Compassionate Advocacy. . . that’s the way I do it.



I can’t talk enough about what a blessing the compassionate/natural/peaceful parenting style is to my life, to my family. . . to my world in general. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new little one, I find myself anticipating how wonderful it’s going to be to share what I have learned, through adopting a natural parenting lifestyle with Abbey, with a new child. . . and I’m joyous about how confident both Hubs and I feel about the family transition – (even though we know that change isn’t easy!) because of the way that we live and parent.



So, it’s a given that I advocate for natural parenting as a part of my daily life. I probably talk about natural parenting at least three times a day, and usually with three different people. I’m not just a natural parent blogger; I’m definitely a day to day literal advocate for natural parenting practices. And due to my social personality, I’ll talk to anyone and everyone about natural parenting, given the right lead in. The other day, at the grocery store checkout, I ended up explaining the Nestle boycott to the curious teenage girl scanning my groceries. . . and then talking to the bagger about respectful parenting, when she mentioned how patient Abbey was being as I checked out. I recommended that a neighbor look into cloth diapering when she mentioned she was nervous about affording diapers for her newborn at the same time as pull ups for her toddler, and I routinely suggest that friends and even random parents at the park or play place google Natural Parents Network and The Natural Child Project for ideas about effective and healthy parenting.


It’s easy to talk about natural parenting philosophies and ideas when they have such a positive impact on my life. I mean, how can I NOT advocate for them? But I have definitely learned not to push the wrong buttons, or to advocate the wrong way. I have a good friend and neighbor whose discipline philosophy differs from mine in several ways, and at first, I was afraid that though we got along really well as people, our differences as parents might lead into too much conflict to bear. She would genuinely question my aversion to forced time-outs, claiming that if I didn’t teach Abbey that there were consequences for her actions, that I would pretty much ruin her. The same friend has made (friendly and genuine) concerned comments about my “enabling” of Abbey’s curiosity and enthusiasm, stating that if I ever want her to succeed in school, she needs to learn to control herself, and I’m not doing her any favors by letting her be the way she is. At first, I was annoyed (i.e. “I want to be friends with you, but our differences irritate me to the core!”) and lately, I was even a little hurt (“How DARE you say anything like that about a perfectly lovely and developing child? Would you say that about your own?”) . . . But as I learned to model and explain my parenting decisions, and to encourage her to have patience with my way of doing things, not only were we able to remain friends, but I think some aspects of natural/authentic/gentle/peaceful parenting have started to make their way into her way of doing things, and she’s glad about it.


I have a new friend in the neighborhood, also different from me as far as parenting goes, whose husband is especially interested in the way that I parent Abbey, as their daughter is the very same age, and they play together often. I’m careful to offer advice appropriately, and I do so in a way that is conversational – and I often use my own experiences as examples. “We used to have so much trouble keeping Abbey at the dinner table, but when we stopped chastising her and started making sure that we ourselves were respecting the limit- staying at the table, or excusing ourselves when we needed to get up, it became much easier for her to understand that ‘we sit when we eat’ ” . . . or, “I love that my Abbey feels genuine remorse when she hurts someone’s feelings, by accident, or through a struggle. I’m glad that I’ve chosen not to force her to apologize, because she is starting to see that her actions have consequences, and she actually feels sorry and expresses it in her own way.” I offer up my experiences, but I let my friends do the exploration. If they have questions, I answer them. If they have concerns, I entertain them. But if they’re not interested in the moment, I move on.


I think that the key to effective advocacy is to not pass judgment on anyone’s decisions, whether it’s about a haircut, a a new car, or whether to choose traditional discipline, solids right at 6 months, using forced time outs, or natural term breastfeeding. Yes, obviously, decisions on parenting aren’t affecting just parents – they affect the children most of all! And this is the hardest wave for me to ride when I’m advocating for the way that I parent in peaceful ways. It’s so difficult for my personality type to see injustice, struggle, or hurt in a family and not jump in and scream, “Change your ways! Do something about this! Can’t you see your way of thinking (or lack thereof) is hurting your children!?” because the children themselves can’t be their own advocate. But I know that this kind of communication is definitely not an effective one. I’ve also learned (and this is harder) to take people’s comments with a grain of salt, and know that just as I wish them no ill will just because we do things differently, they, too, are not trying to attack me, my children, or my way of doing things. I know that if I continue to grow in my own understanding of children, the family, and people in general, continue to practice compassion in my life, and remember to keep my judgment (even in my mind) to a bare minimum, I’ll be a much more effective advocate for healthy, responsible family leadership. And also a much better example for Abbey to shadow.


Sometimes it’s not what you DO to promote something, but what you DON’T do. I really don’t try to share my experiences in natural parenting; it just comes out because I gain so much peace and fulfillment from living life with my family this way. Why would I not want to share my joy? And I think that that’s the best way for us as natural parents of any variety to spread the ‘good news’ about parenting in peace with respect for our earth and our children, and each other. If we continue to be compassionate advocates – forsaking judgment and offering instead solid experiences and clear models for healthy family life – we can make for much healthier and happier generations to come!



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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.



Comments

  1. I love the examples you gave – your sweet spirit really shines through :) Thank you for being such a wonderful advocate – we are blessed to have you in our community!

  2. I really admire how you can engage people in your daily life. Great tips for those of us a bit more uncomfortable with real life advocacy!

  3. I admire how much natural parenting really means to you and your enthusiasm to share it with others.

  4. Thanks, ladies! It’s not always easy to live compassionately – and I haven’t always been comfortable with being a vocal advocate; it took me a while to figure out how to advocate for peaceful parenting out in the world!

  5. I totally imagine people accepting your in-person enthusiasm over natural parenting because, as you’ve said, it all stems from your joy in those practices. I think that’s the lesson I need to take away when advocating one-on-one: to communicate my own joy in a positive way rather than worrying about changing their mind or attacking their beliefs. Thank you! And best wishes with your very soon-to-arrive bundle! :)

  6. Happy to read that you were able to maintain friendships despite having different parenting philosophies and being able to them! I also have several friends (who I want to keep) and choose to advocate by example instead of by words to keep those friendships!

  7. I agree that advocating needs to be non-judgmental and conversational. Practicing what you advocate for is also a huge plus. People have a lot of buttons available for pushing, and it’s always a struggle not to press any (or only a few), and opening a conversation based on what you do is a great practice. Super post!

  8. Great post for CarNatPar! I think I would enjoy being with a friend like you. I would have interesting conversations about the things we learned about parenting-sharing and not judging. What a breath of fresh air. Your friends are lucky to have someone like you in their lives. You can’t ask for more in a compassionate advocate

  9. Excellent post! This is something that I really need to work on. <3

  10. Really loved this post – what is shining through so much as I read is that you are genuine – your life is an advocate in so many ways! :)

    You also understand being at the receiving end of (possibly unappreciated) parenting advice, and that makes a big difference in how you give it!

    Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  11. Thanks ladies :) I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my perspective! It is hard sometimes to hold back judgement, but it makes spreading good ideas so much easier when you are able to accept other people’s differences and offer up your life and choices as examples for them to view and choose (or not!) of their own volition :)

  12. Enthusiasm is catching and advocating by expressing your own love for gentle parenting practices sounds like the most positive way to exact change. I will take this lesson to heart. :D

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