Advocacy? Me?

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

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 shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


The theme for this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting has me a little stumped. Yeah! Me! I thought I had an opinion on everything. (That’s been one of the favoured code lines for “shut up” most of my adult life.) The theme of Compassionate Advocacy appeals to me intellectually. I love advocates and The Loud! I love The Compassionate even more. It just isn’t quite the way that I think of myself. I don’t consider myself an intactivist or a lactivist, for example, although I certainly invited the woman who was about to bundle her hungry baby out of the library to make herself comfortable and talk books while they nursed. But I didn’t become a La Leche League leader, or crusader for women’s health. I just talk about breastfeeding in the moment, one person at a time.

Most of the time, I forget that all of this isn’t “normal”. I was listening to a discussion on circumcision on the radio this evening, and I was shocked. I didn’t choose circumcision because it never occurred to me. It never occurred to me not to breastfeed, or not to carry my infants, or not to sleep with them, or (conversely) to have an epidural, or an IV, or a bassinet, or a nurse whisking my baby away to be cleaned up. (OK. The possible superior wisdom of the epidural occurred to me once, during transition, when I was throwing up into my bathroom sink, but it passed after a couple of contractions.) I was offered all of those things, of course, at my hospital pre-registration, but I responded with such horror that the nursing staff threw up their hands in despair, labelled me “One of THOSE” and washed their hands of me.

I guess that what passes for advocacy in my world is more that I am obviously One of THOSE: Vegetarian lunches with whole-grain bread? In kindergarten? A table at the farmer’s market? Chickens? Home birth when the province hadn’t yet ironed out the midwifery legislation? What kind of mother is that woman?

When pressed to think about it, I must admit that by living my life differently, I hope that I’m offering people the chance to do the same. I’m certainly not doing it for the glamour of the rural life or for the praise that comes with being the weird mom. But I do think that the world could be happier, and children could be healthier, if more people felt comfortable making more natural choices. So I do whatever I’m going to do, but I don’t hide it to make other people more comfortable. Because people can only choose among what they know is possible.

So when I was offered a quiet chair in back to breastfeed my newborn (in the waiting room at the hospital!) I merely politely declined and continued on my merry nursing way. We carried our children everywhere in soft front carriers, a big backpack, or a bicycle trailer, and only used the infant car seat to deal with the problem of safe restraint in the car. We slept with the babies, declining a crib and opting instead for a king-sized bed. We had midwives for our births, and two of the children were born at home, and we talk about all of this stuff again and again and again because people seem to be curious… but mostly I just keep doing my thing. And it seems to be working.


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:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.

13 responses to “Advocacy? Me?”

  1. I can totally relate to this post. I too struggled to write to begin with, because what I do is just normal to me. It’s only when you hear others talking about ‘their’ perception of normal, that the realisation hits you. Sounds like you are doing great and your family are benefiting from your widsom 😉

  2. This is great! I think the most effective advocates don’t advocate at all – they just do. It’s inspiring. It’s a tough road ahead to change the paradigm of “normal” but all of us just doing what we do best are making a huge impact. We can only hope that everyone else will catch up sooner rather than later.

  3. “Because people can only choose among what they know is possible.”


    I really think that part of gentle advocacy is simply letting people know what the options are. We don’t have to preach it, necessarily, we can just show it.

    Well, said, from one “weird” mom to another!!

  4. I think that’s actually perfect, that you don’t need to talk about those things because they just seem normal to you. That’s my great hope for things like breastfeeding — that it will just become normal, not something anyone feels the need to advocate for.

  5. Great post for CarNatPar! That is utterly cool that you supported that breastfeeding mom in the library. If someone had done that for me, especially back in the day when I was with my first nursling, I would have gratitude forever! Here I am this big breastfeeding supporter and I sometimes hid out in the car instead of openly nursing. Even now, every once in a while I don’t feel comfy in public. Most of the time, I do it anyway, but that just may because I’m too tired to pack up 3 kids for the car just so I can breastfeed.

    I dream of a world like you describe. Where all parents are able to follow their own natural instinctual parenting, no matter what path that leads them down. It is inspiring to see parents at ease with themselves and their parenting choices-just like you talk about

  6. Thanks for a great post. I loved this part: “So I do whatever I’m going to do, but I don’t hide it to make other people more comfortable. Because people can only choose among what they know is possible.” That is such a simple, but profound statement – people can only choose among what they know is possible. We do a LOT just by living our lives.

  7. I like the idea that by living and parenting in the way that feels natural to us we are “offer ing people the chance to do the same”. Very well put!

  8. Well said! I really related to this article. I’ve been asked why I breastfeed my children for so long, or why we co-sleep,etc…I’m always a little stumped, because we just did what came natural to us, that’s it! Excellent!

  9. So I do whatever I’m going to do, but I don’t hide it to make other people more comfortable.

    One thing I think about a lot is about how I don’t (often? ever?) rub up against folks who look at me oddly for, say, breastfeeding the Critter in public, not because folks here are also doing the same, but because folks here are all also pretty much doing whatever they want to do themselves. It’s why I spent my adolescence longing to live in New York — folks come here so they can be weird without anyone bugging them about it. (Or they come here to make a lot of money, but that’s a different story.) And yet, I still sometimes feel that need to please, not to make other people comfortable. It’s astonishing to see how much other people’s discomfort can be (though certainly isn’t always) a figment of our own imaginations.