Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Public Relations

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.


I am passionate about my parenting choices. I'd like to think that everyone is, but that just isn't the case. No one, however, wants to be told they're "doing it wrong." Any time I am in or overhear a parenting discussion where it sounds like there is doubt or interest in new information, I am always quick to offer suggestions, experiences, and resources!

That said, if I already know someone is set in their ways (and they're different than mine) or they sound close-minded, I opt to avoid an argument altogether. It just isn't worth the stress and ugliness.

Sometimes, however, you stumble into an argument anyway. I have certainly had people ask how I handle different things and I'm always happy to share! I don't "go with the flow," though so a lot of my parenting and lifestyle choices are far from the mainstream. I've often been questioned interrogated about my reasons and still am accused of being "out there." Well I am out there! Anyone that knows me should know that!

So, when faced with judgment about my parenting (and lifestyle) choices, I try to let the facts speak for themselves when they can. My children have all been happy children! Aside from that, and especially in a situation that could easily lead to an argument, I use an old standby: "This isn't for everyone."

That's right. I absolutely feel passionately that my choices are the right choices. No, not just for me, but for most. But arguing isn't going to change someone else's style. If anything, it will just lead to people being more set in their own ways. And I do realize that my style isn't for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable nursing a toddler. Not everyone is willing, able or interested in always having a parent present with their children. (We don't use sitters.) Not everyone "gets" co-sleeping or the family bed. Even if they do, it doesn't work for everyone.

To keep the peace, I avoid battles and believe that no one way is right for everyone.

How do you keep the peace when discussing personal choices?


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:

  • 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. "This isn't for everyone." sounds a lot like "Pass the bean dip." - great ways to extricate yourself from a potential argument!

  2. I tend to be this way too - a dispute avoider. There are a handful of topics that I can't help but say my piece on, but for the most part if there's something going on that I disagree with, I don't go out of my way to get involved unless I feel I need to.

  3. The problem is, I always think my way IS the best for everyone. And yet, even though it's theoretically the best, is it *possible* for everyone? Sometimes it isn't.... not everyone has the time to invest in their kids that I have. And sometimes it just won't help anyone if you tell them you think your way's best ... in which case I just say "this works best for US." And then, deep down, I hope they try it and see if it works for them, too.

  4. Totally true. I find the more I learn about people's lives, the more I realize what keeps them (us) from doing the parenting things I feel passionately about. It helps keep me from being judgmental when I see all the reasons behind it.

    Just curious: Do you ever leave your kids with other relatives or not that, either?

    1. We aren't comfortable enough with any of our relatives, either. We have left Sasha on 2 occasions, both within a week. Elmo was heavily medicated due to a stubborn kidney stone. My mom (& sister) kept Sasha for half a work day. I trusted my mom & sister to follow our wishes, but they weren't willing / able to do more. It was a shame, really, because that was the entire reason we moved close to them.

      We trust our best friend, at least for short intervals. When he is with us, he helps with the care of our children. We sent Sasha for a walk (from our apartment) with him when we conceived Spencer.

      So no, we don't leave her at all. And I know that doesn't work for hardly anyone else. It was the reason that having her at Spencer's birth was the ONLY option.

    2. Yeah, we leave our kids only with my sister-in-law for the most part, and that not very often. But we've tried some babysitting swaps that have been disastrous (not the people caring for Mikko but his reaction to being left), and of course we used to do preschool, which he didn't like, either. Lately he's been getting more accustomed to staying in children's church without me, but I feel weird leaving Alrik in the baby nursery. I'm not against other people making that decision, but I'd rather keep him with me at this age.

      I know I'd be a little concerned about leaving our kids with other relatives on a regular basis, just because they have very different ideas from us about how to treat children in general. Nothing terrible, but I wonder how I'd feel if we lived nearer them. Anyway! I'll stop derailing your comments section. I was just curious. :)

    3. Even with family living in town... I'm not ready. Honestly, I think Sasha would do alright. But as much effort and thought as I put into how I handle her, I don't want to turn that over to others.

      And ou know you're welcome to derail my comments anytime. ;-)

  5. You don't use sitters either? Nice I thought we were the only ones, or at least one of the few. I like your post. I do like throwing my opinion in there when it seems like it would be well received or thought about. But I'm more of a peacemaker- rather not stir the pot.
    Well thanks for the article. I enjoyed it!

  6. I think that most (stable )people want a healthy relationship with their children but don't always have the right circumstances to be able to, or have the right skills to be able to. When we criticize without considering where people may be coming from and what challenges they are already facing, discussions can escalate easily because it disrespects the effort they may be already doing in their lives. I like to think that I am doing better than my parents, and that they were better than theirs in some ways, but we all are still growing as people ourselves and deserve some compassion on our journey wherever it's at.

  7. Hannabert goes to daycare because we both work but I haven't wanted to leave him. Despite hearing it from others, I don't think that I need a "break" from being a mom. I miss Hannabert when I am at work and I want to spend time with him when I am not. I really dislike it when I get advice about how important it is for me to have "me time." I didn't take "me time" before I Hannabert, why would I suddenly need it? I am sure I will feel comfortble leaving him overnight but until his aunt realizes that bringing babies to wine bars isn't a good idea, we will be avoiding those situations.

  8. sometimes avoiding the argument all together is very wise - I find that when people are open to change/information they will ask for it and then I will be happy to share, otherwise I don't like a confrontation. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. I agree with your method, avoid arguments. I for one am guilty of this. Used to argue a lot of times with my MIL because oh well, she has more children than me and yada yada yada... I have now devised a new method which is to focus on the things we agree on! Hah!


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