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 don’t really see myself as one of those crunchy mommas, and I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s about my general reluctance to pigeon-hole myself into any sort of label. Maybe it’s a resentment thing. Maybe it’s an in-group, out-group thing. Maybe it’s a bit of them all with a few more things thrown in. But either way, I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the label “natural parent” and it’s not one I choose to use, despite many of my parenting practices falling under what would generally be called natural parenting. I strongly believe in vaccination and conventional medicine. I don’t really believe all the hype around organic food (and can’t afford to buy it even if I did). As part of my radical unschooling life philosophy I allow my daughter to eat what she likes, play with what she likes and have as much screen time as she likes.
I know many natural parents do things differently. And that’s cool. I think it’s dangerous when we start saying you have to do a certain selection of things to be in “the club”. For my own sanity I try to avoid certain discussions and Facebook groups, particularly around the subject of alternative medicine. I’d much rather have a conversation about the things we do agree on, and simply respectfully agree to disagree on other matters. There is far too much of the “mummy wars” online, and it’s generally not something I engage in, especially amongst parents that I know to be making conscious decisions to do the best for their families. What does it matter if two mothers who both believe in treating children with care and respect happen to disagree about whether or not to vaccinate, use cloth nappies, etc? Why not find the common ground, realise we’re all doing our best and just be comfortable with our own decisions without judgement?
I personally follow many bloggers who would be considered the architypal natural parent. I read their posts about alternative medicine or organic cooking with interest, whether or not I agree with what they have to say. At no point does it ever occur to me to leave unhelpful comments or feedback. I’m astonished when I see others doing it. Because for all the talk of peace amongst those in the natural parenting community, there seems to be a fair amount of judgement, self-righteousness, resentment and anger. I’m not a bad mother because I don’t feed my daughter organic food, only give her wooden toys with natural paint, or limit her screen time or sugar consumption. I’m also not an especially good mother because I breastfeed, co-sleep, babywear and stay home with my child. I’m a mother who is working hard to do the best for my child, just like everyone else, and I’ve made certain decisions that I deem to be the best for my family, based on my own personal beliefs and knowledge.
I guess it’s always the problem with labels… that to fit the label you have to fit certain criteria, and there will always be a certain amount of (conscious or unconscious) judgement from others about whether or not you meet enough criteria to meet the label. I spent a good deal of my teenage years trying to fit the criteria to be gothic “enough” to be cool… dyed black hair, check; piercings and tattoos, check; New Rock boots, check… it’s only when you finally grow up that you realise how silly it all is and just be comfortable being yourself. I’m not about to make the same mistake when it comes to parenting. I’ll keep doing what I need to do to be the mother I want to be, and you can keep your natural parent label.
- 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.