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What do you say when someone says....

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I've been reading this really great book on attachment parenting (Beyond the Sling). Besides really loving everything this book is saying, I was reading this chapter on my lunch break today that made me want to share a bit of it.


I've noticed that a lot of us over here are a bit crunchy or unconventional in some way when it comes to how we think about children, childbirth, pregnancy and everything that comes with it. I've also noticed a lot of people expressing frustration at some of the unsolicited advice or comments we're getting for making certain choices or having certain beliefs about things. It seems to me that most people keep their comments and opinions to themselves (mostly) in life, but for some reason when you have kids they feel like it's open season to tell you how to live and how to raise your children. 


I know I've already gotten my share of comments from people about certain things and while I really don't care what they think, it's also a bit frustrating to have to sit through. I don't feel like I should have to explain myself every time some random person wants to tell me why I'm parenting (or just being pregnant!) wrong. 


Something interesting that she says early on in this book is that at first she felt the need to try and explain herself and make the other person understand her reasoning. Then she realized that didn't do anything except make her tired and a bit frustrated. There was a realization that these people don't really care to hear what you have to say, they just want to impose their opinions on you and will keep doing so until you change the subject or leave, pretty much. She had a great suggestion of suddenly having to go to the bathroom whenever you're feeling cornered by someone preaching at you. I rather like that.


So this brings me to what I was reading today. I'm just going to copy it straight from the book. I think this is especially helpful for us first time moms since everything seems scary and uncertain to a degree. It's hard to know how to handle these situations since we've never really been in them before. For those of you who already have a technique for dealing with the busybodies and naysayers, I'd love to hear it! 


"Truth be told, I often get defensive and find myself doubting our choices, but my husband is very helpful in bringing me back to reality. He has no problem looking people right in the eye with a friendly smile and declaring, 'We're doing what's best for our family' or 'We have full confidence in our choices'. What he has taught me is that I need to have my own phrases handy and well practiced for the times when people invariably question our parenting and, specifically, how it relates to our relationship.


If it's about my kids' well-being: 'They're happy, rested, well fed and secure. It's working for us.'


If it's about insinuations of deprivation: 'There will come a time again for retreats and spa weekends, I know it. For now, this is what life looks like and we're happy with it.'


If it's about being out of touch: 'Thank goodness for email, Facebook, Netflix and getting my news off the internet.'


And if it's about my sex life, humor works: 'We don't have energy to have that much sex anymore anyway.' Or better yet: 'We're like rabbits - it's nonstop action in our house!'


The more confident you can be (or at least sound), the more this way of parenting will become accepted as within the range of normal, healthy and enjoyable - which it is! There is of course a time and a place to air complaints and brainstorm ways to feel fulfilled, connected to people and satisfied with your choices; you just need to go to the right place for that support. Maker it a personal goal to not care what others think of you and you will have a lot less conflict about your choices."


post #2 of 16

Thanks for sharing this.  I have problems specifically with my sister in this department.  We agree on a lot of things, but she is very controlling, and is pretty adamant that I do things a certain way (exactly like she did with my niece).  It's difficult when someone asks me a question and she just straight out answers FOR ME.  I feel strong in my choices, but it is difficult not to 2nd guess bc im a first time mom.  

post #3 of 16

Thank you for posting this today, Sjdragonfly.  I feel like I kind of needed to hear it.  It's funny, because I obviously wouldn't be making the choices I am about pregnancy / parenting unless I thought that they would be best for my child(ren).  But I feel like people just won't accept that sometimes.  I have told my mom and my grandma several times that I have to do what I feel is right, just like they have to do what they feel is right.  It doesn't stop them from making comments, but hopefully I will get better in the future about excusing myself if they persist in making unsolicited comments after I've explained that we're doing what works for us.  It doesn't really do any good for me to sit there politely and take it, because I think it just signifies to them that it's still open for discussion, which it is not.


I also thought it was funny that the husband in that excerpt sounds a lot like mine.  He has no problem saying, "We're doing what works for us, thanks, and that's how we're going to keep doing things," all with a smile on his face.  And it shuts people up!  LOL  I have always thought he has a gift about that.  I should take a note from him and try doing the same.  I think people can tell that I am the more uncertain of us two about how to react to loved ones' negativity, which makes me easier to corner and preach at.  But the more confident I can become, the more they're likely just to leave me alone like they typically do with him.

Edited by GoofyInOK - 3/30/12 at 7:22am
post #4 of 16

I agree, thank you for posting this! I feel like I respond to situations much as GoofyinOK does. I can feel confident of our choices in my own mind, but I am never comfortable being assertive or standing up for myself in pretty much any situation, and people can tell, so they tend to badger me or pick at the areas where they can tell I am uncomfortable. I think if I have some polite "canned phrases" in my back pocket, I might be more comfortable having these discussions. DH is more of the smile, nod, and ignore camp, which is great except on occasions where people just refuse to let stuff go. I am going to need to be more direct with people in some cases.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm with you ladies! I never really know what to say. I typically try explaining all of the research I've done and why I feel like things are good, but it goes in one ear and out the other. The other person tends to just keep repeating themselves. I'm not sure if they expect us to suddenly stop and say "You know, you're right, I've been so wrong this whole time! Thank you so much for setting me straight. I will do things your way from now on." Which, let's face it, is probably never going to happen. haha


I especially loved this part of the book because it gives me something to save and say whenever I can't just smile and nod and get out of the situation. I make a point not to bring things up, but you know how that goes. That doesn't stop anyone else from just saying what they want to about my choices even if I'm making a point to steer the conversation elsewhere. 


I don't know about DP, though. I would like to hope that he can be confident in the choices that we're making and just shut people down, but I have a feeling he's going to come back to me with all of the gobbledygook he's getting from everyone else and telling me why I should try whatever they say. Maybe he won't, I don't know. It's so hard to tell. He isn't really very good at standing up for me so I'm a bit anxious about those situations.

post #6 of 16

I noticed a big difference in myself in this between my first son and my second.  NOT that I did anything different; I still made the same choices to EBF and cosleep, etc.  But I was more "undercover" with it the second time than the first, for this very reason.  The first time, I was pretty vocal and adamant and in people's faces with my "alternative" choices, and I got to hear a lot of crap about it.  I argued and cited research, yadda yah, but no one changed their minds and a lot of people thought I was a kook.  The second time, I had new in-laws, and I definitely did not want a do over of what happened with my first, so I never discussed or made an issue of what we were doing, and so it never became an issue.  I don't think any of them ever even knew we were cosleeping and I don't think they had any idea he was still nursing in the second year.  Having two kids made me more likely to stay home than go out, and I don't think I did too much bf'ing in public, or if I did when he was little, he was in the sling and no one knew.  With my first, I guess I felt like some kind of natural parenting warrior and made a point to BF in public, especially when he was older.  With the second, I definitely did not nurse in public once he was over a year, but we weren't often in public, either.  I guess I have just become much less confrontational as I have grown older!  Or it may also have to do with being more confident about those choices being right and knowing I didn't have to "prove" myself or my mothering to anyone.  But my point is, it seemed like if I didn't make an issue or draw attention to my alternative ideas, then no one else did either.

post #7 of 16

I'm with you.  DH and I have been approaching the issues by not speaking about them to anyone.  This won't be able to last forever.  DH says, "if someone wants to talk about vaccinations, just don't enter the conversation if the group is obviously pro-vac."  But I have a hard time NOT participating.  I might feel the urge to do what I shouldn't do: exhausting myself trying to explain what I think is a commonsensical approach to the kind of parenting that I value.


I like what you quoted from the Sling.  I need to develop some quick phrase. 

post #8 of 16

With my first I would tell people, hey, we haven't done this before and I'm happy to listen to any advice, and we'll do what works best for our family.  A few things I was dead set with- natural delivery, breastfeeding, no circ, etc.  If they told me how awesome a certain brand of bottle was, I would just listen and know that I didn't need to write it down or add it to my registry as we wouldn't need any in the house.  Mom's like to share their knowledge and experiences and I find that I like to share what worked best for us too.  It's funny because if someone had tried to encourage me to co-sleep while pregnant with #1 I wouldn't have listened to anything they said, but now our 2 year old sleeps between us every single night and it's just what works for our family at this time.  So I guess that's kind of my parenting motto/line, 'doing what works best for our family'.    

post #9 of 16

I try to keep my parenting style to myself. I dont like to label it (AP, etc). We are just "mindful". I dont like to try to fit in a box or go with a crowd or do X,Y,Z simply because there is some invisible checklist for being a natural/attached parent. We do what we do because it feels right for us. There was a time when I found myself explaining my parenting choices (or even birth choices when we were planning a VBAC at home with my last child). Its so true that it gets to a point where it becomes exhausting, and truth be told, the person doesnt give a rats a$$ what your reasons are. So i ve learned to give one sentence answer, and depending on the day it might be a sarcastic one :)


"Oh wow. You cloth diaper? Isnt that gross? I could never do that. "

Answer: "Oh yeah, I mean im usually elbow deep in baby sh*t all day, but just think of the money you are saving that you can go spend on handwash!!"


Takes them awhile to figure out Im being smart. 


"A homebirth? Wow. You are brave...I mean, because thats like really unsafe right?"

Answer: "Yes, well like any other mother who is protective of their young I was looking for the most unsafe option out there"




Or, to be serious, you answer with the "Well, its what we feel is best for our family, and it's working for us". Shuts them every time. 

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ThreeLittleBirds View Post

"A homebirth? Wow. You are brave...I mean, because thats like really unsafe right?"

Answer: "Yes, well like any other mother who is protective of their young I was looking for the most unsafe option out there"


I am totally going to steal that one from you. I love it.


I'm definitely not volunteering things about what our plans are for any of this, but there are a few people that know and tell other people and then those people start in on me about something when I see them inevitably. I just figure that it's not their business in the first place. I am trying not to get annoyed when people I barely know start to question my choices. It kind of makes me a bit angry. Who do they think they are that they can sit there and judge me when they don't know anything about my situation or really much about what they're talking about to begin with. I think I've done a pretty good job of brushing them off so far, though.


Interestingly, I'm finding that as I get more visually pregnant and closer to the baby's arrival, people get more prying and like to give me much more unsolicited advice. 

post #11 of 16

Having been a teenage single mother years ago, I got a barrage of unhelpful, unsolicited, bs advice. I tend to be less confrontational now, but anyone questioning my choices will still make me seethe. I tend to just reply ''Obviously, I want my children to be happy above all else, but manners are important to me as well. For example, even as children my kids would never dream of accosting someone and giving them unsolicited advice.'' That tends to shut people up, and generally they walk away. To friends and/or family, my standard response is ''My kids are turning out ok so far. Btw, unsolicited advice isn't really advice, it's meddling and uncalled for.'' I don't feel the need to be polite to people who are rude to me, and making comments on how I choose to parent is incredibly rude to me.

post #12 of 16

I try to avoid telling people about having a homebirth, but I have had multiple "strangers" ask me what hospital I am having the baby at.  anyone else get that question?

post #13 of 16

If you don't want to tell them you are home birthing you can say, probably "insert in case of transfer hopital here", and then change the subject.

post #14 of 16

It is not so much that I don't want to tell them, but I am pretty good at oversharing and would rather avoid the situation.  I don't think I would be comfortable saying a hositals name because I feel like I would jinx myself and it would be misleading.  The only thing I really try to avoid telling people:is about placenta encapsulation.  But even that has been done because people that know will bring it up in mixed company.

post #15 of 16

Seeing as I am about to become a lesbian single mother by choice...no one in my family really has too much to say...I think they see that I am charting a new course. I thought I would get tons of questions about my conception and honestly the majority of feedback has been, "good for you!". I have not discussed conception once with work people, most friends, or even most of my family. In regards to birth choices (I am seeing a midwife) and parenting (I intend to homeschool) I have had very little flak so far. It almost seems weird how accepting my community is of what could be considered somewhat alternative choices. But if asked, or given unwanted advice, I just plan to smile and say, " I am just going to do what feels right to me".

post #16 of 16

I'm not extremely open about my child rearing choices, but if confronted, I don't feel like I have to defend myself so much.  I'm just like, my kid, my choice.  Discussion ends there, even with well meaning friends or family. 

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