teaching children kindness or cruelty, it’s a parents choice

I am a dog trainer and a coach to our Teams. I am a gardener and love dirt under my nails. I am an artist and work with clay when I have time, as in sixteen years ago! And above all else, I am a Mother.

The moment my first child came into this world, my life changed forever, and I felt it with ever ounce of my being. When my second child came into the world, I realized that my life was for my children, no longer my own. And I was totally and fully OK with that, in fact it just felt right.


I wasn’t a young Mom, just a new one. We lived in a small town in the middle of Wyoming at the time, seventy five miles from the nearest Interstate. There weren’t any ‘mommy & me’ activities, or children’s gyms, or places to meet other Mom’s. So it was me, the mountains, my dog, and my babies.

My husband was really into living like a homesteader at the time, and liked that we did everything ‘as in the days of old’. Hand wash clothing and hang to dry, chop wood, carry water, sleep outside in the hot summer, can and pickle everything you grow, knit wool from sheep to sweater, and so on. He had a romantic vision that he didn’t mind working hard to realize. I had a vision that there is a reason homesteaders went crazy and killed each other.

So I modernized and simplified things so I had more time for my babies, and less chores. You don’t know what happiness is until you get your first washer and dryer, and everything is done by lunch time!

My babies, my dog, and I were a unit. We did everything together, and went every place together. We explored the creek that went through our property each morning, looking at plants and bugs, and frogs, and anything else we could find. We worked in our garden together, my dog digging holes for transplanting, my babies eating dirt and vegetables, and me loving that I was growing a family with everything that was important to me.

We took hikes each day, very slow hikes because we had to investigate everything. My dog loved this, and my children were in constant wonderment. It was such a cool experience to see my world, brand new, through the eyes of a child. It was like getting a second chance to see it differently, through newness, with a pure an untainted vision.

Winds, lander

Not everyday was rosy though. I had tired days, cranky days, and I just don’t want to be crawled on or touched kind of days. My husband was gone a lot doing contract work, so I had to do the whole shebang on my own, most of the time. But it was my reality, my normal, and I had nothing to compare it to, so we just went on doing it.

My children grew up around all animals, domestic and wild. They saw sunrises and sunsets with us, and the magic that can be seen in both. They helped to feed our neighbors animals, and how to tend a garden with care. They helped us when an animal was sick, and they learned how to respect and take care of the planet we live on.


Our little community library was our second home, and my children were so excited to dive into books, get lost in stories, dream of the different characters.

And then all of a sudden, one day, I had teenagers. It’s kind of like being catapulted into the future, overnight, in a blink.

They are the two people on the planet I could spend each and every day with, all day long. And they have helped me to realize, that while I brought them into this world, nurtured and cared for them when they were tiny, they are growing into their own persons with their own likes and dislikes, independent of me. They are old enough to explore and investigate the world around them now, and I will always be that place for them to come back to, a place where they can fill back up on love.

I chose to raise my children with a deep understanding of the natural world, compassion for all living beings, and a curiosity to always learn more and do more. And as they continue to grow into their own persons, and I watch and listen to what they are wanting to do, dream of doing, or are doing, it fills my heart with so much love and happiness that it’s actually hard to put into words. I love being known as ‘their Mom’.

The compassion they have for our world, and all living beings, runs deep with them. And for everything I have done wrong in my life, this is the one thing I got right. Children who will one day go out into the world and care, deeply.

So, do I give parenting advice? Absolutely not, I think it is so individual, and this is just my little story that I am sharing. But I will say that parents have a choice, how they teach their children to use their head, heart, and hands does count.

With a full and grateful heart, Nancy

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Nancy Rosen says:

    Lovely, Nancy!

  2. Lisa Marie Cook says:

    Ha ha ha! you had me at ‘there is a reason homesteaders went crazy and killed each other’.

    I love seeing these photo’s again of the kids. You know I feel the same about my kids and the privilege it is to be their mama:)

    I actually used them in an interview the other day – ‘Do you know the massive loving work involved in launching 4 young adults into this world? yes, being a mom qualifies me for this job alone….oh yeah, I have done some corporate work too’.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      The corporate world is easy peasy pumpkin pie in comparison to raising a family with love at the roots.

  3. Wise words, Nancy.

  4. Abby says:

    I love this vision of motherhood and harmony with living things, whether human or animal. I’m not a mom yet, and frankly, the notion still scares me, but I like the portrait you paint.

  5. Janet says:

    And two lovely teenagers they are! I enjoyed reading this, Nancy!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Janet, Thank you… you would not believe how much growing they have done int eh past year… crazy how time fly’s!

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