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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Choosing My Words

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
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 shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

"Experience is the teacher of all things" - Julius Caesar

I started my breastfeeding advocacy because of my own breastfeeding experience with Naima.  Admittedly, I was a gung-ho advocate in the beginning.  But because of my sister's experience plus reading Erin's and Neva's experiences and this blog, I realized that not all moms are able to hurdle the challenges that breastfeeding brings and it is not easy reading or hearing self-righteous and judgmental comments from breastfeeding moms. So right now, on top of my compassionate advocacy list is learning to listen and shutting up when warranted.  Sometimes, moms just need someone to listen to their rants about breastfeeding.  I have also learned not to offer unsolicited advice but just wait until they ask me about breastfeeding.  
This is also one of the reasons I started my blog.  I have a lot of things to say and share about breastfeeding.  But I don't want to go on and on to people who don't appreciate or resent what I'm sharing.  Heck, my own brother-in-law already thinks that I'm a hard-core breastfeeding fanatic.  By starting this blog, I have a space for airing our my thoughts with hopes of not offending anyone.   
Sometimes though, when you're faced with a computer and nameless readers, you tend to forget that there are real live human beings with feelings.  Yes, bloggers usually say that you can always close your browser if you don't like what you're reading.  But as emphasized in this post,  I wholeheartedly agree that advocates must be thoughtful and circumspect in their words so as not to alienate the very audience that they are trying to reach.  Further, emails, comments, posts from readers also remind me that there are readers who do not necessarily agree with what I am saying and can be affected by generalizations or conclusions or words in my blog.   
With a full-time job plus a growing business on the side, I sometimes think about stopping blogging or giving out breastfeeding advice to have more time to myself.  But I keep remembering that I wouldn't have been able to successfully breastfeed N if I hadn't received tips, support and advice from friends who were successful.  And not everyone has a friend or family member who was able to successfully breastfeed.  Thus, I try to pay it forward by maintaining this blog in hopes that people who read this and who I reply to in emails also pay it forward by helping their own friends and families.  

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.


Chris said...

wow, this is a nice post.. great carnival :) i will try to visit the other's posts too.. i also breastfed my 2 kids... my eldest i breastfed until 11 months while my youngest until 22 months. never regretted it..

Jenny said...

thanks chris!

hobomama said...

I love your voice and think you're a much-needed addition to the breastfeeding-friendly blogosphere. I understand what you mean, though, about needing to remember that there are real people on the other side of the computer screen.

I didn't realize you had your own business — I just checked it out, and it looks fabulous!

lucy @dreaming aloud said...

I am totally pro bf and have fed all three of mine long term. But I also know women who tried EVERYTHING who desparately wanted to bf and it really didn't work for them, and the breast is best mantra was so hurtful for them. I am so aware of that with the whole natural birth thing that I write about... it is a very sensitive line we walk.

SmilinglikeSunshine said...

Great post for the carnival. Thanks for sharing your insights!

Dionna@CodeNameMama said...

I'm glad you are continuing :) The online community has really done more for my parenting than I can ever describe. It's a vital resource!!

JenCC said...

well said, Jen! Your blog's a constant resource for lots of breastfeeding mamas! (and really, a place where you can say what you want to say -- because it's your blog. that's just me though. hahaha!)

CatholicMommy said...

Best wishes as you continue to walk the line between speaking out confidently and alienating those who most need to hear the message. It is a difficult path to follow, but you seem equipped to do it well!

MrsH said...

I'm still so thankful that I'm able to breastfeed my daughter, and am so glad that while it was hard, we didn't have any super tough additional complications. Thanks for sharing!

Amy Willa said...

This is something that I have struggled with, too. As an active and passionate lactivist, it's important to know when to speak, how far to go, and when to "shut up" as you put it :) I totally understand where you're coming from.

As a peer counselor, I was trained to listen well and really speak to the points about lactation and breastfeeding that mattered to and could help the specific mommy I was working with. This is something I can apply in real life situations, but on my blog, I'm speaking to a broad audience, and it's harder not to rub people the wrong way.

So, I absolutely know how you feel, and I applaud your desire to learn more about advocating in a compassionate way. Definitely keep doing what you're doing! Best Wishes!

applesanddumplings said...

I learned not to give unsolicited advice too! I never knew that breastfeeding is a sensitive topic. Your blog is my go-to blog whenever I need info on breastfeeding.

Keep blogging, Jenny!

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

Great CarNatPar post! I agree with you to use the platform you've built for advocacy. When you're passionate and compassionate, that comes through. And if someone doesn't hear that, it's often because they're dealing with their own pain or unresolved issues, which can then be held and supported gently. Thank you for being a positive part of supporting breastfeeding families.

RachelCRZ said...

Agree. It's so easy to feel superior vs. other moms when you breastfeed your child. Sometimes I'm guilty of this too and let out a comment that later on I know I shouldn't have made. We really need to pause and take caution of what we say.

Kelly & Dave said...

"Sometimes though, when you're faced with a computer and nameless readers, you tend to forget that there are real live human beings with feelings." - LOVE this mama!

And I sincerely appreciate supportive lactivists, because the ones who did not choose their words very nicely are one of the reasons I did not succeed with breastfeeding. :( I didn't think I could go to people with my troubles without being blasted!

I write that to say how desperately important it is for breastfeeding advocates to be approachable to those who are struggling. Fortunately, there are a growing number of you out there. :)

Thanks for sharing!

dinna said...

i love the post! :) i actually get head- and heartache whenever i come across breastfeeding sites where the comments become a nasty word war and a heated debate between breastfeeding moms and formula-feeding moms, so it is truly better to shut up and speak only when warranted (you cannot convince the other with your point, anyway). breastfeeding indeed is a matter of choice for the mothers but i feel terribly sad for formula-feeding moms who proudly denounce breastfeeding like it was a plague or curse or something. :(

Wolfmother said...

"advocates must be thoughtful and circumspect in their words so as not to alienate the very audience that they are trying to reach"

This is what I personally struggle with when sharing my enthusiasm for gentle parenting choices. Sometimes people are not open to learning new things, especially if they feel attacked for their choices. In these instances sometimes it is best to simply show by example.

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