Friday, August 5, 2011

Biting My Tongue, Clenching My Fists (Day 4 of 30)

So yesterday I spoke about motherhood and social media. Today, I will describe something that happened a few months back. A new mom who I work with invited me to join a mom group on Facebook. I was hesitant, but decided to join in. I noticed there were a lot of moms who were very unlike me: hiring nannies, allowing their children to cry-it-out at a very young age, formula-feeding, giving solid foods at or before 4 months, etc. At first I ignored their posts, but then I began to get confused...hiring a sleep trainer? a night nurse? So I started to ask questions and make comments. Then it happened...I couldn't bear to bite my tongue (clench my fists) any longer. A mom was talking about how her child "needed" pre-digested formula. Apparently it has a very off-putting odor/flavor, so this mother was asking how to make it more tolerable for her child. The suggestions included adding either SPLENDA or VANILLA EXTRACT! So basically, a chemical artificial sweetener or 70-proof alcohol. Great ideas! I expressed my opinions (including facts about infants from reliable resources) and my responses were NOT well-received. I guess it was probably mostly mommy guilt (or just plain ignorance), but I was kicked out of the group. I think I said some other things that weren't well-received either, but I can't even remember now. However, getting kicked out helped me because I formed my own group called Responsive Parenting, and I invited people who I wanted to be there. People whose knowledge, experiences, and opinions are actually valuable to me.

Last week, a woman I know wrote a FB status update about her daughter and formula. It was a logical update/question. Some of her friends responded by weaning off formula at a very young age (7 months) and replacing it with cow's milk. Then, to make it taste better, they added Strawberry Quik. Some people also suggested that it's okay to wean off formula if a child is eating a lot of finger foods. I voiced my opinion/knowledge a few times, but then I just stopped.

At the end of the day, I can't control (or even suggest) how people should raise their children. All I can do is be the best mother I can be to my children... and hope when it's time for them to make friends, they choose wisely!


Deborah said...

Ah, you are discovering the path towards true leadership when it comes to leading a group like this. The reality is - parenting (and teaching) perspectives and beliefs are as broad as the see is wide. I like to use what I call "responsive leadership" in these forums.

Here are my tips...
1. respond(gently and creatively to posts or comments that don't line up with your beliefs. For example: start with words like "perhaps another way to look at this." or "Hmmm, I wonder if there is any concern about..." or "I hadn't thought about that but..." or "It seems..." This is responsive and not attacking.

2. Don't be reactive (the opposite of responsive). Reactive is attacking other's opinions, trying to control their opinions, or trying to be the only expert in the room.

3. Appear to be teachable (even if you are not) by using the responsive approach and you will feel less stressed and create a supportive and responsive environment through your leadership:)

How do you like them apples? Believe me - I bite my tongue on occasion too!

Deborah said...

Ok - that would be sea not see:) Don't let my typos confuse you - LOL!

Carrie said...
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Huppie Mama said...

Thanks for the advice. It's hard to see situations in which I know children are being harmed, but at the same time, I always have to remind myself that I cannot change the world...not my job to do that! Just have to focus on doing the best in my little world.

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