When we choose to live ‘differently’ from the norm (or mainstream) we may encounter defensive and seemingly narrow-minded responses. It appears going against the flow challenges and confronts people’s beliefs about many things: including parenting.
When my youngest son was born he cried 12 hours a day (no exaggeration). The only thing that settled him was to breastfeed him but I knew that it was making his reflux/colic worse. Someone suggested a chiropractor, so at 4 weeks of age I visited one who had training in infant care. He performed gentle manipulations on my newborn and following the session my baby slept for the first 3 hour block EVER! My chiro suggested that he was lactose intolerant and perhaps some further testing with a naturopath wouldn’t go astray – so off we went. Food intolerance’s? Yep! My precious newborn was reacting to more than one food in my breastmilk…wheat, sugar, spices (pepper), dairy, meat, MSG and caffeine. She encouraged me to cut these foods out and assured me things would improve. Within a day, my newborn was a different baby and even smiled for the first time. He looked peaceful for the first time in his short life and the crying stopped and the sleeping started. It was an amazing transformation and enough motivation for me to stick with the rigid diet.
What I didn’t imagine was the raised eyebrows and ‘concern’ from friends who I told of our turnaround. Even though they noticed the change in my bub they were still sceptical, cynical and wondered why on earth I hadn’t gone to a doctor. At the end of the day, the responses didn’t bother me because the path I had chosen fixed the problem and that was all that mattered.
It seems like sometimes we can’t win. If we stick with our convictions on a subject, we are accused of being close-minded. People seem to take our decisions personally as if our desire to do things differently is a personal attack on their own choices. However, if we become so open-minded that we don’t believe in anything then we stand for nothing.
In my experience, my more natural approach to parenting has been met with unnecessary and unfounded criticism. I was once accused of being “weird and ridiculous” for feeding my children chemical-free food and “stupid” for wasting time using cloth nappies. It seemed that it wasn’t so much the individual choices I was making but the fact I was challenging the staus quo. Just because something is considered mainstream it doesn’t mean it’s right – especially when you consider that it is advertising, the media and consumerism that drives the mainstream. Why would I place my value, my worth and to some level my faith in something so deceptive, superficial and ever-changing?
I was (am) rocking the boat by choosing to go against the flow.
Is it possible to be open minded but still have convictions? It is! But only when we learn how to own our convictions so that we don’t live in constant judgement of others choices. It involves an acceptance that we are all different and therefore, make different choices. It means being humble and having a tough skin.
When we experience the hurtful narrow-mindedness of others, it is a reminder for ourselves to be more open-minded and accepting of others regardless of differences in opinion or parenting choices.