Alicia Silverstone’s new book, The Kind Mama, is getting all sorts of press. While it’s doing a great job at making me want to read it, a description of her parenting practices as “controversial” got me thinking. I haven’t read the book, but I can hardly consider elimination communication, veganism and cosleeping controversial.
Not vaccinating, okay, yes. I don’t agree with not vaccinating. But I’m sick of that topic at the moment so I’m just going to let sleeping dogs lie there as I don’t know exactly what she says about vaccines or how it’s worded.
Sure, cosleeping can be controversial. But from what I’ve discovered researching the topic it’s not dangerous when people choose to cosleep, it’s when people fall asleep on couches or bring babies into adult beds that aren’t meant for babies. Having someone talk about the choice of a family bed could actually be beneficial to helping families get more sleep without resorting to something when they’re already sleep deprived.
Anyways, that word “controversial” really got me thinking about my own parenting practices, and what would be considered controversial. Breastfeeding at 16 months. Cosleeping. Baby sign language. Baby led weaning. Cloth diapering. Babywearing. I’m sure there is so, so, so much more that I can’t even scratch the surface. Oh, starting solids at 5 months. See, I found more.
It couldn’t have come at a better time too. At a play date the other day I nervously breastfed my son, wondering if someone would question that he was still breastfeeding, let alone often enough to need to do it right then and not at a more “opportune” time. (No one seemed to care, for the record.) Or today, K had fallen asleep while running errands, so I put him in the carrier in hopes that he would keep sleeping while I did our final stop. I’m sure it looked pretty weird, considering he’s a quarter of my size and very capable of walking, hell, running through the grocery store. But at that moment, it was amazing to have the chance to offer him a bit more sleep.
I think that’s the thing that resonates the most with me about “controversial” parenting. The things that are often labelled controversial in our society are oftentimes the things that we do when we aren’t overthinking everything, the things that come naturally. I don’t need to read a book to know that it’s wonderful to pull my baby into bed with me and snuggle, but I do need to read one (or five!) in order to sleep train him. If motherhood has changed me in one way, it’s helped me find my instincts and beliefs, my own convictions. Things I wasn’t sure that I had. Even if they’re controversial, they feel natural to me.