14 February 2012

Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions with Other Parents
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.

This is not the first time I've written about being nice. I published a post just a few weeks ago wondering why we can't all get along better.

My goal here is to build on those posts further and present a few ideas for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner. Following are four things I consider when conversing about parenting, whether that be in person, online, with a friend, or with a random stranger.

Share information, not an agenda. I try really hard not to fall into the trap of, "If only you knew more, you'd agree with me!" Information is good. Knowledge is good. But sometimes enough is enough. Not everyone will have an epiphany when presented with my logical and compelling argument, and that's okay.

Focus on the positive. Take the high road. It's typically not worth getting into a negative, spiraling debate over anything. Instead, I calmly (okay, usually) state what positive practice works in our family, and let that speak for itself without getting drawn into the defensiveness. Many folks simply expend too much energy getting riled up. 

Be gentle with your words
Remember the audienceIt's so easy to preach to the choir. They nod along and share your posts. But what about everyone else? Is my tone kind? Could it be interpreted as condescending instead of helpful? Have I skimmed over thoughts/details because I am so used to communicating with likeminded individuals on the same page?

Everything in moderation. When I read or hear something that goes too far in one direction or comes across as too extreme, I tune it out. I'm guessing other parents do, too. With rare exception, few practices are all bad (or all good). Even theories/ideas I completely disagree with make a valid point sometimes. A little common ground can go a long way.

What about you? How do you peacefully share information with others? Leave a comment and share your tips.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.


  1. I'm so with you on being nice, and I love that picture! :) Your last point about moderation really struck me — I also tend to tune out things that are too far toward extremes. I usually guess they're exaggerating and am prone to dismiss the point.

  2. Great tips! I love the "share info not an agenda." I try to remember that I used to be where other parents are - we're all working with the tools we have at the moment (kind of a preface to "share info"). I also remember that if someone is angry, it stems from their perceptions and experiences - it is not a reflection on me.

    1. I think I'm getting better at not taking things personally, but I have a long way to go. I believe it's some sort of ingrained "nice girl" behavior . . . I always assume I'm the one at fault, in the wrong, or with the crazy ideas. Blech.

  3. We all tune out whenever we feel that a concept is too far from our scope of understanding and it is difficult especially as a blogger to impart positive messages without alienating anyone. Especially when, like you said, we are used to discussing topics with like-minded individuals who are on the same wavelength philosophically. The challenge is in reaching those who are within the traditional parenting mind-frame who can benefit from a change in perspective. In order to do that we have to extend a compassionate hand to those who think differently than us due to their own life experiences. If we can accomplish even sneaking in even one new thought into their minds to ponder over, we have given them a gift that could change the relationships they have with their families if they choose to feed it.

  4. Great post! Love "share information - not an agenda." Soooooo many parents feel that it is their right to share an agenda. Sure, I have an agenda as a parents but even my agenda is fluid and flexible. I would never shove it down another parent's throat. These are some great reminders for every parent!

  5. Great practical points. Interestingly, back in the days of one child, I had an agenda, now with three, I just have respect for anyone who's making it through the day!

    1. I feel the same way! I remember just feeling so "ack!" when talking to other parents when my oldest was a baby, and now I'm like, you have three kids, too? and you survive every day? bravo!

  6. Lovely, true, useful. I'm sharing this!

    Rather than try to encapsulate my own ideas on the subject, I'll point you to the blog post about it that I just happened to write last week.


    We make some very similar points!

    1. Thanks! I checked it out and shared yours, too. I especially like how you point out how long change actually takes. Generations . . . not a 10-minute conversation. When you look at the big picture like that, it provides an interesting perspective.

  7. I really appreciate the point about letting your positive example speak for itself. I do feel that speaks way more than anything else because it's all encompassing! If we're living such a lovely life then it will spill over for others to experience also. Thank you for a very succinct, helpful post in efforts to increase the peace between parents. :) Much love to you and yours.

  8. I really liked your post. I think it is important to peacefully share our opinions. Although it can be difficult if you feel strongly about your opinion. What a great list of blog posts in the carnival. Blessings Honey