Apr 12, 2011

What Frank Said

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



Photo Credit: Sandra Lara

Not long ago, I received an email from Dionna at Code Name: Mama with details on this month’s Carnival for Natural Parenting. Here was the topic description:

Theme: Compassionate Advocacy: As parents who believe in many “natural parenting” practices, we sometimes find ourselves educating (and inspiring!) others about those practices. How do you advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately? Remember: you don’t have to be “outspoken” to be an advocate; you can be a natural parenting role model/advocate simply by living.

It was a thought-provoking topic. I forwarded it to my husband and we both stewed over it for some time. As a married couple who have been practicing this method for the whole of our daughter’s life (with phenomenal results!), we have on more than one occasion been asked how and why. But as a general rule, we don’t go out of our way to “push” it on others.

Michael and I have a very good friend named Frank. We were both friends of his individually before we met. Frank has been a great inspiration and example in our lives, especially as we chase after a more simplistic, minimalist lifestyle.

One of Frank’s best pieces of advice has become almost a motto for us.

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

This advice applies to how we choose to minister to everyone we interact with on a day to day basis, from the clerk at the grocery store to the homeless woman on the street, to the telemarketer who calls, to the relatives we visit on weekends. We allow our actions, character, and attitude to minister to others around us rather than “preach”.

We take this attitude towards our parenting style as well. In everything we do with Naomi, we minister to others on the benefits and joys of natural parenting. From the silly nicknames to the quiet cuddles, from the protective interactions to the private conversations, every aspect of our parenting is an example of how we encourage others to parent naturally.

  • When we wear our daughter, we tell others of the joys of babywearing – how it strengthens the bond between parent and child; how it allows the child to grow and experience her world from a different vantage point than the few feet from the floor; that it teaches children how to communicate as they see their parents interacting together.
  • When we nurse in public, we are teaching others of the rewards of breastfeeding – the limitless benefits; the ease and simplicity of simply revealing the breast and letting the child be nourished; the warmth and intimacy between mother and child; the way dads can be involved as encouragers and protectors of this nurturing act.
  • When we go shopping for almost anything, we are demonstrating the importance of conscious consumption – the value of our local farmers; the importance of nourishing foods; the value of organic produce and meats; the misrepresentation of fake foods; the importance of natural fibres and renewable resources.
  • When we purchase second-hand, make it ourselves, or do without, we are standing up for our minimalistic ideals – that life doesn’t require a lot of things; that spending money does not lead down the path to happiness; that we chose simplicity and frugality to debt and clutter.
  • When our daughter plays with wooden blocks and books, we are showing how much we value creativity and imagination – that we want her to explore her world for all it’s worth; that we want her to be safe, and happy in our home; that we value handmade over generic plastic.
  • When we don’t force her to go to someone or do something she isn’t comfortable with, we are respecting her boundaries – that she has personal space too; that she doesn’t like to be touched or fondled or kissed; that she is allowed to voice her opinion in the only ways she can.
  • When my husband and I kiss, cuddle and hold hands while we are with our daughter, we are demonstrating the importance of balance in the family – that we, as a couple, are just as important as we, as a family; that we strive to meet our individual needs and desires; that the love we feel for one another is one of the building blocks to our relationship (second only to our faith and passion for our Saviour).
  • When we smile, clap, or congratulate her on good behaviour, we are enjoying the plus side of positive discipline – how she responds to the word “No”; how we never strike or deter her with physical force; how we allow her to explore safely, and protect her from harm; how we try to never raise our voices to her.
  • When we volunteer with our church or local homeless shelter, we are voicing our concerns along with many others involved in social justice issues – we teach our daughter to be conscious and careful; we are showing the value of human life; we are protecting our world and our children.

In some cases, we need to speak.  Few people will ever see us co-sleeping, or practicing skin-to-skin when she was an infant.  Because we have a girl, we’d have to verbally discuss our stance on circumcision.  When we are offered alcohol, sometimes people wonder why we don’t drink.  When we are asked why we don’t just let her “cry it out”, it requires some discussion.

In everything we do, in every action of our daily lives, we teach others of the benefits of our choices. But the loudest voice advocating the rewards of natural parenting comes from Naomi herself. Our little girl smiles. She plays. She cuddles. She dances. She giggles. She claps her hands. She is happy. Even before she could speak, she was “preaching”. And when she is able, I believe she will most definitely use words to tell others how much natural parenting has benefited her.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.  
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and  channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • The quiet advocate — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect,  and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, buy how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.


  • Loving how Naomi is the advocate herself through being so happy and loved. What a cute image that is!

    • Thanks. She really can be quite vocal too, in her own way. People are constantly commenting to us about what a good baby we have. We don’t take all the credit — we could do everything exactly the same and if her disposition were different, she could still be a little fuss-pot. But she isn’t. She “tells it like it is”. :)

  • I love this post! You have said it so perfectly, and what an inspiration. :)

    I’m so thankful that I’ve seen time and time again how powerful and effective this kind of advocacy is…it’s something that used to make me impatient – I wondered if people were ‘getting it’ – but how refreshing to let go of that particular attachment altogether and just live it.

    Thank you for your beautiful words – I’m definitely looking forward to checking out the rest of your blog! :)

    • Thank you for your kind words, Kelly!

  • Lovely post! I totally agree that we have to lead by example if we want people to understand the benefits of a natural lifestyle instead of forcing it down people’s throats. I have friends who are so turned off by natural living because of all the criticism they get/see that they have actually created a blog to counteract all of our principles. I feel bad that they are so defensive, but it’s because they’ve been attacked by “compassionate” people. If more people lived like your family, we wouldn’t have that problem! I especially love this part: “When my husband and I kiss, cuddle and hold hands while we are with our daughter, we are demonstrating the importance of balance in the family – that we, as a couple, are just as important as we, as a family; that we strive to meet our individual needs and desires; that the love we feel for one another is one of the building blocks to our relationship (second only to our faith and passion for our Saviour).” It’s so true! Not just for outsiders but for our kids, as well. Our kids need to see us laughing, being affectionate, being loving, to understand that families are places where everyone loves each other. :)

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your friends, Suzi. That’s really the exact opposite of what we’re looking for, isn’t it? I’m sure they’re still compassionate, loving parents anyway.

  • I *love love love* that quote about “when necessary use words.” Obviously, being a blogger, I tend to be pretty verbose (wink wink), but I do make genuine efforts to practice what I write about. And your examples of how you are living your advocacy every day are beautiful, thank you for sharing!

    • That has been my motto for many years, Dionna. Frank lived it, and if he can, I can. :) I try to use it in everything I do.

  • So true. It’s easy to advocate when our children are so balanced and happy. People wonder what your doing to make that possible. We all need to strive to keep on practicing what we preach.

    • The real challenge is to advocate when our children are NOT happy. 😛 I haven’t had to deal with the tantrums yet, but I’m hoping to work my way through that. When Naomi does something wrong now and fusses if I tell her no, I try to just keep a cool head and explain why. She might not understand yet why I say no, but she deserves to hear why anyway. :)

  • This is a great CarNatPar post! I read through each of your bullet points and by the end, I was shouting “yes!” I think my kids are certain I’ve gone off the deep end again today.

    Thank you for being an advocate by example. I know when I was on the beginning of my parenting journey, it was those mamas who were *being* it that were the most effective roll models for me. They also spoke to me about things when I asked them and always respected where I was on the journey. I remember being pregnant for the first time and at my first LLL meeting when I encountered one of these moms. She was nursing this e-normous (to me) boy like it was normal or something. Ha! I observed their bond and how empathetically he he interacted with the smaller children. She was there for me when I asked her questions. Now, that e-normous child would be smaller than my own e-normous oldest nursling. She had a profound effect on my both by living her example and gently using her words.

    • I got to see it first hand with my best friend when she had her first child. She was a very good attached parent, and nurtured her children well, as did her husband. She moved away before she had her second and third. But I learned so much from her — cosleeping, breastfeeding, etc. Now whenever I have a parenting question, she’s on my speed dial. :)

  • I love that St. Francis of Assisi quote! I’m totally with you on leading by example. I feel that is much more effective than being preachy! Wonderful post!

    • Thanks very much Miriam!

  • Oh, Frank’s such a great guy! I love your article — it’s a beautiful sentiment, and I got teary eyed thinking of how your daughter (and, I hope, my kids as well) will grow up singing the praises of natural parenting and passing it on to the next generation. Thank you!

    • I try very hard to impart our ideals to her and teach her our ways. One day, I hope to be a grandmother, instructing Naomi on nursing and babywearing, cosleeping and nurturing. So wonderful!

  • Leading by example is such a fun thing :). I miss having a baby so that I could I start to nurse them every time I passed an obviously hungry, crying baby out-and-about who’s mother seemed uncertain about how to handle the situation.

    For me, though, I have learned to be careful taking too much credit for my children’s happiness because the corollary is being responsible for their unhappiness. I have been fortunate to be a part of a decent sized community of various shades of attachment/ natural parents for a number of years and have even seen some children grow into adulthood. Children that are part of AP/Natural families will still sometimes tantrum or hit or bite. They will refuse to share. They will go through angsty periods where nothing is right or the world is out to get them. They fight with their siblings. and their parents. They will make choices that their parents would not have chosen for them regarding alcohol, drugs, sex, religion, hobbies, and vocations. They may suffer for mental illness and addiction. I don’t choose these practices for the outcome I hope they produce (though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to my children to be happy and peaceful and let’s throw in agree with all of my values for good measure). I strive to parent this way because I firmly believe this is the most ethical way to treat another human being.

    • That’s an excellent point, Jessica. The general statistics that come out dictate that the majority of children raised in this nature are indeed calmer, more nurturing to others, etc. However, if I may quote another famous European, “….my opinion is that the future good or bad conduct of a child depends on its mother.” – Letizia Ramolino Buonaparte, Napoleon’s mother. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting her little son to grow up to be a conqueror of the world. No one wishes or expects their children to turn out poorly or do terrible things. But we strive to do the best we can, and I agree with you — I believe that this is the most ethical and nurturing way to treat my daughter, and so I do. I try to teach her love, kindness, and respect. Her choices are indeed hers and I strive to help guide her to make the right ones. I believe that our methods will indeed produce a loving, kind woman who will bless the world as richly as she blesses her mother and father.

  • I love, love, love this. And I love how your faith plays such a large role in your parenting practices. We too parent gently because we believe it is a reflection of God’s heart towards us. Way to be such a beautiful example!

    • Thanks Rosemary! Jesus is the foundation of our household, so naturally, He’s got a lot of influence! 😀

  • Wow, excellent!

    • Thank you!

  • What a lovely message!

    • Thank you Kat!

  • Very inspiring post – I love the idea of radiating out your gentle approach through doing and being rather than talking and yet having a strong voice when there are times to speak up. Your daughter must be sooooo happy with all that love!

    • Thank you for your lovely words, Terri! Naomi seems to be a happy, cheerful child. We are doing our best.

  • These are great examples of sharing your parenting philosophy by just doing! I feel the same way about how I lead my life.

    • Hi Megan, thanks for the compliment. It’s good to hear other people are working towards the same goal in their lives as well!