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Please explain "Mainstream"

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Honest question here.

One of my good friends (Thanks Piglet!) introduced me to this site. I find most of it very interesting and informative even if I disagree with some of the parenting that others do (meaning it is not right for my family)

So it got me thinking, what the heck is mainstream anyway?

I never thought about co-sleeping (it scared me), I don't let dd CIO, I formula feed (after attempting bf), I plan on public schools (strong feelings about homeschooling I won't even get into), but I respect my dd's spaces, needs, I hold her when I can and let her play in her own space when I can, I speak to her like a person (ie, I let her know what I am doing and I ask her questions about the world instead of baby talk).

How is mainstream defined? Some people here I think would call me mainstream and others would say AP.

Just curious what people really think "mainstream" is?
post #2 of 36
i think everyone's definition is different, and some people don't even use the term "mainstream".

personally: i would say the general public, especially in the usa, encourages a sort of parenting that is most often directly opposite what nature intended. for example, mammal babies are not supposed to sleep alone and were not designed to by nature. yet parents are encouraged to put their offspring in cribs in seperate rooms- for no reason, except the parents 'should have their space'.

i believe in my heart that i was provided by nature everything i need to nuture my child: i have the ability, on my own, to grow my baby in my womb, to birth him well, to nourish him with my perfect milk, and so on. i do take advantage of all that our culture and society offer when i feel that it is useful, it's not as if i live in the primitive past. i just know i don't need it, and my son does not need it.

so, i guess i would answer your question like this:

for me, natural parenting runs parallel to nature, and so called 'mainstream' parenting runs perpendicular to nature. i feel most comfortable and confident mothering the way my instints tell me to.

post #3 of 36
I've always thought of "mainstream" as just the way it sounds....how things are done in the "main stream" or by the majority of the population. So in the world of raising children, one might follow the mainstream with some things - say, disposable diapers - but not follow the mainstream with others - like co-sleeping.

As with everything else, it's a label and those are probably never as black & white as we all would like to believe.
post #4 of 36
I think that "mainstream" kind of means that you don't really question the way the majority of parents do things. Like:
Birth in a hospital, with drugs and machines.
Crib sleeping.
Cry it out.
Formula feeding.
Sticking to immunization schedules.
And so on. Many people do not research things for themselves, and don't really think things through. They just kind of follow along with what everyone else is doing. The reasons for that are endless, from fear of questioning what we deem an authoritative figure to not really believing we are capable of doing things as nature intended. I, personally, give all that I can the "natural" way... ie, cosleeping, homebirth, breastfeeding for 2 + years, etc. But I do realize I'm human and sometimes I do resort to doing things the more "mainstream" way, like letting DS cry sometimes, using disposables, that type of thing.... so there are different shades of gray here. Most people definitely lean one way or the other, though.
Edited to add: the idea of "mainstream" can also get into the environment you choose to raise your child in. Such as organics, and vegetarianism. Also, someone "mainstream" may jump for Tylenol, Motrin, and antibiotics when their child gets sick... the alternatives would be herbs, or aromatherapy, or supplements, that kind of thing.
post #5 of 36
I think 'mainstream' is tending toward the things that most of society does. But i think the most important thing you can do as a parent is to think and research. If you have considered all your options, researched all your options and still choose to CIO, bottle feed, vaccinate...etc...than I would hold nothing against you. The only thing that really bothers me is parents who just do what everyone else does without giving it a second thought for whatever reason.
post #6 of 36
Good question, Foo!

I have been thinking about this all day. It is hard trying to come up with a definition of "mainstream", just as it is hard to come up with a definition of AP.

I've come to the conclusion that both are not so much what sort of practices you use, like cosleeping, BFing and so on, but rather the attitude behind it. If your child sleeps in a crib because they honestly sleep better there than in the family bed, then I don't think that makes one "mainstream". If the child sleeps in a bed b/c the parents think that a child's place is in another room, that sleeping alone fosters independence, that the parents' bed is no place for a child, etc...I think that is mainstream.

Whenever I think of what it means to be truly "attached", I picture nature shows of monkeys with their little babes clinging to mama's fur. To me this is the quintessential image of "attachment", of how we are truly designed to be (by evolution, or creation, your pick, lol). The baby is always there, free to nurse when it needs, comforted by mamas warmth and breath, watching what is going on and learning, and unafraid to venture out on it's own when it feels "brave" enough, knowing it can return to the safety of mama's arms when life gets too much. To me, this "mother/infant dyad" is the ideal to strive for. It may not be realistic to wear your baby 24/7, and others may provide childcare at times, but the philosophy of AP pays a real honour to that image and I always return to it in my mind.
post #7 of 36

I'm afraid to post...

... but I do "hold it against" people who "research" and use it to justify mainstream.

Let me start by saying that I define mainstream as going with the flow, with the main-- stream. As in, doing what the larger group does. The majority of parents in this country-- 87%-- put their babies in cribs, 83% of those who attempt breastfeeding never breastfeed to one year, they immunize on schedule, put their children in strollers and leave them in car seats, despite health risks, women "labor" taking drugs they would never have considered at any other point in their pregnancy, ignoring the risks to their children, parents start solids too early, with inappropriate foods, they disposable diaper, despite health risks to their children and the environment, they allow themselves and their children to be pumped full of antibiotics-- even when they won't help get them well, they rely on comfort objects, such as pacifiers and teddy bears to love and hold their children, and have to come up with silly names like "tummy time" so they remember to let their babies play- and when they do, the parents don't usually get on the floor and play with them, they put them in playpens and let them play by themselves- or just cry by themselves. They spank-- over 65% and I hear them use the word "No" all the time. I haven't even mentioned the ritualized mutilation of their children's genetalia, based on whatever reasons, that disfigures 60% of American boys' penises.

My opinion is that most American parents think of parenting in terms of themselves and what is convenient and easy for them and not of the child and the fact that their child is a real, feeling person. They call them "the baby" instead of Persephone or Tristan, and make decisions based on their feelings instead of their child. they justify any pain their child may feel based on those decisions by saying to themselves that they did it and their child will do it-- the world isn't always fair, and life is hard. I wonder, will these children will thank their parents for their sacrifice, compassion and dedication?

Basically, mainstream parenting is doing it like everyone else. Funny, how our country is plagued with violence of all sorts, institutionalized sexism, classism, racism etc., full prisons, millions of drug and alcohol addicts and a plethora of other horrible societal woes, yet in countries where babies are nourished at the breast, sleep with their parents, are treated like people, are respected and are a true priority in their parents' lives, the society itself is healthier and these problems are fewer and not a rampant trend eating away at their community.

I am very passionate about the subject of parenting, children and babies. Let me say that I in no way direct this at any person, and that my anger and fristration is with the acts of a large group of people. There are shades of gray, yes. I take humans one person at a time. If you are offended, then this post has been misread.


edited to add: Piglet, you are so eloquent in your description of the mother/infant dyad.

Let me say that I have some passionate views on what parenting SHOULD be, that are not negative or angry, but sometimes just going out into the world and seeing what parents do to their kids makes me rage.
post #8 of 36
I think that "mainstream" means doing what is normal in your community. It isn't necessarily bad and it isn't necessarily good.

I was thinking about this today because around this neighbourhood, breastfeeding is completely "mainstream" and formula feeding elicits the "oh, the poor kid and mom" response. Nobody has ever said anything to me that makes me think that they consider extended breastfeeding odd. Drug-free birth is considered optimum, but not all moms were well-prepared for their birth experience, so I would say that a natural birth is more of a dream for most moms than a reality, so it wouldn't be mainstream. On the other hand, cloth diapering is very uncommon, so I'd consider it to be not "mainstream." That's my neighbourhood, though, not yours.

I think it is important to make concious decisions about your parenting. Doing what everyone else does is not a good way to relate to your children. On the other hand, rejecting an idea just because it is the thing that everyone else is doing is kinda stupid too.
post #9 of 36
post #10 of 36


Oops again.
post #11 of 36


Gosh, a good question.

I'm not sure how to definite mainstream, but I tend to think most people don't want to believe they're part of it, regardless of how they parent.

My sister bottle-fed both of her babies from day one. She never once attempted breastfeeding - and she sincerely believes this choice makes her non-mainstream. To her, breastfeeding is mainstream because it has become "popular" in the United States.

My mother said the same thing - "Oh, breastfeeding is just the "in" thing right now." Again, breastfeeding to her is mainstream because everywhere she turns she sees women doing it.

I, on the other hand, like to think I'm not mainstream because I'm doing something that no one in my family ever did. I'm the "weird" one for breastfeeding.

So I think what we perceive as mainstream is based on our limited life experiences. And since we all have different experiences, our idea of mainstream is different too.

Even if it's true that the vast majority of women in the United States don't breastfeed, if everyone on say, your street does, and you don't, then you'd probably still feel like you're not mainstream, even tho' statisically you are in the big picture.

Mainstream or not, I try to stay away from thinking my parenting choices are superior to another mother's. Even though my sister parents *very* differently, and many here might argue *mainstream-ly*, she is a wonderful mother. She truly is.

By the way, Foo, I think you're doing a wonderful job too.

post #12 of 36
oops, double-posted, sorry!
post #13 of 36
The world isn't always fair and life is hard at times.

As a society, we adopt ways of doing things that suit our overall way of living. It isn't bad or ugly, it just is. In other cultures where things are done differently (because there isn't a Target to buy that super-cool stroller) their "mainstream" is different.

It doesn't make our "mainstream" altogether bad. It's different.

I didn't co-sleep exclusively and I didn't breastfeed my older two children til they were a year old. We took walks with the stroller. We vax. We send our kids to public schools.

I'm confident I'm not turning them into violent criminals.

For me and other mothers I know like me, it's not a matter of what makes Mom and Dad happy, it's what makes our families function and thrive.

"Mainstream" is simply a word used here (often in a more demeaning manner than is probably necessary) to describe those who do not subscribe to a majority of AP principals. However, if you read the API website, it specifically says you do not have to subscribe to each and every principal to be an attached parent.

It's unfortunate we live in a society where parenting isn't celebrated and held in high regard. It's also unfortunate that women's desire to be "equal" to men and work outside the home and leave their babies in someone else's care was so strong that it was insanely and overly successful. It would take MAJOR reform in our society and government to undo what's been done. In the meantime, I have to parent the best way I can, implementing what works based on my instincts and by watching others (which doesn't necessarily mean reading books written by men) to provide my children a safe, healthy, happy and nurturing environment in which to grow so that they may grow into safe, healthy, happy and nurturing adults we can all be proud of.
post #14 of 36
I have to add...

Every time I reply to a thread in which veganmamma is passionately participating, it takes me so long to write my reply, I have to log-in again.

Lauren...please, if you're ever in my state, let me know. I would love to have coffee with you. I'll buy. I haven't had such stimulating conversation in ages.
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your responces. I appreciate them and I am not offended by them. I honestly want to know what people think.

I find it funny because IRL and on other web boards, I am in the minority by formula feeding. I find it intresting that many people find this mainstream simply because it is not natural even though there are a lot who are breastfeeding these days!

I generally avoid reading too many parenting books. They just confuse the issue.

DH and I have decided on the major parenting issues together and so far, I think they are far from "mainstream" from the definitions I see here.

I guess the only place I really differ from these definitions I see here (ok, I differ on the natural definition from Tabitha, but that's ok to disagree, right?), is that we take a family approach to parenting. We work with our daughter in a family centered view, neither child nor parent centered. She doesn't rule everything we do, nor do we dictate to her what must happen. What do I mean by this? Example: We are selling our house. We needed to be out at dinner time one night. So, we went to a resteraunt. Ok We let dd eat there in between ordering and when our food came. This way, she got HER time to eat without being interupted by us eating and WE got to eat without worrying about her being hungry. When she got too tired, I got her dressed for outside, left DH with all of the "stuff" and left him with the bill while I drove home (we met at the place with 2 cars) so she could rest. I call this family centered because we met the needs of the whole family without sacrificing anyone's needs.

Does anyone else try to use a family centered approach?
post #16 of 36
I believe when most people say 'mainstream' they are referring to making a choice based on popularity and familiarity, rather than making an informed, thoughtful choice.

That doesn't mean a practice that is 'good' cannot become 'mainstream'. Nor are all 'mainstream' practices 'bad'. Mainstream to me just means 'how most people are doing it'. Adopting a practice based on 'how everyone else is doing it' alone cannot asure the best outcome, because one has not explored their options.
post #17 of 36

Labels schmabels

Lots of really great insights here, and I enjoyed reading. But my own personal bias is I just really dislike labels. Am I AP? I dunno. Probably. Am I mainstream? Dunno. Could be. I have never said "I am AP", though, 'cause of my dislike for labels. I am open-minded and endlessly curious, and have thought through and researched every parenting decision thoroughly (some may say obsessively! ) and am comfortable with all of those decisions. Thrilled with some of 'em. If a decision doesn't seem to be working, I re-evaluate.

I understand that "AP", "mainstream" et al are shorthand, but are they necessary? As someone here said, I have seen both of them used in overly derogatory ways ("mainstream" here, "AP" elsewhere.) I think it's more useful to discuss specifics -- co-sleep or crib? -- than labels -- AP or mainstream?
post #18 of 36
I agree with a lot of what you all say "mainsteam " is. I do not necessarily believe that formula feeding is a true definition of it though because some women simply cannot do it and it truly breaks their hearts. I think my main thought on 'Mainstream " is folks who feed thier kids a lot of fast food or even any for that matter, or who give thier kids sugar and colas and processed foods without thinking of the consequences it may have on their children. But here I am being judgemental.
post #19 of 36
You know what is so interesting is how many of us incorporate different things into "AP".

I have never thought AP had to do with what sort of solid food your kid eats (organic vs junk food) or that it had anything to do with where your kids went to school. I understand that MDC is a "natural family living" (NFL) mag, and so I expect a certain level of promotion of organic foods, homeopathy, etc...yet I see AP as being quite a separate issue. I realise that AP fits very well into a NFL lifestyle, it makes sense, but I also think you can be AP and vaccinate your kids, send them to public school, etc.

I guess it's because I have always thought AP applied to babies. The idea of gentle discipline and schooling are not issues related to baby care, so I have thought of them as maybe "the next logical step", but not really AP.

So you see how hard it is to come up with a definition of either AP or mainstream!!
post #20 of 36
Thread Starter 
I think you're right Piglet...There are no clear cut definitions.

It's very interesting to see what people say.

BTW- I nearly shot water out my nose when I read the "NFL living" that you stated. I'm a big sports fan and dd loves football (she loves to sit and watch when we are watching). We truly are "NFL" national football league, living!
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