Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

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.

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As a first time mama, I don’t really feel like I have the right to tell any other parent what to do. Even if I were a mama to five children, I still don’t think it would be my place. For me, being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting practices means that I parent Baby in the way that’s right for our family. This includes breastfeeding, cloth diapering, following a delayed vaccination schedule, not circumcising, living a green and healthy life, loving nature and being outdoors, and taking a gentle approach to all things baby among other things. I try to parent instinctually, and I know these choices are right for me because they feel right in my head, my heart, and in my gut.

I didn’t grow up thinking I would parent in this way. I didn’t even know anyone who breastfed or cloth diapered until recently. The only thing I always knew about parenting is that I would love my baby more than life itself and do everything in my power to give him or her the best possible life.

Part of the reason I blog is to share my experiences as a parent. I know everyone parents differently, and to me, as long as parents make their decisions with love and awareness, then that is all that matters to me. I think it is important to share my experiences and read about others’ varied parenting experiences, because I believe that you don’t often realize that you have a choice, or that there is another way to do things, until you come across an idea enough to feel like: Hmmm, maybe this is something I should look into too. In other words, I think unfamiliar philosophies and ideas take a while to “normalize” for me and most people. I think back to the breastfeeding class that my husband and I took while I was pregnant and how weird it was for us to watch a video of close up shots of breasts and babies breastfeeding. Now, I realize it was an attempt to normalize the process, and I feel thankful for that. I think that by sharing my experiences as a parent, maybe it normalizes some of the choices that I make for others – and maybe it will even cause another mama out there to research different ways of doing things.

For instance, I started reading about cloth diapering a couple of months after Baby was born. I read and read and read, and although I was completely on board with the reasons to do it, I was intimidated by the vast amount of information out there that seemed pertinent to deciding which kinds of diapers to buy and how to go about starting the process. I had never even seen a cloth diaper in real life. It wasn’t until I read one blog after another that I slowly began to understand how easy it is to cloth diaper – and then suddenly the whole idea of cloth diapering seemed normal and doable to me. This lead me to take the plunge and jump right into the wonderful world of cloth. Now I’m kicking myself for not starting it right when Baby was born, but the important thing is that I was exposed to the idea enough and ultimately felt informed enough to make the right decision for my family. If another mama out there winds up making a new choice for her family thanks to something I’ve shared on my blog, then I feel really happy that my compassionate advocacy is somehow making a difference in the lives of others, just as the stories shared by other blogging mamas has made such an impact on my parenting choices.

During my years as a teacher, my very favorite teaching strategy was called Socratic dialogue. The basic concept is that instead of providing answers to the students, I would facilitate discussion. The students would ask questions of each other and share their viewpoints until they arrived at an answer that felt right to them. I believe this method of learning allowed my students to feel like learning was a more authentic process and that they were able to arrive at answers in a natural way.

To me, parenting is the same process. The answers are out there, and regardless of which so called answer is right for us, the most important thing is to take the time to question, be aware, expose yourself to varying possibilities, and then decide for yourself what feels right. I’m thankful to all of those people out there who continually inspire me to dig deeper and not settle on a parenting decision until it feels right in the three key places: my head, my gut, and my heart. I hope that my blogs helps others do the same in some small way.

Baby Smiles

Mama wants nothing but the best for this guy!



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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:

  • 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.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 April April 12, 2011 at 8:46 am

“as long as parents make their decisions with love and awareness, then that is all that matters to me.”

Thank you. That statement is wonderful – eloquently stated – and I think it’s that kind of statement I’ve been looking for to explain my position.

I love the parenting decisions I have made, but I know they’re not for everyone.
April recently posted..Struggling with AdvocacyMy Profile

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2 Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com April 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

Loving this attitude towards parenting and life; it seems so empowering to inform yourself and then make decisions based on a knowledge of information, wisdom, gut and heart. Thanks for sharing and I learned something new about the term “Socratic dialogue” too!
Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com recently posted..Why I’m not an advocate for Natural ParentingMy Profile

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3 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama April 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

Normalization – what a great way to look at what so many of our NP blogging community are doing. When I first organized the Carnival of Nursing in Public last year, that was my goal – to help normalize NIP. When I write about leaving babies intact, again, I’m trying to normalize it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted..Ten Reasons I Choose to Nurse My ToddlerMy Profile

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4 Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama April 12, 2011 at 9:56 am

Charise,
I LOVE the “Socratic dialogue”…I do try to engage Nathan like this (when I have my head on straight that is)! I’m glad to know its an actual technique and who better to model after than Socrates himself. You’re doing a wonderful job with your blog,, you are a TRUE natural advocate and it seems that you are an attached parent with EASE!!
Keep up the natural lovin ;)
Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama recently posted..Natural love creates natural happinessMy Profile

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5 kim April 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

I love this post and how you talk about parenting instintually and how so much information is available via internet and blogs. i find SO much inspiration and ideas that way! thanks!! :)
kim recently posted..Ten Reasons I Choose to Nurse My ToddlerMy Profile

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6 Amy April 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Great post! I agree with your philosophy completely. This really sums it up for me: “as long as parents make their decisions with love and awareness, then that is all that matters to me.” Amen! As long as no one’s getting hurt, let’s just let everyone be who they are.
Amy recently posted..Just Be Just DoMy Profile

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7 Mary Michael April 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

“Take the time to question”–I get upset when I feel like people don’t question their practices…they just do things because, well, because. I think what I need to start doing is taking the time to question WHY I am bothered by their lack of questioning. What’s really bothering me? Is it genuine concern or is it that I feel threatened or do I just want to feel better about myself? Things to think about…

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8 Deb @ Living Montessori Now April 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Wonderful post! I love that you “try to parent instinctually, and I know these choices are right for me because they feel right in my head, my heart, and in my gut.” What a great way to parent and to be an inspirationfor others!
Deb @ Living Montessori Now recently posted..Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural ParentingMy Profile

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9 Terri April 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Yay for sharing great information and adding to the resources for people looking for natural parenting information and insights into how it works for others. I know this has been an important part of both my parenting journey and reason for sharing with others through my blog. Your little one is a shining light and it is evident that his Mama only wants the best for him.
Terri recently posted..Compassionate Advocacy- Sharing Resources- Spreading the LoveMy Profile

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10 Kelly April 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm

This is so cool Charise! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on compassionate advocacy and why you are blogging. :)

“You don’t often realize that you have a choice, or that there is another way to do things, until you come across an idea enough to feel like: Hmmm, maybe this is something I should look into too.” – This is like, the story of my parenting life! :)

I really didn’t know anything about ‘natural’ parenting or any of the other stuff I’m doing now until pretty darn recently – I had no idea these concepts even existed, and I’m still learning a ton. And it is definitely easier for me to absorb the ideas when they are presented with compassion. :)

Thanks for doing what you do!
Kelly recently posted..One of Those Days…My Profile

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11 Lauren@Hobo Mama April 17, 2011 at 1:54 am

That is such a beautiful perspective to take on blogging. I especially love your inclusion of the Socratic style of facilitating discussion — I’m going to take that one to heart and think about it some more, because it resonates with me as well. So glad you’re sharing yourself on your blog!
Lauren@Hobo Mama recently posted..Same old- same old- Extended breastfeedingMy Profile

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12 Zoie @ TouchstoneZ April 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

This is a great post for CarNatPar. I love that your priority is the best for your family first. Then, you hope that parents will move from a place of information and instinct. It is a not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, but rather of freely available information, sharing, and support
Zoie @ TouchstoneZ recently posted..My Sons Know NurtureMy Profile

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13 stevesatriani May 20, 2011 at 3:53 am

Great post! you’re right our family is the most important part of our lives

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14 Brandie Russell December 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

So glad you’re sharing yourself on your blog! That is such a beautiful perspective to take on blogging.
Brandie Russell recently posted..Cancer Tattoos TumblrMy Profile

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