Thanks for introducing yourself, and for your beautifully written post. It is clear you worked hard to rein in your knee-jerk reaction to my blog post, and I appreciate that. As the author of Why “Natural Parents” Are Richer and co-author of The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year, I’m happy to respond to the spirit of your post.
I can relate to the source of your anger. You’re sick of reading about how people (read: you) should and shouldn’t parent, and internalized the Time Magazine cover and media blitz as an assault on your parenting style. You want what’s best for your daughter, and you’ve found your way like the rest of us, through trial and error, and you’re sick of seeing your choices get ripped apart by those in the media and blogosphere.
You’re correct – the title of my blog post was meant to draw attention, and I sensed that it would be controversial, despite my attempts otherwise. Parenting in general is controversial, because taking any strong position on parenting, especially a minority one like Attachment Parenting or Natural Parenting (which, you’re correct, are very similar and in some circles synonomous), by default involves rejecting other positions.
To get to the heart of your assumption, while I am a strong advocate for the type of parenting I embrace, I also recognize that each of us makes our own decisions based on our individual circumstances, values, and the information and support available to us at the time. I do not think that breastfeeding is right and bottle feeding is wrong, and I could go down the list of practices that you described and say the same for each. I think that we each have our own “right” and “wrong”, and we each have our own natural and unnatural.
Labels are tricky. We chose to label our book with the term “natural parenting” as a nod to the back-to-basics approach we describe, which many people across time and around the world would just call “parenting.” But labels can be helpful because we all like to take mental shortcuts (i.e. is this book for me or not?), so that’s what I’m working with.
As someone who also fed my baby some formula, bought a crib (I wish I only paid $100!), used disposable diapers, a bouncy seat, etc., I can sincerely tell you that I’m not judging you. Nor do I judge any parent who has the sincere intention of doing right by her child. I wrote the book, and that blog post, in the spirit of educating the self I was before I became a mother. I wish I’d known that most of the assumptions mainstream society makes about baby care are driven by corporate agenda’s or some dead male doctor’s opinion ungrounded in science.
If you choose to read The Other Baby Book, which we wrote so that parents would have access to another alternative that might speak to their heart, you’ll find that we don’t use the word “should” anywhere in its pages. You’ll find that while we educate and inform, we never judge. You’ll find that we embrace the wisdom of mothers, as individuals and as a collective body of powerful beings. And you’ll also find the following words in our introduction,
A discussion on parenting wouldn’t be complete without some mention of guilt. We’ll keep it simple: we trust you. We believe in the strength and intelligence of mothers, and we know that you want to do right by your baby and yourself. Every choice we make has pros and cons, and reflects our values. As women, we tend to feel guilt around decisions, regardless of what choice we make. So we ask you to read with an open mind, and to respect your inner voice.
The goal of our book is not to have you adopt and master our every word. If something doesn’t resonate with you, no matter how many studies back it up, we encourage you to follow Emerson’s lead: “Trust thyself—every heart vibrates to that iron string.”