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.

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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.

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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:

  • 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. Write About Birth   writeaboutbirth

    What a great post! Raising your son compassionately is certainly the best gift you can give!

  2. Rachael   RachaelNevins

    I’m not an advocate for natural parenting, but rather for informed choices.

    Very well said, Dionna. And I must say that I’ve always been impressed at how you respond to negative comments. It’s a model I plan to follow — should the day come when I need a model to follow…. Thank you!

  3. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Thanks to everyone else I haven’t responded to individually – it really is an honor to be surrounded by this NP community!!

  4. Megan

    Thank you for your rational, compassionate example!

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