Being “With” Other Parents, Other People

This is a post I wrote a while back at the beginning of this year, in what seemed like a different lifetime, aeons ago, but it’s ethos made me look for it today, to repost it, with a teeny bit of editing.  What made me think of it, what made me repost it?  Again I have seen nastiness online, again I have seen vitriol at other parents, this time not so public, this time of the bullying, insidious and cowardly nature, and it has made me inordinately sad.

So here we go…

A few weeks ago I came to realization.  It was one that required quite a bit of growth and one that flew under the radar until I was prepared to see it.  When it hit me I shared it with the online community:

“I’ve come to the realization that Attachment Parenting is not really just about parenting, it is about Attachment Living. As I have embraced attachment I feel more deeply connected to my husband, other people, indeed the environment. It’s all about respect, love, and treating others how you would like to be treated. All of a sudden your heart is that much bigger than it was before. This is about becoming attached, simply, no need to say parenting, it is about being with ♥”

This post is about being “with” and being with even when you wish to be “without”.  It is about how to be “with” when everyone around you seems to be railing against you.

With Attachment Parenting we talk about how we have to love our children, no matter their behavior.  We talk all the time about ‘unconditional love’ and how that is the BEST way to raise our children.  Indeed there is a very popular Swedish Proverb that specifies exactly this:
Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I really need it

So what did I see this week?  What did I see sprawled across Facebook pages, across websites, blogs, newspapers and even television?   I saw hatred.  I saw plain unadulterated hatred spewed forth by parents on Facebook pages, everywhere, parents sniping at each other, name calling, refusal to see points of views, plenty of people suffering from “I am right, so there”.  I even saw people calling others “nazis”.  What saddened me even further is that I saw this behavior from both “sides” of the fence.  And, I haltingly confess that I fell prey to it as well.  I called someone some not very nice names, I got worked up, all het up, and I let forth my fury, not to the person, just about the person.  Admittedly this was in a private online group, but still, I got het up in a way that made me feel ashamed.  Fortunately someone called me up on it, and they were right.  I should not have responded like that.  I own my reaction, but I need to choose how to respond.

How would we explain ourselves to our children if they saw what we were doing?  How would you explain it in the future if they were somehow able to pull your entire Facebook file as a memory and then saw you spewing forth such vitriol towards other people?  Would they wonder?  Ok, so they might think, Mummy or Daddy got a bit angry and carried away and forgive you for it.  I know I would to my parents, and have forgiven them for outbursts of anger.  But really?  I mean, how does it make you feel to think that your kids could see it?  Look at yourself through their eyes…

If we want an attachment parenting world, if we want our children to grow up in a world that is more peaceful than ours, we have to practice the principles of attachment parenting OUTSIDE the parenting dyad as WELL.  We have to love those people who are most unlovable, because in that moment, in that struggle to find empathy with someone who is totally doing your head in, springs forth the well of empathy.  Think.  What do they have to protect?  Why are they behaving this way?  What compels them to do so?  Can I find something to love here?  Can I be “with” them in this moment?

What if someone is arguing with you?  Particularly over parenting issues (very topical I know) and you get the sense that they think you are trying to make them feel guilty?  Bearing in mind of course that I don’t think anyone can make you feel guilty, and that you choose your own guilt.  What can you do??  I found this blog piece literally this week that I think has some answers about this, so I’m going to quote from it at length:

“So what should you do if you are accused of ‘making someone feel guilty’?

Firstly, I always take a breather from the situation, and look at the whole picture. I always ask myself the following questions:

– Do I know what I am saying is facts or opinions? – How does telling my friend about this ‘help’ them? – Could she be feeling anger at her situation?

If what you are saying is not research based but something someone else has told you, then tell them you will look into it more or tell them about the source of the information. Think deeply about what you are saying to them can it actually ‘help’ them? Is it worth telling a formula feeding mother the risks of formula feed ung unless she is pregnant or dishing out advice to pregnant women? Put yourself in her shoes, could she have just felt undermined and judged by what you have said? Let her rant and have her say. If you know what you are telling her to be true then use tactful, respectful phrases such as ‘I know this may be hard for you, I do not want you to feel bad but I think sharing this information could help you because…’ avoid statements such as ‘well its the truth!’ getting annoyed at their anger is not constructive, they need you to be supportive & accepting of their feelings. However, if they deliberately insult you (i.e. ‘oh look at the breastapo!’) then tell them you are offended and you are only trying to help.”

But what if you think that they are making YOU feel guilty?  How should you respond?  Again from the same blog:

“Again, stand back. Ask them questions: – Is there any research to back up what you are saying? – Where can I go to find out more? – Why are you telling me this? 

If they say what they are saying is opinion based or non-researched, suggest you talk about this another time when there are more facts, you can then research it yourself. If she is telling you something to help you then try your best to accept what she is saying, it may be hard, tell her you find it hard if that’s the case, confide in your feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, what have you but try not to shoot the messenger. She is probably finding the conversation hard enough without also being shouted at or called a liar. Obviously there are some Mums out there who do seem to revel in other peoples misery but life is nicer when we give people the benefit of the doubt.

If you find there is a particular person who seems to constantly undermine your parenting, that can be hard. Ask them why they parent the way they do, you never know, you may learn something and have more in common in the future. Parents can be passionate, I find the more informed a mother is, the more passionate she is. I know now, that at times my own passion has upset others, with knowledge needs to come tact and also acceptance in that some people just cannot be ‘helped’.”  

When you choose to respond in a way that respects them, and respect your feelings you choose to respond to a person in an attachment way.  You choose to respond in a way that reflects the society you want to see.  You have chosen to respect them, lessons which I am sure you are trying to teach your children.  You are choosing to love someone in their most unlovable moment.  You are truly living attachment parenting.  You are choosing to be “with”.

So, next time you see a blog, a comment, a feed, a whatever that winds you up, respond in an Attachment parenting way.  Imagine that that is your child talking to you, how would you respond?  Choose to see love, not hate, choose to be “with” that person for long enough so that the anger fades.  We can fight with love, we can fight with peace.  And in saying that, I will leave you with the words of the man who is eternally famous for this sort of fighting and being “with”:

Be the change you wish to see in the world

You have to be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Ghandi

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