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Sunday, March 23, 2014

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Be a Mom Advocate

One of the most challenging – and unintended – results of any parenting choice comes when others view your choices as a judgment of theirs.

Disposable diapers worked well on my babies. Why add more laundry to your life?

We used traditional baby shampoos and our kids all have perfectly fine skin.

You bought a $130 Baby Carrier? Won’t that be hard on your back? Our children enjoyed seeing the world from a stroller.

While it can be difficult not to respond defensively and you might even have strong opinions about chemicals, proper bonding, and more, parenting choices don’t have to divide friends. I find these situations can be easily diffused by focusing on why these choices are right for your family.

Disposable diapers are a practical choice for many families. While the extra laundry adds to my week a bit, we find that it is a great costs-savings solution for our family.

My mom used those shampoos, too. After looking at different options, I loved how coconut oil naturally hydrates skin, plus these products help me support two local businesses – the manufacturer and retailer!
Strollers can be very convenient and we use one sometimes as well. The carrier is a great investment for us! It is comfortable, convenient, and my baby loves it! Isn’t it great that we have so many choices?

I think we sometimes confuse advocacy with agitating, converting, and even bullying. Advocacy is primarily about living a lifestyle you believe in. When I step into my shoes as an advocate, it’s about promoting something positive. I am looking to represent something I believe in through my actions, words, and lifestyle.
While I recognize that some of my parenting choices are made based on beliefs about safety and health, I think it’s important to recognize that others might make a different educated decision based on their research and experiences. I might believe breast is best or dislike the environmental impacts of disposable diapers, but denigrating formula or disposables only puts others on the defensive.

I love cloth diapers because of what they do offer for my family – cost savings, comfort, sensitive skin solutions, chemical free or low chemical fabric options, and environmental considerations that are important to us. All of these positives are enough without attacking disposables.

I love babywearing because it offers a practical way for me to keep my baby close while remaining active throughout my day. I enjoy having my child in a wrap or carrier and find the experience comfortable for both me and my baby. Does this mean I never use strollers or think they are bad? Of course not.

When I see advocacy turn to disparaging other’s choices or even bullying, this always make me sad for everyone involved. Something good isn’t improved by tearing down its alternatives. Posting fun pictures of my children in cloth is enough to pique the curiosity of others – no need to link to hazardous ingredient lists every time a friend posts a great sale on disposables. The surest and quickest way to turn people off from something is to denigrate their choices (even if you are not trying to disparage them personally).

I am blessed to know so many terrific moms, on and off line, who make a variety of parenting choices. The ones I admire the most know how to positively represent their own choices without tearing down others. They know when to pass by a thread that could be contentious. They know that their choices will be misunderstood at times and that’s okay. They are open to suggestion and alternative solutions. They are advocates whose aim is not to convert every mother to their way of thinking, but to advocate for moms to make confident, informed decisions in a positive, supportive environment.

Bio: About Mindy Farmer, The Inquisitive Mom: I'm a gal from the Pacific Northwest, living in the Midwest, mom of 3, writer, optimist, striving to be eco-conscious and hoping to defy stereotypes. Visit me on my blog The Inquisitive Mom and you'll find musings on motherhood and life, mixed with enthusiastic cloth diaper posts, eco-friendly living ideas, as well as reviews and giveaways.

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