Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this Spring is RESPONDING TO THE NATURAL PARENTING COMMUNITY! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on criticism of the natural parenting community both from those parents outside of it's perceived borders as well as those inside the community itself. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I have been a parent for 4 short years. That's it. 4 years. I am no expert on this parenting thing. In fact, just when I think I have Tiny all figured out, she throws me for a loop.
Despite all the uncertainty that parenting drags behind it, I am firmly grounded in my parenting philosophy. I research, I observe, I listen, and I experiment. I take what works and leave the rest. But at the root of it all, I am a natural, gentle, responsive, conscious, authentic parent.
But I am by no means perfect.
The natural/attached parenting scene gets a lot of flack. Sure, some natural/AP parents bring this on themselves. They get really married to their methods and beliefs. But come on – it isn't JUST natural parents who fall into this category. ANY parent can get on their high and mighty horse and look down in scorn at the rest of us parents. It is unfair to say that natural parents are any more judgey than the run-of-the-mill mainstream parent. However, because we push against the grain of normalcy, natural/AP parents get labeled as the ones who are casting shame upon anyone who does not follow their parenting ideology.
I happen to believe that MY way of parenting is the most effective way of parenting. Research even backs me up on this. Spanking, yelling, demoralizing, and punitive parenting approaches have been shown to do a lot more harm than good. BUT, this does not mean that all children who are parented in this manner are being parented without love. Your style of parenting might be harsh, autocratic, and at times mean spirited, but who am I to look at your child and say “she is going to be a hot mess when she grows up.” Because guess what – even if your parenting is on the opposite end of the spectrum from mine, I know you love your child and are probably trying your best. Your best just looks different than mine. So be it.
I think what sets the natural parenting community apart is simply the amount of research we do as well as our perseverance. This is not to say that mainstream parents NEVER research. I am quite sure they do. However, they are probably not reading the same materials we are.
You see, one book on gentle discipline always leads to another which leads to another which leads to another. One day you look on your bookshelf and realize that you are the proud owner of the complete gentle parenting library. Every natural parenting themed book on child rearing seems to have a slightly different twist – one that opens your mind more to other possibilities which leads to more research and more and more awakening and awareness of how to be the most effective yet peaceful parent on the planet. Seriously. Plus going against the grain is HARD work. It is waaay easier to yell and spank and punish than it is to hold the space, support emotions, and gently guide. Natural parents NEED a lot of support via gentle parenting books.
Mainstream parenting is simply easier. Why? Because more people are doing it. There are more mainstream models out there. It is the default approach making it something that requires a lot less research.
And this is where the great line of divide begins.
I really wish there was a parenting book that simply served as a morale booster. A book that helped parents shed all that parenting guilt. A book that empowered parents to WANT to explore parenting methods outside of their comfort zone. A book that helped parents come together, despite their differences, to create a parenting community that supported each other as parents. Because this parenting gig ain't easy. Not by a long shot. And hurling insults, judging, fighting, hurling accusations, and spending our energy fighting against each other as parents takes us away from what we really should be spending our energy on…BEING THE BEST PARENTS WE CAN BE!
I am not a perfect parent. You are not the perfect parent. I stand behind my parenting philosophy. You stand behind yours. I know what works and what doesn't work for MY child. I have no clue about your child. Your child is your job. My child is my job. So let's just agree that we are both doing the best we can and if you ever feel like changing your parenting approach, give me a shout! Because I am more than willing to share resources, inspiration, real life scenarios, and encouragement. Because that is what I, as a natural parent, as Tiny's parent, do.
- Stop Bashing Each Other Already! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on why for her, “natural parenting” involves more work and why it would be more supportive to all parents if there wasn't such a great divide based on parenting styles.
- Politically Correct Natural Parenting — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't want parents practicing Natural Parenting to walk on eggshells with other parents.
- Just bought some! — Lindsay at The Life of Lulu Belle just bought some of Kelapo's coconut oil but hasn't had a chance to try it yet.
- Keep Your Labels — ANonyMous @Radical Ramblings discusses why she isn't comfortable with the label “natural parent” and urges us all to be a little more respectful and accepting.
- Finding a Happy Parent Place — A “circumstantial loner,” Mercedes at Project Procrastinot enjoys her forays in to the Natural Parenting community while learning the ropes of mothering twins.
- On reason, research, and natural parenting — Lauren at Hobo Mama wishes reason and logic were valued more than gut feelings and instinct.
- Is there a No Sleep Solution? — Hannah at Hannahandhorn wonders when she will sleep again.