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.

Parenting Positively Means Much More than Not Hitting
Motherhood Is Not Inherently Deserving of Praise
Condescending Self-Righteous Parents Make Parenting Sound Terrible
The Tomboy in Skirts
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.


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