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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

They See Me Wearin', They Hatin'

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
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 are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.
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But first, a little bit of perspective:
I am NOT a parent, so deciding to write for this Carnival was a little bit like showing up for a chef's convention, and telling everyone I make all my own meals. Because I cook my own food, I understand things about making food, and I might have perspectives on cooking that are different than those of a chef, but I am not a chef, if we're being completely technical. To that end, I am a natural childcare provider. I work with many children, and have different experiences and perspectives, but I am not a mama. I feel that caregivers who are not parents (baby sitters, teachers) care for children and love children, and can show a different face of care, whether or not they are mamas. So..here I am, mama or not, offering my observations about babywearing. The theme of the Carnival is  "parenting views changing when you have kids"(little hard to work around the "not being a parent", but hey). I'm attempting to discuss the idea of babywearing in theory vs. babywearing in practice, so, here we go!
PS: I'm seriously amused by the fact that my computer turned the colloquialism "the bomb.com" into a URL. It's pretty much a website that has a picture of what looks like TMI at the top, and is then filled with ads for wigs. I have no idea. VISIT IF YOU DARE. Just kidding.
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When I became interested in the concepts of natural childcare, and of natural life in general, I expected a fair amount of controversy. I'm super anti confrontational, so I was kind of wary of this, however, I knew that it was something I would have to deal with. As you're probably aware, for some odd reason, controversy seems to radiate around natural decisions. Not because there is anything wrong with these decisions, or because people are choosing to do something harmful, but because apparently, nowadays, everything is controversial. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. If you eat meat, you're killing animals. If you don't eat meat, some people will think you're a wimp. You just can't win, which is irritating. However, as you are probably aware, natural childcare choices tend to draw a lot of heat, even moreso that things like veganism or vegetarianism. Since I have discovered the natural childcare community, this fact has baffled me. I wish we lived in a world where everyone could make their own decisions, and we could expect everyone else to respect them, but we do not. I can't grasp what's wrong with opting  to care for your children in a natural way. I wish that everyone could make the right choice for their family and have that choice be respected, but I understand that in the modern world, we question everything. That's just how it is, that's culture, and we must slog through it, friends. I understand that natural parenting draws heat because it is different, because it is natural, because it involves touch, contact, responsiveness, interpreting of cues, respect-things not always emphasized or respected in North American parenting. People are uncomfortable with new things, and I feel that sometimes people become insecure about their own decisions when faced with a new idea-even if these so called "new ideas" have been around for years! How long have people been ECing, am I right? But hey, that's life. "New" may not mean "new", but people's interpretation tends to remain the same, whether techniques are from 2013 or 1013. Sometimes other people feel the need to prove they have made the "correct" decision, at the expense at the feelings and opinions of others, which is kind of uncool. However, we are all just doing our best, and people aren't perfect, so I get it. Although I wasn't thrilled that my choices would draw controversy, I knew that I had time to get over it (I'm not a mama yet!), and I know that the decisions I have chosen to make, whether now or in the future, are ones I truly believe are best for kiddos. My opinion tends to be one of "PSHH-who cares what people think anyway! NOT ME!" In my perfect world, I would waltz around, babywearing and breastfeeding and ECing, and everyone can think what they want. Obviously, my perfect world does not exist, so I am prepared for whatever comes. However, as an attachment caregiver, one thing has drawn some heat that I was completely and totally unprepared for:
Babywearing.
    When I read Beyond the Sling,by Mayim Bialik, I was surprised to hear her talk about negative comments she had received about babywearing. PSHH, "babywearing haters"? That's not a thing, right? Who could hate babywearing? People, I tell you. The world is a crazy place, and honestly, I have been completely taken aback by certain comments I have received since then. I could barely fathom frusterations with babywearing. Seriously, babywearing is the bomb.com! You carry your baby around all the time as it is, right? Non walking baby + 24 hours a day = A LOT of carrying! Slings are a fabulously easy way to tend to your child's needs while still taking care of the necessary things in your life. I love slings, because you can be hands free, take care of other children, engage in activities with friends and family, and do normal things, all while still caring for your child. Seems like a win-win situation to me. I use my ring sling often, especially when I am caring for big groups of children;slings make it so much easier to help older kids with a craft or food, while still caring for a baby or toddler. They basically eliminate the phrase "Wait, I have to put down the baby", which is fantastic. With a sling, you can hold the baby AND help the kid! ULTRA win win, right? Apparently not everyone thinks so. Evidently, some people are still skeptical of babywearing., perhaps because it is still gaining popularity and momentum. Admittedly, most people are supportive and kind, and babywearing has become very well accepted recently(The other day, Rory was watching "How I Met Your Mother", and I saw a character using a pouch sling!!), but I still get confused comments from those who are unfamiliar with it or skeptical of it. As I mentioned, I have a ring sling that I use when I am nannying. I absolutely love it, and it is super convenient, because it can easily be adjusted and fixed to the correct size for any given child. I use the sling for babies and toddlers alike, and oftentimes, if we are out, I'll let an older child walk, but bring the sling just in case. The comment I get most often when I take out my sling to babywear?
"She's/He's too old for that thing"
, or "That's too small for him/her".
I've gotten both comments multiple times, and as a new babywearer(I made my sling in Februaryish), I'm still learning how to answer.
     The thing about people considering the ring sling "too small" for a toddler or older baby? Hey everyone, just a Public Service Announcement: IT'S ADJUSTABLE. It has a pouch that, if I expand it totally, could probably fit 8 year old Adora. I'm fairly certain that it isn't too small. I'm a little confused about the "too small" comment, though. I'm not sure whether people suggesting the child is too old for a sling, or they are suggesting that my sling is too small for that particular child.  I know that I should probably ignore the comment, but the fact that I have had more than one person say this to me has me kind of freaked out; is my sling actually too small, or is this just a case of people who need to mind their own business? The cloth in the sling itself is very large, and the rings can hold up to 200 pounds, according to their package, so I can't see how it would be too small. I'm hoping the problem is that people cannot tell it's adjustable, because otherwise I'm at a complete loss to what they mean.
     As for the "she's too old for that thing" comment, just whatever, man. Seriously, people are going to think what people are going to think, and I think a two year old is not too old for a sling. I realize everyone has their own opinions about this, and that's cool. If you think two is too old for a sling, no problem. However, in response to that, I usually go with "she/he is still small, and she/he still likes to be carried, so it's what's working", or, "Really? I think she's the perfect age!". For the "that sling's too small" comment, I'm not 100% sure what the person is trying to point out, so I usually explain what I explained here: "Oh, I know it looks small, but it has a ring here that anchors the cloth and allows me to adjust it," or simply, "No worries, it's adjustable!" Usually, these satisfy people. If not, I change the subject, or make it clear that I'm really not interested in debating: "I know babywearing isn't for everyone, but it's what works for me," or "Hey, who likes pie? I do!" Although I don't usually feel like arguing about it with people on the street, I am curious as to why some people are uncomfortable with people wearing toddlers. Sure, they can walk, but on long walks or day trips, small legs get tired. I'm guessing they would not look twice if I had the child in a stroller, so I am somewhat confused, but que sera sera.
Does anyone have any experience with people on their backs(no pun intended, LOL) about babywearing toddlers? Have you had people tell you your sling is too small? How did you respond?
Again, I am still learning, so advice is well appreciated!
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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 (posts will be live and updated no later than afternoon on June 11):
  • My little gastronomes — "I'll never cook a separate meal for my children," Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn't turn out quite as she'd imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn't mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year - because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she's not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn't it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I've Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love... — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin', They Hatin' — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with "babywearing haters."
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting "mistakes," and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids... — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But "doing it right" looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter's high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children's needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn't do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby's mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, "Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?"
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.

8 comments:

  1. I think your answers about the sling being "too small" are great. Informative, not defensive or confrontational, short and to the point. As for a toddler being "too big," I've definitely gotten that one. I've said things like "he's not too big for me," "I'm much bigger, I can handle it," "he's still little, and I don't mind helping him when he gets tired," "this works for us better than our other options," etc. A simple "see how happy he looks? Thanks for your concern, but this works well for us." And thank YOU for writing in our Carnival - we absolutely welcome alternative caregivers and non-parents!

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm really glad you liked them-going for informative, but not controversial was definitely my goal. And I LOVE "see how happy he looks? Thanks for your concern, but this works well for us"-that's great! I love that you point out that Kieran likes it; as long as your child is happy, safe and cared for, that should satisfy inquiring minds, right? Also, sometimes I think that when people ask questions about the child in the sling, they forget that the child can hear them. I love that "See how happy he looks?" bring him back into the picture. That's great! Also, I love that you thank them for their concern-acknowledging that you enjoy speaking with them, but don't want controversy. Thanks! I really enjoyed bveing a part of the carnival.

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  2. I think people hate on natural stuff because us humans are just so EVOLVED and life is just so much EASIER thanks to all our STUFF, that doing something "old school" is just ridic. At least, that's probably it. Like, if our grandmothers did it, it was only because they had to spend so much time working around the home that they NEEDED to wear a sling or whatever. But to choose to wear one when you're just going to the park or walking through the mall is like, SO WEIRD when you can use one of those newfangled stroller contraptions. Whatevs. -Erika @erikagebhardt.com

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    1. Hey, Erika! Thanks for the comment!
      YES. That's exactly it. I think we spend so much time progressing and getting "better", that sometimes we forget what really WORKS. Like, we find new ways to make things easier for ourselves, but they might not really be best for kiddos, you know? Like, "OH, LOOK! I can entertain my kids my kids with noisy toys a swing that will hold them, instead of m, so I can work", but is that really what's best? I don't know. And oh my word, strollers. I understand the appeal of the stroller-the kid can sit in it, so you don't have to worry about holding them-but my GOSH, they're seriously such a pain. They're so heavy, and you can't do stairs-I think they're much more hassle than they are worth. However, I understand the usefulness.

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  3. I think it's awesome that you're a natural childcare provider and practice babywearing! It would be wonderful if a lot more childcare providers used natural parenting principles. I actually practiced natural parenting, including babywearing, when I had my kids in 1985 and 1990. Surprisingly, I didn't tend to get negative comments ... at least to my face. ;) It sounds like you have some great responses for when you do get negative comments. Thanks for being a natural childcare provider! Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

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    1. Hey, Deb! Thanks for the comment! I can't wait to read your post-I love Montessori education : )
      Thanks for all the support! I would love to see more caregivers using Natural Parenting principles, as well. Wow, that's awesome! Ahead of the times, right? My Mom wore me in a sling sometimes, which I think it pretty cool. Thanks for the nice comment! I'm learning and doing my best. I really love babywearing!! It's such an awesome way to care for kids.

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  4. The bomb.com is making me laugh so much. Is that the first keyword people needing wigs think of?

    I've never gotten the too-small comment — how odd! I have gotten the too-old ones, but you make so many good points about why that makes no sense: small legs, a stroller wouldn't be considered odd, etc. When I don't have a sling or a stroller, I invariably end up carrying my two-year-old for quite some time if we're out for a long time — so why wouldn't I want to bring along an easily packable carrier to save my arms!

    Thanks for participating! I love knowing that there are natural childcare providers out there. :)

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    1. OH MY GOODNESS. I know, right? I almost died. Only when they need a really amazing wig? Honestly, it's so bizarre.
      I know, right? I'm hoping people don't realize it's adjustable? Oh well. Thanks! Yeah, no one says anything when I'm using a stroller, but whatever. And yes, exactly! The other day I forgot my sling when out with a 2 year old, and I really regretted it! My arms were so tired later. I think slings are so convenient.
      Thank you so much for all your support! I really appreciate all the help you've been giving me as I start this whole blogging thing, and the support as an NatPar caregiver! It's awesome. Thanks!

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