Feb 14, 2012

Assumptions

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents

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 focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.

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Through the evenflow lense

Photo Credit:  Holly Allen

One afternoon, a younger couple came by to visit Michael and I.  They had recently discovered they were pregnant and were visiting with us to tell us the good news.  I was so excited.  I launched into a series of comments about nursing, offering up suggestions and advice, and even going so far as to offer to lend her several of my favorite brand of nursing tanks, which I practically lived in when Naomi was born.

After listening to me prattle on forever, the young lady looked at me sheepishly, and said, “Well, I don’t know if I’m going to breastfeed.”

It came as a shock to me.  Not breastfeed?  Why not?!  Breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things you could possibly experience!  The closeness with your baby!  The bonding!  The nourishing!  The quiet snuggles!  The amazement of your body and its abilities!  How on Earth could you not breastfeed?

For me, breastfeeding was not a choice — it was just what I knew I was going to do.  No second guessing, no questions.  I just knew that was what I would be doing.  In fact, I’m still doing it!  Naomi is going on 21 months and still nurses when we cuddle in the mornings or evenings.  And I love to let her.

But this young woman was not me.  She is a very modest person, who doesn’t enjoy anyone being too close in her personal space.  She commented that she wasn’t comfortable having the baby be attached to her all the time.  She’s just not that type of person.

The thing is, this wasn’t about this young woman’s personality.  It was about me and my assumption that everyone is comfortable enough to breastfeed.  But they’re not.  Sure, we all have heard the whole breast is best campaign, but the truth is, not everyone is capable, physically, mentally, or emotionally, to make that choice.  And that was something I, an advocate for breastfeeding, hadn’t really recognized.

Sometimes advocates (like me) don’t realize that their overzealous desire to help the campaign is actually hurting it.  Parents who are not practioners of attachment parenting are not bad parents.  They’re just different.  Their children are not set up for failure.  Our job as advocates of natural and attachment parenting is not to push or bully someone into agreeing with us.  Rather it is our responsibility to give them an option, answer their questions, and let them decide from there.  No one enjoys being bullied about their choices as a parent anymore than they enjoy someone telling them how to vote, what religion to subscribe to, or whom they should or shouldn’t love.

So I apologized.  And I never tried to push her to change her ideals.  Their child is over a year old now, gorgeous and healthy.  They needed no help from me.

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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 February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it’s from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother’s groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the “Mommy-space” online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles… — Jenny at I’m a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents’ worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting – Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she’s learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.

8 Comments

  • And having that healthy happy baby – isn’t that what it is all about?! Thank you for sharing your story!

  • I didn’t know that not everyone was comfortable with breastfeeding. I assumed that you just did it. And I will never forget when I realized this and as much as I wished the mom would at least give it a try, I’m proud of her for taking care of herself. In the end, a happy mama makes for a healthy mama and baby.

    • She did try. She did give it a go. I don’t think it lasted very long. She’s a very modest, very private person, who needs her space. At least she tried, which is more than a lot of people can say. I’m proud of her and her family.

  • This is a beautifully compassionate story. There has been alot of talk in my country lately about this very thing. Thank you for bringing kindness to the subject.

  • Wow, I have to admit that would have been a tough one for me to swallow. But that just makes me more admiring of you for your ability to enter into their joy of parenting their way.

  • I agree with the above comment. I really liked this article that recognises that breastfeeding is not for everyone. There can be a lot of pressure on new mums to breastfeed and it may not always be the best thing for the mum or the baby for various reasons. I myself struggled with breastfeeding for about 3 months after my first son was born, until I reached a point where it suddenly became much easier for both of us and I did really enjoy the experience. I am, however so thankful that there was formula readily available for the times when it wasn’t working so well.

  • “For me, breastfeeding was not a choice — it was just what I knew I was going to do. No second guessing, no questions. I just knew that was what I would be doing. ”

    This was me when I was pregnant with my first child. I had no back up plans, no just in case bottles, no pacifiers. And then I couldn’t do it. I don’t make milk. I can’t count the number of people who have told me that if only I had done this or that or that other thing, if only I had wanted to badly enough, if only I had enough support etc. I did all that and more. I had support. And all that support turned their backs on me when I failed. No amount of baby wearing, co-sleeping or other attachment parenting stuff was ever going to make up for my failure to breastfeed in their eyes. Second child, same song, same verse. Thanks for not turning your back on your friend. You sound like a great parent and a decent human being.

  • I loved this! Great story – and a great realization to make. It is so, SO true.

    I think, for me, any real advocating I did/do for breastfeeding is to try to make sure that breastfeeding mothers feel supported, feel comfortable doing it wherever, and aren’t bullied. I think it is very important to stand up for the choices we make so that they are acceptable in public while not diminishing the opposite choices that other women make. There are so many reasons parents chose one thing over another that we will not all make the same choices every time. We need to find more ways to create community and not to create divisions, and I think this blog post is a great example of how you are breaking down those divisions! :)

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Minimomist and daughter nada and naomi
miniMOMist is an account of Mike, Nada and Naomi's journey into realistic minimalism, with the goal centered around simple living, and enjoying each other rather than things. We are a faith-based family and blog about our belief in God regularly. Our love for one another and our passion for a simple, minimalist life brings us much joy and pleasure.


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