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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thank You for Your Opinion

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’ve always felt that becoming a mom makes you feel like you’re part of a club. There is this sorority of women who know the unique challenges you face, who nod emphatically when you talk about the last time you showered, the never-ending dish Everest on your kitchen counter, and the constant poop smell in your bathroom. Maybe at the beginning, you make excuses for it, but by the time a few months have gone by, even you don’t think it’s strange that you’re wearing you pajamas in Target.

In a way, becoming a mom makes you less judgmental. Whereas you used to scowl at the moms in the grocery store as they dragged along their toddlers who were sticky with that morning’s pancake breakfast, wearing swimsuit bottoms and a winter jacket, now you understand. Whereas you used to make a point of looking away when you saw a child throwing a tantrum in the shopping cart, now you give those kids’ moms a knowing half-smile.

I’m now the mom who has the kid with green boogers constantly running from his nose, hair perpetually un-brushed, who is dressed in either unmatched pajamas or the same color from head to toe. I let him run around explore the grocery store and yell express himself in parking lots. I let my kids pull all the books off the bookshelf if that’s what they want to do. I let Baby T paint his toys instead of paper because it keeps him busy for minutes at a time. I probably do all the things I said I would never do.

So why is there still a conflict among mamas when it comes to breastfeeding, discipline, and even medical issues like vaccinations and circumcision? When Baby T runs into another mom at the grocery store, her kids buckled tightly into the shopping cart, and she gives me a dirty look, why do I feel like she’s judging me? I can practically hear the teenage me saying, “Can’t you keep control of your kids?”

Here’s the thing though: my toddler stops when he reaches the edge of the street. He holds my hand in parking lots. He knows that electrical outlets can be dangerous. He understands that he shouldn’t hurt, push, or kick other people, and he seems genuinely sorry when he does hurt someone. I’m confident that I’m raising compassionate, caring, curious kids.

Honestly, I get more sweet smiles from old ladies and other moms than dirty looks. I don’t often feel judged. And when I do have to respond to a judgmental comment, I use a phrase a wise friend suggested. I just smile and say, “Thank you for your opinion.”

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:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • 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.


Terri Henry said... Best Blogger Tips

Yay I love that phrase, simple and easy - I'll use that! I totally agree that many issues in parenting are really up to each family, their unique styles and views. There is little use getting into confrontation with anyone when we know how challenging raising kids can be (and thanks for your own examples because they really help me ease up a bit) My one caveat though on not giving unsolicited advice is circumcision because I feel that this is a human rights issue for the baby and is not something that a parent has the right to decide. I mean I won't shout in your face or over the Internet but that's just one issue that I'll definitely give my opinion on and be on the receiving end of the other person saying 'thanks for your opinion'

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for your opinion - love it!! You're acknowledging their effort without committing yourself to a debate.

African_Babies_Dont_Cry said... Best Blogger Tips

This is great, I can so relate to the feeling that I used to be judgemental, and I am now judged Lol.

Thats a good phrase to use! I may just borrow it ;)

Kate Wicker said... Best Blogger Tips

Wonderful post. As I alluded to in the combox of another carnival post, I think moms can fall into the judgmental trap because we're passionate about doing the best we can, and we sometimes judge others more out of insecurity than the desire to attack someone else. Declaring a truce in the mommy wars relies upon women as well as society understanding that there is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to motherhood and making an effort to talk with other women and encourage them as mothers regardless of their choices.

Blessings to you in your own mothering journey!

mudpiemama said... Best Blogger Tips

What a great phrase! reminds me of how I deal with the constant and unsolicited advice from one certain person whose advice 100% clashes with my style...I always just say "thanks, I'll think about that" and just leave it at that!
PS - my 5 year old often wants to wear the same color head to toe :)

Arpita of Up Down And Natural said... Best Blogger Tips

I really love this! I wonder ALL.THE.TIME all this idealistic views I have in my head, and if they will be the same once baby comes along. I agree that sometimes smiling and walking away it the best way to deal with the "judgey" parents and allow yourself to embrace the really considerate ones who give you that knowing and loving smile! <3

hobomama said... Best Blogger Tips

Hee hee, "toddlers who were sticky with that morning’s pancake breakfast, wearing swimsuit bottoms and a winter jacket." Yep. You always think it won't be you, until it is.

I will tuck your titular phrase away as well, because I have a feeling I'll be needing it now and again!

Livingpeacefullywithchildren said... Best Blogger Tips

Sometimes people just need to be heard. This is a great way to acknowledge them without taking their comments onto yourself.

Ryanna Gamble Battiste said... Best Blogger Tips

Smiling. You are my wise friend!! And thank you for YOUR opinion. :) This was so well put.

Katina Garduno said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank YOU! This is a great read!

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