A while back, I promised you this article. I finally found the online version! [Check out: http://www.todayschiropractic.com/ April / May 2006 Issue]
Parenting in the Chiropractic Philosophy
Two parents raising their children in the chiropractic lifestyle share the choices they’ve made, the struggles they’ve faced and the rewards they’ve received during their journeys.
By Katie K. Bell
Raising children is an inherently challenging adventure. Raising them in a chiropractic lifestyle poses its own set of challenges. Because so many of the tenets of our lifestyle are out of the mainstream, many families have an added dimension to assimilating their children into society. Social events can often become arduous as parent and child try to navigate through questions about adjustments, vaccines and diet choices. Today’s Chiropractic LifeStyle spoke with two parents who have elected to raise their children in the chiropractic lifestyle to find out how they have managed.
Dr. Bill Austin is a director of professional education with Footlevelers and has been in the healthcare industry for 39 years. He has three children—Avelyn, Elizabeth and Nathan.
Dr. Lisa Rubin is a psychologist at Life University’s Student Success Center and her husband is a practicing chiropractor. They have a son named Palmer. (You can read her article “Can Chiropractic Relationships Work?” in the February/March 2006 issue or on todayschiropractic.com.)
TCL: What is the chiropractic philosophy on parenting?
Dr. Rubin: There really isn’t any formal philosophy, but there is the chiropractic concept of allowing the body to heal itself, that the body knows what it needs. We live in a very chaotic and unsafe world. We have always tried to allow our son to communicate his needs to us and the chiropractic philosophy led me to this direction of self-healing.
Dr. Austin: I don’t know that there is an established philosophy on parenting, but the basic idea that the body has the ability to regulate and heal itself applies to raising children. We wanted to raise happy, healthy confident kids who could cope with their environments. No matter what your philosophy, what matters most is the love and support that you show them.
TCL: What agreements/discussions have you made with your spouse regarding your parenting choices?
Dr. Rubin: There needs to be consistency in the parenting style. Parents need to agree on choices about health and diet beforehand. When a crisis occurs, it helps to have those decisions already made about vaccinations, visiting the doctor and emergency care. I advise people to plan ahead exactly how they will handle those events.
Dr. Austin: We did vaccinate our children, but we did not have diphtheria because it was the most dangerous of the lot. Back then it was the right choice for us, my feeling today is that vaccines play an important role but we do it much too early, before an immune system is built up in the child. My wife and I work hard to communicate with each other even when we disagree—we want to talk it out and communicate. We give each other a tremendous amount of support.
TCL: Have you experienced any conflict due to differing opinions?
Dr. Rubin: My husband and I discussed this years before having children. As a psychotherapist I deal with many couples with different viewpoints on health and care. It creates anxiety and can lead to divorce. Children don’t feel safe when they don’t know what the rules are; they need consistency from both parents.
Dr. Austin: We were both strict vegetarians, practicing meditation in the post-hippie days and trying to figure out what a natural lifestyle was, so when we met we complemented each other.
TCL: What preparations did you make to give birth to your children?
Dr. Rubin: Again, I made this choice long before I became pregnant. I didn’t want to have an emotional response to my decision just because I was pregnant. I visited hospitals and birthing centers. I perceived a lot of fear and came to the point where I felt that the most comfortable place, the place without fear, was my home. It is more important to be where you are not in fear. We had two midwives; at the time, it was a support system. There was the doubt of what if there is a complication or something happened to the baby, but if a crisis occurred, we could go to 911 and to the emergency room. My dad is a physician and I had a backup that most people don’t have available.
Dr. Austin: My wife was a trained midwife and we decided to have all three at home by ourselves. We did our own prenatal checks. We also had support from other midwives.
TCL: Do you ever visit the doctor concerning your children’s health matters?
Dr. Rubin: Palmer has been to a medical doctor three times in his life. When he was first born, we were told to go to a doctor to prove our son was our child because we had no formal birth record from the hospital. Later in his life we needed to visit a plastic surgeon to fix his split lip, and one final time when he had separated his growth plate, which required placing a cast on his foot. Our son understands we don’t do things with medicine. Instead we use the alternatives: rest and naps. Palmer has slowly built up a tolerance to a special way of life. We feel educated enough to monitor his symptoms. He’s never had antibiotics, Tylenol or ibuprofen, in fact, we’ve never given him any medication.
Dr. Austin: Our first child had breathing difficulty at birth, and we took her to the doctor. He wanted to perform exploratory surgery on her to find out why. We took her home and kept adjusting her and today she is a school teacher in Hong Kong. For smaller things such as ear congestion I’d also adjust. After a while I just started showing them how to do it themselves.
TCL: How do you approach your family’s diet?
Dr. Rubin: We began managing our diet when we first started dating. Palmer has followed our diet from day one; it wasn’t a change mid-way. We avoid dairy, sugar, meat, preservatives and coloring.
Dr. Austin: Individuals have their own philosophy, but the more natural the food the better. Studies show red meat isn’t the best quality of protein. We avoid sugar and use our own honey. We tried to educate our kids and share the concepts of healthy eating.
TCL: What decisions have you made regarding your children’s education?
Dr. Rubin: He has been home schooled two different times. When he wants to stay in school, we let him stay; when he wants to come home, we let him home school.
Dr. Austin: All of our children attended public school. We looked at home schooling and felt it was not for us. College was the expectation; they all went to college.
TCL: How do you educate your children about food? Medical care? And non-chiropractic friends and family?
Dr. Rubin: We started from day one explaining everything. If he saw a child with a lollipop, we would offer him a fruit juice lollipop instead. We try to create a substitute and to make his environment as normal as possible. We tell him he can choose his views when he’s older, but for now we’re doing it this way.
Dr. Austin: We primarily used homeopathic remedies for pain. When they got older we’d give them small amounts of aspirin. So much can be done preventatively. We’d check our children regularly to see if they needed adjusting. We would make sure they were well-adjusted in order to set the stage for the body to regulate and heal itself the best way possible. We explained everything to our children.
TCL: How has the rest of your family reacted to your parenting style?
Dr. Rubin: There was a lot of resistance about the home birth and not vaccinating—they were frightened for us. I think we all respect each other’s choices, but we try not to discuss them. We are so vastly different, and we try to leave it there.
Dr. Austin: My mother didn’t understand a lot of it. She was very supportive of me, and she embraced it. My wife’s folks were very opposed to many of the things we were doing. [To them] the thought of putting chiropractic care in front of medical care was reckless.
TCL: Describe an incident when your chiropractic parenting ideals were challenged.
Dr. Rubin: The first time my son had a fever at nine months old in the middle of the night, he was crying, inconsolable. We kept thinking, “This isn’t supposed to happen, maybe we’re wrong. Is our belief system not going to work?” A chiropractor adjusted him, and my son smiled for the first time in five days. It was very humbling.
Dr. Austin: When my first child had trouble breathing after birth, and the doctors told me adjusting her was pure bunk. They wanted to perform exploratory thoracic surgery on her but we opted against it and took her home. I was scared to death but I knew what that surgery meant; it meant splitting her chest open and we weren’t going to do that. As I said before, after repeated adjustments she began to breathe normally.
For All Parents
Parenting in the chiropractic philosophy is tough even for the parenting pros, such as Drs. Rubin and Austin. There will be times when your ideals are challenged. Our experts say the best resource and source of support are other chiropractic parents.
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