To converse or to shutdown … parenting and the holiday season

I’ve had an epiphany of late that seems so ridiculously obvious and so closely aligns with the way I try to parent and the way I try to lead my life that I can’t believe it is just occurring to me but I’m so pleased it has as the holiday season looms. The good old, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ along with the basic assumption that most (definitely not all, but most) people have good intentions are at the heart of it. 

In parenting, I and many (maybe even the majority) of others have subscribed to the notion of ‘my babies, my way’, ‘you do you and I’ll do me’ attitude that while ultimately is the way we end up making our parenting decisions, it is also forming a barrier and disconnect between current mothers and parents and also with generations who have grown children and generations yet to embark on this journey.
I can not in all good sense, hope to advocate and educate mothers of a gentler parenting path to take if I am never willing to listen, discuss and hear them out. We on the gentler side, often express frustration and upset at the blind support and encouragement of things like CIO or Controlled Crying and hate that gentler support is shutdown (I’m guilty of this recently) and yet, when people question how long we breastfeed for or the fact we won’t leave our baby cry itself to sleep, many of us shut the conversation down with a ‘you can shove your outdated advice’ or ‘my baby, my way’ kind of line. We are not willing to discuss these things and feel attacked. We withdraw to our likeminded tribe and lament the lack of support we have from those around us, but maybe, just maybe we are part of the problem.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of shutting the conversation down, we should ask some questions and hear them out.

How do you feel when someone genuinely listens to you? I know I feel valued and validated. EVEN if that person does not ultimately agree with me. They listened. They hopefully empathised. They hopefully didn’t cut me off or made me feel stupid or out of date or naïve.

Listen to their tale, even if it hurts your heart and listen for the good intentions. The love. The poor advice they were given. The lack of support. Their reasoning.

I truly believe that there is every chance you will find yourself empathising with them. Instead of seeing their alternative view or unsolicited advice as an attack, try to assume it comes from a very good place of genuine concern for you and your baby.

Once you have done some listening and showed the gentle respect and understanding they deserve as a human THEN it is your turn. Don’t shutdown. Don’t hold back in educating and advocating for your family and your way of mothering. Connect with their experience and allow them to connect with yours.

Take the time to make the conversation worthwhile. You may just find that the very people you were so sure wanted to sabotage or ridicule you actually just needed to know more to be able to understand and give you the support you need to mother the way you need to mother for your unique baby/ child.

I know that there are some very toxic people out there but they have to be the minority. Let’s try to assume the very best of people and do unto them as we would have them do unto us.

Let’s open up space to connect and respect the reciprocal nature of conversation. Listen with an open heart and mind and share with passion and compassion.

Happy festive season to all 💙
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