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It seems that no matter what your parenting style is, you will face opposition. From the infamous unsolicited advice to the claims that you are depriving your child, ask any parent and they will tell you that they’ve been there.
Natural parenting is no different and in fact many times it seems that natural parents get more opposition then most.
Does any of this sound familiar?
“Everyone thinks they want to cloth diaper but nobody actually sticks with it.”
“You can’t keep them safe from everything…”
“Why are you still breastfeeding.”
“It’s just one bite…”
Whether it is a friend, family member, or some random person on the street you may and probably will hear these comments as a natural parent.
What can you do when you face this opposition?
Here are some suggestions on how to deal with opposition as a natural parent (although most of these work even if you aren’t natural); some may work all the time, some may work only in certain situations, some may cause more issues then you asked for (unfortunately you just never know how someone may react) but when you need fresh ammo to defend you beliefs, I hope these help.
How to Deal With Opposition as a Natural Parent
Smile and Nod
Sometimes you can just dodge the bullet by saying “That’s nice, I’ll have to look into it.”
The Blanket Statement
“We have done a lot of research and found that this is what works best for our family.”
Mums the Word
What they don’t know, they can’t oppose. Sometimes it’s best not to share what you are doing even if you want everyone to know how great something is.
Don’t Share Unless Asked
Many times people are simply opposed because you come off spouting this unasked for advice and they feel like you are a parent snob. People seem to be more receptive if they are the ones who instigate the conversation.
Share Your Knowledge
Yes, this seems to be the opposite of some of the previous advice but sometimes people are actually just clueless as to the benefits/reason for doing whatever you are doing.
Quote Someone Important
Sadly many parents who research their parenting choices are not given the credit they deserve. So when your opposition won’t listen to you and your opinions, go ahead and give them an “actually Dr. so-and-so or the AAP says…”
Tell Them to Mind Their Own
“This is OUR child to raise, not YOURS.” Snarky? Perhaps, but some people are just that clueless.
Prove Them Wrong
When they say you will never stick with cloth diapers, prove them wrong. A family member told me that nobody every sticks with cloth diapering when I told them I was planning on switching. One year later, that family member has now just recommended cloth diapers to another relative. Hmmm guess I was right after all!
Every Little Bit Counts
Explain that just because you can’t protect your child from everything doesn’t mean you can’t try. Really that argument is quite sad. It’s like saying, you know lead is poisonous but there’s lead everywhere so why bother avoiding it at all? Every bit of protection helps, in my opinion.
Debate the Issue, Not the Person
This seems obvious. When I’m telling someone why we do something, I never for a second think that they are a bad parent because they do something else. However, people seem to think that. They hear “well we do this” and interpret it as “you’re a horrible parent for not doing this too”.
The only real way to avoid this issue is to clarify that you are not saying those who do things differently are wrong or bad, just that you prefer your way.
If you are constantly getting pestered by the same person over and over again, perhaps it’s best to just come out in the open and tell them that while you know they love your kids and are just trying to be helpful, it’s really upsetting that they keep bothering you about it and that you are comfortable with the way you are doing things.
You will always get unsolicited advice but now you have a few more ways to handle it.
Great post, love. Couldn't agree more!
If I'm not up for a big discussion I will try to laugh off my crunchy decisions. "When am I going to stop breastfeeding? Oh I don't know, when he goes to college?" The person normally laughs and then drops the subject. I also use the excuse that it saves money – vinegar to clean, a small squirt of Dr Bronner's in the tub, cloth diapering, making my own baby food … I've never had anyone tell me that I should be spending more money!
Great post! I'm lucky in that I don't get much opposition from people I surround myself with. I'm sure it helps that I used my blog to answer most things that might come up with them. Strangers though, I'm a big fan of the smile and nod!
Great post and good reminder for me. Sometimes I am probably the one "sharing too much" because I was so CLUELESS when Micah was born that I want to share what I know now because I wish somebody had with me! I have to look more carefully at my audience because they may feel I am acting like a "know it all" when really, I still feel so new at this and my son is 3!