Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Don't Label Me!

I recently have decided one of the biggest disservices we do to ourselves is labeling our style of parenting.
I was all happy, thinking I leaned towards the AP (attachment parenting) kind of parenting. I co-sleep, breastfed (until recently), baby-wear, do baby-led weaning/solids, do not use CIO, and more. I knew two of my choices were not in line with "that kind of parenting"- and they had to do with vaxing and circumcision.
Well, I recently was shocked when I read a comment somewhere. The discussion was regarding how to turn down toys you don't agree with. Original poster does not do plastic toys or trademarked toys in the home. Good for her! Plastic is for eco-friendly reasons, trademarked....well there are many reasons- money, etc.
I was shocked when several replies basically said ANYBODY who has even one plastic toy in their home is a "mainstream parent."
A mainstream parent is typically noted as someone who does not co-sleep, uses CIO, early solids- starting with baby food, circs, vaxes, and while they may breastfeed, they are typically considered "less passionate" about it. They prefer strollers and disposable diapers.
I never felt I fell into the "mainstream" category. Of course- I never felt like I was an actual AP parent either....yet, this discussion really got me thinking.
Is it not enough that we already label each other by how we feed our babies (see the part of my last post on why we should drop the labels of formula feeding and breastfeeding)? Suddenly we label how we parent...but on top of that if you are not 100% in one category then you are labeled as the other?
We parent. That is it. We parent the way that works out best for us and our children and our life. Natural Parenting, Attachment Parenting, Mainstream Parenting, whatever you want to call it- it is parenting.
I must admit- the conversation under this post left me unsettled. I didn't feel I wanted to be a part of this community anymore...because I don't fit the description that those moms have decided is an "AP parent" and yet, I don't want to be categorized as "mainstream."
The labels we place on parenting lead to negative views. When people think of AP parents, they imagine hippies bedsharing with their 17 year old son, homeschooling their children, teaching them how "the man" is doing them wrong....but what of my AP parent friends who move their child to their own bed at 12-18 months, are military families, and send their children to a community school, yet they wear their children, eat organic, delay vax, cloth diaper, and remove as many toxins from their home as possible?
So, I find that the AP parents don't want to claim me because of a handful of parenting choices I have made, and the mainstreamers don't want to claim me because of another handful of choices. Each labels me as the other, and disregards anything I may have to say about parenting because I am not in their "category" of parenting....

So here I am- stuck in the middle. The middle isn't so bad. I get to see both sides of every argument. I get to remember that if I choose the right topic, I can agree with any mother on her choices for parenting. Yeah, the middle is not such a bad place. You can agree with me, disagree with me...but please- Don't label me!

1 comment:

Toni said...

I have never been into labels either. The only label that I ever wanted to be under was MOTHER. That should be the only label one mother should give another. we all make our own decisions whether we agree with other parents or not. It is not our responsibility to tell them they are wrong or right. I too find myself in the middle and I am perfectly happy here too. =)