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Revisiting Indigenous parenting

Indigenous parenting is an approach that focuses on gentle parenting, says Randi Candline who is a mother a baby girl and auntie to several nieces and nephews.

Candeline is of Cree heritage from the Big Stone Nation – Treaty Eight, Lac La Biche.

She says the term gentle parenting might be new, but Indigenous parenting has been the way for millenia.

“Being patient with your children. Nurturing your children’s needs. Taking a moment – not physically discipling your children. Also, it’s about understanding the spiritual connection of parenting versus the Western views that could be very cut and dry.”

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Candeline says one way of taking a step back would be in dealing with the pain of something like a miscarriage and she adds “we have a teaching on that.”

She says that in speaking to Elders about how they grew up before Residential Schools, they tell them that discipline was a “shake of the head from an adult” and they knew that a certain behaviour was inappropriate. In the aftermath of Residential Schools, Candeline says that many families were “parented out of survival.”

“We weren’t in a place that was safe enough to explore that emotional self and we grew up as very damaged inner children. So approaches to Indigenous parenting have helped me heal my own inner child.”

Candeline sees Indigenous parenting as healing for the next generation as she raises her own daughter with the nurturing of a gentler and culturally relevant approach. But it is also healing for herself as she embraces her Cree heritage and the wider parenting knowledge of Indigenous cultures from around the world.

Candeline was speaking this past week at Grace United Church as they hosted the parenting session organized by Heart of Treaty Six.

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