Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Parent at a Time...

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.

You know the old saying, "You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar"...it was the first thing I thought about when reading about this month's Carnival theme.

I've always had a compassionate soul. I remember as a child pleading with my parents to give money to the homeless people we would walk past in downtown streets.

Growing up I've focused my work and career around helping and supporting others.

And now as a mother I strive to teach my kiddos the importance of compassion, empathy and acceptance.

I believe that to do so effectively I need to live by example. So I do.

I treat my children with respect. I approach parenting with a democratic approach, giving my children the voice and vote they deserve. In our family we compromise. We negotiate. We trust each other. But ultimately we treat each other with love and respect. We treat those around us the same way as well, including our home, planet Earth.

Just because we don't understand why another parent makes a certain decision, doesn't mean we can't still see them for the person they are. Ultimately, everyone is doing the best they can, under those circumstances and with the knowledge they have at that moment.

Instead of dishing out harsh judgements and criticisms, I try to provide a different perspective to that parent. I present information that they may not otherwise have known and if it changes their mind, good, if not, then I accept that it is not my decision to make.

I have a few ways I enjoy spreading the word about Natural Parenting. 

Our family cloth diapers, buys local {as much as possible}, grows a garden, uses natural and eco-friendly products and we are open to learning and continuing to change our way of life to help our environment.

There are other ways I personally advocate for Natural Parenting too.

First, of course, is my blog. I didn't really start this blog to become popular, instead I started it because I had things to get off my chest, things to share and things I wanted to write about so I would never forget them. If there are readers out there that find the stuff I post interesting, that's great! I am delighted to know that what I have to say is helpful to others.

The other project I started {incidentally, I became inspired to do this after so many mamas on my son's due date forum began doing CIO} was to put together an Attachment Parenting workshop focused on the basics and benefits of AP. I presented this at various venues a few times in the last 6 months and I plan to continue on with creating and presenting workshops. Now that I have my Coaching training as another tool in my toolbox, I have even more ideas!

But I think the most important way I advocate for Natural Parenting is by living as a Natural Parent. Not everyone knows about or is initially attracted to Natural Parenting. But sometimes all it takes is to see another parent doing something to spark interest. I can't count the times I've been asked about living local, using eco-friendly products, cloth diapers, babywearing or cosleeping. Once that spark is ignited it very rarely goes out. The more we learn, the more educated and informed we become, the more we realize we have a choice. We don't have to be the parent a magazine, book, mother or friend says we do. We can choose to be the parent our heart tells us to be. And one parent at a time I believe our world will continue to change for the better.

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.


  1. Kat your workshops sound amazing! If they're in written form, you know we'd love to feature them on NPN :) Thank you for being such a compassionate advocate, we are blessed to have you in this community.

  2. Workshops! Wonderful idea! In what sort of venues do you provide them? I'm wanting to do presentations on tarantulas, but have also researched and considered doing workshops on Baby Sign Language or AP.

    You mention Coach Training. What sort of coach training?

    Great post! Thanks for participating!

  3. Those classes you offer sound awesome. I wish they offered something like that around here. It can be so hard when everyone is whispering CIO or Babywise in your ear and you don't know any different approaches. What a wonderfully giving thing for you to do. Thank you for sharing!

  4. This is a lovely example of living by example. :) Thank you.

    I appreciate this pointer - it is very true...

    "Just because we don't understand why another parent makes a certain decision, doesn't mean we can't still see them for the person they are. Ultimately, everyone is doing the best they can, under those circumstances and with the knowledge they have at that moment."

    I look forward to reading more; now I'll subscribe!

  5. Kat, I am so happy to have found your blog through the Carnival! I ended up getting sidetracked by many of your posts!

    Great post and it seems like you are really modeling compassionate advocacy in al that you do! Your children are lucky to be able to experience such a warm home life that they can carry forward with them. Beautiful post and blog!

  6. Thank you everyone!

    To answer the workshop questions, I presented them at a local Natural Parenting boutique (they offer regular workshops on lots of different topics-I suggested doing one on AP and the owner agreed!) and also at one of our local libraries (setting that one up took some time and planning but it all worked out). I plan to do some more this Spring and will probably try the library again and possibly collaborate with some other like-minded professionals and use their available space.

    And as for the coaching, I am a trained and certified Life Coach and focus on Personal Well-Being, Couples and Parent Coaching. I am fairly "new" at this (in the sense that I have recently embarked with this as a "job"-but I feel like I've been coaching for many years now!) but it feels so right and I am looking forward to where it takes me :-)

  7. Great post for CarNatPar! I like your approach to compassionate advocacy. I know it's the way I respond best to it when others share their approaches. Keeping away from the judgments and keying into what the other person is asking or telling us helps guide us in how much or how little to share. It can be hard to hold back when we're passionate about something like gentle parenting choices, but as you say, you do attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  8. That's lovely! It sounds like we started our blogs for much the same reasons — I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head about natural parenting topics, and there was no outlet for me locally at the time. Most of my friends weren't parents at all yet, and the parents I did know parented along different lines, so starting to blog was such a release. Little did I know I'd find such wonderful community, like you and the other CarNatPar writers, through it!

    Your workshops and coaching sound so inspiring — it really sounds like you've found ways to put your energy, thoughtfulness, and gentle advocacy to good use.


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