Google+ Authentic Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Compassionate Advocacy

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
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 shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Authentic Parenting is all about parenting consciously, being aware and making informed choices. It is not about achieving perfection, it is about the journey. A journey of awareness and spiritual awakening.
If you embark on this journey, you will find yourself reading a lot, learning lots, and constantly changing and tweaking and reviving yourself, your habits and ultimately your family and its dynamics. Along the way you gather quite some topics you are passionate about. You have spent so much time reading and learning that there are many subjects you have become knowledgeable in. It is only natural to want to share this knowledge. But how?

When you see others struggle with their children, their family and their home, you feel like you should say something. If you see friends make decisions without being informed, you want to shout it out.

Yet responding to more mainstream parents can prove difficult. It is one thing to be loud mouthed on the internet, where the audience is already seeking for the kind of mindset you have, real life advocacy, with people you see every day, who don't necessarily share your opinions, this can be very tricky.
You don't want to step on toes, you don't want to make the people in your environment feel miserable or shun you...
Sometimes people come for advice and then they're angry when you give them your alternative views.
Real life advocacy is very hard indeed.

Before I started this blog, I was very head on when it comes to advocacy. I would see the way I do things, the things I was passionate about as such a great way that I couldn't understand how people could make such ignorant choices, how so many hold such crazy ideas and don't bother to change them, no matter how much information they receive.
Writing this blog has made me eat numerous slices of humble pie and I have come to see it through different eyes. It is simply not so black and white. There are many many reasons why some people choose a path you cannot believe in, and mostly, it is not their fault. It takes a lot of awakening to be an attached parent.

This is how I handle things:
First of all, you have to be very attuned to the people you are with, give them the same courtesy you give your child, listen to them, feel them. You will notice that some people who are actively seeking advice really want confirmation instead. If you tell them something that completely goes against everything they believe in, you probably get the door slammed on your nose. In these situations, listen. You might steer them to seek out information for themselves, maybe point them to a site or article.
If you feel that the person you are talking to is genuinely interested in what you have to say, have the conversation, but accept that your views aren't and shouldn't be everyone's views. Accept that you are at a different point in your journey than they are. Don't judge them for it. There is no bad or good, it just is. Don't categorize people as good and bad parents, and anything in between. People just live in different stages of awareness.
A general rule is to never tell someone what they should do. You wouldn't want someone to do that to you either. Present your views, if they are interested, as just that: your views. Explain them if necessary. Never impose.

In real life, I think that the proverb "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" truly applies. Maybe one day you have a conversation with someone that gets them thinking, and sets the journey into motion, but you won't achieve that by yelling at them, calling them ignorant and feeling superior. Remember that you are just on a journey, and it hasn't ended either, so there are other people farther down the road than you are.

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:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don't share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don't parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That's The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she's learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the "good news" of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people's children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter's senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the "great divide" through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R's of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how "The Three R's" can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she's been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she's doing — and it's a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on "holistic" — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We're great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by "just doing her thing," she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I'm not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don't tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.



  1. very well said. there is too much nastiness in advocacy at times.

  2. This links in well with what I am saying over at Dreaming Aloud, about having strong views... and not wanting to step on toes. It is a tricky path - and important to acknowledge that none of us have the answers, especially not a universal answer.

  3. Great way of looking at it! Very true!
    I just said in a post on CodeNameMama that I am doing things totally different 15 years apart. Simply because I have other information at my fingertips! I am forgiving myself, constantly (because I tend to feel guilty), at how I parented then...

  4. I think one thing I have learned through blogging is to try to write and respond to people as if they were friends sitting next to you. It really helps me temper my voice and speak from the heart, instead of speaking from my own enthusiasm (which isn't often as gentle). I also love your suggestion to treat people like you would your own child - excellent way to ensure that you are being gentle and considerate.

  5. Good advice, especially the caution against being judgmental. We never know what another person is experiencing in her life!

  6. Wondering if you really meant "Don't categorize people as **god** and bad parents" :)

  7. Amen! This is exactly how I feel about vocal advocacy for peaceful parenting. And it's always helpful to remember that our style of parenting is not about perfection, but about the journey. Respecting ourselves and our children in order that we give them the best start is something we do everyday . . . but that's not to say that we don't slip up sometimes, or use parenting techniques differently than others. It's an evolving journey and different for each family. I love your perspective. Thanks!

  8. I really appreciate hearing your own journey, because it sounds similar to mine. It does help to have some of those in-person encounters to remind you to be compassionate and not so acerbic. Thanks for these practical tips to follow when advocating.

  9. I like this take on the whole situation. Life is about awareness, and awareness is infinite and constantly developing. It's best for us as individuals to remain receptive and to do our best to share with other receptive individuals (and maybe help try to help others become more receptive and aware).

  10. That is adorable. Excited to read more stories from this move.

  11. Great CarNatPar post! I like your point that some people who are actively seeking advice really want confirmation instead. I often find that simply holding the space for their words with them helps open up dialogue-whatever that dialogue ends up being is important to them. And judging or labeling, like you mention, is best withheld. We are all in this together and we never know someone else' true heart no matter how we try

  12. This is so awesome - I love how you address compassionate advocacy within real life - I agree that it is much more difficult! Great points. :)

  13. @Heather: I seem to make really cool typo's all the time!
    I didn't get to correct it as I was locked away from the world from the time I arrived at our new place here in DRC
    Hope internet stays alive now


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