Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.

“I, um, I didn’t mean to slather my anxiety all over you.”

It has taken me a few minutes to dredge up the courage to apologize.  Really, it’s the least I can do.  I’ve already killed the friendly, relaxed parental conversation happening in the kindergarten yard.  Why, oh why, do I do this?

I like the other parents in the yard.  Actually, I like them a lot.  But I’ve been walking this tightrope with being polite on one side and being honest on the other, and sometimes, often, I lose my balance.

It’s not like I’m the most righteous parent in the yard or anything.  I mean, I’m not the one giving out the formula for the unsweetened kale smoothie that the not-mine children happily drink on their way to school. 

No, I’m the one getting high-pitched and uptight about why jeans are bad. 

Seriously?  Who’s gonna attack a concept as basic to the school-day wardrobe as jeans?  Probably ninety-five percent of the humans of all sizes within 100 yards of me are wearing jeans.  Including me.  But does that stop me?

It started innocently enough, with a discussion of some available hand-me-downs, which segued into the difficulty of finding thrift-store pants for the school-age boy, and why-oh-why the double-kneed jeans of our youth don’t seem to exist anymore.  And then another mom walked up and, hearing the topic of jeans, asked where people go to find cheap ones.  She works and doesn’t have time to check the thrift stores weekly to see if any have come in.  She’s just trying to clothe her kid. 

This is the juncture at which I should have just walked away, instead of listening to the long discussion of which discount outlet has the best deals on the coolest jeans.  Somehow unable to withdraw, I have to pitch in, “I try not to buy new jeans if I can avoid it.”

“Why?  Are jeans bad?” one of the moms asks.

Oh, yeah, jeans are bad.  In fact, in the interest of NOT always putting in my two cents, I’ll leave it at that.  (Unless you really want to know, then you can google things like “pesticide use on cotton crops” and “water pollution with indigo dye.”  Not to mention “textile worker labor conditions.”)  But in the yard, I threw my two cents right in there, loudly.  To which no one responded.  What could they say, anyway?

Nope, the conversation just died; we all suddenly had to call out to our kids that it was time to go into the classroom.  And I tried to cover my social awkwardness by adding, “But they sometimes have great deals those ‘water-less’ jeans on levis.com.”  Everyone just stares at me with a mixture of pity and disbelief, like, “Really?”

“Yeah, um, those are maybe marginally better?” I stutter, backing away toward my daughter, whom at any moment I may need to hide behind.  And then we all take in the kids, and as we leave, I apologize to the poor mom who just wanted some tips on where she could pick up some sturdy pants for her son. 

It’s not my job to educate other parents about the environmental impact of their clothing choices.  Either they know, of they do not, and if they don’t, then their not-knowing is, I believe, in this place and time, willful.  And it’s definitely not my job to externalize my guilt for having bought my own brood each two pairs of brand-new skinny jeans this year, when I got way behind on the mountain of to-be-mended jeans.  So I gotta just live and let live.  Even if sometime I think it might kill me.

Because in the end, jeans are easier to mend than relationships (just ask my ex).  And if I want to teach people how to live more lightly on this planet, I can just shut my mouth and get back to my mending.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.


  1. Ah, I've been there in those awkward moments after I've said way too much. It might seem odd to you, but I didn't know that about jeans, either! It's so hard to keep up with the environmental impact of everything you do, which is why it's helpful to have people like you (gently) letting us know about the more obscure ones. :)

  2. I hear ya Mama. It's hard to be informed and then keep my mouth shut or say things in a tactful way - I don't always manage too either. And honestly if you don't say it who will - there are so many things we don't know and personally I'd rather hear about it than not. But probably not all people are willing so it's a challenge. My way to share info to usually blog about it or post a hundred things on facebook where people I know can see!! I see you are even writing a book so the message will be heard! So I hope that you (and me and others) keep on sharing and finding the ways to do it that don't leave you feeling like you need a hole in the ground to swallow you up afterwards! Onelove

  3. Wow - I had never heard nor stumbled across an article on jeans being environmentally unfriendly until today. I've learned something new!

  4. This is me everyday! Ah! "I didn't mean to slather my anxiety on you..." Haha! I work in Environmental Sciences, in a lab that tests mostly effluents/post-treatment flows for corporations, cities, and the like. Oh, all the things I know... If I only knew when to keep my mouth shut sometimes! Or maybe just understood how to more tactfully conversate about it : p Like both Lauren and Terri said, if we don't say it and bring it to light, who will? We'll just need to learn how to deal with our awkward graces and patiently learn to finesse our deliveries... Keep on sharing! I likewise didn't know just how bad jeans were (although, with how bad everything is, I'm surprised I didn't link two and two together...). Thank you!

  5. It can be so hard to hold ourselves back sometimes! On a positive note, maybe one of those moms went home and researched the environmental impact of jeans, right?

    I'm following you on FB now :-)

  6. LOL I love how the convo died. I've so been there. And I was like did you really need to say that. Isn't it hard sometimes not to say stuff like that?

  7. Hahaha I love how you wrote this! I felt like I was there for that convo! I like to think that even if people aren't receptive at the time, at least the seeds have been planted and maybe, maybe one day they will impact those person's choices. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Oh the many times I've had these conversations (though not about the jeans - I've been vaguely aware of such shenanigans but it's been one of the things I've been trying to keep in my denial box...). But it's all a journey, right? :) And it's awesome that you are so passionate! Thank you for sharing - love it!

  9. Huh, I didn't know that. I do prefer used clothes to new, because I see no reason to use a whole bunch of new resources when there's nothing wrong with new jeans. Perhaps you should come up with a "short answer" for situations like that. I have a "short answer" for most of my opinions. People say "why?" and I throw out my short answer, "Oh, I just saw no reason to wean at one," or, "I think vegetables are a better snack." If they *really* want to know, they'll ask further questions. Nine times out of ten, though, they don't.

  10. Oh this was funny! I could totally feel and relate to this type of embarrassing moment - eeks! And how hard it is to gracefully get out of it. It's so hard to not dive in the deep end on topics that we truly are passionate and knowledgeable about. But we do end up scaring away people by doing that. I like your point on "mending" and leading by example.

    In fact, I think this post does lead by example... I didn't know about the environmental impact of jeans, either. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with everything! I'm glad you explained it here; I like being more aware, even if I can't always make the choices to align with the way I think the world should be.