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Advocating AP to Non-AP Parents

788 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  mountain
On Friday night, we always get together with a wonderful, warm group of woman to have dinner, drink wine and catch up from our week. I've known most of these women since childhood and they are close friends.


None practice AP.:bf My daughter, Amber who is 1 yo is the youngest of the kids. But Friday night they started talking about how they Ferberized their kids (all school-age now). None have had natural childbirth or EBF or co-slept. None practice gentle discipline. They don't understand how I can't be away from my nursling at night because we nurse down usually.

Here is my a social situation in a group setting like this, do you keep your mouth closed, give your point of view or other??? I was exhausted Friday night and I just didn't have the energy. I came home feeling lonely in my parenting practices. Thank God for Mothering, LLL and AP Groups!

Would love
to hear on how others deal with situations like this.


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It really depends on the group and the day.
There have been times when I've made comments here and there as a way of offering a different point of view, other times I have said very little or nothing at all. If it is a neutral discussion, I tend to offer an alternative position, but if it is a more "we are justifying what we do" kind of discussion, I tend to hold off any comments.

Sometimes "less is more." Your friends will watch what you do, may or may not ask questions or judge, but in the end, they may see that you got some really interesting results with what you've done.

I sometimes think the best way to change the world is to lead by example, some will get it, some won't.
I sort of decide not to bother with parents of older kids who've BTDT. I mean, what's the point? In that case, all I can do is be honest with what I do and how much I enjoy it.

I am more "active" to people who are expecting and ask me questions. My simple answers are usually enough to raise eyebrows. ("what kind of crib did you get?"..."we never used one"). They are usually interested to hear more. I try to state it as matter-of-factly as I can. I really guage people's reactions. I don't want to push to someone who has already made up their mind, or give out unsolicited advice.

I basically try to teach by example. I don't waste my energy on people who will never have another baby - what would be the point, just making them feel bad about something they cannot change now anyways. In that case, I'd only strive to make it acceptable, an alternative they may not have heard of, instead of an objection, if that makes sense.
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I agree that it depends on the day, the group, and how I'm feeling. I have definitely walked away from some conversations where I obviously was in the minority in terms of parenting styles, but by the same token, I try not to make people who do things differently from me feel on the defensive, either. I just don't feel like I have any right to judge another mama on how she parents, nor should they judge me.

Like Piglet, if someone asks me outright for advice, I tell them how we did/do things. And often, when people meet our girls, and see how connected we all are, that will open up a conversation on how we do things. Interestingly, DH is more of a bigmouth when it comes to talking about our family bed practices (I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to find this to be the thing that sets most people off the quickest). So a lot of times I just don't choose to bring it up. Meanwhile, DH will be blabbing away about it to people we don't know very well!

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Boy, mama, do I know how you feel! I definitely agree with the PP who said that if they have already raised their children, there's no point in making them feel bad for something they can't change. That's not to say you should feel like you have to remain silent, but I would just go easy. I wouldn't feel like I had to stay out of any conversation regarding parenting though. I mean, you are a group of friends sitting around talking together, right? Just be sensitive to the tone of the discussion, try to gague other's responses, and chime in accordingly. There's no reason why an alternative point of view presented respectfully should be received with hostility, and if it is, well...that isn't your fault, now, is it? Just put it out there, and if they have the seed planted maybe they will come check out this place, or other AP writings, and it will go from there.
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I've handled similar situations in two different ways. In open conversations where they praise ferberizing and question what I do, I simply explain how we do things and state that it's worked so wonderful for us. It helps that I have a super happy baby by nature, so maybe they all think AP makes her that way and maybe we'll get a few converts out of it.

And then I have my friend and her husband. They CONSTANTLY badger me about my choices, telling me I'm spoiling my child, telling me that I'm totally screwing myself by letting her sleep in my bed, telling me that basically I'm an idiot. After multiple occasions of this I finally had enough and told them that until they had no children on behavioral medications, I didn't want to hear sh*t from them!!! (they routinely spank their children, quite hard and then wonder why they have agression issues... but just choose to drug them versus fix the problem!)
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Recently I was talking with a friend. She's almost my age (she will be 40 this year) and is in the process of adopting children. I was, in passing, telling her how much I admire one of my daughter's friends' parenting even though the woman was young when she had her daughter (she was 20 or 21)

Because my friend is doing her own reading to prepare for her children she asked me why I so admired this woman. So I shared all the AP things she was doing but I put it in the context of this young woman doing a lot of reading and *consciously* parenting her daughter.

This seemed to have a positive impact on my friend but I think she is especially open to learning as much as she can about parenting and especially attachment.

If people aren't in a circumstance where parenting practices are open to thought it isn't really worth the effort.

Debra Baker
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Thanks everyone for your input! One of the reasons why I didn't say anything was because the majority of the gal's kids were older and like you all have said, it would be a lost cause. But another friend has an 18 mo. old and she was there. She has asked me before about my parenting style and sometimes I feel like I get a "tone". She was talking on Friday about letting her dd CIO for 50 min. and how her dh had to leave because he couldn't handle it. Others then said how their dh's did the same thing. It broke my heart.

Like singermom's dh, my dh is the BIGGEST AP ADVOCATE!
He holds NOTHING back in terms of discussing co-sleeping, bf, circumsion and vaxing. Like you all, if I run into a pregnant or new mom and they ask questions about my sling, I will happily talk about babywearing, bf, etc. Its just good to know how others handle situations like this.


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I am learning to keep quiet.
There've been a few times where I've discussed AP things and regretted it. I find that everyone thinks their way or the way they plan to do things is the best. Instead of even having an open conversation about the pros and cons of different types of parenting, the people I've talked to have gotten immediately defensive. I was once actually in a situation where, after having mentioned about not circ'ing DS, two women acted like my concern for what I believe to be a too invasive and unnecessary intervention was an overreaction, and just went on and on dramatically about how they'd definitely circ again in the future because it never even fazed their DSs and how horrible it would be for them to have to endure the torture uncirc'd boys must endure in the locker room after athletics me mean looks and making snide remarks implying that I'm a horrible mother for not doing my part in making sure my son doesn't lose a H.S. popularity contest or something. I was so taken aback! (Too taken aback to launch into any discussion about the lack of necessity regarding circumcision or why I think it's more important to ensure my son's penis AND self-esteem are securely intact rather than compromised in aiming for him to "fit in" or why I'd never assume my son would so certainly be participating in organized school athletics while he's still just the ripe age of...when are boys circ'd? day old?!....ARGH! They made me sooooooooo angry!
: ) So no. I don't discuss AP. There are times when I'm tempted...times where I think someone and their child/ren could really benefit from an AP perspective...but the few awful conversations that have happened due to my best intentions deter me.
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ARGHH! This happened today!

I was involved in a conversation with one of my bosses and two other teachers at the dance studio I work at. Somehow we got from me asking if her mama cat was ready to be spayed (I not only get my own pets spayed/neutered, I'll do it for other people, too) to mothers breastfeeding children. "When they're old enough to ask for it, that's just gross."

My daughter (who nursed off & on way, way past the average age) was sitting right there.

The other teachers laughed and agreed. I said nothing. Between these women, the youngest child is 7 - I figured advocating for extended breastfeeding would do nothing in this situation.

But then the boss went on to complain about one mother of a dancer who is "so incredibly involved in her daughter's life". She explained that the mom had checked out colleges for the daughter. I thought at first that the child was very young and the mom was going overboard starting college-shopping too soon. The child is a teen - college is around the corner. I must have misunderstood, because surely MANY moms, even mainstream ones check out prospective colleges in person?!! Thankfully, my daughter had moved to the other side of the room when this subject was discussed.

Again, I said nothing. I am very involved in my daughter's life. She's an only child AND we homeschool. But to speak counter to what was being said would not be beneficial, either for me (because I work there) or for my daughter (because she takes a lot of dance there).

I DID have a conversation with dd on the way home that what those women said was wrong, that breastfeeding should continue as long as both the child and the mother want it, and that what other people think about it has nothing to do with that decision. She asked about my boss's cat (one is already spayed, never had kittens, but is a very nurturing kitty and actually nursed the kittens). I used the opportunity to teach her that even moms of adopted babies can nurse (including this very loving cat) - it takes effort, but it is possible. And if I were to adopt, I would certainly want to.

Sorry this is so long. I felt so helpless standing there while my boss and co-workers laughed about what my dd and I found to be a very beneficial and loving relationship. But then I turned it around and used it as a teaching moment with my child.

Still feeling weird about it.
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I don't mean to second-guess you, but I probably would have said something. To me, it sounds as though they weren't aware that they were saying things that were hurting your feelings, and I feel that it is perfectly appropropriate to call people on that, if you feel comfortable doing so (and some people do not, so if this is not helpful to you, feel free to ignore. I'm certainly not here to tell you how to live your life!

I guess I have been pretty lucky, in that the people I talk to are pretty respectful of my choices--they may not always agree with them, but we can all agree to live and let live.

Sorry you felt attacked, and good for you for turning it into a learning experience for your dd.

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I think in all situations, if someone says something I disagree with, I will respectfully disagree. Off topic, I was discussing Massachusetts to a friend when an older man standing nearby said, They're the ones in the news letting gay people get married. And he snorted like this was the most preposterous thing he'd ever heard of. I turned to him and said, "That's fine with me! Why shouldn't everyone have the right to be as miserable as us married people?"

I've been hangin' with mainstream moms for a while, so I've gotten over the humiliation. I can't be anyone but who I am. I'm not gonna apologize for that, because the results speak for themselves. I'm gonna get the message out, even if it makes me different. I'm sure MLK and Ghandi and Naomi Wolf and Ina May Gaskin felt different, too, when their idea was not the popular vote.
So I would assume in LisaMarie's situation, you are already the 'over the top' mother that everyone can feel better about their harsh parenting decision by treating you like a cartoon character. I'm sure that is extremely tiring, and you probably are tired from APing, too! It's not a lazy parent's sport! Maybe on a better night, you'll explain logistics & statistics & the theory of attachment as proven by numerous psychologists...maybe you'll bring up the benefits of EBing. I know it's hard, makes me sad to think of you in a situation where no one understands your parenting choices. We get you here!!!!
If you can say ONE thing that ONE mama friend remembers while they're listening to their child suffer, maybe they'll think, "oh that's a little person in there" and maybe they'll go pick that baby up & give them the comfort & nourishment they so truly deserve.
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