jar each day. When full, open a savings account for your child.
  28. Once in a while, ask your kids what you can do better. Then do it better.
  29. Hugs and kisses are golden. Be generous.
  30. Let your kids make their own choices.
  31. Get out in nature with the family.
  32. Count to 10 before you react to your children’s actions.
  33. Remember that kids mirror our actions, so watch what you say to or around them.
  34. Parenting is a shared responsibility. Jump in and do something mom normally does.
  35. Learn from your elders – ask them what they’ve learned as fathers.
  36. When a child does something not so nice, separate their actions from them in your mind. A child is never bad, even though their actions may be.
  37. The next time you feel like giving up on something, do it anyway and use it as a teaching moment.
  38. Remember that everyone is somebody’s child.
  39. Listen to yourself. Do you sound like your dad? Is that a good thing?
  40. Give yourself a break. I haven’t met a father yet who doesn’t make mistakes.
  41. Unplug the TV and pretend it’s broken once in a while. Or hide it.
  42. Go with your child to school once in a while. Meet the teacher and ask how you can help.
  43. Make your health and fitness a priority so you’ll be around for your kids for a long time.
  44. Teach the value of service to others by volunteering in your neighborhood, church, or school.
  45. Write love notes and leave them for your kids to find.
  46. Read a book about fatherhood.
  47. Write a book about fatherhood.
  48. Make some snacks for the kids as a surprise.
  49. Speak as one with your wife, so your kids don’t play you off on one another.
  50. Do you say yes all the time? Use no when you mean it, even if they don’t like it.
  51. Do you say no all the time? Say yes once in a while.
  52. Snuggle with your kids.
  53. Show your wife respect always. Make sure your kids do also.
  54. Take the time to really explain things to your children. Don’t just say “because I said so.”
  55. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t suffer from excess pride.
  56. Accept who you are, but don’t settle. Strive to improve yourself every day.
  57. Smile at your children and your partner.
  58. Make amends when you’re wrong or grumpy or harsh with your kids.
  59. Periodically assess your life and change course if needed. Don’t be unhappy just because you think you can’t change.
  60. Take a class or learn a new skill with your kids.
  61. Act as if you’re the best dad ever.
  62. Imagine you’ve only got one week left to live. How would you treat your kids? What’s stopping you from doing that right now?
  63. Let your kids see you cry.
  64. Explore every park in your town.
  65. Once in a while, take a day off just because, and spend it with your family.
  66. Find out about your family history and start sharing it with your kids.
  67. Give high fives for each tiny accomplishment they make.
  68. Get out of debt as quick as you can, and teach your kids about the value of being debt-free.
  69. Take a big leap when you see an opportunity, and show your children about trust, faith, and the virtue of following your dreams.
  70. Get down on their level and try to see things as they do. Chances are, you’ve forgotten what it’s like.
  71. Learn some really corny kid jokes and use them often.
  72. Hold a family meeting and get your kid’s input on important decisions.
  73. Don’t just give your kids the answers to questions. Show them how to find the answers.
  74. Remember, they’re never too old for piggyback rides.
  75. Have patience with your children. Don’t expect them to be perfect.
  76. Don’t insist on conformity. Let your kids follow their dreams, not yours.
  77. Hold their hands, literally.
  78. Remember to let your children save face. Embarrassing them in front of their friends is not cool.
  79. Keep your relationship issues between you and your wife. Don’t let your kids take on all your crap.
  80. When your children were babies, you gushed over them. Do the same thing for them now.
  81. Don’t gossip around your kids.
  82. Stand up for the weak, the oppressed, the underdog.
  83. Grow a beard. (Actually, I just put that in to see if you were paying attention.)
  84. Take your child to work with you and explain what you do for a living.
  85. Make something by hand with them. Don’t worry about perfection, just enjoy the process.
  86. Once in a while, give them a “get out of jail free” card.
  87. Tell your children how much they mean to you.
  88. Follow through on your promises to them.
  89. Give your kids responsibilities.
  90. Speak to your children as your equals. Give them the respect you ask for.
  91. Plan surprises for them and keep them guessing.
  92. When speaking to other adults, act as if your kids were listening.
  93. Play games with your children. Let them win sometimes, but don’t make it obvious or easy.
  94. Before you walk in the door from work, take some deep breaths and leave your work outside.
  95. Give mom the day off once in a while, and get the kids to help you pamper her.
  96. Be generous with your time, your energy, and your money. Give freely to those in need.
  97. Cultivate your fatherhood Superpowers.
  98. Don’t let other adults get away with unacceptable behavior around your kids.
  99. Remember the Golden Rule. It does apply to your children as well.
  100. Find your center and define what truly matters to you. Make that your inner retreat when life throws you a curve ball, and share that with your kids.

What have I missed? Please leave a comment with your addition to this list.


About Derek

Personal, Parenting and Natural Living Bio:

I’m a husband, a father, and a carrier of things.

I think peanut butter on anything is great.

I love big mountains and little kids, ’cause they make me smile, and I drink a double americano almost every day.

I’m a nature boy, a tree-hugging dirt-worshiper. I try to live with reverence for our web of life.

I like big trees and large boulders, cold mountain streams and redrock desert, the smell of pinyon and sage. I’d rather be sitting in a canoe in the wilderness than the backseat of a Rolls Royce.

(As long as the canoe had an espresso machine and a wireless connection…)

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, composting (sawdust) toilets, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues.

In my life I’ve been a factory worker, a farmer, a grocery clerk, a handyman and jack of all trades. I’ve worked at fast food joints and car washes, for temp agencies and day labor hire, for moving companies and landscapers. I’ve driven forklifts and bobcats, and I’ve installed solar panels and sold fruit at the farmers market. I spent 10 years in the natural foods industry, most recently as the general manager of a natural foods co-op.

I support local food production and am a regular at the farmers market and our local food co-op. The dream of a sustainable homestead is still alive for us, and our self-sufficient zero-energy input green home is being planned. Our permaculture oasis is a sustainable small-scale village. Single-speed bicycles, drumming, and DIY anything can really make me grin.



Guest Posts, Parenting and Empathic Fathers, Relationships, Society

Family Circle: Family First (Guest Post)

Today I would like to introduce Paul Wandason to you. He is a father, blogger and author. In this post Paul is reflecting about his relationships with the immediate family, relatives, friends and all the other people who play important and sometimes less important roles… You’ll find a short bio and links to Paul’s blog and social media sites at the end of his post. And please, feel free to discuss and comment this post… It’s always great to hear what you think!

Family priority

I recently read an interesting and insightful post on voiceboks. In that post the point was made that it doesn’t matter if your family members do something wrong…because they’re family. And you still go to visit family even if you know beforehand there are going to be problems of some sort…because they’re family.

Family first

As long as I can remember (and probably beyond…) it’s always been crystal clear: it’s always family first.
My wife laughs at me because I seem to have a system of “circles” when it comes to family, friends and trust.
Is it right to have a system? Actually, system sounds very structured and mechanical. But I didn’t sit down and think it up…it’s just that I was brought up in a very loving family with a very strong sense of family. It’s always been family first within my family, and I strive to keep that the same today.

My wife is different. The family she was raised up in, by comparison, is very weak. But I must say that they have a larger share of close friends – a bigger merging between family and friend (or my “inner and outer circles”).
Should we keep our family separate and special from the outside world? Or should family love be extended and shared out, implicitly trusting ‘outsiders’ and welcoming them into our family circle more easily?

I suppose I prefer the first option – I was raised in a strong, tight family environment. It seems natural. I feel special and loved within my family. And secure. On the flip side, my wife’s family have a large network of people / contact they can call on for help.
So welcome to my world…what do you think of my family circle system! 😉

Inner circle (inner)

Unconditional love for: My immediate family (wife and children) and the family I grew up in (Mum, Dad and my brothers).
Members of the inner circle can get away with anything. I would die for them, no questions. Family first!

Inner circle (slightly outer)

Slightly further out from the inner circle is the immediate family of my brothers (nieces, nephews, wives). I love them unconditionally and would do anything for them too, although ‘first allegiance’ is to my own family (e.g. I’d give a kidney to my daughter before my niece, to my brother before his wife, etc..)
Love is love. I don’t love more or less. I love each differently. I love my wife in a different way than I love my daughters, but I love them all infinitely. Same with all members of the inner circle. It’s all very fuzzy!

heart lawn

Middle circle (inner)

The middle circle is for other family members (e.g. by (diluted) blood or legal proceedings). Aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and their families.
Family members here are…family (duh!) so generally I trust them over non-family members.
For example, I trust that a family member has the best interests of my children closer to their heart than someone from daycare. I don’t always agree with my in-laws’ child ‘care’ methods…but I do know that they have a genuine love for my children.
Daycare on the other hand are more in line with my ideas about caring for children (and listen to me when I talk about preferences etc.), but at the same time they wouldn’t jump in front of a car to protect my girls, as I’m sure my in-laws would. I trust the motivations from my in-laws (love), but not those from daycare (money).
It’s the spirit of the law, not the letter.

I guess that’s what makes a hero – someone who does jump in front of a car for non-family members. And close trusted friends. They’re in the middle circle too; I know they’d do the same.
There is also a degree of fuzziness in the middle circle as it has both close family and friends. But where “blood is thicker than water” for the inner circle, there’s room for some thin blood and some thick water in the middle circle!

Middle circle (outer)


Outer circle

Everyone else. This isn’t personal exclusion, it’s just that I don’t know these people yet, and I’d hope that one day I’ll be friends with them and they’ll drift into my middle circle.
Actually, when I say “everyone else”, what I really mean is “everyone else except those who are…

Beyond the circle

People in this ‘cloud’ are out of orbit and off the chart and get here through an eviction process. This is the region of anti-circle where instead of not having trust, there is extreme distrust. I try to keep these cretins out of my life completely, and certainly out of the lives of my inner circle.
There’s an expression about keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer. Rubbish. I don’t want my enemies anywhere near!

Clash of the circles

So there it is, my circle system which has somehow come into an empirical formation. But…I’m also a scientist and need to be objective. Does the circle system always work? I don’t think so – here’s a funny conversation I had a couple of days ago which shows why:
The setting
My friend had been sick for a few days, so I sent her an email asking if she was feeling better.

Friend: “I’m feeling a bit better now, but I’m staying at home today just to make sure. My daughter’s at the play group so I’ve got the house to myself.”

Me :”Good idea – if it’s nice and quiet you can relax and recuperate.”

Friend: “Well, actually I’m really worried because now my daughter is sick, so I hope she’ll be OK at the playgroup.”

Me :”Yikes! That means my own girls will get sick too then.”

Friend: “Come on Paul…it’s only a cold.”

And yes…I admit that I followed up with:

Me :”Well if it’s only a cold…stop complaining!”

She saw the humour in that, but equally it’s clear that as parents focused on the well-being of our own children in our own inner circles, we have warped view of the global picture of reality! 😉
From a Daddy, Paul


About the Author:

Paul Wandason is a father of 2, husband of one and master of none. He lives his life wrapped around 2 little fingers and under 1 thumb…and loves it! His Daddy blog is FromaDaddy where he writes his thoughts and experiences as a Dad, and sometimes, a few practical hints and tips. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.