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Friday, May 28, 2010

When Activism becomes Detractivism

Why oh why can't we all just get along?  When it comes to fiery debates, there doesn't seem to be a topic more incendiary  than "Parenting"... well, maybe religion and politics, but still, you know what I mean right?  I have never understood the need for people to bash other groups that don't follow your beliefs to the letter.  We are all different people and we all make the best choices we can according to our own experiences, knowledge, and background.  Are those choices always right?  Are those choices always guilt-free? Are those choices always painless?  No, they aren't.  We are human, not omnipotent.  We can not know all the answers in advance.  We can not always make the "right" decision.  And we can not be perfect parents 100% of the time.

WE try our best.  We do our best. Then we live with the decisions we have made.

Someone once told me that no one can give you guilt. No one can force you to feel guilty.  Guilt is an emotion that we generate within our selves, and we can choose what we want to do with that emotion.  We can wallow in self pity, we can paint ourselves the martyr and point fingers at everyone else, we can rail at society for forcing these emotions upon us...
...or we can accept it, use it to guide our future steps and start healing from the hurt it has caused.

The choices someone else has made for their family and their children and themselves is not about "us".  Even if we have spent countless hours advising and educating someone, they still are responsible for making the final decision for themselves.  If they make a decision that we don't agree with, well..... that it their prerogative and THEY have to live with the final outcome.

Why is it that people feel the need to resort to insults and swearing? I realize that parenting involves a huge amount of decisions and most parents base their choices on their own past and the influences of their family and friends. AND that nothing cause more debate than the choices in parenting that each mother and father has to make. Where there is discussion, there is debate. where there is debate, there is arguments….. FINE! I get it.

But why do people who have made their decisions feel the need to scream and throw tantrums and play junior highschool school yard games?!?

OK I’m goign to be blunt and just come out and say this:

Why is it that people who make choices that are NOT based on facts and research are the worst offenders when it comes to mud slinging?! Be it Breastfeeding and formula feeding, circumcision debates, natural birthing vs interventions and elective C/Sections, CIO or AP parenting……. I’m sorry but the facts are the facts. If you don’t want to know the facts, or are happy in the decisions you’ve made Regardless of the facts, then fine- it’s your decision to make. But don’t come screaming after others, calling names and swearing and making horrifying allegations just because they are stating the facts!!!! If you’re satisfied with your decisions then be satisfied that you're doing what you want to do. But don’t call me a breast nazi, because I’m posting information about breastfeeding that is based on solid facts that are accepted world wide by every single major health organization!!

We all make “mistakes”.  W all make decisions based on the information (or lack there of) that we have at the time. If it turns out to be wrong, well we just have to deal with it and do what we can to rectify the situation, if possible. I started my eldest daughter Quinlin on baby cereal at 3.5 months!!! Why? because a health nurse told me to. So I did. Now I know it wasn’t the right thing to do and yes, I feel guilty that I didn’t research it better before going ahead. But I don’t turn around and get defensive and insult people who talk about Baby Led Weaning!!!

…..If you’re feeling guilty because you know that you didn’t make the right decision, then don’t yell at me. Own up to it and accept it. and make changes that will ease your guilt. Deal with it. Don't sling mud at others just because you can’t face up to your own mistakes or poor decisions.

And if someone makes a decision that goes against your grain, well, it's their decision to make.  Yelling and pointing fingers is NOT going to make them change their decision.  I don't know about you, but I'm stubborn: if someone starts ranting at me and telling me I did it all wrong, there is a good chance that I'll embrace my mistake even further and try to justify it even more.

I wrote an article for Natural Mothering a while ago on this topic.  Whenever I start to get hot under the collar over a burning debate I'll re-read this article just to remind my self that how I respond to the debate/argument/question, may have a far greater influence depending on how I reply.


When Activism becomes Detractivism edit
Written by Dani Arnold-McKenny   
Everyone has something that they are passionate about. Everyone has a cause that owns a special corner of their heart. Whether its saving the rain forests, freeing Tibet, going "green", equal rights for women, pro abortion, anti abortion, pro capital punishment, anti capital punishment, etc , ........Everyone has at least one thing that they are willing to stand up for, that they will jump into the fray with both (metaphorical) fists swinging, debating their passion till the wee hours of the morning.

You are right. You know you're right. And you will defend your cause/choice/moral obligation regardless of how many oppose you, or how loudly they bellow, because you have the passion that drives you to do so.

Now obviously some causes are considered more worthy than others to the average person on the street. Some causes are such social absolutes, that no one in their right mind would ever take the opposing chair against it in a debate. No one is going to disagree that someone in a wheelchair should have access to the public library. Or refute that all children deserve a roof over the heads, food on the table, access to education and medical care. These are definitely safe causes to champion: easy, non confrontational and completely acceptable.

But what if your passion is for a something that isn't so non confrontational? What if that passion that fills that special corner of your heart is one side of a heated debate, waiting to erupt into a boiling frenzy just by openly declaring it to others? What then? Will you enter into the grand melee carrying your colours aloft and brandishing your cause with sharpened words, leaving a field of the fallen in your wake, regardless of their cries for mercy (or at least for a moment to explain)? Or are you the enlightened one that sits with infinite patience, willing to speak the words of reason with an aura of calm that might quiet even the most boisterous of opposers?

The two sides of this coin can be likened to Vinegar and honey: One of them will catch the flies.

Passion burns brightest in the middle of a heated debate. And it can be beautiful in its eloquence, or scarred and ugly in its words of condemnation and accusation. Is the message getting lost because the flame is blinding? Is the message getting lost because the fire it possesses is burning everyone it comes in contact with
I am an advocate for Breastfeeding and Natural Childbirth Education. And let me tell you, nothing lights the fires of debate like both of these topics. Breastfeeding Advocates are very passionate in their endeavors to normalize Breastfeeding and to build support systems. Education is the key to changing the world around us. But when does education become condemnation? When does Activism become Detractivism?...

HERE to read the entire article