If you’re a natural parent, you may feel like you need to keep your decisions to yourself. But you need to speak up about natural parenting — here’s why.
By Danielle, Contributing Writer
I am going to tell you now that this is an opinion piece, and I may offend some of you; but that’s okay – you need to hear it.
When you started down the path of natural parenting (gasp – cloth diapering? Do you live in the Amazon? Not, on Amazon), you likely received lots of unwelcome feedback from your friends, family, and even complete strangers. You may have noticed from your first organic baby food purchase that this wasn’t something to share – definitely not something of which to inform other parents. No way.
Your mother may have made fun of your child’s car seat that was still “backward” at age three (no, mother-in-law, I will not explain to you why that is for the third time. Research it yourself). You may have received disapproving looks for breastfeeding your toddler in public. Or a friend may simply not have understood why ammonia smells on a cloth diaper truly is a reason to skip the play date (I get it – I own the largest stock pot in the history of mankind for this reason).
But, despite their wayward glances, you still kept on the path of cloth diapering, breastfeeding, extended rear-facing (before it was cool), delayed or no vaccines, natural remedies, organic food, and an overall natural lifestyle. If so, take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Or, grab a class of coffee (or wine), you earned it.
At some point, someone told you something you didn’t like. Someone told you that you were wrong, or that they didn’t want your advice. They may have said, in fewer words, that your lifestyle is offensive to them. And, you decided to keep quiet; because you didn’t want to offend anyone, you didn’t want to be giving unsolicited advice, and you definitely didn’t want to lose friends or sleep, because you live differently.
I was in that camp for a long time. I lost a family member, who was also a good friend, about something she didn’t like that I didn’t even say, she just assumed. So, I kept to myself. If someone directly asked me, “what remedy should I give for a virus?” I would answer, but half-heartedly. I would never go out of my way to suggest a natural alternative to their struggles, I may even shake my head in agreement that the pediatrician really wasn’t an idiot – that this was just that “strange case” of a totally normal illness.
So what changed my mind?
Why You Should Speak Up about Natural Parenting
I started seeing what was happening from my silence. I saw my sick friends’ children get even sicker. Children I loved. I saw my friends, who were amazing parents, experience marital breakdown and financial collapse because of their child’s medical issues. I saw car accidents where there would have been a better outcome if maybe I had not shrugged and laughed along when they asked why a three-year-old is still rear-facing. I saw allergies form after a well-child visit. And then I got another question.
Why didn’t you tell me?
Why didn’t you tell me what may happen if I circumcised my son?
Why didn’t you tell me vaccines caused this?
Why didn’t you tell me to stand up to my OB when she suggested an induction?
Why didn’t you suggest I not give that antibiotic?
I got calls from emergency rooms. I heard some of the women, mothers, I love most in this world cry over their ill children. And I knew I could have prevented it.
They knew I knew. Yet, I smiled and consoled, but didn’t tell them the truth.
So, why? Because I was so afraid of what you’d think of me. It’s fear, let’s not tip-toe around it. We are afraid of what others will think of us, we are afraid that we will be made the laughing stock of the family, we are afraid to be “controversial,” and we are afraid of losing relationships.
I am telling you now. I am telling you now because I love you. I am telling you now because I love your child. And, I am telling you now because I do not want you to ever, ever, think I didn’t tell you something that could literally save your child’s life because I was scared you may not want to be my friend anymore. So, I’m telling you. You may hate it and you may hate me, but I love you more than being afraid of that.
I am not just telling you. I am telling everyone who asks, and everyone who doesn’t.
The only thing worse than losing a friend is seeing your friend lose a child because you didn’t say something. Yes, I went there – and over your lifetime, this is a reality. So, I understand, mama. I get why you’re quiet, I really do. But, I urge you to keep trying. To keep speaking truth into those close friendships. To be a positive suggestion and not just a shoulder to cry on. To go out on a limb, and offer a solution that no one else is going to give.
Because I know you wish like I do, that someone had told you years ago. You never know who you may create, what relationship you may salvage, what illness will be prevented; but you have to keep trying. Be that mom, be that friend, and speak up.
Why do you (or don’t you) speak up about natural parenting?
Dedicated to my friend Sara, and all the mothers out there who’ve seen their child injured and are still fighting.