Natural Parenting: Advocacy by Example

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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.

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Even though the topic of this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting is advocacy, I bristle at the idea of being a natural parenting “advocate.”  I am an advocate by trade:  my clients pay me to be their voice, and doing so requires me to be outspoken, and to some degree, pushy.  While that approach is perfectly suited to my work, I can’t imagine taking the same approach to natural parenting.  In my opinion, pushing the tenets of natural parenting on others is in direct conflict with the underlying ideals of natural parenting.

Moreover, without the Internet, I wouldn’t have even known to use the phrase “natural parenting” to describe my approach to raising my son.  I don’t belong to any natural parenting clubs or organizations.  I don’t arrange playdates with children of other natural parenting families.  In fact, I don’t have any particular expertise in any kind of parenting – I’ve only been a mom for fifteen short and amazing months.  With that background, I would never begin to call myself a natural parenting advocate.  Yet it appears that I have become just that.

People read my blog.  They listen to what I say, and they ask me for advice on natural parenting topics.  I have an audience.  To that end, I can’t deny that I am a natural parenting advocate of sorts, simply by blogging about what I do, what I’ve learned, and why I love it.  I educate others about natural parenting by educating myself, and then leading by example through my blog, Twitter and Facebook.

For instance, when I purchased my son’s first amber necklace, I did it with little research.  I thought amber necklaces were cute and felt that when the time came for him to teethe, anything that could help would be a blessing.  As he began showing the usual preliminary signs of teething – congestion, red cheeks, excessive drool – I put his necklace on him, and he had none of the fussiness or upset that my friends’ babies experienced.  I doubted that I had a particularly tough three month old – I chalked his ease with teething up to the amber necklace.  I did more research, I blogged about it, I tweeted profusely, and before long people began asking me about amber: where to buy it, what to look for in a good necklace, and so much more that I was inspired to write an amber necklace FAQ.  I would say that’s natural parenting advocacy.

That’s not to say that I always succeed.  While I feel strongly about the tenets of natural parenting, I will be the first to admit that I failed at breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is such an undeniably important piece of the mother-child bond, and I simply couldn’t do it.  I still carry the heavy burden of that guilt. Even though I did so many things wrong, I blogged about my breastfeeding journey:  I discussed my struggle, I described the measures I took to try to restore my milk supply, and after I had stopped breastfeeding I analyzed where I went wrong and what I would do differently. Even though my experience was far from a “success story,” I know that by sharing my experience I was telling other women who are facing the same struggle that they aren’t alone.  Huge lessons can be learned from failure, and I advocate by exposing my failures.

By working through my struggles and my successes in the public forum of my blog, I have become a natural parenting ambassador of sorts (isn’t that a much friendlier word than advocate?).  As I learn more about what it means to naturally parent, I use my blog, Facebook and Twitter to share what I learn and in turn I hope that I inspire others.  I can’t imagine a more gentle approach to sharing something I love, and for me, that type of “advocacy” fits perfectly with the natural parenting tenets that I hold so dear.

My two favorite people, perfecting their "hi-five."

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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:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • 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.
  • — 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.
  • The quiet advocate — 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 — Excellent resources – thank you for giving me a new article from Natural Child Project, I love that site!!
  • 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, buy 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.

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13 Comments

Filed under Natural Parenting

13 Responses to Natural Parenting: Advocacy by Example

  1. Mrs Green @ littlegr

    Well amen to that. I particularly loved this line "pushing the tenets of natural parenting on others is in direct conflict with the underlying ideals of natural parenting." I totally get that and it resonates deeply.

    Also, I'm so sorry you still feel guilt about your breastfeeding experience. I'm wondering if carrying guilt might be in conflict with the underlying ideals of natural parenting too? Could you reframe the whole experience for yourself as you would for someone you loved who still felt guilt at something?
    Mrs Green @ littlegr recently posted..Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting

  2. Dionna @ Code Name:

    I hope that your opinion will be changed about the word "advocate" after this Carnival ;) When I wrote the topic, I really hoped that some writers would write about their quiet, compassionate advocacy – just to demonstrate that not all lactivists/intactivists/etc'ists aren't the pushy, opinionated, critical people that the vocal minority has painted us into :) And I'm so sorry that you are still struggling with your own breastfeeding journey, but you're right – revealing your own struggle will definitely help others!
    Dionna @ Code Name: recently posted..Ten Reasons I Choose to Nurse My Toddler

  3. Seonaid

    The breastfeeding stories seem to matter so much. 1/5 of all the hits on my blog, EVER, are on the one post I wrote about my breastfeeding struggles, and the need to use formula to feed all three of my children. (I had a breast reduction, so please don't consider this a new thing to worry about!)

    Keep writing. It matters!
    Seonaid recently posted..Advocacy Me

  4. Mama Mo @ Attached a

    That's an interesting point about the use of "ambassador" vs. "advocate". Is it only in the mommysphere that advocate is a dirty word?

    Thank you for sharing your perspective and your struggles. It is as important to read about the failures with a dose of introspection as it is to hear the happy-rainbow-puppy stories of success.

    Also, it never occurred to me that just sharing information on my boys' amber necklaces counted as advocacy, but I guess it does :-)

  5. Terri

    I too love the Internet as a way of sharing about natural parenting :-) To me writing about these things gives more resources for others and also, I think, contributes to a far broader arena of universal consciousness. Even in the ideas we think about, we are advocating in the grander scheme of things! I don't see that you failed at anything, everything is a learning journey and happens for a reason so be kind to yourself on that one! Onelove
    Terri recently posted..Our Homemade Activities- Games and Crafts for a Home-schooled Pre-schooler!

  6. Caela

    I love hearing you work through your thoughts on this. It's amazing how uncomfortable we can all be with labels….and how we often just fall into them unknowingly. I appreciate your willingness to just live your life, tell others about it, and let them borrow and learn what they will. It's a very gentle form of advocacy (even if you didn't mean to be an advocate!)

  7. Ana @Pandamoly

    I do like the descriptor "ambassador," although I sometimes think of "advocate" as a mild term that I think is often used synonymously with "activist." Grammar and word preferences aside… : )

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I think the best way to advocate or ambass (? what is ambassador's corresponding verb?) is to just do it. Hit the points you can or wish to. It's great that you're sharing everything. My blog is still in it's infancy, but I started it 1) to record things I need to remember and organize my pictures and 2) to become part of a community of like-minded individuals so I know that I'm not alone and that they know that they aren't either in daily trials and tribulations. I think we all go through our struggles and feel so alone sometimes. It's always good to know we're not alone and there's a community willing to help. I think that's such a large part of Natural Parenting that sometimes gets overlooked – The Community.

    Thank you for being a NP Ambassador : )
    Ana @Pandamoly recently posted..The Three Rs of Effective and Gentle Advocacy

  8. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ

    Great CarNatPar post! I clicked over and read your breastfeeding journey. It is truly heart-wrenching and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your struggles and triumphs. Breastfeeding is definitely one of those topics that gets people polarized and judg-y. It is important that we honor the stories, the individual, and hold the space for them. If we all did this, we would be able to move through, what you've done to radical acceptance and advocacy from a place of peace.
    Zoie @ TouchstoneZ recently posted..A Letter to Those Parents

  9. Jessica | Cloth Diap

    I feel the same way with failure in one certain area. Both of my sons are circumsized. I deeply regret it and actually grieve that I allowed my children to be altered at birth…in a way it helps me stay strong and focus on doing the best I can for them.

    Great Post! I love your blog ;)
    Jessica | Cloth Diap recently posted..Natural love creates natural happiness

  10. Wolfmother

    "Huge lessons can be learned from failure, and I advocate by exposing my failures." This resonates with me especially. It takes a lot of courage to accept personal mistakes and seek to grow from them. It is even more admirable being willing to share those experiences with others so that they may benefit from it as well.
    Wolfmother recently posted..Not So Crunchy After All

  11. Erica @ ChildOrganic

    I enjoyed your post. Kudos to you for so openly sharing your struggles with breastfeeding. Often in the natural parenting community it's easy to feel judged for not doing things a certain way. I think by taking a stand to be open and honest about our choices and deciding to do better when we know better can really make a difference. It can also stop people from feeling judged. thanks!

  12. Kelly

    I hope this isn't too forward, but can I just say I love you after reading this post?? :)

    I am truly sorry that you weren't able to make breastfeeding work, but it is so sincerely helpful to me to find another 'natural' parent in my boat (though to my shame I didn't try as hard at breastfeeding as you did!). I too have analyzed and blogged about where I went wrong, and hope to do better the next time…but I am so thankful that you shared.

    This is exactly the kind of advocacy that is working! Thank you for being one of the ones (among many in this month's carnival :) ) who are doing it right.
    Kelly recently posted..One of Those Days…

  13. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    That is a fabulous picture!

    I love your two examples of sharing natural parenting: your organic enthusiasm over something that worked well for you, and your willingness to admit to failure (not that I think you need to feel guilty — you had a lot of booby traps in your way). I feel much the same about my first birth and breastfeeding experiences — that they're not the ideal, but even talking about how they're not is a form of advocacy for the values that truly resonate with me.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..Hobo Mama Giveaway- 3 parenting poetry books 2 winners! 12-26 430 Worldwide

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