Not Holier Than Thou

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.

Most of my friends do time-outs with their children.

Some even spank.

Most use disposable diapers

and most have formula fed their babies at some point during infancy. 

Many of my friends don’t see why I wanted a totally natural and drug-free childbirth

why I “still” nurse our three-year-old,

why I don’t force apologies,

or why we kept our son’s genitalia intact.

But only twice have I actually had a disagreement with any of them over our differences

and only once has such a disagreement ended badly.

You see, though I call myself a natural parent, and I try to parent authentically, creatively, respectfully, and with as much peace as I can find, 

I’m not holier than thou. Far from it. 

And I’m so glad my friends know that about me.

Because I know that I’m doing the best I know how 

and that I’ve done a lot of reading and networking 
and praying and thinking, too
before I made the decisions I have about how I raise my children.  

So, I use phrases like:

“I see how you can think that, but I follow my baby’s needs”


“I find that Abbey receives information better when she is approached with love”

and I’ll keep cheering on and thanking all parents for their gifts to their children. 

Whether it’s the gift of a good attitude, a sense of humor, cloth diapers, a mama’s breast, a compassionate shoulder, a big hug, a full belly, or a stern reminder . . . 

Anything done out of love for your child and with your child’s interests in mind is good in my book.

I’ll talk to you forever about nursing, or cloth diapers, 

or time-ins and alternates to punishment-based parenting 

if the conversation leads us there.

But if I only wanted to be friends with people exactly like me. . . 

what a boring and lonely life that would be! 

I’m friends with parents. Not just natural ones. 

I’ll spread how nursing relationships, cloth diapers, and compassionate parenting have enriched our lives 

but I’ve quit judging good parents for choices that aren’t the same as mine.

And my friends and I, we rub off on each other. 

I’ve learned that I can learn from mainstream parents just as they can learn from me. 

And a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand is just as good coming from someone different than you.

We may be different, but I love my mainstream parenting friends, 

and I’m pretty sure from the fact that only one has ever shunned me, 

. . .  they can tolerate crunchy little me. 

Visit 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.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others’ parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can’t — We’ve all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you’re stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think “Gosh, I wish I said…” This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought “Gosh, I wish I said…”
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don’t Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she’d want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying “I’m Right and You’re Wrong” Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won’t care — Cassie of There’s a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don’t know what to do when you’re confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky – Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert’s Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.



  1. You are such a shining example of peaceful parenting – I’m sure every one of your friends, no matter where they fall on the parenting spectrum, is thankful to have you in their life. And I’m also sure that you have rubbed off on some of them, even if you didn’t mean to ;)

  2. I like how you are able to respond non-defensively to criticism – something I am always striving for :)

  3. Wendy, I didn’t always respond well. When I first was discovering my internal natural parenting tendencies, I fought hard with a couple of different people in my life (one being a supervisor at the WIC office I worked for. . . eek) regarding the choices I was making. But My sister-in-law, my parents, and my friends at NPN gave me the empowerment, the inspiration, and the knowledge I needed to realize that the best way to advocate for the interests of all children and all families was through living my life and not judging others for living theirs. Two of our closest friends here in ME have slightly and totally different stances on discipline than we do, but we work as friends and neighbors because we respect each other :) If we disagree, we disagree!

    Dionna, you floor me with flattery <3 I love you!

  4. Aw, I love this. What a good friend! I love how reasoned and respectful you’re able to be, and how you see the good in relationships that might be stressful for someone without your gracious attitude.

  5. Such a gentle, elegant post ~ I really enjoyed reading this, thank you. I too try not to be holier than thou (and I keep a lot of my parenting decisions to myself, partly to avoid being judged myself, and partly to avoid coming across all smug and ‘oh, *we* don’t do that ….’
    ‘But if I only wanted to be friends with people exactly like me. . . what a boring and lonely life that would be!’ ~ this is an excellent point. I meet up regularly with a group of other mothers and while there are some areas of overlap, on the whole we all parent very differently. But I’m friends with them because I’m friends with *them*, not because they model their lives the exact samer way as me. It really would be dull to have lunch with 5 other carbon copies of me every month!

  6. I really LOVE this post! It is so simple and eloquent and thoughtful. Love it! I am lucky that most of my friends are “natural parenting” types, so it definitely makes things easier, but I will remember your fabulous statements when encountering those who think differently….

  7. I think it speaks volumes about your commitment and confidence in natural parenting that those comments don’t bother you. I find that the more secure I feel in my parenting choices, the less likely I am to be taken aback by what anyone else says or does. “And a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand is just as good coming from someone different than you.” So true. We really just need to help each other!

  8. What a lovely post, Amy! I was lucky that nobody argued against my choices to follow natural parenting principles. That made it easier to allow them to follow their own path as well. I admire the way you can handle criticism so well, and I love your statement that “I’ll keep cheering on and thanking all parents for their gifts to their children.” Deb @

  9. Thank you for all the loving comments <3 it warms my heart!

    I honestly think that my own self-criticism and perfectionism (more like idealism) is loads worse than any judgement that others pass on me. It’s something I’m working (hard) on, and the one thing that really trips me up as a parent. I’m making baby steps to be less self-critical. . .

    . . . because I find that looking at things in hindsight, most of the stress of any of my disagreements with mainstream parents or online tiffs with people that don’t agree with my parenting style centered around my unwillingness to trust that what I was doing was sound parenting.

    My own self-criticism and questioning my ability to choose the right path is worse than any judgement from another person!

    Thanks again for the love! I cherish you all! <3

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