If you identify with the philosophy of attachment parenting and raise your child accordingly, you may find yourself subject to criticism from others. Whilst you believe it to be the natural way to engage with your children, others don’t quite see it the same way!
So, what should you do if others are criticising your approach to parenting? Or are giving you advice that conflicts with what you believe? Here are five suggestions on how to deal with these situations.
Don’t take it personally
It can be quite confronting when someone says something negative about how you are raising your children. My first piece of advice is to take a deep breath! Just like you, they believe their way is the right way to parent. Our natural instinct in this situation is to become defensive and even get into an argument. It’s important to remind yourself why you have chosen the attachment parenting approach in the first place.
Their comments aren’t an attack on you as a person.
If you can, take a moment to pause and realise people are commenting on your actions, not your character.
Shift the attention
If you are with a friend, remember all the good things you love about them, and what drew you to be friends in the first place.
If you are with a relative, take a deep breath and try to understand that they are just coming from a place of love. Think of all their positive attributes so you can smile. If you feel like a conversation is heading into murky waters, change the topic of conversation or subtly shift the focus of attention to something more positive.
Acknowledge and move on
Sometimes people are merely looking for an acknowledgement of their opinion when they direct criticism at you.
It is so easy to engage in a pointless debate that will only make both sides even more angry and frustrated! Actively listening to concerns and acknowledging their feelings can diffuse tension, followed by a simple “Thanks, I’ll take that into consideration” or “It works for our family,” to move the conversation along.
Whilst it’s important that your voice is heard, and your opinion acknowledged as important, it is often better to set a gentle but firm boundary to shut down the conversation (e.g.“I would really prefer not to talk about it”), than enter into an argument.
Share your reasons, backed by facts
If you feel that you need to engage in a discussion try to remain neutral by providing scientific information. For example, you may say “Current recommendations state…” or “I would be happy to share some resources with you…”
This approach appeals to the ‘logical’ mind and moves the conversation away from an emotional debate.
Find the right moment
If you find yourself the recipient of continual negative comments, then remove yourself from the situation. Find a better time to catch up with the person in question. It is often less intense if these situations are social and away from children. A girl’s night out or quick coffee is often a better way to interact if there is always tension about your parenting style.
You may find generally that in adopting an attachment parenting style you are met with more criticism and advice than parents following a more traditional ‘western’ approach. It can be a challenging road to take. Make sure you remind yourself why you are approaching parenting this way and surround yourself with as many people as possible who share the same values, either in person or online. Don’t be swayed by others’ opinions in the process. Most importantly remember that only you know what is best for you and your family.
About the Author: Andrea is a Midwife, Child Health Nurse and Mama of one.
She has over 13 years experience working with mums in Perth and created
Wholehearted Family Health to support mums in a more holistic way.
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