We all know a few moms who are a bit “crunchy,” as it’s often called. They live natural lifestyles and have natural solutions to parenting. They breastfeed their children–past six months. They buy amber teething necklaces. They wear their babies everywhere they go. If you don’t know one personally, you’ve probably seen a few at your favorite organic markets. Oh yeah, they aren’t all white women.
I wouldn’t really call myself a crunchy mom, but I make a lot of natural parenting choices. I make lots of natural choices to enhance my own life, so why not extend those benefits to my child? Many other black women I know feel the same way, but they’ve been catching heat for it from their family and friends.
The truth is that some of us 20-something-year-old black moms are the first in our families and circles of friends to make these parenting choices in a very long time. Instead of loved ones asking for education on subjects like breastfeeding or baby-led weaning, they give advice based on how they raised their children. The problem is that the “advice” is often based on outdated information, old wives tales, or pure opinion. It’s natural for a veteran mom to pass on her “war stories,” but it becomes problematic when a person thinks their way is the only/best way to do something. The comments can shift from helping ones to those that criticize the parenting choices.
I am currently friends with many natural moms. In addition, I’m a member of a few groups for black moms on Facebook. We share challenges and successes that come along with breastfeeding, being natural moms, and general mommyhood. Sadly, some of the posts I’ve seen this past week have disgusted me. There were a few trolls in these groups who had negative things to say, but also a few who experienced really disgusting comments (off-line) about their parenting choices. It prompted me to ask them about the most outrageous reactions to natural parenting they’ve experienced. Along with some of those responses, I’ve included a few of the bad ones I’ve seen on my Facebook timeline (with names changed for anonymity).
Whenever my family asks how long I’ll breastfed my son (who is currently 14 months), I respond that I’ll let him self-wean. This usually leads to someone referencing unnatural–and occasionally fictitious–cases of full-term breastfeeding, e.g., the oedipal character, Milkman, in Toni Morrison’s ‘Song of Solomon,’ or the strange and bratty Robin Arryn of ‘Game of Thrones.’
*Clearly* we need to #NormalizeFulltermBreastfeeding
Sister: Omg! Do you have to pop that out EVERYWHERE!
Sister: Omg! She needs to get OFF the titty! (referring to my 15 month-old)
Me: Omg! You need to worry about yourself.. (huge smile)
I don’t debate my parenting decisions.. It’s no ones business.
Guess who’s also breastfeeding now and guess who she calls for advice. I’d like to think amongst all of her negativity, I inspired her.
Idiot: “Be careful. You may make her a lesbian.”
Me: 😐 followed by a few choice words…
A friend said, “He’s way too big to be doing that and it looks creepy. ” Then she finishes up with the fact that she and her sister think breastfeeding is disgusting and anyone doing it after a year should be in jail for child molestation.
My dad says, “By 6 months or less, they are manipulating.” He knows I have a psych degree and that is completely false.
“You should let him cry it out or they will control you.”
“You’re homeschooling, so how will you work?”
By the way, I’m a doula. So, I gave plenty of resources and told him there are plenty of doulas who work and homeschool. I just stop telling him my plans because it leads to more questions.
Oh, you breastfeed too? No shade, but so many of my friends are doing that new-age, white people stuff.
Let your baby cry it out, they need to get used to you not being around…wth???? That is so mental! I want my baby to know I will be there for them.
My mother-in-law said my baby was crying because she was hungry and breastmilk wasn’t enough. In their family, babies are apparently more greedy and she fed my husband rice cereal at three weeks old.
If you don’t understand the issue with some of these reactions, it’s okay. Not really, but you can learn why they’re offensive. I will discuss most of it on the blog at one point or another, as I would love to see more support for all natural moms. If you have a question about anything mentioned in this post, send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment, or click on one of the many links sprinkled throughout this post.
If you’re too disgusted by the fact that people feed their babies beyond 12 months or uses cloth diapers…If you feel that baby-wearing is going to lead to a clingy child…If you think your way is the only way to parent a child, understand this:
Unless a baby is in danger, (real danger and not danger you’ve imagined) you really don’t get to weigh in on parenting choices–period. You can give advice, but even that doesn’t have to be taken. They don’t need your permission or blessing. Parents are really the only ones who can make decisions for their child with all things (budget, time, effort, ability) considered. Based on that information, good parents will do what’s best and feasible for them and their child(ren). They don’t need you to understand their decision, nor do they need to defend it by disclosing deciding factors. You should, however, do your best to respect whatever they decide for their family.
As for the bit about natural moms doing new-age, white mom stuff…please do your OWN research. There are many black women who have extended the natural lifestyle far beyond the strands of their hair. I can happily say that I have family members, friends, sorors and cyber buddies who are a little crunchy. Their babies are healthy, smart, and happy. Parents tend to do anything in their power to have healthy, intelligent, and overall happy children. If black parents are trying “new-age, white mom stuff” to achieve this, so what? What is “white” about doing something that has been proven to be the best option for babies? Before formula was developed, how exactly do you think black moms fed their babies (and sometimes babies of white women)? Truth be told, women of color are still doing these things around the world. Again, do your own research.
I could go on and on about this topic, but I should probably stop here. I hope my little blog post will inspire someone to learn about natural parenting. At the very least, I hope people learn to get all of the facts before criticizing.