I recently read an excellent article in a parenting magazine. I related deeply to an article on “Being a Parenting Original”. I have often times been made to feel that I my methods of parenting are kind of kooky and bizarre. I have been relegated to that alternative group often referred to as hippie, crunchy, granola, or in some cases just plain weird. I am a true parenting original and yes in the beginning it was hard to feel different but now my confidence in my choices is solid and strong and I am proud to go against the grain.
The well meaning advice and thoughts of naysayers just don’t bother me anymore…well, okay sometimes they do…like when they insinuate that my choices on vaccines or positive discipline border on child abuse or neglect…then I have a few choice words to say. But usually I just ignore the negatives because I know that all of the research I do, all of the intense examination, and all of the effort that I put into be the BEST mom that I can be and making the BEST choices I can for my children is usually far and away more than that of the naysayers.
I have to admit that when I had my first child I was not much of an “original” parent. I didn’t question anything…I just went with the conventional and mainstream. But when I got pregnant with my second child, everything changed. I decided to use cloth diapers even when my own mom thought I was off my rocker. I quit my job so that I could exclusively breastfeed. I breastfed shamelessly in public places. I decided that co-sleeping was the best arrangement for us. My kids were attached to my hip with a sling and I never let them CIO (cry-it-out), if they cried…I held them…always. I made by own baby food and delayed solids. We started drinking raw milk. I started sewing clothes and cloth diapers after ten years of neglecting my sewing skills. I decided to refuse all vaccinations and forgo those unnecessary “Well Visits”.
And yes I had to deal with those who found reason to criticise these things. Well meaning friends and relatives thought cloth diapering and my refusal to birth with drugs was martyrdom, they thought refusing vaccinations was neglectful, and that extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping were indulgences that would raise spoiled brats. Positive discipline was sparing the rod and was actually a form of un-parenting. Eating organic was throwing my money away. And living “green” was buying into politically motivated hysteria. My attention to eliminating all the toxics in our home and life is considered by many to be hysteria too. My latest decision to homeschool has met with some rolled eyes and references to my being unqualified to teach. I also get a fair amount of nasty comments on this blog from people who question my choices.
If I listened to all this criticism I might surely think I was up for the worst parent of the year award right? A sad but true fact is that many moms like to criticise other moms. I guess it makes them feel better about their own choices. But I like what Kelly Dinocia had to say in that Mothering article…
I knew that one day our healthy, intelligent, kind, and well adjusted daughter would silence the critics.
Yes, I have faith and confidence in my parenting decisions. I didn’t come to them lightly and I know I am doing what is best for my children. But what do you do in the meantime?
*Find a supportive doctor that agrees with or at least supports your decisions to extended breastfeed, not to vaccinate, and not to medicate unnecessarily.
* Join groups of like minded parents. Le Leche League, API International, and the Holistic Moms Network all come to mind but there might also be small local groups for you to join too. Do a yahoo groups search for attachment parents, homeschoolers, etc. There are plenty of other parents out there just like you…so hang out with them.
* Keep doing your research. Keep reading books and the latest studies about the the benefits of breastfeeding and co-sleeping, the danger of vaccines, the rewards of homeschooling, positive parenting, etc. One of the biggest confidence builders is to keep having your choices reaffirmed and trust me they are are constantly reaffirmed…even if mainstream parents choose to ignore this.
* Get used to being different! Be compassionate about why others see things as they do but you can be respectful AND stand your ground. You KNOW that you are making the right decisions…just trust your mommy instincts. And trust me your complete confidence in your choices will make others start to second guess themselves. You’re an original baby…be loud and proud!
So what about you? Are you an “original” parent? Do you constantly run into naysayers? Are you one of the naysayers? :)
As soon as you can say what you think and not what some other person has thought for you, you are on the way to being a remarkable man. — James M. Barrie
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008