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From SusanH ~ Just curious - how important is it to you to fit in with the prevailing culture? Do you keep anything private (AP, EN, sacrificing chickens in the graveyard at midnight . . .)? Or have you always been one to say, "This is me, if you don't like it, too bad"? For me, I'd have to say that although I am a fairly private person, I am also open when questioned. For example, I would not hide the fact that Susy sleeps with me if directly asked, but I don't go around announcing it to every person I see. I don't talk about EN, but I nurse Susy in public on the increasingly rare occasions that she wants to. When a woman glared at me in the mall two weeks ago I just raised my eyebrows back at her and continued what I was doing. I would not circumcise my son just because 60% of the population does it, I will not make Susy sleep in a crib, CIO or formula feed just because the majority of people do these things. But I also don't discuss these issues unless someone else brings them up, so perhaps I'm trying to pass for normal.
In most other ways I think I am pretty normal, so I don't have to hide anything else, lol.
From Ms.Dmoe ~ I have to say I do things about the same as you in that I don't announce it on a billboard, but if it comes up I'm honest. Usually though my MIL tells everyone for me (she seems very proud of what I do even though it is the exact opposite of what she did). So, I'm open with it as much as it comes up. I must say that becoming a mother has given me more of a spine. I don't worry about what others think or say so much as I did before. My DH backing me up also helps a bunch!
From islandmom ~ I think I need to be more private. I just assume that what I am doing is the "norm" and when things are brought up (occasional co-sleeping, circumcision, breastfeeding, etc) discussions sometimes get heated with people, even close friends. I just have to remember that what makes the world a wonderful and interesting place is our individuality and leave it at that.
From sdipert ~ I am straight forward about the way we do things but I also never criticize the way other parents do things even if I disagree. I would say that everyone who knows us knows that we co-sleep and breastfeed; my DH even tells people at work.
From littlebit ~ We're pretty open about our choices. I usually have some sort of pro-breastfeed or AP sticker, shirt, key chain, etc. on me out in public so I get lots of stares and plenty of questions. So far it's been mostly good feedback ("I wish we had done that", "Co-sleeping would have been so much easier on me", etc) but on occasion I get the dreaded "You're still nursing?". And he's only 9 months old!
My DH is more private about things, but he did share with some coworkers that he really loved waking up next to Shea. Sometimes he forgets that people don't do that normally so I guess we're fairly open.
As for sharing our parenting style with family, we try not to. I know it sounds weird, but they are so negative that we prefer not to get into it every time we're around. And since we live far away it's not hard. But with my sisters (one lives with us) I am very verbal about breastfeeding and how it's helped Shea's health, delaying vaccines, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, positive discipline, etc. because I'm the first to have a child and I want them to see how great AP'ing is in our family. I want them to feel free to call me at 3am and ask a BF question or whatever, so I'm big on spouting the pros of AP'ing to them.
From Julie 3/12 ~ I think that my attitude is much the same as yours, Susan. I don't feel any need to proclaim my parenting choices, but neither would I lie about it if asked. I do think it is admirable of those of you who are very outspoken about AP and breastfeeding.
Actually, I think I am pretty outspoken about breastfeeding, and my current hook is to tell people how easy it was for me to lose the weight after having Cammy. I find that women already know the benefits for their baby, but don't necessarily realize the health benefits for the mother, especially benefits that are good for your ego
From JenElizabeth ~ If people ask, I tell them, but I don't usually volunteer the information. I have had a few people tell me that she will "never stop breastfeeding and never leave our bed". I just say, "Oh well! It works for us right now!"
From LauraL~ I am the type of woman who will really only practice what I believe to be the best thing for us. If anyone notices and wants to discuss it, then I will. I have never felt the need to defend anything or sell anything. I guess at my age and with my experience I've learned that people really don't want to hear uninvited advice, and it just wastes my time. I know this will make a lot of people cringe, but really the only thing someone has brought up to me was why was I holding my baby and feeding him his bottle of breastmilk (my choice out in public) when I could just as easily prop the bottle up with a blanket. I politely told this family member that he would grow up soon enough and that the least I could do is hold his bottle while I was eating.
On the other hand, my DH is the total opposite. He will tell you his opinion on ANYTHING, whether it has to do with you or him and whether you've asked or not!
From AmyC ~ I have never really fit in. I caused me a bit of agony while I was growing up but I have learned as an adult that I value being true and honest to my self rather than "fitting in." Flaunting is not something that I do but I also don't hide. Depending on the person that asks the question sometimes I will give elusive answers to avoid conflict. I will nurse Elisabeth in public on the rare occasion that she asks. I do my best to be a genuine as I can be.
From Amieee ~ I have never really felt like I fit in anywhere really, but that is OK.
Like littlebit, I am the first in my main circle to have a baby. I try to talk about how great breastfeeding is, and like Julie, whenever someone talks of how much weight I have lost, I always say it is from breastfeeding. While I happily tell people we are still nursing if it comes up, I do wear T-shirts and stuff, I am proud that I breastfeed, because we had so many problems getting started, and so I am vocal just because I am just so darn proud. Of course, most people think it is not something to be proud of, just a feeding method, but I think it is like any big goal that you achieve, and I can be proud without looking down on others who don't do the same.
I don't worry as much about fitting in for my own sake. I want people to see what we do and think it is perfectly normal so they can maybe see you don't have to Babywise your kids to have a good life as a parent. I sometimes feel like a poster child for AP, so I feel like I have to be 100 percent positive all the time or else I get negative "it is because she sleeps with you" etc comments, or people will be turned off to intuitive parenting and more likely to think that things are the way they are because I didn't Babywise, KWIM? (Everyone in our circle reads that and thinks it is a great ideal) Luckily, most comments on DD are positive, so that is not a problem. People do, however, ask all the time if we Babywised, and I say no, and they ask "Well, when did April start sleeping through the night?" I can happily tell people that I can count on my hands the number of nights I have felt sleep deprived since DD was born, and how I get more sleep now than before DD was born and I was teaching (sad, but true!) But as far as announcing to people we co-sleep, I do not because I don't want them to say "oh, she slept with her baby now she will never get it out of her bed" people. I will tell if asked, but I prefer to spin it so that people may see that it is OK to sleep with their babies and maybe they will give it a try if they feel led to without fearing they will have to do it forever. I don't lie, but I am more likely to say "it depends on the night" (which it does) This is not because I won't fit in, but so that they will not be totally against trying it, KWIM? This may not seem right, but as a person who, when pregnant, wouldn't have co-slept if I thought it was going to last 10 months, I just want be more subtle, KWIM?
From momofsugarplum ~ I don't fit in much either. What I do feels normal to me but I realize it isn't the "norm" for most people. When, I think of it that way I'm glad I'm NOT normal. lol If asked about things I always try to answer honestly what I do even though the person may not agree with something. I never go up to people and say they should try it this way, unless they ask me. I get perturbed at people that stare or question what I do. I use to get quite angry and defend myself. But, I'm learning to shrug things off. Or say a simple sentence like, " my son is happiest when I do this and so am I."
From KandJ ~ I'm honest when asked but I don't get a bullhorn and make announcements either. I do nurse my ds in public when he wants although I do sometimes briefly get uncomfortable about it. I know I "shouldn't" feel uncomfortable. I blow that feeling off and do what my baby needs. And incidently, I'd stand up in a second to anyone who confronted me about it or any of my parenting decisions.
From stargirl ~ I've been thinking about this a lot. The recent firestorm also made me more afraid, frankly. But I was going to post something about this before that.
Recently my mom said hopefully "Well, I guess when she sits up, that will be the end of her sleeping with you!" And she was so hopeful about it, like she was indulging us this until now, but, really , it was time to move to the crib. I know - it sounds like I'm reading too much, but don't we all know our moms sometimes? Anyway, I told her that we are thinking of sleeping with her much longer and explained why, but also said we're just trying to figure it out and don't know for sure. This was met with silence on the phone. Big time disapproving vibes were coming across the line.
And last month my sister said she weaned her girls at 10-11 months because once they can "ask for it" it's time to quit, and she said it was creepy when she sees toddlers nursing. In the same breath, she also said "I shouldn't say this, because you'll probably want to do that". And - until she said that, I hadn't seriously considered EN! Funny that she put that into my head when she obviously intended the opposite.
I guess it is somewhat important that I "fit in", because it bothers me when I know people really disapprove of my choices. BUT, I do what I want in the end, so it doesn't really affect my decisions.
Ten years ago I had friends who were very counter-culture. They had two young kids, did EN (past age 4 at least, I'm not sure - they moved away then), family bed, home-schooling, organic food bought from co-op, didn't use a car, no TV, and more. They were my first exposure to many of these ways to raise kids, and it educated me. I still remember, though, how judgmental I was about the extended nursing. I don't think I ever said anything, but I was very uncomfortable. I thought - no way will I be like that!!! I had the same reaction to EN as I've heard expressed recently.
Frankly, I am intimidated at the thought of seeming like a pervert to other people if I nurse her past a year. And I know that many people will think that. Maybe by the time she's that old, my spine will be straighter and tougher!