|Gratuitous photo of Julian and Holly.|
This week I needed to talk to Tara about advocating for peaceful parenting. I talked about how hard it is for me to hear parents talk about letting their babies cry themselves to sleep (CIO) or mothers who brag about going on vacation to 'get a break' from their little nursing babies. Even at the playground I can't escape parents shaming their children. It breaks my heart and I'm to the point where I either can't be around mainstream parents for any reason OR I have to be constantly advocating for children and for gentle parenting. I needed to delve into why this is such a big deal to me....why I can't just let it go.
There are two reasons why this topic was on my mind. First, I am thinking about getting back into being a La Leche League Leader but I can't do it if I am going to be emotionally distraught every time a mother talks about her parenting practices that are anything but gentle or peaceful. And because La Leche League has a policy about how leaders are supposed to dispense information on controversial subjects, I am a little nervous about whether or not the organization is still a good fit for me.
The second reason that I needed to talk about finding my authentic response to mainstream parents is because of what happened to me last week when I posted a contribution to the Carnival of Natural Parenting about how I contacted a person who had been out of my life for a while and asked him to stop making his baby cry himself to sleep. Boy, did I ever get slammed in the COMMENTS by people who lambasted me for telling someone my opinion on his parenting practices even though I did not have a personal connection to him. Even many of the more positive comments were from people who said that they would never have done what I did. But there were so many negative, angry comments that I couldn't publish them all. So enough with the anger, already, people.
So I posed the question to Tara: When I am overwhelmed with sadness because of the way other people treat their precious children, how do stay authentic without getting up on my soapbox?
Tara challenged me to dig deep and identify my core beliefs about parents and children. She asked me to identify my judgements and to put my judgements into the context of my history. She helped me to go outside of myself and look for the positive in the situation and to look for another perspective.
She explained that I can't fight reality. What is, IS. I can't change anything except my own reaction. I have to accept the moment.
The next step would be to find my new role once I have accepted that I can't change anything. Tara challenged me to find a new possibility--find all the possibilities--and release my negative emotions. Instead of reacting with "I have to fix this", I have to react with "What can I offer?".
One comment in particular really stayed with me and I've been contemplating it all week. Tara suggested that I think about Dr. Martin Luther King and his style of activism. He held rallies to inspire people who already shared his vision. He inspired them to continue to stand up for their beliefs and eventually laws were changed and his dreams were legislated. What he DIDN'T do was to make individual connections with people who didn't share his dream. He wasn't trying to turn racists into non-racists.
Thinking about MKL has challenged me to think about what kind of activist I want to be. If I feel a burden to advocate for children, how do I actually want to do that? And how emotionally involved do I want to be? How much can I even handle?
Lots to think about...
It was a great talk with Tara this week and I have a feeling that we are not done with this topic.