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April 12, 2011 / MrsH

Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices

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.

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I can’t say that I’m a huge advocate for Natural Parenting.  I would kind of love to be, but am so limited because I still feel utterly overwhelmed in my parenting role.  I also don’t believe I have all the answers, if I did I wouldn’t spend so much time yelling at my kids.  We find nuggets of success within a large amount of drama.  Those nuggets are golden and certainly worth sharing, but I can’t yet shout them from the rooftops: there are too few.  So I look for the little ways in which I can both support parents on their natural parenting journeys, or for ways to model and discuss the things we do with anyone who asks.   I tend to avoid the “this is my philosophy” approach, and instead listen to moms and their struggles, asking questions, clarifying.  A friend of mine, a mom I only knew for a year but really respected, told me once that she does not give advice unless she’s asked.  That seems like a good rule of thumb for me as well.

Sweetpea has a friend, K., whose moms often express concern about his behavior.  When he was around 18 months, he went through a toy-snatching and throwing phase.  They dubbed his new nickname “Trouble” and acted exasperated whenever that behavior occurred.  One day in particular, his mom exclaimed “we even give him time-outs, but it doesn’t change anything!  What else can we try?!”  I felt so bad.  We talked about how normal this behavior is for his age, we talked about gently redirecting, and when she asked me why I don’t use time-outs with Sweetpea I told her that I don’t think they seem to work very well, especially at this age.  Several weeks later, K had virtually stopped snatching and throwing.  His mom said she and her partner stopped scolding him for it and instead kept finding new things for him to engage in.  She had begun to notice that other kids his age did similar things, and that the parents of first children were distraught by it, whereas when it was the 2nd or 3rd, she noticed the parent usually acted with more empathy and calm.  “Trouble” was dropped and now he’s referred to as “K” again.  I haven’t seen him in time-out since our conversation 5 months ago.

Another way I love influencing other parents is by lending them books.  The easiest is when someone asks for general recommendations or when someone notices a book on our shelf.  It’s trickier when a fellow parent is having an issue that I think could be greatly aided by reading a particular book.  That happened this fall.  E had been telling me all about her sons’ picky eating habits.  I’d been dying to recommend Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility to her, but was never asked.  One day a group of us were talking and the topic of kids wanting toys with their happy meals came up.  The next day, a post popped up at Family Feeding Dynamics about that exact topic , written by a Dr. Katja Rowell, a family doctor and childhood feeding specialist, who blogs about her experiences with Ellyn Satter’s work.  Bingo!  I mailed the link to the group as a quick “follow-up to our conversation.”  A week later, E had gotten Ms. Satter’s book from the library, read it, and began implementing changes already.  She felt hopeful for the first time in years.  Her boys will now (very occasionally) try new foods, and she is no longer embarrassed when they all eat out in public.  She told me the power struggles are gone and she fully believes that they will learn to enjoy food as they get older.

These are just two examples of many, where I waited, itching to give advice, to tell them about all the ways in which we following Natural Parenting principles.  For me, the wait is worth it.  A few things I do to try to create more of these moments are:

  • meeting parents wherever they’re at, however far removed that may be from how MrH and I approach our parenting
  • really listening to others, providing empathy no matter what their approach
  • regularly following up on topics that seemed stressful to the other parent
  • staying humble and asking others about what they have found that works

By doing these things we create openings where I can advocate for Natural Parenting and be heard.  That’s the golden moment, and I seize it.

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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:

  • 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.
  • From the Heart — 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.
  • Compelling without repelling — 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, but 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.
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23 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. CatholicMommy / Apr 12 2011 10:15 am

    Great to hear how advocacy opportunities have popped up for you when you exercise patience. For books you recommend, do you have copies at home that you lend, or just refer people to the library, Amazon, etc.?

    • MrsH / Apr 12 2011 12:14 pm

      I do lend out my books all the time, which sometimes results in me buying additional copies when I forget who has my copy! I put address labels inside the books and figure they’ll turn up again at some point. For some books I actually keep a personal copy and a “to lend out” copy, though I’m also fairly aware of what is and is not available at the library.

  2. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama / Apr 12 2011 10:27 am

    Isn’t advice so much more welcome when it’s actually sought?! What beautiful stories of how you’ve gently helped your friends and their children. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Jenny / Apr 12 2011 6:33 pm

    wow!! that is advocating compassionately! and you really have made a difference with simple acts which were welcomed by the recipients. kudos!

  4. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ / Apr 13 2011 11:04 pm

    Great CarNatPar post! I like how gentle your are with other parents, no matter where they may be on their parenting journey. I agree that really listening, being there, supporting and following up build a trust that allows them to know they can give and receive without being judged. Thank you for reminding me to create “golden moments.” That’s a short mantra I can use to step back a bit if I ever feel like just jumping in with advice.

  5. Kelly / Apr 15 2011 9:33 pm

    This is so awesome MrsH! And I love your honesty and acceptance about not knowing it all – I think that definitely makes advice much easier to swallow for people when they need it – it’s a genuineness that makes you approachable. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Megan / Apr 20 2011 10:56 am

    These are great examples of advocating gently! My friends daughter was struggling with meals and hated purees, so I explained a bit about baby-led weaning. Now she happily feeds herself real food and her parents are so much less stressed!

Trackbacks

  1. Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut
  2. Inspired by The Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) « Rosmarinus Officinalis
  3. Struggling with Advocacy « McApril
  4. Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices « Fleeting Moments
  5. Crunchy Chewy Mama » Blog Archive » Putting a public face on “holistic”
  6. Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love | Natural Parents Network
  7. Natural love creates natural happiness | Cloth Diapering Mama
  8. Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love - Child of the Nature Isle
  9. Advocacy? Me? « The Practical Dilettante
  10. Peaceful Parenting | living peacefully with children
  11. Walking on Air
  12. I Offer the Truth
  13. Self-compassion: Having a “metta moment” « Gems of Delight
  14. A Letter to *Those* Parents « TouchstoneZ
  15. Advocacy through Openness, Respect, and Understanding | Vibrant Wanderings
  16. Gentle is as gentle does «

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