Monday, April 6, 2015

Be Advised

In the book titled The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, I came across a concept that speaks to a subject that mothers --especially--have likely been faced with at some point.  It seems to be the norm in this society for people to hand out unsolicited advice when it comes to the care of children.  Whether it be from relatives or total strangers, people--specifically those who've raised children themselves--feel entitled and perhaps almost even obligated to school new or newer parents on what they should or shouldn't do in terms of caring for a child. 

I've experienced this the same as many other women, I'm sure.  More so than being offended (I actually appreciate this…as long as they person dishing the advice does so respectfully), I'm usually more interested in what it is that makes people feel so comfortable being that way. An interesting perspective is given on this subject in the book.

In response to the general question "How do I handle criticism?" (they're speaking in terms of breastfeeding, but it applies in general as well and not just to criticism), the author responds:

We can think of three reasons for the criticism nursing mothers often receive from family and others  One is a culture's sense of investment in children.  Maybe it's built into us because we're a social species, but from the time strangers try to put a hand on your pregnant belly, others will sometimes behave as if your child is theirs.  In a sense, he is.  A society is built from all its members, and children are a society's future.

The paragraph goes on to list two other reasons, but the one above struck me the most and caused me to   look at this area from a different perspective. I can relate to where the writer is coming from, especially in terms of the last sentence.  In my world this manifests in ways that keep me from being closed-mouthed when it comes to the general well-being of children who I encounter in public who may be out of the presence of their guardian and are under some type of distress or are in an uncertain situation, for instance.  Stories are reported in the news on a regular basis in which a child's life was saved by a stranger or in which a child was impacted in some other positive way be an individual who isn't a parent or relative but had the child's best interest in mind.  People tend to look out for children, and caretakers and loved ones of said children are usually grateful. 


But when this is applied to an approach that may be perceived as someone "trying to tell you how to raise your child", people don't respond in the same way. 

I mostly just wanted to share the quote from the book in order to inspire thought, but I will say this: I've found that people really just don't want to be made to feel a certain kind of (bad) way when in terms of what they may or may not be doing where raising their child or children is concerned, whether that's the other person's intention or not.  There's a lot we can learn from each other just like there's plenty that we can and will learn on our own as the mothering/parenting process happens along the way.  One of the key factors, though, in being able to relate to one another as individuals who've had or will have some of the same experiences with taking care of children is effective communication.  

Oftentimes it's not what you do or say, it's how you do or say it.   Sounds cliché, but I've found it to be pretty much true.  

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Noni got her hair plaited for the first time last week.  



Even though I had to bribe her with brochure from the bank that she could crumple and tear up into many, many pieces (definition of a great time, as far as she's concerned), I managed to get her to be relatively immobile long enough for me to do it.  

It's a bit wild, but she seems to like it. :-)




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