Sunday, April 25, 2010

My way or the highway

Have been thinking about yesterday's post.

I've been reading (and enjoying)a lot of quite strongly opinionated blogs of late. I've also been listening to a few friends who are getting a hard time from people for choosing to do things outside the mainstream's idea of normal. I think both those things had me all riled up that there is this belief only one way to do things-and I presented an equally biased idea of another "only way to do things".

This post is not an apology for my beliefs in the school system, the hospital system or how I think women and children are expected to act. I still have those beliefs.

But I do not think that my way of thinking is the absolute right way either. I actually think that putting your faith in one way of thinking-be it mainstream or alternative can be equally as dangerous. Real power comes from knowing that you have a choice.

Knowing that you can research your options fully and use your own intuition to make those choices for yourself and your children is power. We are often not given the full story or all the information that there is available. We often struggle through with something that we are not comfortable with because we feel we need to to conform to some ideal. This might be a hospital birth you are not comfortable with-or it might be breastfeeding your 3 year old when you hate it.

I truly believe that there is NO one right way.

I have made choices that probably make a lot of people's eyes roll. I had ultrasounds with every pregnancy-even my homebirths. Harper has a dummy. We indulge in horrid fast food from the Mcempire from time to time. I am also the only one out of a close circle of friends who's kids don't do school. But I don't feel judged-so who am I to pass judgment on other people's choices?

I think my real peeve comes from people with no information criticizing a choice they know nothing about. Knowledge is power. I researched my choices and am very comfortable with the decisions I have made for myself and my family. I apologize for assuming that others are not in the same boat.


Sif said...

Being in a minority is really tough, and sometimes we feel we need to be tough just to survive all the criticisms and funny looks, and at times the out and out ostracisation for not being "normal" - whatever normal is in the circle we happened to be travelling in at the time.

A few years ago, I was fairly active in the homeschooling circles in Melbourne and on the net. I had a few friends who I stayed in contact with, but when Erik asked to go to school and I *let* him (because Dave's and my philosophy is to let the child make the decisions for themselves without support), suddenly I found myself being viewed as a turncoat, as someone who had been hoodwinked by the system - a foolhardy idiot who was willing to throw my children to the wolves. It really hurt.

I stayed true to my intuition to trust my child (not the system, but the child), and so far, so good.

This week, I sat alone in a class of people who believe vaccinations are a good thing - if not at birth, then certainly at some point. I head my head high (and was the only one who could contribute information about the diseases and vaccines because I'd actually seriously RESEARCHED my choices) while the teacher repeatedly looked at me while telling the class that some parents are prepared to risk their children dying over a belief (not proof) that vaccines are more dangerous than the illnesses themselves.

Being a minority in a group SUCKS!

All we can do is be true to our own intuition and trust that if we show respect to others for their choices (even if we absolutely cannot agree with them, or how they came about them), they might learn to show respect in kind and even to investigate our choices to see if we might have a valid point.

Sif said...

Um, that should have read "with OUR support" NOT "without support"

Spiralmumma said...

I agree Shae. While I have some strong opinions about many choices I have made, I am very much of the 'each to their own/live & let live' philosophy. I think it's an extreme arrogance to believe our own choices are the right way for *everyone*. The only things I believe are black and white and 100% non negotiable are practices which harm. I guess even that is subjective, because for an unschooler for example, they might strongly believe school harms, whereas a very 'mainstream' pro schooling type might believe the exact opposite. However I really try to respect other people's lifestyle choices and it annoys me when they don't do likewise.

Oh and Sif, I hope you aren't putting me in the 'haven't researched' camp ;)

Elflyn said...

What I find interesting though is that I never have to defend my more "mainstream" decisions to my "alternative" friends yet find I always have to stand up for my more alternative choices to mainstream friends. Why is that?

Spiralmumma said...

Elflyn- my experience has been that I *have* had to defend my 'mainstream' choices, just as much ( if not more so) as my 'alternative' ones. Judgemental people exist in most spheres and circles, or so I've found :)

Kate said...

Elflyn just had to comment, when my eldest two were small I constantly felt I had to defend our parenting practices to soooo many people (ie tandem breastfeeding, cosleeping etc)

And yet now, years down the track with the oldest in school I spend time with the most 'mainstream' groups imaginable. And not one of them has ever commented on my cotinuing to breastfeed our 5yo along with the toddler. They know we have family bedrooms and think not a great deal of it. These are people who have made almost the opposite choices to us and yet they openly accept and are curious about what we do. I've only once faced down someone who challenged us and I know it was out of ignorance. And she's now continuing to breastfeed her 3yo so I guess time and understanding have a lot to be said for them.

If anything, I now find as a firmly entrenched 'mainstreamer' (with some not so maintream practices) that the judgement calls are absolutely being made by the 'alternative' groups.

My kids go to school, shocking. We vaccinate, OMG. Our planned upcoming homebirth is via a hospital run system, which apparently equates to selling our souls to the devil.

I find it interesting how the tables have turned as our kids have grown up. And I have faith that it means that the 'mainstream' are becoming more open to exploring attachment and gentle parenting practices. And I trust that the extreme views we've encountered from the 'alternative' groups are just that. The loudest voices making themselves heard where the majority are happy to live and let live.

Rachael said...

I'm enjoying these posts, but by golly my head hurts!

I'm just so over it. It's a relief to get to a time where all those 'choices' you make for your baby aren't so darn loaded.

Is it harder than ever to parent these days?

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