Google+ Authentic Parenting: 'Radical' Parenting

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

'Radical' Parenting

Apparently there is this TV show on parenting that's been stirring the pot quite a lot recently (must be, because even I, far far away under my palm trees, have heard about it). This show supposedly depicts 'radical' forms of parenting, among which: elimination communication, attachment parenting, homeschooling and radical unschooling.

As I subscribed to google alerts on unschooling, I got a link in my inbox to an opinion piece inspired by this show. You can find it here, but I must warn against it if you don't want to get worked up.
In a way that shows a lack of research and frankly, general intelligence she throws all these parenting types on one big pile and trashes them, based solely on the viewing of this tv show.

Now there are many things wrong with the way she approaches this, and I could go on and on about how media pick and light subjects so that they shock and thrill their audience, or how she should research her topic  before writing anything, but let's keep that for another time, because otherwise this post will become endless.

What I wanted to talk about today is people's eagerness to trash views that are different from their own, and more specifically parenting ways. Throughout my time as an alternative parent I have discovered some generalities in this bashing I would like to discuss here.

The piling of very different parenting choices into one big group

Cloth diapering, elimination communication, homebirth, freebirth, placenta eating and planting, homeshooling, unschooling, radical unschooling, attachment parenting, breastfeeding, cosleeping, bedsharing, babywearing... they are all thrown on one big pile of parents who do 'those weird crazies'. Yet if you just take one second and have a closer look, you can see that even within this so-called craziness, there are choices to be made. Some of these 'radical' choices can in fact not coincide.
'Radical Parenting' isn't the big homogenous group it is made out to be. They are in fact extremely heterogenous, and seem to come from about every religion or non-religion, every social layer, every culture or origin. And even within their 'strange parenting ways' they differ: two homeschooling families will not be the same.  It is not a big cult as it is being portrayed by some (sadly, because wouldn't that be nice :) LOL).

'Radical' Parents as superior and the guilt arguement

Being accused of feeling superior to others is something breastfeeders, unschoolers, attachment parents and the like get confronted with almost on a daily basis. Not one study of the benefits of breastfeeding or the detriment of spanking foregoes the comment that we should stop making people feel guilty.
Where does the guilt and superiority arguement come form, save from them feeling attacked, inferior and guilty?
As Uncommon Momsense nicely describes it in this wonderful post

 No one could ever make me feel bad for breastfeeding, and for as long as I will.  No one can make me feel less than because I co-sleep with my babies.  No one can make me feel inferior that I am a stay at home mom.  Why?  Because I know with all of my heart and soul, that when it comes to my babies, I have done my homework, I have listened to my heart, and I am absolutely making the best most selfless decisions for my babies.
If you are unsure of your decisions, start doing more research, it is never too late to do better.  But if you don't want to, don't blame it on me.  And don't blame it on any mother who happens to be confident and say so. 
You can only feel bad about your choices if you are insecure about them, if you think that by having made those choices you really are doing something wrong.

I didn't *insert parenting choice here* and my kids are just fine

First it is statistically incorrect that stating that one child (or even two) being fine is proof of a decent parenting method. That's the same as saying: I jumped off a building with no parachute and I am just fine. It doesn't prove anything.
Secondly, how can you be sure that your child is 'just fine'? Of course I hope that my child grows up to be a happy secure person, but I cannot be sure of that until the day she is grown and tells me she is. I worry about doing it right, making the right choices, every single day, so the fact that you are not worried at all just makes you disinterested, not confident. A parent who never worries is a machine, not a parent.
Third, what is your measure for saying your child is just fine? I've seen formula feeding parents say their kid is doing just fine on formula, while the kid has been in and out of the hospital several times during its first year of life. I've heard a time-out parent saying time-out work miracles, yet her kid had to do them several times a day.

Compared to *'radical parented' kid* my child is better behaved

Well, compared to Hitler, I am a saint, yet we were both spanked as a kid. Nuf said.

Tip of the day: Stop bashing others for their parenting choices out of insecurity and ignorance. Use your computer wisely instead, do some research, maybe change something. Join the revolution!



  1. Loved this post! Very well said - couldn't agree more!

  2. Thank you! Very nice post.

  3. I love this. Love it so much, that I stopped writing my tangent post about my insane parenting, because this says it in a much better way than I could have hoped. I linked this post to my post attempt... hope you don't mind, and thanks for writing this!


I love comments! Drop me a line