Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I'm having some issues that I think you could help me with. You see, I parent Kairi a lot differently than people around here are used to. I parent her a lot differently than I did Gracie as a baby too. I breastfeed, where formula feeding is the norm here, and although there are other women who breastfeed in this area, none are very outspoken about it. I use cloth diapers as well. I don't know any parents in my area who use them. We co-sleep, which honestly happens more around here than most would like to admit, but most parents, by Kairi's age are frustrated with their inability to transition to the crib whereas I'm still comfortable with it.
Now, I am in no way passing judgment on the people in my area. Personally, I believe that you parent the best way you know how and that is different for everyone. But people just aren't accustomed to my brand of parenting and they ask a lot of questions and raise a lot of eyebrows. I get asked all the time when I'm gonna "just give that baby a bottle," or when I'm gonna let her cry it out so she'll sleep through the night. I get a lot of people who, I'm sure, think I'm absolutely nuts for using cloth diapers. "Oh, I could NEVER do that. That's gross," is the phrase I hear the most when people find out that I don't use disposables. "Why on earth would you want to put yourself through so much extra work?" people ask. And if I had to count the number of times I've been told I'm spoiling Kairi by holding her or wearing her in my sling or my Moby Wrap, I would probably be busy most of the day.
Typically, I cite studies or just explain that this is what we do and we are comfortable with it, but a lot of times I feel like people feel that I am passing judgment on them for not doing things the way I do. I'm sure that not everyone who makes comments to me wants me to feel like they are passing judgment, but I do a lot of the time. A lot of the major aspects of my parenting fall under public scrutiny a lot of the time and it can feel very lonely, being the different one in the crowd.
So what I ask of you, reader, is this: How do you deal with people who question your parenting techniques without sounding preachy or judging? Do you leave out the studies and rely on explaining things simply from your personal experience and perspective or do you cite that "breast is best" (or "normal," as the phrase is changing) and send your friends to WHO's website? Do you compare and contrast parenting styles with each other at all? What is the best way you've found to convey the message you want to send without making the other person feel like what they are doing is wrong, or making them become defensive (or even offensive) about their parenting style?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)
- Replace hitting with…? — Acacia at Be Present Mama is at a loss on how to handle her three year old's hitting.
- Two Questions — Alexandra at Breastfeeding Momma would like some ideas on how to strengthen her bond with her 8-month-old daughter; she's also looking for input on an emotional topic: vaccines.
- Balancing Needs When Baby Trumps Mama — Alison at BluebirdMama wonders how her child's need for noise and energy balances out against her need for quiet and space. (@childbearing )
- The McDilemma — Annie at PhD in Parenting is on the arches of a McDilemma. (@phdinparenting)
- Where is the mutually agreeable solution? When parenting calls for blood draws — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick has a child who needs regular blood tests that are torment for him. How does a parent honor a child when his health is on the line? (@RaisingBoychick)
- When To Wait To Nurse — Cave Mother wonders what age toddlers can be asked to wait to nurse.
- I don't love you Mama! — CurlyMonkey wonders what to do with her daughter's intense feelings. (@curlymonkey_)
- Help a Mama Out — Danielle at Born.in.Japan isn't getting much sleep with her cosleeping, night nursing, cranky little guy and hopes you can help with some suggestions for shuteye. (@borninjp)
- Dear Abby: My daughter really misses her Daddy — Darcel at The Mahogany Way needs to know how to help her daddy's girl get the connection with her father she needs — and not feel left out in the process. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- What's Going on at School? — Deb at Science@home is in a quandary: how can she find out what really goes on at school without stepping on the teacher's toes? (@ScienceMum)
- April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Advice — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to find volunteer work that includes her toddler. (@CodeNameMama)
- How do you deal? — Erin at Beatnik Momma does not want to engage in "mommy wars." She'd like your input on how (and how much) to discuss her natural parenting choices with curious friends and family who parent differently. (@babybeatnik)
- Dear Abby — The Grumbles at Grumbles and Grunts gave her son a banana...and no solid food since. What's the next step in baby-led weaning? (@thegrumbles)
- Excuse me, I have a poop question — Jessica at This is Worthwhile has a question for you about toddler tinkling. (@tisworthwhile)
- The Half Empty Nest Syndrome: What to do when Momma gets replaced by a cow? — Joni Rae at Kitchen Witch Momma is suffering from "half-empty nest syndrome": what do you do when your babies start growing up? (@kitchenwitch)
- Peer Pressure — Kate at Momopoly worries what message her daughter's new friend is sending — but how to break up such an infatuation? (@Momopoly)
- When I Fall Down — Katherine at Momioso.com needs your wisdom on how to be more gentle and at peace with herself. (@naturalparent)
- A question of sleep and sanity — KeepingMumSane needs your toddler cosleeping advice in order to, well, keep mum sane! (@keepingmumsane)
- April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice — Lauren at Hobo Mama needs a chiropractor … or help getting her 36 lb toddler to walk up the stairs. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Driver's Ed for Mommies — Maman A Droit is a self-confessed terrible driver and is scared to drive with her baby in the car.
- Solo Parenting — Mammapie at Downside Up and Outside In needs tips for being a single working mother while her partner's away. (@mammapie)
- Itsy Bitsy Biter — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting needs your advice about her daughter, otherwise known as the pitbull.
- How Can I Avoid Beauty Obsession? — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is at a loss ever since her tomboys turned into wannabe princesses. (@bfmom)
- Seeking Stability in Chaos — Michelle at Seeking Mother is in a heart-wrenching position. She needs your input on how to make a toddler feel secure during a time of transition, the illness of a parent, and multiple (new) caregivers. (@Seekingmother)
- Mama, That's Too, Too Boring! — Michelle at The Parent Vortex started out asking how to encourage her preschooler to get dressed — and four days later, she began to without prompting! (@TheParentVortex)
- Dear Lovey Hart, I am Desperate. — Mommy Soup from Cream of Mommy Soup has several questions for you, from how you play favorites when no one's your favorite to how to tell off strangers curious about the ample size of your family. (@mommysoup)
- Diaper Duty Dilemma — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has a simple request: talk to her about cloth! (@babydust)
- What Do You Need My Son — pchanner at A Mom's Fresh Start wishes her calm four-month-old hadn't turned into an inquisitive and dramatic six-month-old. How do you handle changes in baby's personality? (@pchanner)
- Dear Natural Parenting Community — Sarah at OneStarryNight wants to know how to respond to criticism from family and friends over breastfeeding. (@starrymom)
- Natural Parenting Carnival — Help — Sarah at Consider Eden feels like either her to-do list or her parenting is suffering, because she can't do both! (@considereden)
- To potty learn or not to potty learn - that is the question — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes wants to know whether it's time to start potty training. (@sheryljesin)
- Seeking Patience — Starr at Earth Mama looks to the collective tribal wisdom of this community to learn how to teach patience to children.
- A Dirty Girl Comes Clean — Tashmica at Mother Flippin' is struggling. How do parents deal with their inability to keep their children protected from danger? (@Mother_Flippin)
- Uli and the Pussy Cats — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis has a toddler who likes to put kitties in headlocks and ride them like horsies. How best to separate the little beasties?
- Perceptions of Discipline — Zoey at Good Goog doesn't use conventional discipline with her child — and doesn't know how to respond around people who do. (@zoeyspeak)