Crunchy Moms and My Desire to Belong

A few weeks ago I linked to a blog post about circumcision on a website called Authentic Parenting. A reader emailed me, wondering if I knew that Authentic Parenting also promotes anti-vaccine links and misinformation, and asking if I meant to endorse the site itself. I replied that I did not realize that and that I am not anti-vaccinations and I added a disclaimer to my post. And then I remembered that I actually have a link to the Authentic Parenting website on my Positive Parenting Resources section because I really love the stuff the site posts on non-punitive parenting.

This has long been a bit of a dilemma for me. For example, my blogger friend Dulce de Leche posts wonderful things about positive parenting and breastfeeding, but she is also anti-vaccines and discusses that on her blog as well. So much of what she writes I love…but then there are those posts where I cringe. (She doubtlessly feels the same about my blog as well, since while she agrees with my criticism of Christian Patriarchy and authoritarian parenting, her faith is still extremely important to her.)

The reality is that when it comes to the combination that is sometimes called “the crunchy granola mom,” I occupy a bit of an ambiguous position. And that can be conflicting.

To explain what I mean, I’m going to list the questions from an online quiz called “How Crunchy Are You?” I’ll follow each question with a little bit of commentary.


1. Do you have a homebirth?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Natural child birth, but at the hospital

2. Will you circumcise?

Crunchy answer: No

My answer: No

3. Do you use cloth diapers?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Yes

4. Do you observe your fertility signals using; Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness and use that for birth control?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: I have in the past but don’t now

5. Do you co-sleep?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: I have from time to time, but never long term

6. Do you use a baby sling/soft carrier?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Yes

7. Do you breastfeed exclusively for the first 6+ months?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Yes

8. Do you believe in/practice child-led weaning; even if that means breastfeeding for several years?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Yes

9. Do you tandem nurse/nurse during your pregnancy?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Yes

10. Would you/have you ever breastfed/fed someone else’s baby or have someone else breastfeed your child?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: Yes

11. Do you eat organic/whole/natural foods and limit your meat?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: I’d like to, but don’t

12. Do you use herbal/homeopathic remedies?

Crunch answer: Yes

My answer: NO

13. Do you homeschool?

Crunchy answer: Yes

My answer: NO

14. What’s your take on childhood vaccinations?

Crunchy answer: Anti-vaccines

My answer: I am extremely pro-vaccines

15. Do you use cloth/re-usable products for mom? (Sea Sponge, Diva Cup, etc etc)

Crunch answer: Yes

My answer: Yes


Mothers like those who write for Authentic Parenting, or like my friend Dulce, generally seem to follow the whole passel of items above, but  I simply can’t do that. In some areas – long-term breast feeding, cloth diapering, re-usable menstrual products – I’m in complete agreement. But in other areas – vaccinations, homeopathy, homeschooling – I couldn’t disagree more vehemently.

This makes things feel complicated. As humans we like to belong to a group, to fit in with a circle of friends. But when it comes to “crunchy moms,” I both appear to fit and also really don’t fit. It’s hard for me to find that I can so completely agree with a group on some things and so completely disagree with them on other things. When I’m around someone who is pro long-term breasfeeding and cloth diapering but anti vaccines, I feel both solidarity and a complete lack of solidarity. I feel like that person is both so right and so wrong. I both identify with them and, well, don’t. It’s confusing. I’d much rather the world be black and white, but it’s not.

It’s also complicated because while the anti-vaccine views of Authentic Parenting would seem to call into question everything on the website I nevertheless find its articles on, for example, positive parenting to be top-rate. But many would wonder whether anything should be trusted on a site that promotes anti-vaccine views. And this makes doing things like linking complicated too. I don’t want someone to think, say, that positive parenting is somehow illegitimate because a number of the websites that promote it also promote anti-vaxing misinformation, but I’m afraid that some will think I do if I link.

What is all this to say? I don’t know. Maybe that life is complicated? That things aren’t always black and white or in neat boxes like we want them to be? That we shouldn’t assume that we automatically agree with everything a person or group promotes just because we couldn’t agree more with them on certain aspects? That just because a group takes positions we agree with on some issues doesn’t mean we should automatically agree with the rest of the group’s positions because they “must be right” too? That it’s possible for someone to be very right on some issues and very wrong on others? Or, maybe, simply that we shouldn’t leave behind skepticism just because we want to belong to a group or feel a level of solidarity with it?

Note: To any readers who are anti-vaccines, etc., I just want to point out that my intent in this post is not to debate the issue or discuss the source of the disagreement. My point is simply to discuss the difficulties of both agreeing with and disagreeing with the whole “crunchy granola” way of life, and to express how confusing it can be to both belong and not belong.

Why We Should Teach Children to Say "No"
Busting the Mommy Myth
What Kind of Atheist Parent Are You?
Stop Stressing Out and Give Your Kid a Snuggle
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • from two to one

    It’s fascinating to me how authentic parenting/natural living/crunchy granola types fall at different parts of the spectrum — very spiritual or religious, feminist, atheist or agnostic, staunch environmentalists, or some intricate combination of several characteristics. As a feminist Christian woman and wife who is trying to live more simply and more eco-friendly, I’ve been thinking a lot about home birth, natural family planning, reusable menstrual products (I have a post on menstrual cups next week actually), and breastfeeding. I am not yet a mother and my husband and I are not ready to have children yet, but I feel the same way — that I would like to “fit” in somewhere more perfectly, but that in the messiness of life and decisions, that won’t necessarily be. Libby Anne, do you think your longing to be a part of a group with more rules (like the questions outlined above) stems in part from your upbringing with lots of rules and predetermined answers to life’s questions? I know that in some cases, it is that way for me — a sense of belonging and security knowing that others are making the same set of “right” choices.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    I understand the feeling, not so much on these issues since I still don’t have kids but in many other aspects. Still even in this I’m perhaps not so in the middle as you but I do believe in gentle parenting and have no problem with 6+ breastfeeding but find not vaccinating your kids unacceptable and a really dangerous trend (I’m not going to expand on this because this topic isn’t about that but it’s the kind of stuff that makes me go ramble-y) and I don’t understand how people believe in quack remedies like homeopathy.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      To the question you kinda asked at the start of the article, I think that if you are adding it because of its great gentle parenting articles in a gentle parenting section, it’s perfectly adequate. On the other hand, I would hack my hand before directing someone to a place that promotes no vaccines just in case (at least without a clear disclaimer about it).

      Being in the middle and not belonging a hundred percent to a group is the hardest position. It forces you to take more initiative, to make more decisions and to mark your own way instead of ascribing to the party line of others. It’s simply harder and waaaay more tiring.

    • Kat

      This is me too–I don’t have any kids, but in my profession, I work with a lot of prenatal clients and constantly have pregnancy/birth/kids on the brain. I’m a big fan/advocate for most things AP related, but am really strongly in favor of vaccinating, which makes me the odd one out with my crunchier colleagues and friends. Most other AP practices (extended breastfeeding, child-led weaning, not-ciricing, co-sleeping, and baby wearing) seem to be pretty well-supported by science/research from what I’ve seen, and seem to really benefit parents and children that I work with…I just don’t see any solid research to back up the anti-vax stuff, and to me, the benefits of vaxing, and the risks of not vaxing are both way to great for me to think that not vaccinating is OK.
      The only one that’s a bit of an anomaly for me is homeopathy. I don’t want it to work. All of my smart friends think it’s bull-shit, and I really want to think it’s bull-shit so they’ll think I’m smart too…but Goddamn it, the cat dander is the only thing that helps my allergies. I really didn’t want it to work or expect it to work, but when my husband picked some up for me before a trip to my parent’s house I (eventually) took it just to humor him and prove him wrong, but it actually worked for me, and has continued to work for me for the past couple of years. Same deal with this homeopathic remedy for menstrual cramps that I take sometimes. I don’t really know how or why those things seem to help me, but they’re cheap enough and benign enough that I would probably at least give homeopathy a try for things like colds, teething, etc. when I have kids (pleasedon’tthinkI’mamoron….)

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        I don’t think you are a moron but I’m going to explain to you the two basic principles of homeopathy so at least you make an informed decision:

        -What’s similar heals what’s similar: This was the idea form where homeopathy mainly came from because the founder of homeopathy had a bad experience of intoxication with a remedy than in small dosis served to lowe fever but if you over*dosed on it so to speak you got a huge fever so he thougth: that if a substance that gives fever, heals the fever then it must be the same for any other illness and cure, no matter what.

        The other principle is that the water has memory. I agree that you can find infinitesimal particles of a dissolved substance granted a series of limitations but that they could have any effect it’ or even more effect goes against not only logical thinking but what we know form experimentation. Some of this stuff is like you threw a lemon in the Atlantic and caught a glass of that. If this stuff really worked, taking into account what we’ve been throwing to the sea, yo’de b drinking the piss and feces of everybody at full potence (because the less dose, the most potent in this paradigma) and committing cannibalism just to put some examples.

        Some speakers have used this last property as an example taking 20 times or more the lethal dose of some homeopathic remedies without a single negative effect (well, one of them has to take some insuline after because the pills have sugar and he is a diabetic but apart from that not negative effects and less so the ones written on the box). Be careful not to try this because some of the homeopathy remedies are actual poisons diluted and if you keep increasing the dose you might get to a dangerous result.

        There hasn’t been a peer reviewed clinical trial in which homeopathy hasn’t come out as nothing more than a glorified placebo. Many pseudo-scientific studies have been debunked after been proved the results were altered or the methodology was wrong.
        People don’t understand that the placebo effect is very real. Our mind can be very powerful (although it isn’t something that is easily tapped on). Think about the psychologicla pregnancies where you can get everything except the baby including a birth of flesh tissue in the more extreme cases.

        Herbal remedies can be great (in fact many medicaments come form plants). The only problem is that soemtimes the dosification is more difficult to measure and that soem quacks try to sell you what isn’t a real herbal remedy and that for serious ullnesses you should always see a doctor too (in fact in my opinion first).

        There’s this joke about what you call alternative medicine that’s proved to work, medicine and herbals remedies and such are medicine. Doctors recommend exercise, drinking water and therapy which are stuff that people don’t consider “real medicine” but it is important.

      • Kat

        See, I understand all of that, and I’ve heard/read it before. I wonder if the placebo effect can work in reverse? Like I said, I really didn’t think the cat dander was going to work, but I ended up feeling, basically like I’d taken Benadryl, but without the drowsiness after I’d taken it–my basel passages were clear and my ears didn’t itch any more. Would it make any sense that by introducing a small, diluted amount of cat dander into my body, my immune system was able to acclimate to a larger amount over time? That’s all I can really figure…I’m not disagreeing with you at all on the science (or lack of it) behind homeopathy at all…I’m just not convinced that there aren’t certain homeopathic remedies that can’t be helpful, if not for different reasons.

      • Kat

        …ha! *nasal passages.

      • Sarah

        That could work if there was cat dander in the recipe, but the odds are hugely against there being a molecule of cat dander in any given homeopathic cat dander tablet. The dilution you’re using is probably 12x, which means there is one ml of dander for every 1,000,000,000,000 mls of water. That’s about 400 olympic swimming pools.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        What Sarah has said. Also it’s not what you rationally believe, it’s what your subconscious believes what makes a placebo work. That¡s why you can’t usually force it and why it probably worked on you.

      • Caravelle

        Another possibility is that there’s something in the excipient that’s affecting you ?

        Either way, what works for you works for you and that’s good news. And I can understand why your personal experience would lead you to give more credit to homeopathy than you rationally think it deserves (in fact it’s the rationally sensible thing to do ! It’s important to take new evidence into account, and your personal experience is the most direct form of evidence you have). As far as the general question of “Does Homeopathy Work ?” goes, systematic methods like large-scale well-designed studies, meta-analyses and rigorous research into the proposed mechanism are what can really answer the question, and they’re all saying the same thing.

        But there’s a reason they say anecdotes aren’t data – it isn’t that anecdotes have no value, it’s that you have no idea how variable they can be, i.e. how closely they represent the larger processes at work. It means that you can’t know the larger process from a single anecdote, but it also means that given the larger process, specific instances can vary from it for all kinds of reasons we might or might not know about. And in health matters especially, specific instances vary a lot. You can tell yourself you’re on the lucky end of that variation if it helps ;)

      • Caravelle

        Oh, and to add to Paula G’s comment – it’s absolutely true that the placebo effect doesn’t depend on on what you rationally think will work, but it isn’t really what your subconscious thinks will work either… it isn’t even completely clear what the “subconscious” is or if it can meaningfully be said to exist (or at least “think”). At the end of the day we simply don’t know how the placebo effect works. We don’t even know that much about what it [i]does[/i].

        It has been shown that the placebo effect can even work in people who are told they are being given a placebo (and it being explained to them what a placebo is… which can itself be a confounder if that explanation includes “some people have been known to feel better from this even though there’s no active substance”, but you get the idea of how confusing the issue is).

  • Evs

    What a comforting read for me :)
    I feel a lot like you – I’m quite green (unfortunately less so these days because I have less time and energy), big fan of full-term breastfeeding, natural birth (unfortunately I ended up with PTSD after my c-section), positive discipline…I am not against homeschooling, I think it can work well in right circumstances, but I’m not against public schooling…But I just can’t deal with anti-vaccination views. Just can’t. And I SO want to belong…I was wondering if there are other pro-vaccination people out there, who are also ‘crunchy’.

    • Rosa


      I think the community is really shifting lately. But I’m one foot in and one foot out, so maybe I’ve just found all the local crunchy organic breastfeeding nonspanking meat eating public schooling vaccinating mamas after all these years :)

      I will say, NOBODY is all-in, really. Especially if you only know them online or at playgroup. I mean, how many of the eco-mamas bike everywhere? Not many, is the answer. Just like with religion, everyone who thinks they have the whole thing 100% is still eating a la carte at the cafeteria with the rest of us.

  • Flah the Heretic Methodist

    I have to admit I chuckle a bit when I read definitive are you /aren’t you lists like this. I planned my pregnancy, birth and parenting well. Then the whole thing went kablooey in spectacular fashion and we were very luckily in the hospital when we were hit with an emergency c-section. In addition to my son winding up in the NICU, I was on heavy drugs that, among other things, prevented my milk from coming in. By the time we both made it home, my maternity leave was darn-near over, so back to work for me.

    So natural birth? Home birth? Breastfeeding? Co-sleeping? Attachment? Yeah, probably great ideas, but sometimes the choice is not yours. Still, I got a lot of judgment from the crunchy community. My kiddo, by the way, is now a reasonably happy and healthy eight-year old, even with the very messy beginning. Why we have set such fences for each other as women is beyond me…as my husband says, being human is hard enough, so just be nice.

    • Liberated Liberal

      I’ve watched this happen so many times with my friends and family. They have this grand plan about birthing and/or childrearing, and well, life gets the last say.

      Earlier today I was thinking about whether I should identify as “anti-religious” or just very much “not religious.” It hit me that “anti-religious” is almost silly, because even if we eliminate religion all-together, groups will form, people will will follow like sheep, and critical-thinking and personal choice will be (at the very least) frowned upon. So while I would be against religion for all of its nasty attributes, do I have to be against every single group? Well, yes, I think I would.

      We humans seem to find a way to form cliques; cruel, critical and always US vs THEM cliques. The Authentic Parenting group is a one good illustration of this.

      The slogan for any group should be “One of us has arbitrarily decided what rules we must follow. We (supposedly) critically thought, therefore, you don’t need to. If you follow every single one of our rules 100%, you are one of us. If you don’t, you aren’t. Oh, and we will just as arbitrarily decide if you’re following our rules 100% or not, so don’t ever let yourself think you’re doing this perfectly!. Thank you and happy cliquing.”

      • Christine

        I LOVE that slogan.

    • Christine

      I know a woman who actually attributes her PND in part to the failure of the “birth plan.” She made this really detailed birth plan which included all the oils, no drug-assisted pain relief, water birth, candles… and then the whole thing went spectacularly wrong. she was so determined to stick to the birth plan that she prolonged her labour for hours, and in the end her husband over-rode the no drugs bit. She then got really stressed thinking she’d damaged her baby somehow with drugs, and became convinced she was a bad mother because she’d abandoned her “natural” birth.

      She is now a firm advocate of no planning beyond “get nursery ready, get supplies, get to hospital as soon as contractions start.”

      • Evs

        funny, because I attribute my PTSD after birth to LACK of birth plan. I just thought everything will be ok and everyone will treat me with decency and respect…well, I’m making 3 birth plans next time. If there’s ever a next time.

  • Jeremy

    It seems to me that this happens because the “crunchy” ideal is overwhelmingly cultural rather than rational. So if someone is, say, a Republican you can generally figure out how their ideas fit together rationally, even if there are some contradictions. But of someone is crunchy, the crunchy choices they are making are culturally conditioned and don’t necessarily make rational sense. Since your parenting choices are determined rationally, you’re going to end up not mapping onto their philosophical universe very well.

    Put another way, your reasons for choosing positive parenting are different from their reasons. For you it is a rational choice, for them it is a lifestyle choice.

  • machintelligence

    This post, plus the comments above are a shining example of why I enjoy reading this blog. Folks who are rational materialists (which is how I style myself) are nearly impossible to pigeonhole, and getting them all to agree on something is like trying to herd cats. We insist on asking ourselves “what if I’m wrong?” This is something that authoritarian types seldom if ever do, because they know that they are right. The problem is that what does it feel like to be wrong? It feels just like being right.

    • Nebuladancer

      Excellent thought.

  • shadowspring

    Welcome to my world. :)

  • cy

    You make some great points here. I also would like to find a group that I “belong” to, but somehow I never mange to agree with all the rules. My own experience always seems to fall right in the middle.

    I had two hospital births, although I looked into a birthing center (but they seemed very dogmatic) and hired a doula for the second, (but sadly, the doula was not a good experience.)

    I used both disposable diapers and cloth, (but the disposable ones were “alternative”, non-chlorine bleached, woodpulp/cotton ones).

    My children go to public school (but I’ve seriously considered homeschooling or unschooling for my oldest, who has not done well in school and has addiction issues.)

    I buy organic and local farm market vegetables/meat (and my family also eats snack foods and at fast food restaurants)

    I’ve used both herbal remedies and conventional medicine (and the herbal teas helped the breathing/allergies problems better and I’m sure hoping the weeks of antibiotics cured the Lyme disease.)

    All my kids are vaccinated and I’m very happy that polio/smallpox/measles vaccines are available (but I don’t think it’s prudent to give anyone more than one vaccine in one day—and I had to fight with the doctors about that, and my son did end up with the german measles right after his 3rd MMR shot and the doctor’s office refused to report it as an adverse event. I did it myself, but it took a bit of research and effort and only happened because I’m stubborn and also, I knew someone who worked for the vaccine maker and helped me go through the right channels. So now I’m a lot more skeptical about the vaccine data.)

    I connect this ability to accept both points of view simultaneously as part of my legacy as a recovering catholic where I was consistently taught to believe two opposite views, at the same time. For instance: god loves you, but he will torture you for eternity if you make a mistake. Or, God had to sacrifice his son so that humans could be born free of original sin but he managed somehow to break his own rule and have Mary born (immaculately conceived) without sin.

    Maybe it’s a perk to be able to pick and choose what works??!?

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      I have no idea about your son’s case and I don’t even know German measles are but vaccines aren’t a hundred percent effective and that’s why herd immunity is so important and why the bigger number of people are vaccinated the better for everybody. If your kid was vaccinated for measles and got measles it wouldn’t be an adverse reaction but a case of ineffectivity of the vaccine which in the initial clinical trials of the drugs would be useful but not a posteriori (I mean if you took an anti-viral and you got a rash, that would be an adverse effect but if it didn’t kill the virus, that wouldn’t be an adverse effect). I repeat that I don’t know much about the concrete terminology so I might be saying something stupid or useless.

      Here in Spain at least I’ve been present when an adult presented a possible case of mumps in a small medical centre and was immediately notified because it’s obligatory to do so here. I certainly don’t know how the american system works…

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        A d*mn, I think I got what you meant now… yeah, the kid could get the illness from the vaccine. That can happen from one of the two main types of vaccines (the vaccines can be divided taking into account the state of the virus but I’m sure you already know this) but I still don’t know if that should be reportable in the US so I better shut and stop trying to explain without knowing all the data.

        In the wikipedia page of the vaccine it does say that adverse reactions including fever and a rash are present in 10% of the children.

  • Elise

    It’s not easy being green.'_Green

    I had to line up with my 7th grade class in Canada to get the Hepatitis C vaccine. It’s so funny the anti-vaccine camp. They can hurt others. And it’s not too hard to look back in time to when childhood mortality was much higher due to the lack of vaccines. Heck, my own uncle had polio, and now gets to end his life in a wheelchair. He spent a year in an iron lung. Who wants that for their child? Green when you can, Keen when you can’t. Can that be a group?

    • Steve

      There is no vaccine against Hepatitis C. Only A and B

  • Karen

    A friend of mine struggled several years ago with many of these issues. Some, she was okay with; some (like long breast-feeding) just got to be too difficult because she went back to school — actually the baby was unplanned and she gave birth just a couple of weeks before the start of her first semester. She sought out a mothers’ group that she might belong to, but here in Silicon Valley motherhood is a competitive sport, and my friend was having none of that. So my friend decided to trust her instincts and her sensibilities, and along with her husband managed to raise up a smart, happy, well-adjusted daughter. But there’s no doubt she was very lonely for support those first few years.

  • Mary Bierbaum

    I fall into the same spectrum as you do. Almost identical, in fact. But my daughter was born in 1994 when a lot of this was new and anti-vax hadn’t really taken hold yet. I did a lot of reading, even subscribed to Mothering magazine and followed Dr. Sears’ advice for high needs babies (my daughter to a tee) and practiced attachment parenting. Then Mothering went all HIV crazy and I dropped the magazine and realized I needed to make my own path. I breast fed through my second pregnancy and co-fed them. My daughter weaned when she was four with only a little push from me. The thing is, I kept most of this secret. My OB had no idea I was breastfeeding through my second pregnancy. The pediatric dentist gave me a lecture about breast feeding at night and sharing the bed so yeah, I kept my mouth shut after that (and dropped him when he blamed me for my daughter biting him). No support at all except from La Leche League and even that was very cliquey. The old chat rooms on AOL were really my only support by the time my son was born. Both my kids go to public school, a college prep public high school. I knew I wasn’t cut out to homeschool and it was never an option even when my son suffered from severe separation anxiety in kindergarten. Sorry for the rather pointless ramble. I’m always amazed at how much we agree about parenthood even though our experiences are separated by a decade.

  • Alexandra

    This is one of the reasons why I like your blog as much as I do, Libby! I have yet to find an issue I disagree with you on. Sometimes it’s just so comforting to be in good agreement with people.

  • Elin

    Wow Libby I love this post!

    Like you I am very pro-vaccines and I am anti homeopathy and these issues tend to be a red flag to me. People who believe that I am pro-vaccines because I have not made my homework really make me angry. I have read what both sides say and it is relatively easy even for me with no medical training to debunk the claimes of the anti-vaccine movement so reading up on vaccines actually made me more pro-vaccines. Originally my first support of vaccines came from my mother surviving polio at age 11 after being in the hospital for 6(!) months and she was one of the lucky ones as she did not suffer any lasting paralysis and did not have any problems with until she was about 50 and got post-polio syndrome. That alone was enough for me to support vaccines but once I read up on the subject I saw many other benefits as well.

    I have never been the one to fit in easily. I am a Christian, too liberal to be a conservative and too conservative to be fully accepted by liberals but more so since I very pro gay rights and such. I am feminist but my long skirts and my strong faith often make me feel like I do not belong and similarly I often feel the same way around people supporting the same political party. I read both your blog and Dulce the Leche and tons of other blogs which have parts that I do not agree with but that is one of the good things when it comes to blogs, you are exposed to views that you do not agree with and how both what you agree and disagree with can be found in the same person.

  • Joy

    I …breastfed. That was pretty much the only crunchy thing about me. But I don’t practice child-led weaning or any of that stuff. I fell in with the attachment parenting people due to looking for breastfeeding support. They’re nice and all but it’s not me. But you know, it goes on that you bond with people you have something in common with (and can tolerate the rest) so right now I’m bonding with parents of kids who share my kids’ interests!

  • Rilian

    I don’t understand why you’d be so emphatically against homeschooling. The positive parenting and stuff that you do will all be contradicted in a typical school. And being homeschooled would not mean that your kids would be sheltered, because you don’t have to do it that way.
    I understand not wanting to do it, but I don’t understand being so emphatic about it.

    • Anat

      The positive parenting and stuff that you do will all be contradicted in a typical school.

      Not true, at least in the schools I am familiar with. The schools my daughter attended/s are so less authoritarian than the schools I attended. In fact, my school district runs programs for parenting support that are based on Jim Fay and Foster Cline’s ‘Parenting with Love and Logic’.

      • Rilian

        Well that’s cool, I guess, though I don’t know who Jim Fay and Foster Cline are. My schools were terrible o_o

      • Anat

        Rilian, look them up here:

    • lucrezaborgia

      It really depends on the district. A lot of schools are moving away from the overly authoritarian model.

  • Rilian

    I don’t have kids yet so I don’t know how I would answer some of these.
    1 doesn’t apply because I’m gonna adopt, and if that doesn’t work for some reason, my next try will be a surrogate.
    I’m against RIC but if I adopt it’s possible that it would have already been done to the person before I get involved.
    3, idk
    4, no.
    5 and 6, idk
    7, 8 and 9 wouldn’t apply to adoption
    10, I highly doubt I would ever have someone else breastfeed my kid, that seems pretty weird.
    11, I’m working on transitioning to vegan.
    12, herbal remedies can be effective, as so-called “real” medicines are sometimes made from herbs. But homeopathy, true homeopathy (not cold-eeze, which calls itself homeopathic, but is actually a real drug) is nonsense.
    13, yes, definitely, no question. Really, unschooling or learner-directed. It depends on what the person (the learner, i.e. my kid) wants. Also if they wanted to go to school, they could choose to go.
    14, it depends on what vaccine it is and if the person is at risk for the disease. E.g., my brother got an exemption from the meningitis vaccine because he was in fact not in a high risk group for it, and the vaccine itself has risks.
    15, what is this I don’t even?

    • lucrezaborgia

      The problem with certain high-risk ideals is that it only takes one person to introduce a disease to cause an outbreak.

      As to adoption…*slams head into wall* adopt from foster care, please?

      • Rilian

        I’m not sure what you mean.
        Do you mean foster-to-adopt?
        Or do you mean that I should adopt an older kid? I’m not really sure what the point of that would be. If I adopt an older kid instead of a baby, then the baby goes into foster care…?

      • lucrezaborgia

        This isn’t my blog so I won’t get on my soapbox, but suffice to say that infant adoption isn’t pro-woman in most cases and has a lot of pitfalls that most people don’t see or don’t want to see. I do mean foster to adopt! Adopt a child who is in need of a home for real, not a child who has been provided to fill an adults needs. All to often, infant adoption is NOT about saving a child.

      • Rilian

        Well I haven’t decided yet if I want to adopt a newborn or what. I want to know what you think about it. I want as much information as possible. What do you mean, “infant adoption isn’t pro-woman”? If you don’t want to post about it here, then please go to my blog and leave comments there.

  • Shaz

    I have to ask a question here because I’m often confused by the terminology. When they say co-sleeping, are they talking about in the same room, in a bassinet that attaches to the bed or goes in the bed, or just having the baby/toddler in the bed? Ive got no issues with options one and two, but I would never consider sleeping directly with my baby.

    • Anat

      There are many ways to cosleep. When my daughter was born she slept between us in our bed. We weren’t using pillows and used light covers during her first months. If she fell asleep before we were ready for bed we put mattresses around the bed so she wouldn’t hurt herself if she rolled out of it (which did happen a few times, she was an active, yet deep sleeper – she never woke up those instances, just kept on sleeping on the mattress). When she was about 2 and no longer nursed at night we moved her to a mattress on the floor in her own room. Sometimes she slept through the night there, sometimes she visited us, sometimes I ended up joining her in her room. Until we found her asleep in the corridor outside our room. Following that we moved her mattress into our room by my side of the bed (by then we switched to a futon so there wasn’t much of a height difference). That was our arrangement until she wanted to sleep in her own room at the age of about 4.

      Co-sleeping would include sharing a bed with the parents, sleeping on a bed/mattress that is level with the parents’ bed/mattress or sleeping on a separate piece of furniture that is adjacent to the one the parents sleep on.

  • Jenna

    I’m pretty much in agreement with you. I like a lot of the natural stuff but am definitely all for vaccinations. Also, I feel like a lot of the “crunchy” world is not very inclusive of kids with special needs/ medical conditions.

  • jillpoke

    Sigh, I’m right there with you. I’m a hybrid Natural/AP parent/skeptical parent myself and feel out of place on most parenting websites/forums. Other than the fact hat I have one circ’d son (my younger son is not and I have great remorse in circumcising my eldest) we are similar. I’ve backed away from most natural parenting forums/blogs because I just don’t feel I have much I can contribute to the conversation. I’d love to find a skeptical natural parenting blog/forum. Maybe one exists and I just haven’t found it yet.

  • Sarah

    My ipad won’t let me scroll down when you have a linked post, so I can’t read he rest of the post or the comments, but I think that anti-vaccinationism is the outlier in this sort of parenting, and I know that IRL they are the minority by far.

    All ofthe other tenets/pillars/hallmarks/whatever of AP are based in sound scientific evidence. But some people parent as a direct reaction/rebellion against their own parenting, so they end up under the AP label by default. While a person who’sreading/thinking about parenting from first principles will learn about attachment theory, about fulfilling the need for closeness when the need is there, then working with individuation and separation as the child grows, nursing as the first choice for feeding, cloth diapers as a more environmentally friendly alternative, the ridiculousness of neonatal cosmetic surgery, teaching a child internal discipline rather than punishment, etc. A reactionary parent just does as much as they can as differently as they can. These are the ons who don’t understand why are doing what hey’re doing, so they go overboard, they do things like keeping their partner from caring for the baby, see a crib or a stroller as a badge of everything mainstream, and they’re also so caught up in being different they do whatever’s different even if its wrong for them and their child.

    Apologies, I also can’t scroll up to read my post, I hope it’s coherent.

  • MrPopularSentiment

    You definitely aren’t alone. I like to refer to my parenting philosophy as Nut-Free Crunch. All the classic crunchy flavour you love, without the nuts!

    I think that if we only listened to people who agree with us on everything, we’d be in trouble. I don’t see any issue with you linking to a blog/blog post that you’ve found particularly edifying, even if the same author has written other things that you don’t agree with. A disclaimer is fine, but I honestly don’t even feel that’s necessary. You are indicating that you approve of that particular post, or that particular aspect of the blog. It would be wrong of anyone to assume that you therefore agree with anything else that author has written.

    • Contrarian

      ^^^ This wins the comment thread.

  • Amethyst

    I like a lot of the philosophies of AP and crunchy/green/whatever living, but a potential issue I see is that a lot of their practices assume the presence of a stay-at-home parent who is strong and healthy. When I have kids, I plan to be a work-at-home parent, and I will most likely still be dealing with the health issues I am now. Breastfeeding should be fine, but I doubt I’ll have the physical strength for baby-wearing or the stamina for the extra laundry created by cloth diapering. (If my future spouse wants to do either of the above, they’ll have my full support, but if it’s up to me, it ain’t happening.) The laundry/washing issue is why I use disposable feminine products now even though I know something reusable would be better for the environment. I’ll give birth in a hospital or a birthing center, where my vitals can be monitored the whole time and there are people right there who are trained to handle any potential complications. I’ll use anesthesia if that’s the best way to keep my nervous system in check and avoid such complications in the first place. And all of that is assuming I choose to conceive my own children. If I decide to adopt instead, I’ll be using (gasp!) formula in addition to disposable diapers.

    • Conuly

      Amethyst, when you start babywearing the baby is very small. You’ll probably be able to wear a newborn, and the weight is distributed more evenly than if you were simply holding the baby.

      If you continue to wear as the baby gets bigger, you generally get stronger, just like people weight train starting with small weights and then move to bigger weights.

      As far as feminine products go, if you’re interested, have you considered a menstrual cup? If you’re not really interested then you shouldn’t make excuses, because I don’t know if I’m being helpful or annoying right now!

    • Elin

      The menstrual cup does not create any extra laundry and is really easy to use. I consider it better than all methods both in being easy and being cheap and environmentally friendly. Of course it does not work for everyone and I would recommend that you do your homework there are many different cups that work in different ways for different people but most people can find at least one cup that works and most who tries it does not want to go back ever, crunchy or not…

    • Amethyst

      Replying to both of my replies here: In case I wasn’t clear in my OP, I have some serious limitations in strength and stamina due to nerve damage from a chronic medical condition. I’d rather not disclose more than that for privacy reasons. My condition has been roughly the same for the last couple of years and, realistically, is unlikely to get significantly better in the next 5 or 10. I have to budget my energy very carefully, and depending on what kind of day I’m having, sometimes tasks beyond eating and very basic grooming just don’t get done. This article about “spoon theory” explains the concept very well:

      I know how a diva cup works, and though I can see how its maintenance wouldn’t be a big deal to a normal, healthy person, it would be more effort than I can realistically add to my routine. That’s not an excuse, it’s my reality.

      Same with baby-wearing. A newborn baby is relatively “very small,” but you’re talking to someone who often gets tired from carrying a purse or can’t carry one at all. In my personal, medically supervised experience, it’s an unlikely projection that I would get stronger as the baby got bigger.

      I am not at all against any of the practices I discussed in my post. I think they’re great *if* they work for someone. I’m merely pointing out a scenario in which they might not work for someone, even if that person likes the ideas in theory.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        Wow, that was an awesome blog post. I’ve bookmarked it for when someone asks a similar question.

      • Conuly

        And that’s fine. Even if that weren’t the case, you really don’t have to explain yourself. Like I said, I wasn’t sure if I was being helpful or annoying. I think I was more the latter in this case. Sorry about that.

      • kisekileia

        Yeah, for me babywearing would probably be impossible for health reasons (I have huge stamina issues that the doctors haven’t figured out yet–it might be something cardiac). It hurts my back just to carry a laptop computer, which is smaller than a newborn, and I struggle with pushing groceries home, so I’ll be lucky if I can even handle pushing a baby in a stroller for significant distances. I know there’s a cloth diapering service in my area that washes the diapers for you, so I’m hoping to go with that. I really want to breastfeed, but I’m not at all sure it would be possible for me because I can’t really function without a couple of meds that pass into breast milk. I’d probably also need an OB to manage the meds issues, even though extremely well-trained midwives are available in my area. So I have to agree that a lot of crunchy stuff assumes the mom is healthy and condemns her if she isn’t.

      • Anat

        I think the point should be not adhering to a particular practice but to seeing what goal the practice seeks to achieve, and if the goal is valuable – maybe look for ways to achieve it within one’s physical means. If you can’t carry your baby – maybe spend as much time as you find comfortable holding hir in your lap in a rocking chair (physical contact, opportunity for interaction and motion, albeit not natural, all at once). The important thing is recognizing the infant’s needs and finding ways to fulfill them that work for you.

  • Noelle

    I don’t understand why the homeopathic lovers aren’t vaccine lovers too. The 2 operate on similar principles: a little bit of something to teach your body’s immune system to battle the real thing. Vaccines are just about the most natural intervention out there.

    For the natural birth, make a check-list plan to bring with you to the birth folks, I highly recommend letting the students and residents help out. No one with a list ever let me in the room as a resident, because it was on their lists they didn’t want students or residents involved. Big mistake, if you want the medical profession on-board and educated on the birth plan thing. A doc with no experience during training will be less educated in the natural + birth-plan culture as an attending physician.

  • Saraquill

    Unfortunately, so many types of parenting these days, such as tiger parenting, crunchy parent, “recovery” and so forth tend to carry a suspicious air. At least in the articles I read that discuss these methods, a lot comes across not as trying to do good by the children, but as trying to look good in front of other parents.

  • Kittens

    Libby Anne, I wish I knew you in person because I think I would really like you.

  • CJ :)

    I can’t help but wonder if this is less an issue of parenting style and more an issue of fear of making your own path without someone validating your choices? Parenthood is probably the most difficult thing any of us do, and even if we are strong in other life areas we can be very unsure as parents, especially when we are completely going against the way we ourselves were raised.

  • Alexis

    One thing about the conservative Christianity that so many of us were raised with, is that it encourages all or nothing thinking. Either you are entirely with us, or you are against us. So it is hard for some of us to be able to agree on some things, disagree on others, and still accept the other person as a good and sincere person. We must remind ourselves that no two people have exactly the same experiences, so our viewpoints are bound to be different to some degree large or small. And the other person may be just as intelligent as us no matter how misinformed :->

  • Alisa

    I am going through this right now. It scares me to see how many people are against vaccines and I can’t do home births because of medical issues, I have that have to monitors for my safety. But I strive to do right by my kid only for others to say it’s not good enough. Well, I say screw you to them, they, in my mind are the ones not doing enough for their fellow man.

    • Alisa

      * I have medical issues that have to be monitored.* Gosh! I can’t type today.

  • Susan

    One of my favorite mantras is “Everybody does what they think is best for them, given the information and resources they have at the time.” So I personally, as a diabetic, was never going to have a home birth and never going to worry about that–but I did have as natural of births as was medically appropriate and available for me. I do vaccinations, but I am as skeptical of them as of everything else–how sure are we that adding new vaccines to the schedule is a good idea? Should we vaccinate for a disease that is generally not very virulent, or will that only tend to make things worse? How safe are the ingredients, and what can we do to make them safer? What I don’t understand is why humans can’t seem to get over our either/or dichotomy thinking. Life is so complicated! I don’t believe in homeopathy’s methods but if it works for someone, they’re gonna take it–and that’s most likely placebo effect, which…still works! Everyone just has to try to do the best they can. And the best we–no, the best *I* can do is try to help people assimilate good, helpful information to make better choices, support people in leaving unhelpful and muddled ways of thinking, and be compassionate about each other’s choices where possible. Another good mantra, which I think I got from La Leche League long ago even though I’m not affiliated with them: “Take what works for you, and leave the rest behind.”
    It can be awkward not believing everything the same as everyone else–but for me it’s much more authentic and useful for my life. Cheers, and good luck to you all!

    • Nathaniel

      ” I do vaccinations, but I am as skeptical of them as of everything else–how sure are we that adding new vaccines to the schedule is a good idea?”

      Well, we can take a look at what science and studies have to say, which show conclusively that vaccines are a public health boon and about as safe as medical science can get.

      Or we can listen to people who like to ponder their chakras. I know who I trust.

      “Life is so complicated! I don’t believe in homeopathy’s methods but if it works for someone, they’re gonna take it–and that’s most likely placebo effect, which…still works! ”

      Life is complicated. But that doesn’t mean everything is complicated. For example, homeopathy doesn’t work. Its not a matter of belief or disbelief. It just doesn’t.

      And the much vaunted placebo effect is the failure state of medicine. If a drug or medicine doesn’t do better than a placebo, that’s when you have to go back to the drawing board.