May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model

May 11th, 2010 by Dionna | 14 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Circumcision/Intactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Eclectic Learning, Feed with Love and Respect, natural parenting

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Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

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 waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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It’s been interesting trying to solicit submissions for this month’s Carnival. Apparently, parents are afraid that being seen as a role model is equivalent to tooting their own horn – and most people are uncomfortable with the thought of bragging. What’s funny though is that we’re all bloggers, and most of us are writing about natural parenting issues. So there must be some collective hope that people will see merit in what we do and even (gasp!) be swayed by our reasoning and writing.

And really, what’s so bad about being a role model?

Why should you feel ashamed about being an instrument of change?

Think about this:

  • You may be the only mother that a teenager down the street has ever seen breastfeeding. If you spend 5 minutes in conversation with that teenager, you may change her perception of breastfeeding (and breastfeeding in public) forever. Because of that 5 minutes, you may influence that teenager to breastfeed her own child someday, or at least smile at the next breastfeeding mother she passes.
  • Your post about leaving your son intact (or your wish that you had) may be the first time that an expectant mother has ever considered that there is an alternative to circumcision. Your words may cause her to start searching for the truth. Your honesty may result in one baby boy being left whole.
  • Your gentle words of encouragement spoken to a mother who is on the fence about letting her infant cry it out may be the only voice of reason that mother hears. Your compassion may help her trust her instincts to answer her baby’s cry.

You see where I’m going. There is a lovely quote by Mahatma Ghandi about change that I have framed:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

And why did he say that? Because he knew that each one of us is capable of being a role model for someone else.

So it is with great joy that I share with you a few people who I have inspired in my walk as a parent:

  • My biggest joy is my sister, Shawna. From the strength and grace of her natural birth, to her fierce need to protect her son by keeping him intact, to her commitment to breastfeeding and responding to her baby’s needs, she has embraced so many aspects of natural parenting. It’s funny – before she had her son, she tended to question the choices Tom and I made. But once she found out she was pregnant and then held that baby in her arms, her questions led her to understand why we choose to parent naturally and respectfully. Of course I accept her decisions to parent differently, but it warms my heart to have this connection with her. And what’s more? She is now a proud intactivist and lactivist. She has already inspired others!
  • Two of my closest friends, Melody & Jenny, I met through my local AP group. I have discussed with each of them how much we mutually inspire each other. My friend Melody is one of the most patient, loving mothers I’ve ever encountered. Her gentleness and love make me want to hug her every time I see her – and Kieran actually does! He loves her; she is one of his favorite people. My friend Jenny is perpetually cheerful and upbeat. I have never once seen her speak a word in anger to her daughter, and I know that she envelopes my son with the same positive energy. And me? They’ve shared with me that they admire my passion for parenting issues, my love of learning alongside Kieran (by planning activities and being involved), and my patience with him. Our friendships are firmly based on mutual respect, and it is amazing to have such wonderful mamas in my life.
  • I started Code Name: Mama in late September 2009. In the past 7.5 months of blogging about natural parenting issues, I have had dozens of comments and emails letting me know that something I wrote touched or educated the writer. Once someone appreciated a reminder to be gentle with their toddler. Several people have been grateful for my posts that advocate for the normalization of breastfeeding. A few times, I’ve received emails from mothers who have read a post I’ve written about circumcision and have decided to leave their sons intact. And all it took was a few hours of my life.

So, my dear fellow natural parents, smile – your daily life is touching someone, somewhere. But most importantly? You are inspiring your child to treat others with compassion and respect: both people in their daily lives and, someday, their own children.

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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:

14 Responses to:
"May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model"

  1. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    One of my favorite comments ever on my blog (but I couldn’t figure out a way to sneak it into my post, lol) was from a woman who read a post about circumcision and said she’d never thought about the issue before and was now committed to keeping her son intact. I was bowled over. It can sometimes seem like you’re blogging into thin air, but it can take just one article you wrote to change someone’s life (and a baby’s life!) for the better. It’s actually made me more aware of how I write, knowing that I might be inspiring someone. It makes me want to be more respectful and sympathetic to that unseen audience.

    In other news: You are such a knock-out inspiration to me. Your blog is a treasure trove of insightful research and encouragement to parent in a respectful way. And I love working with you on these Carnivals! Thanks!

  2. Mrs Green @ my zero waste   littlegreenblog

    Gorgeous post; it made me smile and feel proud for what we are all doing. You are so right; we never know when we are going to touch someone or plant a seed that flourishes into something beautiful. YOu have some amazing people in your life who have inspired you too – love it how these things encircle the Universe…

  3. Deb Chitwood   DebChitwood

    I absolutely love that quote by Ghandi! I think we all find it hard to write about how we inspire others, yet inspiring others easily happens with practices that make sense. Thanks for your insightful words and all you do to encourage natural parenting!

  4. Joni Rae   kitchenwitch

    It is so true- I had SUCH a struggle with this topic- I even just wrote to starrymom about being seen as “tooting my own horn” … LOL.

    Great blog post- and how awesome you are to have this amazing blog in less than a year!

    <3

  5. the Grumbles   thegrumbles

    i feel like you wrote this just to me :)

    though obviously, i know you didn’t.

    it’s so easy to forget that what we’re doing can have a bigger impact on people when sometimes it feels like you’re just shouting words out into space. but people are listening. and even if it just gets the wheels turning, it can make a difference.

  6. Jessica - This is Worthwhile   tisworthwhile

    I feel just like you do about your sister! My little sister always told me she was proud of the mama I was, but I don’t think she ever considered my methods for herself… until, that is, she held her own wee one in her arms. She even decided to give her son our maiden name as a second middle name (just like I did) at some point during her 72 hour labor (yep – SEVENTY-TWO hours!).

    I’m so happy that she’s breastfeeding, being gentle/natural with him, and wearing him everywhere. It’s definitely one more bond between us and makes me dig deeper to continue to set a good parenting example.

  7. Marilyn   ALotofLoves

    I will admit that your theme this month threw me for a loop. I just couldn’t think of who I inspired. It’s possible there’s someone but I can’t imagine who. I’ve read many of the submissions though and they’ve inspired me.

  8. I thought about using that quote in my post too. And you are right too – we are all blogging in the hopes someone will learn something. For me that is mostly my in-laws – blogging my beliefs and research makes sure they never give me a hard time about my choices – they know I’ve thought it out way too much to go up against me!

    I am continually inspired by your blog. Your posts on gentle discipline take a perspective that really make people think. I’m so glad we are virtual blog friends!

  9. Michelle   seekingmother

    Thank you for encouraging all of us to recognize how we may be influencing mothers and mothers-to-be and appreciate what value this does have whether it is from our actions or written words. It is difficult to imagine yourself in the position of impacting people but you’re right, we have created blogs in the hopes of them being read and having an impact on at least one another person. Your blog is a treasure and you definitely have made me consider and reconsider many things. A tough but definitely worthwhile topic this month.

  10. Your posts about life with a toddler make me excited about the days ahead when my little one is a toddler. I’m grateful that you choose to share tips and resources that can aid us in the natural parenting path beyond the infant stage.

  11. Sarah @ OneStarryNight   onestarrynight

    LOVE your post. It’s so true, I’ve said it elsewhere and I will repeat it here, we so often believe we have to do something HUGE to make an impact when so much of the time it’s the little things that bring about the biggest change.

    Adore you!

  12. Amber   AmberStrocel

    It inspires ME to know that just by being the mom I am, every day, and talking about that, I am sowing seeds of change. You never know how your words or actions will be viewed by others. You may never know who looks up to you as a parenting role model. But it’s heartening to know that the possibility is always there. Perhaps even the probability, in fact.

  13. When reading your post (and several others in this month’s carnival) I realize I took an incredibly narrow interpretation of “role model”. I interpreted it to mean a person in real life that I am close to, with whom I might share a sort of mentoring relationship. It didn’t dawn on me that blogging is a way of being a role model to people never met before. Thanks for helping to open my viewpoint.

  14. You know, I had no idea that you’ve been blogging for less than a year. I feel as though I’ve heard your name so often, you’ve been sharing for much longer! Your words do truly inspire and they’ve led me to think about different parts of my daughter’s growth. I’m glad I have your blog to read.

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