Did you know that 73 per cent of Ivy League graduates were regularly spanked as children?
Okay. Stop. That fact is completely false. And it’s exactly why parents should question what they’re told. Hopefully, you (as a sensible parent with above average intelligence) knew enough to immediately question what you read, hear or are told. ‘What’s the source of this 73%?’ you asked yourself. ‘Why isn’t the study referenced?’
Congratulations. This is the beginning of Conscious Parenting: being able to critically reflect on any given information.
“Questioning the information we’re given as parents or parents-to-be is very important,” says Ekaterina Miroshnichenko. “As a parent myself, I don’t want to just act towards my child the way my friends or parents do or did; I want to be able to think about what I’m doing, and how I do it, and why. Like all parents, I need trusted information, from experts in childcare and pregnancy. And that’s why I set up MAPA: conscious parenting.”
A Facebook page in which experts share their advice and expertise, the site is relatively new. MAPA stands for Mamas and Papas – “because engaging both parents is important,” says Ekaterina – and ‘conscious parenting’ is about not only questioning the information you’re given, but also about “getting the emotional support needed to make choices that are good for you and your family. I think it’s important to invest and spend conscious time thinking about what you want to achieve as a parent, what you want for your family and your kids, and the strategic perspective – as opposed to a random style – concerning who you want your family to be.
“What we’re building is a community of parents and parents-to-be who want to make conscious choices regarding their family,” she explains. “Parenting is not something we are prepared for in our education or through previous experience: it takes a lot of effort to get trusted information, and adequate emotional support is not always available. So with MAPA, we’ve brought in professionals to write on a variety of topics regarding parenting; professionals who avoid giving general advice, but rather emphasise particular challenges that parents face, suggest data, and recommend potential strategies to overcome such challenges.
“Conscious parenting is not a new thing,” Ekaterina continues, “but rather a trend that’s gaining ground. Parenting is not something we simply inherit; it’s basically an entirely new profession that we have to acquire – fast! When we become parents, we’re suddenly supposed to know everything: here’s the baby, now off you go! Which is why, I think, that this group is so needed – especially in Cyprus…”
Although the group itself is international, Ekaterina notes that many of the members come from Cyprus. It is, after all, the place in which she herself lives and works (by day at WarGaming, and in her spare time as a board member of the peer mentoring programme for young parents and parents-to-be, Birth Forward) and from which many of the experts are drawn.
“I think that there are not many places in Cyprus where parents can get trusted information, and there is a definite lack of information relating to parenting. But parents do have questions about the information they’ve been given, and that is to be encouraged. I want parents to start posing questions, as opposed to acting without giving a thought to, for example, the way they communicate with their child, or merely replicating the style in which their own parents or friends communicate with their children. It’s so important that we, as parents, start questioning; that we start thinking about what we do, and how we do it, and why.
With a wealth of trusted information from experts, MAPA: conscious parenting is slowly building a following both here and abroad. “Mums, dads, carers, grandparents – anyone who is dealing with children can benefit from this expert advice and first-hand experience,” says Ekaterina.
Among the professionals who post regularly on the page are experienced birth doulas, physiotherapists, psychologists, nutritionists and parents who have overcome specific challenges. “We’re covering everything from the preparation for birth to women’s health, mental health of children of various age groups, nutrition for mums and mums-to-be, nutrition for children, the physical security and safety of children and the safety and security of children as relates to the internet.
“We’re also looking at engaging a professional who will be able to help with relationships between father and mother – a critical area, and one which changes drastically after birth,” Ekaterina adds. “And by the end of October, we will be hosting an even more interactive element: livestreams and online Q and A sessions with qualified professionals.”
Currently, the group stands at roughly 250 members who benefit from the expert information in the posts, stories and experiences. Among the topics are ‘What I can expect from my pelvic floor appointment’, ‘Questions to ask your neonatal paediatrician’, ‘The role of school in family life’, ‘The importance of deep diaphragmatic breathing’, ‘How to take the awkwardness out of sexual education’, ‘Sacroiliac pain during pregnancy’, ‘How to deal with your anger towards your children’, and ‘Neocortical inhibition in childbirth’.
“We’re always eager, in this group, to discuss valuable, controversial, sometimes stigmatised topics in an open way,” adds Ekaterina. “From experience, I know that online forums and even in-person groups can be detrimental to parents – there’s often a lot of judgement passed on your decisions. But at MAPA, it’s about receiving trusted information from experts,” says Ekaterina, “and then making your own decisions. And that’s a good jumping off point for parents and parents-to-be…
“When it comes to being a good parent, there is no one-size-fits-all; so at MAPA, we’re here to support your diversity of choice, inspire parents to critically reflect on any given information and engage in discussion. It’s a community which will help you work out what is important to you, and to your family.”
For more information, visit the Facebook page ‘MAPA: conscious parenting’