In the natural/attachment/progressive/whatever-term-you-fancy parenting community, our passion is often times our own Achilles Heel in respects to overstepping boundaries and putting our foot in our mouths, albeit this problem festers deep within the mainstream just as much (have you seen some of those facebook pages, yiiiiikes).
No matter who started what or who the bigger ass is, I bring this issue up because I sincerely believe that we (the natural community) can begin to alleviate this problem between mainstream and alternative because we we are the ones advocating the value in attachment, respect and unity.
I think often times we don’t consider what other parents are experiencing because we are too busy (or simply refuse) to stop, look outside our own little bubble and, most importantly, value someone else’s choice.
I get it, breastfeeding – hey, you nailed it (me too), and if you had difficulties you pulled up your big-girl britches and dealt with it…and don’t even begin to mention the ethical concerns surrounding circumcision, the research reinforcing the detrimental effects of spanking and the blah blah blah ….
I agree these issues are important and my heart is engulfed in the same advocacy, my friend. But there should be some reverence for the life another human being is actively choosing to live.
This doesn’t mean we will understand it nor does it mean we must validate it or approve it. Another person’s life is not up for our approval in the first place.
The bottom line is we must be more diligent in respecting the choices others make.
Generation X, Attachment Parenting and Over Compensation
I’ll be the first to admit my guilt of totally saying things before I think (who hasn’t?).
Hi, my name is Amanda and I’ve totally been an ass.
At times, maybe I’m quick to be offended…other times I’m quick to offend.
With everyone fixated with social media and publishing their opinion on pretty much everything (hey, myself included), we are flooded with perspectives that are different for our own every minute, every day.
From a sociological perspective, parents my age belong to a cohort that was molded by Nintendo, daycare, star wars and divorce.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing (Star Wars is pretty damn awesome), however according one study, our generation “went through its all-important formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history”.[*][*]
This piece of knowledge married with a bit of Psych 101: What is unhealed from your own childhood will reveal itself when you have little tots of your own.
And viola – attachment parenting is birthed (naturally, of course).
Don’t get me wrong – again, I love the tenants of attachment parenting, the foundation of progressive parenting, and the community of natural parenting. I live by them, just like you (and write about them too).
I suspect that some (okay, many?) natural parents today may be fueled by a strong desire to do a better job at parenting than their parents did (I know this rings true to me). Again this isn’t a bad thing either.
However, where our natural community severely veers off tract is in two aspects (maybe more, but these are the two that I found myself affected by):
(1) given the crack-pot job some of our parents did (and the majority of other parents embracing mainstream choices in parenting), we are left with a real lack of constructive role models to go about showing us how to be a sufficient parent….leading often times to over-compensation…and hence, unwittingly acting like an ass.
(2) We see other children crying it out, formula fed by choice, rode in strollers, fed crap food – and subconsciously maybe we feel like if we help them, then we are helping our own childhood-self in some way. Because as children we cried it out, was fed junk food and left feeling a real lack of affection – and we didn’t “turn out just fine”.
It’s not all about being a product of divorced, overworked parents and latchkey programs. Maybe every generation simply has unresolved issues with itself.
I implore you, fellow AP parents: Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
4 Easy Steps on how to become an Asshole Parent:
(with counter-steps on how NOT to become one)
Recognize and become familiar with your own tendencies to act callously toward others (no one is perfect and we can all improve treating others better). Hopefully, this list this will give us a great advantage to recognize (in yourself and in others) douche-bag propensities - and with any luck, stop giving other natural parents a bad name.
Become an expert on something, anything – you pick.
Counter-step: Focus on learning and as soon as you think you know something entirely, your jerk-alert should go off.
Bonus Tip : You know, the more alternative parents get a real bad rap for this (aka santimommy), but if you think this is the only group of parents acting like a bunch of assholes, then you are poorly mistaken. No one is immune to falling prey to this step.
Pride yourself as a seeker not a know-it-all.
Speak in absolutes.
“I will never ____.”
“My children always ____.”
“She should never _____.”
Counter-step: Be. Meticulous. About. The. Words. That. Come. Out. Of. Your. Mouth.
Bonus Tip: No matter how thoughtful you are with your words, at some point in time you are likely to offend someone – fact is, there are people out there scouring the ends of the Earth to be offended. The best you can do is to place effort into saying things with kindness and coming from a place of love.
At every chance available to you, declare other people’s incompetence.
Counter-step: I know, this step is hard especially if you are learning about your own tendencies of overcompensation. No one is perfect and not everyone wants your two-cents on the subject. You may get burned a few times to eventually learn which of your friends appreciate your unique perspectives. Appreciate other’s point of view too and find value in it.
Bonus Tip: If a friend posts a picture of her child in the car, please refrain from commenting that the child in not properly restrained followed by links to carseat safety and video on youtube of the benefits of extended rearfacing. While I agree there is value in information – consider talking to her off record or send a private message.
You have a small list of close friends and a long list of enemies which you are equally proud of.
Counter-step: True, you can’t get along with everyone and its not your business to make everyone like you – but better yet, give your attention to that which you support and love, not that haters.
Bonus Tip: We’re all in this together, my friends. You can’t get rid of hate with hate, only love can do that.
Parents in the Natural community have another platform to push now – the one that unites us: mainstream and alternative.
United we can accomplish a better future for our children, better then we can ever imagine.
Or move Along.