Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social Media

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions with Other Parents

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 focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.



Hannabert was being somewhat dramatic - he was jumping up and down and happily chatting just a few minutes before and was upset that I didn't pick him up as quickly as he wanted.

I am a lawyer and, like many other lawyers, I am quick to look at a situation, assess it, reach a conclusion, and give my opinion. Since becoming a parent, I have realized that this trait isn't always favored.

For instance, I had posted, like many other parents, on the topic of "cry it out" and the potential, longterm dangers of this particular sleep "training." My comments regarding the article (that Horn is more comfortable with this style than am I and how our family would not be doing this) led to some hurt feelings. Others commented on the topic with the majority of people saying it wasn't right for their families. A few people made some judgment calls - those that use CIO are cruel (actually the FIRST comment and from a well trusted, well educated, very knowledgeable individual).

Horn almost immediately came to me to express how upset he was and how he feeling attacked and that HE was being called cruel.  To be perfectly honest, I didn't see it that way and thought that perhaps he was being a bit sensitive about the situation.  Thinking about it, I guess I can see why he would feel that he was attacked as his name was mentioned in the post (yes, I have apologized to my dear husband and in fact, the line of posts has actually been removed).

What I really didn't understand was when a person posted that their family had used versions of CIO with each of their children and that she didn't feel that her children were worse for wear because of it.  I acknowledged her statement and said that many people felt that it was a good thing for their families.  Now, she was posting well after the original post of CIO parents being cruel.  The whole line of conversations was there.  The comment didn't come after her post, no posts were really directed to her.  No one called her out by name to criticize her use of CIO.  Yet, she confided to another that she felt "attacked" by the comments!  The comments were already there, present, bold, and in all their glory PRIOR to her commenting.

My initial reaction was extreme irritation and frustration - mostly directed at the fact she didn't tell me directly but let the game of "telephone" slowly bring her feelings to my attention.  My next reaction was one of feeling isolated, closed off.  Yes, isolated.

In this modern world where you can't help but to be friends with family members and co-workers, I feel like I don't have an avenue to explore who I am as a new mother and who we (Horn is included on this) we want to be as parents and what our family values will be.  Should I not post interesting/controversial parenting topics on Facebook, Twitter, or the ever popular Babycenter for fear of offending someone?  Do I post the article and say "Discuss but don't respond"?  Do I say that I don't care if other people's feelings are hurt and I don't care if loved ones are upset by the responses?  Do I start each posting with the phrase "The views and commentaries belong solely to the poster and are not a reflection of this medium any other poster and are in no way intended be to a judgment on any one person's particular belief system"?

I think one of the problems is that I am friends with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter so I always run the risk of making someone I care about upset because my views and values are different from theirs.  I know that the choices my parents made when raising my siblings and me might be different than what I do and if I say that I would never do X and they did X, I can expect a comment from my mom expressing how I turned out just fine despite her doing X.  In my husband's case, his dad is a ob and Horn is worried that I might express disagreement with things his parents did that might reflect negatively on his dad (a great OB by the way - definitely calm under pressure). I struggle with feeling the freedom to comment and share things that are important to me while balancing the fear of making my parents or Horn’s family upset or concerned (I STILL get calls from my mom with suggestions that I think twice before posting something or she will preface a conversation with "don't put this on Facebook;" I swear I have more tact that I did when I was 10).

Going forward, I have decided on using the following phrases/comment:  This is what I/we do as a family...; I don't know too much about X, why don't you tell me more?; Interesting...;Thanks for that advice....; I know that choices/decisions we are making aren't for everyone, but they are working for Hannabert...

This might not give me the opportunity to educate others but it will definitely help me develop patience and a bit of understanding and it could provide room for me to educate others on why we do what we do in OUR family.  

One thing is for sure, I definitely won't be posting about the dangers of "undercare" anytime soon.


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 February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.


  1. I'm sorry you've had negative reactions to expressing your views and parenting style from friends and family in the past. It sounds like you have a great strategy going forward, and I hope it continues to work well for you!

  2. Heh ~ my mother does the exact same thing re facebook. When she told me my sis-in-law was pregnant she followed it up with 'mind, don't go putting it on facebook because she hasn't told her work yet'. Just how idiotic would I have to be to do that?!
    I found myself nodding throughout a lot of this post. On my personal facebook page I once linked to an article which was pro-breastfeeding, pro-cosleeping, very pro-AP despite being in a fairly right-wing newspaper, with a note about how refreshing it was to read this in the mainstream media. Oh, the fall-out! I got angry responses even from people who didn't have any children, let alone those with kids who did things differently. I was upset for days and didn't understand how I'd riled people quite so much.
    So yes, I get exactly where you're coming from. I tend to keep it zipped now, but it's a shame to feel that I can't speak my mind :-(

    1. Oh, that makes me so happy to know that I am not the only one who gets such helpful hints from my mom. I think having family and acquaintances as friends online is a double edged sword - you want to be able to share your thoughts at the same time you don't necessary want them to attack your choices or feel like you are attacking the choices they made.

  3. This is why I've never written a CIO post. We did elimination communication with our son, and I used to write about it a lot, and I would say things like "babies prefer not to soil themselves" and apparently it offended some people. I guess because I had a "my way is the best way" tone, which is sometimes hard not to have when you truly believe something is the best overall method. It's an acquired skill to be able to write in a truly non-offensive way, and it comes from being very humble. I wish I could have written some posts differently, but I did learn a lot from the reactions I've gotten.

    Like you, I also wish that people would speak up when they are hurt. I once had a friend email me to tell me my words hurt and that some other friend's were hurt, too (they never spoke up about it so I might never have known!). I've since learned more tact and sensitivity when I write, and I won't write something if I can't do it right. I'd rather not write about it than make people mad and turn them against natural parenting.

    1. I have a hard time balancing tact and opinion. I think it is even harder in electronic medium because tone can't be determined. Sometimes I think that I should use italicized stage directions as to better convey tone...

  4. Ah, and this is why I keep my blogging secret from my family! I also have a separate Facebook account. On the one hand, I feel very false and secretive with my family/friends, but on the other hand, I know being open would lead to just such encounters and conflicts. Sigh. I admire the people who can peaceably be honest and manage any kerfuffles with grace, but I'm not there yet. Thanks for this post, and I hope you figure out the way forward that works for you. I think your phrases are a good and helpful start, and I will be adopting them!

    1. Ahh..the super secret double life of a blogger...

  5. Ok, I know we're supposed to be talking about being respectful, but your disclaimer made me laugh ;) And your comments about your mom make me long for an anonymous blog. But I do think you have a good strategy in the making - it's about what works for you.

    1. So do I. I did take a stab at this weekend when my MIL suggested that Hannabert needed to "get used to" being in a pack and play. While I was sorely tempted to tell her 1) she had been in possession of our PNP for the last three weeks, so it was kind of hard to put him in it and 2)we prefer him to be able to explore his surrounding and 3) there isn't a developmental checklist that has "happily stays in PNP," I held my tongue, breathed deeply and said, "He is pretty used to them as daycare has one." I am still really confused as to why she thought Hannabert needed to get used to being in one...

  6. It is so hard to figure out the line between authenticity and peaceful sometimes. I really appreciated your perspective. I have never been good at bean dipping, and am just recently learning to let go of conversations that aren't going to do either of us any good, but it is still so hard!

    1. Tell me about it! I feel victorious when I don't automatically correct a harmless mistake such as calling a cocoa bean a vegetable because it is "bean."

  7. It's always hard when other people start saying controversial or harsh things when they're agreeing with you. I always make sure to respond to these comments right away, so that people don't think I agree with them. Usually something like, "While I do feel strongly about this, you have to remember that parents choose [CIO, or whatever] because of their own circumstances, which you don't always know," or even just, "Please don't accuse or stereotype people on my blog." I prefer this to deleting comments, because usually by the time I see a comment, lots of other people have, too.

    My husband thinks CIO is a great idea, which has been a point of contention for us in the past. (Though I really believe he wouldn't last five minutes hearing a baby cry. He's more responsive even than I am, as a rule. So I think he's just going based on something he's heard.) It's hard to disagree with your coparent on anything important. But I actually do communicate via blog post a lot of the time. When my husband or my mother or anyone else has some question about why I do things, I write a loooong blog post with tons of links, and they usually read. It's sparked some good conversations -- though, for sure, you have to be super careful not to come across as judgmental, passive-aggressive, or mean. It takes practice (i.e. it takes doing it wrong a few times) to be able to predict what will offend people.

  8. Thanks for your comment Shelia - I really like your idea of writing a super informative blog - I will have to do that next time (which I am fairly certain will be about nursing longer than a year). Horn says that he could handle it but I am sure that he wouldn't be able to handle it as every morning when I come back from teaching, Hannabert is usually snuggled with him.