Everyday Superheroes

April 12th, 2011 by Dionna | 45 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Circumcision/Intactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family

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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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Recently a puppy wandered into our yard. Kieran was the first one to notice, and when he did see the puppy he started yelling, “papa! papa! We need to help that puppy!”

Tom looked for a tag. He told Kieran that the puppy lives in our neighborhood, and he asked Kieran to go inside and find me to help.

2011-02-23 04

Kieran came tearing inside and said, “mama! We found a puppy in our yard and you need to help me get it home. Mama, we are going to be superheroes!

We took the puppy down the street, and a little girl inside the house came running outside before we’d even knocked. She was so happy, it really did make Kieran feel like a superhero.

And it didn’t take much effort on Kieran’s part. He saw something in need, and he acted compassionately.

It’s a strange analogy to compassionate advocacy, but it illustrates the point I want to make.

I write many of these posts because I know that there are parents out there who need the support that they do not have in their real world settings, who have never heard of alternatives to mainstream practices, or who are looking for further research.

I write because I want to help.

Have I been the perfect advocate? Of course not. Writing about breastfeeding, keeping our sons intact, and gentle discipline (among other things) has involved a learning curve. Many of our Carnival writers this month have written eloquently about very important things all advocates should keep in mind when trying to reach out to others (check out the full list of posts below!). I am still learning to always respond from a place of love, to remember to put myself in the shoes of other parents, to make sure that I write in a way that accepts people wherever they are.

In my advocacy efforts on Code Name: Mama, the one important factor that I try to keep in mind is to write and respond to comments with respect and kindness. One of the most discouraging things to me as an online advocate is seeing comment threads devolve into name-calling, judgment, and criticism. Any advocate who resorts to blame and shame to advance her cause is simply not going to reach the hearts and minds of the people she is trying to reach.

I cannot tell you how many people have written to me to express their gratitude (or surprise) at the way I handle rude comments on Code Name: Mama and Natural Parents Network. I’ll share my secrets now, in case anyone else is wondering.

1. I am not afraid to edit or delete comments: Depending on the level of snark, hate, or misinformation in a comment, I will edit or delete. In accordance with my comment policy (which I cite quite frequently), I encourage mature, thoughtful debate; that does not include profanity, personal attacks, or hostility disguised by sarcasm. Adhering to my comment policy means that I will keep the portions of comments that have gripes, share personal bad experiences, call into question statistics or other things I discuss, etc. I edit/delete anything that is not a valid question or other personal experience. Yes, I let angry comments through. I also let comments through that disagree with everything I’ve written. But I do expect that they are adding something to the conversation – no one is allowed to comment simply to spew hate.

2. I try not to take anything personally: Part of advocacy is to put yourself in another person’s shoes, or at least to realize that they have had a different journey, had access to different information, and will make different decision than you do. So I take those things into account when I read a scathing comment. That person isn’t necessarily mad at me, they are venting because of their own history and perceptions. It is better for me to respond using nonviolent communication principles – to try to communicate and connect rather than react or judge.

3. I remember that I may not connect with this person, but I may connect with the next one: I never leave negative comments unanswered. Why? Well, maybe the original commenter will never read or reply, but the next reader might read the thread and be touched by a gentle response. This is also the reason I try not to click “submit” until I know that I’m not responding from a place of anger or criticism.

4. It’s not my way or the highway: While my family practices many aspects of natural parenting, it is not my intention to assert that every family should live just like mine. I’m not an advocate for natural parenting, but rather for informed choices. Many times I have happily agreed to disagree with someone, simply because what works for us may not work in another person’s situation. Admittedly, I do consider myself more of an advocate against both circumcision and corporal punishment, but those choices affect children’s bodily integrity. I do recognize, however, that in our (fading) pro-circ and pro-spanking culture, it is still possible for parents to read information that make circumcision and corporal punishment seem like valid choices. At these times, I still make every effort to respect parents who have made informed choices that are different from the ones I’ve made.

To get back to my analogy of Kieran and the puppy, he didn’t need to use judgment or criticism when he returned the puppy. He didn’t need to say to the little girl, “why didn’t you take more care to secure this puppy in your yard?! You are a bad pet owner!”

Similarly, as an advocate for natural parenting principles, I try to never use judgment or blame when trying to connect with others. And I am so proud to be part of a community of bloggers that is constantly conscious of compassionate advocacy.

With each gentle interaction, each thoughtful post, each day you live authentically, you are making an impact. Your gentle words, your loving embrace of parents from all walks of life, your compassion in sharing information – these things make you superheroes.

***

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.

45 Responses to:
"Everyday Superheroes"

  1. Melissa @ The New Mommy Files   vibreantwanderer

    Thank you for sharing this, Dionna. I have a hard time deciding how to respond to negative comments myself, but the way you go about it makes perfect sense. You and Kieran really are superheroes ;)

  2. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    What a beautiful post! I think the most “natural parents” start on a journey coming from an own history where natural parenting are not the norm, and live each day more into being more “natural parent” than before.
    I am parenting 15 years apart, and I am doing it totally different this time around! I also try to be forgiving towards myself for the way I parented before, because at that stage it was the only way I knew to do it… We have so much more information at our fingertips than 18 years ago!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      So true – I’m only 3.5 yrs in, and I’m different than I was at the beginning!! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. MJ

    Great post! I am grateful for advocates like you that inspire and model. I think the best advocates are the ones that make the best use of their mistakes and triumphs using authenticity and hope. All that you have listed are things that I can learn from, and I look forward to reading the other submissions today!!

  4. Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com   littlegreenblog

    The story of Kieran and the lost puppy is such a wonderful example of compassionate advocacy; thanks for sharing your lovely story and I particularly love point number 2 – never to take things personally; that’s something I need to remember – a LOT!

  5. Dionna, you have got to be one of the most peaceful, intelligent people I know. I try to be kind as well. Honestly, when I see reminders on NPN on FB to comment with respect, I’m nearly offended at the reminder. But then I see that some people DO need the reminder.

    I agree we have to remember it isn’t my way or the highway. We may not know the reasons (or research) behind another family’s choices, but they do have reasons. It can be so hard, especially when it comes to corporal punishment. I tend to just avoid those people (in person). I don’t even want my children to know such behavior exists. I don’t want them to fear that I could ever do such a thing. Wow, do I sound judgmental? or just protective? Maybe that is why I don’t advocate on this topic… I, personally, can’t be so peaceful about it.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you so much Jorje – that means a lot :) And you’re right, it is very hard to be peaceful about hitting children, but we have to remember how “normal” it seems for so much of our country. We need to change hearts and minds!

  6. Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama   clothmamajess

    Leave it to a natural parent to give your son such honor as you have, by letting his honest compassion lead you through advocacy. Very simple and kind. He’s following in your footsteps already!

  7. Kelly   BecomingCrunchy

    Thank you so much for this Dionna – if you don’t already know it, your compassionate heart shines through in everything that you are doing – I think it is truly what has drawn me and so many others to you. :)

    In regards to your #3 – I don’t know how many times I’ve written a scathing reply to something just to get my venting out, then dramatically altered it before actually hitting the submit button. :) Always wise to give yourself a bit of extra time before an immediate response! Now if only I could learn to start doing that when it comes to real life arguments with the hubby! ;)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Kelly!! And I do the SAME thing (and I wish the same thing WRT my hubby – ha!). Sometimes getting those angry words out is just the catharsis needed to write from a better place.

  8. Instead of writing this post, you probably could have just shown a picture of an arrow pointing to your blog. But I like the post anyway. :)

  9. Kristen @ Adventures in Mommyhood   crunchymamato2

    I love the story about Kieran and the puppy, especially how you point out he didn’t say anything to the girl about not taking better care of the puppy.

  10. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    I love Kieran’s kindness!

    You’ve been such a helpful role model for compassionate advocacy, Dionna. I especially appreciate this advice: “It is better for me to respond using nonviolent communication principles – to try to communicate and connect rather than react or judge.” I love this and will be keeping it in mind!

  11. You’re totally a superhero. You have taught me to be a gentler parent and I’m so glad.

  12. Olivia   OliviaStreaterL

    Dionna, you’re being modest! I am sure being able to reflect online helps (easier when writing than speaking). But is also because you are clearly an intelligent woman! The way you reply gently and inclusively shows that.

    Your post is very timely for me actually, I just finished reading Marshal Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication – a Language for (or is it of?) Life. WHAT a radical and brilliant book.

    We are ALL capable of making judgments and maybe especially so as parents. It is ugly sometimes to read the subtle or not so subtle ways we often try and position ourselves as somehow “better” than others. We stop listening. Especially in debates on issues like CP.

    Actually it makes me want to go back and talk again to all those police officers I used to work with (in my old life I campaigned against things like extrajudicial killings by police officers in various places but the “dialogues” we had with police and politicians after our reports were published were rarely that.. more often total defensiveness and attack.

    Anyway – it is the same with parenting. And with anything, actually…

    The ideas of choosing “life-enhancing” ways to communicate, empathising, looking to connect, seeing and querying the need underlying what someone is saying (reading his list of all our “needs”), choosing not to blame or take comments personally (a big one for me – tendency to feel humiliated/hurt/angered fairly ingrained in brain….)… it is just radical stuff. Balancing our needs and those of others together in a win-win way and hearing each other. Love it! And love making the connections between parenting and relationships on a wider or more political scale…

    Peace!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Olivia – I LOVE that book. Wouldn’t the world be a much different place if that were taught to every single child?! I can’t even imagine the possibilities!

      • Olivia   OliviaStreaterL

        Oh yes! Not to mention to every politician. We’d have to reform the entire criminal justice system, not just have a few programmes on restorative justice here and there…

  13. Shannon R   The_ArtsyMama

    Really awesome post! To me a superhero is someone who exists outside of the typical human norm of judgment, one-ups-manship and condescension – I feel you have all those qualities. You have provided me with a model for how I want to conduct myself and an opportunity to interact with more people then I ever would on my own. I think in that small analogy of how Kieran handled that situation speaks volumes about how you are as a parent and role model. Thank you so much for doing what you do every day.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you so much Shannon – and I have to admit, Kieran might be just as much of a role model to me as I am to him!

  14. I love that you post your “method” for handling tough situations with compassion, because I often wonder how bloggers with a level of notoriety can still manage to be respectful among all of the garbage that sometimes gets thrown at them. I’m glad to see that one of these bloggers is a think-before-I-post kinda mama! ;) I also love this part: “I’m not an advocate for natural parenting, but rather for informed choices.” SO true and well said!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I had one of those nasty comments today that was put promptly in the trash. Just not worth the time and energy spent fighting a closed mind sometimes.

  15. the grumbles   thegrumbles

    bless your nasty-comment trash policy. Dionna, I can say with all honesty that you do a great job with compassionate advocacy. Informative, fair, and positive. pat on the back– you are appreciated!

  16. Beautiful post, Dionna! You’re such a wonderful example of compassionate advocacy! I love the way you “write and respond to comments with respect and kindness.” Well thought-out, great advice on handling rude comments!

  17. Kat

    “Any advocate who resorts to blame and shame to advance her cause is simply not going to reach the hearts and minds of the people she is trying to reach.” This is so true! I see it so often online…and it’s sad because in the end that person is not realizing he/she is doing more harm than good in being so close minded or adamant about whatever particular issue is being discussed. You truly are an inspiration and you do help so many! Superhero is a good way to put it :-)

  18. I love your point about being an advocate for informed choice, not necessarily your points of view. That’s incredibly important for us “lactivists” and “intactivists” to remember. We can change minds with gentle information, but not militancy.

    Thank you for your wise words!

  19. Darcel @ The Mahogany Way   mahoganywaymama

    Ok, I love the story of Kieran. That is just so precious. He sure is a superhero. Kill them with kindness I say. Sometimes I’ll respond when I’m angry about something, but I don’t hit send. It sure does feel good to get out though!

  20. Isil   smilinglikesuns

    Great post! I am so happy to have met this beautiful community and thanks for the tips on dealing with comments.

  21. Your example of the return of the lost puppy is such a beautiful illustration of compassion – absolutely perfect.

    And this statement: “I’m not an advocate for natural parenting, but rather for informed choices.” I agree with you so much, and I love how you worded this. There is no “one size fits all” answer to parenting. What works for you or I may not work for our friends or neighbors. That doesn’t mean our friends and neighbors are wrong, it just means they have taken a different path to the same destination.

  22. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    That is such a beautiful story about the puppy, and I love the lesson you drew from it.

    I’m also appreciating hearing your take on comment policies. What stuck out to me was not leaving negative comments unanswered, as a model for whoever might come through next. The “not taking anything personally” aspect is so hard for me, but I think developing a thicker skin and a new perspective of compassion would really help me as a blogger.

    And hooray for the superheroes! I agree. :)

  23. Amy   InnateWholeness

    I love this…

    “With each gentle interaction, each thoughtful post, each day you live authentically, you are making an impact.”

    Yes. I appreciate your honesty and respect. :)

  24. Ok – first…it must be my pain meds because I SWORE it said “a poopy wandered into our yard.” I was REALLY wondering where you were headed with this. ;)

    I love this post! I love that your son has learned compassion from watching and modeling his amazing mother. I love that he did not feel the need to say anything to the little girl who lost her dog. You have a gem in your son!

    I also love all of your points about blogging. I completely relate and admire your fortitude to tackle blogging in the manner you do. You are a pillar of strength in the natural parenting blogging community. Thank you for all that you do and for compassionately advocating through all of your insightful posts!

  25. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ   TouchstoneZ

    Great post for CarNatPar. This post exemplifies how I have gotten most of my linchpins for gentle parenting and compassionate advocacy. I don’t know where I would have ended up if not for sites like yours to affirm my choices, interest me in new avenues, and teach me to question myself and my motivations deeply. Blogging advocacy for gentle parenting has changed my life so that I am more able to give and receive love. My children will grow with a different view of the world than I did because they’ll already be firmly rooted in their own self-compassion. Lurking for years online, I have been that person who reads the negative comment and your compassionate reply. It has made a difference.

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