Google+ Authentic Parenting: Us vs Them (rerun)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Us vs Them (rerun)

All the crazy after I posted Baby Envy got me thinking: is it really us against them?

Do we divide people up into categories and assess there likeness to ourselves? I have to admit, I do. It often is about dividing people up, and I can do so rather quickly, it only takes a couple of conversations for me to know if you are yes or no on the dark side ;) or at least corruptable or not.
This is about being honest here, not about being proud of it. It is about confessing. If you feel like throwing rocks at me (again) for admitting this, please do so, but think first: he who is without sin...

All this soul searching got me thinking why on earth must I do this? What drives me?
First of all, upon just a short consideration, and well, plain reason, it is very clear that there really is no us, nor is there a them. By which I mean there are no two homogenous groups of parents, nor is there a distinct line between those fictional groups.

Us and Them can be any religion or color or social class. Both may have adopted any dietary regime. Either might - or not - babywear, cosleep, breastfeed, the like. So where is the line? Where do we (I mean Us) divide the crunch parent from the 'bad' parent?

More so, why do we divide into protagonists and antagonists?

Here's what I've come up with:
  • probably one of the first books a small child is shoved into its hands is one about contraries
  • we tell them stories about good fighting evil
  • we divide them clearly into boys and girls as soon as possible
  • we tell them what is good behavior - for which they are praised, and what is bad behavior - for which they are blamed
  • we leave them little room to see the grey areas, the doubt
  • our entire culture is based upon war, upon finding scapegoats, looking for the treath, installing fear, assigning an enemy
  • our language and our thoughts are shaped by violence and xenophobia
How can we expect to grow up being inclusive people, based on all of this? Even with careful consideration, we often get trapped into dichotomy. So, in order to not have my child grow up as defensive and conflict-seeking as I am, I am going to do everything in my power to show her the different shades of grey and shield her from dichotomy and violence, until she is big enough to understand how trivial and arbitrary it all is.




  1. I like to think of Natural Parenting as a cherry tree. I pick the cherries that I like and fit with our family and lifestyle, but I don't eat ALL the cherries. There are some people that REALLY like cherries and want everyone else to like them as much. Some even try to force feed me cherries which simply makes me dislike those kinds of cherries even more! The best cherry eaters are the ones who like their cherries, but won't try to sell you them, rather let you see how much enjoyment they get out of eating them! Maybe with our next baby I will eat more cherries, or even different cherries.

    Now- what shall I have for lunch? ;-)


  2. Ok, but what about people who don't want to try the cherries? Or those who take or cherries, smash them on the floor and trample them?
    How can we not think their are silly because they don't even want to try them?

  3. I hear what you're saying but you've got to see it from other people's possible perspectives. Some people have never heard of cherries and other people have been given misinformation about cherries, so they end up thinking cherries are poisonous!
    I, like you, get upset when I hear people bad mouthing cherries but I find that by telling them about my experiences with cherries, and leading by example (letting people see how much enjoyment I get out of them)I actually do more in terms of getting people to try cherries for the first time, than I would if I just told them they were wrong to not like cherries in the first place. Being radical is great but you needn't be radical about being radical, if you get my drift!
    I do- btw- love your posts and look forward everyday to reading what you have to say.

  4. I totally and utterly agree with you, again. But. Does this mean you have to weigh everything you say, and even consider talking about the cherry at all, just because you know there are misinformed people?
    What about those who do know the cherry is nutrious and well, yummie and then don't have it, worse, don't even have their children try it.

    Anyhow, this article isn't really about trying to get people to pick cherries, it's about judging them when they don't

  5. I know- I was a little off the point wasn't I? ;-)

    I guess, from my experience, I've found it exhausting and often unproductive to judge people about their parenting choices. If they've had all the knowledge and information given to them and they still choose to pick the options which are not, in my opinion, the best then I have to accept that. Unfortunately the law doesn't state how people should raise their children, as long as they are not being abused in anyway. Without legislation that everyone MUST breastfeed or cosleep, or babywear, or whatever, us AP/NP parents have to find a way to get our message across in a way that is kind, considerate and nonjudgemental. Generally, in any field of life, people will not start seeing things your way because you judge them and make them feel like they're doing something wrong. Multiply that several thousand times over and you'll have the reaction from a parent who thinks you're telling them that they're a bad parent. The knee jerk reaction is going to be to not listen to ANYTHING else you have to tell them.
    SO, my practice is to make judgements internally but to not say/do anything that reflects that judgement. If I can keep the route of communication open I may be able to turn things round for them eventually. Its hard but I've found that it does have more success. But that is in my real life and in your blog writing its a different matter- here you should be able to say exactly what you think and feel, even if it might be upsetting people. In fact if it makes people unsettled then perhaps they need to reconsider their own parenting choices! If you're going to continue writing blogs that will ruffle feathers though you have to expect some poeple to leave you occassionally, when they feel like they've had their wrist slapped.

  6. Yes dear, that's all very true. That's basically how I feel too 5did you read change the world... one parent at a time) IRL I tend to be more laid back, but I see no point in doing this here. This is my blog, which distinctly handles these topics, so you cannot expect me to shut up about these things here. Nor can I weigh every word I write because someone might just be ofended because of sth they think they read.
    Wah... So irritating, a big part of me just wants to please people and think that even here I might just gain more with honey. I don't know.

  7. I don't necessarily come off as "crunchy" but the choices I make in my parenting end up being that way sometimes, just because it is what makes sense. It's hard not to offend people, and having a lot of distinctively non-cherry-eating friends, I get quite a bit of online backlash. In real life less so, but that might be because I don't have as many friends in my new location yet.

  8. lol love the analogy. Kudos for doing some soul searching. Sorry no time for more thoughts now, but you definitely gave me something to think about.

  9. trying to comment here - so if it is disjointed...

    love the post - love the comments - discussion is what makes for compost for new thoughts to germinate.

    I had no clue cherries existed. I'll leave the analogy there because I don't like actual cherries and it gets silly after that.

    I had no clue I was talked into c-section and statistically I probably didn't need one any more than the next person.

    I had no clue what parenting was ABOUT until a friend (non-AP of all stances) told me if I ignore my child, they will not trust me.

    I started waking up more after that. for 1.5 years I was totally unsupported in my decisions and then I found AP. I couldn't afford the site/mag/forums until they offered a special, another year later. So it was like having some back up out there, but something so nebulous as a website - people don't believe everything they see on the internet. (But there's a blown up well out there still gushing!)

    So my personal explosion started the week after my son was born.

    And so did all the flack that went with it.

    Finding support (you don't have to pay for) is hard. Finding friends who support you no matter what - is harder.

    My own husband can't understand why I want to get a belly chime (not that we can afford one right now!)

    Rambling, I'm sure, and hopefully it will post, and I'll try to check back...

    ...and I don't want to be anonymous here, but don't know how this thing I'm


  10. Hi Lizzie,

    thank you for your comment. It is indeed hard to find support if you have chosen a path that deviates from the mainstream, it is hard in any situation, but I believe that for you it must be a big mountain to climb some days.
    Maybe you can try to find a real community in your region?

    I hope you find some support and I hope you know you are doing a wonderful job informing yourself against the odds!
    If you ever need any iformation you can contact me here or via email mamapoekie at yahoo dot com

    Warmest Regards

  11. I find myself judging other parents into AP or not, 'good' or 'bad', as well these days. Maybe my own insecurities as to if it's right going against the mainstream means I try to justify myself by putting others down and making myself 'better' than them. (please excuse long sentence!)

  12. I for one love this article and I love the mentality behind it. Me personally, have a unique parenting style that is very "in the gray" and doesn't line up with one group or another. Even still, I have often been pushed aside by people who your referred to as "us" and it makes me feel like they only care about judging and they don't REALLY care about informing. It's encouraging to see that I'm not alone on this! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. It's a hard balance. Being objective enough so kids can decide what their own opinions and ideas are, but also explaining the importance of why some values can be seen as better than others (for example, racial and gender equality). It's like, here are brand new people coming into the world asking tons of questions why the world works the way it does, and you have to give them answers that satisfy them, but urge them to learn more for themselves too.

    1. I completely agree that when it comes to values, there is a hierarchy and we can be clear about it, but what about when it comes to the people who hold those values... I think it's pretty dangerous to live in an oppositional world, because we all know where that leads to

  14. I love how honest you are. It's so refreshing.

    I think that yes, it really is 'us vs them'. But it always cycles back where 'we' become one of 'them'. That's where the real learning begins, I think.


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