Do you ever feel intimidated by the natural parenting community despite having values that align with the commonly accepted philosophies?
I know I do. I sometimes feel out of place with all my flaws, trying to parent consciously but often missing the mark for various reasons. I try not to stress over it too hard because I know that I am making progress into becoming the kind of parent I admire but it is daunting at times brushing up against people who seem further along the positive parenting path than I am. Then I remember that looks can be deceiving and that almost everyone struggles in some way to be the highest ideal of themselves too. Everyone is BECOMING in some form or another. I am not alone! I hope.
I believe in all the positive parenting research but practicing the behaviours that support it is a whole other matter. It is a process that must be worked at, worked at and WORKED AT. Being a natural parent is not a badge or a mantle that is worn for all to see, but a lifestyle that has very deep philosophical roots that must be engaged in consciously. A natural parent often does not look like a natural parent. They look like a normal person trying to do what they feel is right by their families. Sometimes they mess up. I know that I mess up, constantly, and don’t often seem like a natural parent at times.
At first glance many would not believe that I am an advocate for conscious parenting choices, since I look more like a punk than a hippie but I naturally did many of the attachment parenting things that are often advertised. It just worked for me at the time but I did not bat an eyelid when it no longer worked for me either. I have yet to meet someone who meets all of the ‘natural parent’ stereotype anyways, though some come pretty close in their own way. Those interested in the lifestyle all seem to be at different points on the scale of crunchiness, and not all aspire to be the ultimate Crunch either. Some don’t even realise that they already ARE natural parents. Some of the most connected families I know don’t even know what it means to be an ‘attached’ family, but they practice it anyhow. They do what feels right to them. It just naturally aligns with the very positive values that the natural community advocates for. That’s because it is an attitude, not a checklist. We can use all of the tools in the AP toolbox like baby-wearing, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping and still not really be AP because of a lack of the necessary shift from traditional parenting behaviours (using techniques to control child behavior) to authentic ones (using empathic communication and interactions). So someone appearing to be a big hippie does not mean they practice AP values necessarily. On that line, it also means those that don’t seem to be very crunchy, or AP may very well be, or are even simply on a path to BECOMING that.
If we do not come from a family that has the AP attitude naturally, it is that much harder to create it in our lives because we must condition ourselves into behaving differently. We are in transition essentially, and so our families may not fit the ultimate image for being ‘natural’ or ‘AP”, or ‘conscious’ or any other term that fits the philosophy, but that does not mean that we are no less deserving of being a part of that community. Having an authentic relationship with our family might not look very ‘attached’ just yet, but that’s because it is a process, a practice, that has many different tools that can be used to create it. As long as the effort is being made to honor everyone’s needs within the family in an empathic and gentle manner, then who cares what it looks like. You’re then a part of what I consider my public family and are fabulous to me!