I'm a Natural Parent – BUT…I'm Socially Awkward

Welcome to the second edition of the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and our feminist {play}school. During this carnival our participants have focused on how mainstream society has affected their natural parenting and how they have come to peace with this.

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I know what you are thinking – what does social awkwardness have to do with natural parenting practices?  Trust me, it is a HUGE factor in the success of any parent being successful in their choices.  You may have the best support system at home and be full of confidence in your parenting.  The playground, shopping mall or restaurant can chip away huge chinks in your armor.  So that is my confession this time around – I’m not immune to the disapproving looks of others.

I do not have many in real life mama friends.  It was only recently that I actually met someone who is as cool as me and parents pretty much in line with my values.  Let me shout it – “Thank goodness for her!” because without her – I’d have run away from the playground, zoo, aquarium and bakery long ago.  But it has taken me two and half years to find her.  Before that, I all too often let other people change the way I was parenting in public or I just hid at home and only went out if I had to.

Opportunities for a "yes"

I have on occasions where I am with parents or people who do not practice gentle discipline felt the need to correct Little Man more then I would or for things that I wouldn’t have corrected him at home.  Like if he was playing with something buy viagra with discount and another child wanted a turn or to play with it – I have approached him to give up the toy.  At home, I wouldn’t have even thought to ask him to give something up he was playing with.  If he was the child asking for something someone else was playing with – I would have offered another toy or activity.  If he was getting into a little argument with another child – to react quicker and more negatively because of a dirty look from the other parent.  At home, unless it is too physical or there is danger – I let him work it out or have a time-in for discussion and reconnection.

You see I try not to use “no” with him and instead find a “yes”.  However, not many people around me understand this logic.  I have a hard time standing up for myself and my child at times because sometimes it just feels too overwhelming to explain it all again.  So when I’m around a “no environment”, I find myself slipping slowly into that frame of mind before I snap out of it and try again.  It isn’t always easy parenting consistently under any circumstances.  The important thing that I have learned it to stick with it, apologize for your mistakes, realize you can do better next time and if you fall down get back up (special thanks to my mom for that life lesson).

So here are the ideas I’ve been using to turn those conventional discipline methods around for us:

Make it a game

I try to frame things positively.  So if I want him to do something and he is having nothing to do with it = I make him laugh.  I will “bet” him that he will not be able to do “such and such” faster then I can.  Another thing I have turned around is the “counting to three”.  Instead of adopting a stern face and treating it as a negative – it is now a game.  Can you do “such and such” before I get to three?  I use my silly mommy counting voice.  If he makes it before three I will laugh like the Count.  If not – I tickle him and we try again.

Finding a Yes!

Instead of saying no all the time – I try to find a way to say yes.  If he wants to climb – I let him but I am there to make sure he is safe.  If he wants to take his sweet time getting ready or getting into the carseat – I leave enough time that I can indulge a little fooling around.

“Head Him Off at the Pass” or “Razzle, Dazzle ‘em!”

If there is something going on that I don’t want him to partake in – I use distraction.  It is usually something like an older child using play equipment in a way that could be dangerous to him or there has now begun a tug-of-war over a toy or he is trying to escape the store, yard, house or whatever – I find something in another direction that I can make incredibly interesting.  If all else fails I can still put him in a carrier.

Getting on his level

If I want him to stop doing something or get down or leave something be – I go to him.  He isn’t likely to listen to repeated attempts of “no, don’t do that” or “get down from there” if I am way across the room or standing above him.  He is small and two, so unless I am right there – it doesn’t count.

Rearranging Expectations

Grumpy happens

I have to remind myself – he IS two.  He is learning and figuring out just where he fits in this world.  He is testing boundaries, figuring out how stuff works and adjusting to the idea that he is a separate person from myself.  All of this amazing, scary, tough, wonderful and COMPLETELY age appropriate.  It is my responsibility as a parent to know his limits and to plan accordingly.  If he is tired and cranky – maybe I shouldn’t try to get him to go to the store or wherever I thought we had to be.  Most meltdowns can be avoided by respecting my son’s needs and not putting my wants before those needs.

So now back to my original confession of social awkwardness.  I’m still learning, I make mistakes, I can’t always be liked by everyone but as long as I’m loved by my sons – that is all that really matters.

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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

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7 Responses to I'm a Natural Parent – BUT…I'm Socially Awkward

  1. Kym says:

    “I can’t always be liked by everyone but as long as I’m loved by my sons – that is all that really matters.” — I need to write that on a piece of paper, laminate it and keep it in the diaper bag. I’m *such* a people pleaser that it’s been really hard for me to let go of that a focus just on what my child needs. Very smart words!

  2. Chanisa says:

    Having someone that understands how I’m trying to parent my boys has been a godsend! Most people I encounter think I’m a crazy hippie that spoil my children and scold me for not teaching my toddler to share. Knowing other people that share the same beliefs has made me more confident and accepting of my inner crunchiness.

  3. Yes, I feel the same way much of the time. I typically go with the “rearranging expectations” method . . . which means we don’t go out a lot, and when we do it’s with a clear, short purpose and at a time that works for us (usually mornings). Mine are 6, 4, and almost 2, so a range of how much “social” they can handle before things get crazy :-) I plan accordingly and (usually) know when it’s time to cut our losses and head for home.

  4. Arpita says:

    I LOVE this post!! And I totally feel you, they are totally interconnected! If I had written a post for this carnival it would be called… “I’m A Natural Parent, but I’m not actually a Parent.” Trust me, it’s not fun preaching natural parenting, and gentle discipline when you don’t even have kiddos and most often get the “ohh it’s that sweet, you’ll learn, amatuer.” I think, even if, and honestly… especially if you are challenged that is when you should stand up for yourself. Kuddos to you mama, and SOO glad you found a mommy friend with your beliefs!!

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Shannon! I can relate.

  6. Janine says:

    I am pretty good with strangers but it is harder with close friends and family. I do have a strong personality and everyone knows that I do my research and know my shit, so I think they know better than to argue with me!

    You really never know how other people parent at home – Next time you’re in an awkward situation, pretend you are modeling good parenting for everyone else. Maybe one of the other moms would love to parent your way but isn’t confident or is a bit awkward too. :)

  7. Lyndsay says:

    I love this post and totally understand the connection you are making between social awkwardness and parenting. I feel this sometimes as well, but am not as brave as you – and just stopped going out. :)

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