14 February 2012

Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents
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 focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.
It's a fact. At numerous points in being a parent - from the period of trying-to-conceive (or if you skipped the "trying" part and "oops"ed it...) to the prenatal period to any given point in rearing your little one - someone will inevitably ask you "Why do you do that?" The tone with which this weighted question will vary - from the curious to the dubious to the skeptical, incriminating, brash, and down-right rude. Instead of putting up your defenses, explain your logic and reasoning clearly, respectfully, and conversationally. How does one do that? Let me give you some examples of how I tend to respond to my parenting ethos coming into question...

On Explaining Myself...
  • "I read [INSERT ARTICLE/BOOK/AUTHOR HERE], and it really made sense to me and my situation because [WHY?]"
  • "I feel that this is the best option for our situation."
  • "I wish I could do [THAT], but unfortunately, [THAT] doesn't work for us; [THIS] seems to work better."
  • "I have done my research and feel like I am making the best decision possible based on our circumstances." (Frequent response to questions on vaccinating - selective, alternate schedule is what we do...)
  • "Either way, this doesn't affect you or your relationship with my child." (Frequent response to being questioned on Niko's intact status)
95% of questioning comes from these folks. Except the one on the right - that's me.

On Being Respectful... (and sometimes ending a heated conversation)
  • "I did read (something like) that [ARTICLE/BOOK/AUTHOR]; I don't know if I can prescribe to that line of thought - it doesn't make sense to me."
  • "I know that to be false - try reading [ARTICLE/BOOK/AUTHOR]. [INSERT MEMORABLE FACTS]."
  • "Thank you for that information. I'll definitely have to look further into it!"
  • "Thank you for the information; We have irreconcilable views, I think, and I am uncomfortable discussing this topic with you further. I am making the best decision for us with the information I know to be accurate. I certainly appreciate your insight and will take it into consideration, but I'd like to move on to another topic of discussion if you don't mind." (In case you're wondering, I do actually speak like this sometimes. Ask the people I work with...) 

On Being Conversational...
  • "I never thought of it like that. Why do you feel that works so well for you?"
  • "Where can I find more information? Who has vouched for/supports this philosophy?"
  • "How do you think I can incorporate that into our routine?"
  • "What benefits do you believe this holds?"
  • "How  does that work with your family situation?"
  • "I really like [THIS ASPECT/PHILOSOPHY]. Do you think it's better than what I am doing now? How so?" 

Many times it  can be very difficult to keep your cool when someone disagrees with you (and especially so when their own philosophies are far less NP/AP based; EVEN MORE SO when the information they are spouting is from sources publicly known to be unreliable). Hopefully next time you are engaged in a disagreement, you might remember some of my favorite lines, and instead of fostering a disagreement, the conversation can be turned around into a learning experience for both you and your detractor (I know mine most often turn out to be questioning family members: maybe the most difficult to deal with!).

Be firm and resolved in your parenting decisions, but always leave at least a window open so that should a new idea that could enhance your parenting experience present itself, it's not locked out. There are no steadfast, 100% efficacious parenting methodologies; each parent must allow their philosophy to evolve and be fluid and respect the fluidity of others' philosophies. By respectfully sharing your views and being kindly receptive to entertaining those of others, our parenting philosophies grow and become better. Occasionally, a conversation needs to be shut down; always, however, do so respectively. Eventually, that conversation might open itself again under a new tone where two-way conversation and betterment becomes possible - you never know!

I wish everyone the best of luck in the defense and sharing of their philosophies! It's certainly hard work but can always be done peacefully, which should be at the core of your own philosophy at all times.

How do you keep your cool when your parenting practices are called into question or you disagree with another parent's? Share with me in the comments or on the FaceBook!

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:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.
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  1. It is so funny how every.moment as a new parent really can be questioned by others! It's enough to make someone crazy with doubt or just plain frustrated. Thanks for sharing some of your go-to lines to help get you out of those uncomfortable situations. I like how they are respectful of others but still true to yourself. I find something like "I wish I could do [THAT], but unfortunately, [THAT] doesn't work for us; [THIS] seems to work better" works really well, because who can argue with that? :)

  2. Ana I laughed so much when I saw the caption under your photo - I could have posted one up of my family members too and written the same thing!! I think these suggestions are brilliant and I wish I could learn to talk like you:

    "Thank you for the information; We have irreconcilable views, I think, and I am uncomfortable discussing this topic with your further. I am making the best decision for us with the information I know to be accurate. I certainly appreciate your insight and will take it into consideration, but I'd like to move on to another topic of discussion if you don't mind." - Wow!

    My tactic too is to try to remember a few facts and stories to share (which most of time I'm useless at). I will have to look over your lines many more times I think! Thank-you. Onelove

  3. I love the one on "this doesn't affect your relationship with my child" - great way to shift the focus and end an argument. I've also used the "we're going to have to agree to disagree" before, and fortunately, that has ended well.

  4. I love all of your responses. I've used some of them myself. Typically, they can end a conversation right where you want it to end. :-)

    I'm following you on FB now <3

  5. Wow, I so never have the guts to just say right out that I have irreconcilable views with someone. Bravo! I, too, think the "This doesn't affect your relationship with my child" is a brilliant coup. Thanks for that one.

  6. Excellent quotes! I have used some that are similar but there are many there I look forward to pulling out of my back pocket next time I need to ;-) Thanks so much!

  7. Great quotes Ana! Most of my questioning comes from family too...depending on who it is I've been known to be a little bit less than gracious; I'd like to put more of these words into play with some people. ;)

    Really appreciate your wisdom and willingness to stand up for what you know to be true - that is such an important example.

  8. Those are good ones! I also like these: "Oh, I'm not into that book. I've heard some bad things about it." And "You know, I would have thought that too, but it turns out [this] works so much better for us." And, "I tried that at first and it was an epic fail, so I tried this and it worked so much better!"

    (It helps that I tried a lot of stuff. Much of which was the wrong stuff. But let me tell you, people listen much better when I say, "Oh, yes, I tried spanking my son. Broke my heart and didn't do him a bit of good. Now I try these other things and we get along so much better." Then they know I'm not going to judge them if they admit they've spanked their kids too. It doesn't mean they're bad moms, and it doesn't mean they can't stop doing it tomorrow.)

  9. So helpful! I need these types of phrases under my belt when visiting family. Speaking of which, that picture with your caption made me totally laugh. They always look so innocent, don't they, but they totally are the ones to push all your buttons… ;)