This about sums up the first year…
I think the “Mom Enough” controversy pretty much paused with a truce, with everyone raising the white flag and calling for peace on all sides. Including me.
Now there has been a minor eruption over a parenting philosophy which, correct me if I’m wrong, seems to have caught on with a significant portion of the Parenting After Infertility crowd? I had never heard of “Natural Parenting” before, and suddenly the term was everywhere.
Specifically, this graphic was everywhere. I’m not going to comment on the graphic, as I think others have covered it in detail.
Like for others, the term “Natural Parents” immediately stuck in my craw. By calling your philosophy “Natural,” you are by implication saying that other parenting philosophies are “unnatural.” But, I wanted to go over and review the blog on its merits and see what the fuss was all about.
What immediately struck me is that many “Natural” parents who’ve posted on the blog feel persecuted and underground. Which, that’s rough, and I feel for you. Where I live is probably one of the only areas in the world where attachment parenting (breastfeeding, midwives, babywearing, extended breastfeeding) is mainstream and “mainstream parenting” (strollers, disposable diapers, bottle feeding) is not mainstream at all. (See also: Park Slope, the Upper West Side, Berkeley, Notting Hill, and probably other areas with a strong liberal political bent.) I have to admit that “pottying”, ie: potty training your infants, hasn’t caught on yet here. But I’m sure that it’s just a matter of time.
The “Natural Parenting” blog has a much more pleasant tone than I was expecting. Mostly, if I can simplify, the tenor seems to be attachment parenting is the ideal but if you try your best, no judgments. Am I right about this?
Attachment Parenting isn’t about ‘shoulds.’ It’s about connecting with and loving your baby. There are some practices that foster those connections, and some of those practices, though intuitive, aren’t mainstream. Therein lies the problem, and a harvest-ready field for media looking to stay alive with stories.
OK. I mostly get this.
Here’s what I don’t like:
I have a dream that one day, babies will be birthed in peace, and spend their first hours in the arms of their loving, capable mother. One day, we will respect the birthing mother, and remember that birth is normal, and has been the primary exit route of people for millennia.
I have a dream that one day, mothers will have the resources and support they need to nurse their babies for as long as they both desire. I have a dream that one day, Americans will see breasts as primarily life-giving and nourishing.
I have a dream that babies are carried instead of pushed, cuddled instead of prodded to be independent. One day, we will redefine spoiling as dying from disuse, rather than strengthening from love and closeness.
I have a dream that one day babies will sleep safely, close to their mother, as her breath regulates baby’s temperature and heart rate, ensuring his survival. One day, we will move beyond scare tactics and onto education.
I have a dream that we will relearn the lost art of gently responding to our baby’s elimination cues. One day, diapers will be optional.
Yeah, I DON’T like this. It strongly implies that there is one way that ALL babies should be birthed and parented (with co-sleeping and babywearing) and to do otherwise is bad for a child. (I don’t like the phrase: “ensuring his survival.” Talk about scare tactics…) Am I wrong? Did you pick up that tone, too, or not?
And ultimately, “Mommy Wars” are caused by those who feel their way is best and that everyone else should adopt their ways. The media helps to fan the flames, sure, but ultimately it’s doctors pushing C-sections, hospitals not allowing midwife care, or someone who says she has a dream of babies being carried not pushed.
We ALL need to be careful about the language we use, and I don’t want to single out this particular site as a main culprit: they are just suddenly ubiquitous, so a lot of people are looking at them. On another front, this book is inflammatory as hell.
Is it possible to remove judgmental language from parenting advice altogether? Or are we doomed to conflict with one another? And feel free to call me on any judgmental language I have ever used about parenting, too.