10 November 2010

My dear friend Erron wrote a fantastic piece on her blog today about parenting styles and the judgment and guilt that go along with our choices. I've been mulling it over all day and trying to put to words my feelings on the whole topic.

First, I believe that judgement in parenting is real. I've been on the receiving and (sadly) the giving end of it. It happens on the mainstream and the "crunchy" sides of the coin and it can get downright ugly.

And then, a certain percentage of it is what I think is perceived judgement. A mom breastfeeding in public who feels angry eyes on her is in fact being watched by fellow breastfeeding moms who would like to make eye contact and send on a visual "Go you!" message. The mom who feels like 15 mothers are watching in disgust as her 2-year-old has a full out tantrum in the cereal aisle is really being seen by those mothers are remembering those rough moments and wishing there was something they could do to help.

I'm a big believer in energy (in case the Reiki, reflexology, flower essence work I do didn't tip you off). I believe that the more we sit and stew about judgement, the more energy and vitality we give to the mommy wars. The more we parent our children differently from our peers and fear their biting comments, the more we draw in those cutting and harsh remarks.

I love the "what if" game. What if you didn't have to worry about what other parents thought? What if you expected to be greeted with acceptance and understanding by everyone you met? What if you looked at other parents with the knowledge that they were doing the very best they could in that moment? What if we shared nothing but empathy with other mothers?

It's something to think about, isn't it?

I've had moments in my life where I've been checking off all the right boxes (Breastfeeding? Yup. Babywearing? For sure! Co-sleeping? Of course!) and yet I've been too busy looking at how I look to pay attention to why I'm doing all the things that I'm doing.

Attachment parenting isn't a checklist to complete. It's a loosely-defined parenting approach that I've come to see as pretty much describing my parenting style. We co-sleep, extend breastfeed, babywear, EC, discipline gently, unschool, and love unconditionally because these are the things that promote the types of relationships and environments for my children that I want.

When I'm too busy looking out there in the world, I'm not able to see those moments that are happening right inside of my home and my heart. When I'm able to let go of all that crap out there and just focus on these people I've been blessed to call my family, incredible things happen. There are moments of divine beauty and heart-bursting tenderness that I never could have imagined possible. My children and husband bring blessings and meaning into my life that I have to be fully present for in order to appreciate.

And in the end, isn't it that what it's all supposed to be about?


erron said...

I love it, absolutely elegant. I'm giving you those you're such a dear friend, and you are a admirable mama eyes right now.

Tammy said...

While I think that all the information out there today is good, I sometimes think the repercussions of that can be "anxiety" for moms. This is good, this is bad, this will ruin your child forever, on and on.

I don't have children but I think with all things you have to use your common sense and instinct to know what is best and right for you. Ultimately if it comes with love and balance, its probably just fine!

I enjoyed Erron's post and the perspective she shared as well as this one too. Everyone has enough pressure without pointing fingers at one another. Go moms go!

Liam J. said...

My biggest problem with the different labels and the discussion around the different philosophies and practices in raising children is the same problem I have with American (and, to some extent Canadian, especially Albertan) politics. People are more likely to believe something that is said by someone they think is on their "side," rather than thinking each issue/decision/system through and making their own critical judgement on it. I do not agree 100% with what Attachment Parenting, the iron-clad document (if such a thing existed) puts forth, I do not agree with what homeschooling/unschooling experts say 100%. But I do have a functioning brain, and I can generally trust myself to come up with something that works for myself and my family. Either that or I just do what Kim says.

The best quote I've ever heard about raising children comes from my old boss: "Children are resilient, and they tend to grow up okay, no matter how hard we as parents try to screw them up." I take that to mean that as long as you're trying to raise your children (rather than neglecting them), they have a pretty good chance of doing okay in the world.

Jen (emeraldsunshine.org) said...

Great post - and I wholeheartedly believe in letting go of all the crap and just expecting a warm welcome. If people don't recognize your warm heart (and mine) then they aren't worth the time of a harsh thought or anxiety anyway!

doctormonica said...

I'm about to post a link to this post on my blog. If you don't want it there, just tell me, and I'll remove the link.

KimLiving said...

I'm more than happy to be linked to. Off to go take a look! :)

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