When Activism Becomes Extreme.

On observations…
 
Activism, no matter what form or shape or cause, is comprised of passion. An injustice is seen and vigorously fought for. As with any activism; there are extremists. Those who find themselves so overtaken with the injustice that emotions often drive the conversation, which frequently leads to heated arguments instead of civil discussions.
 
I fully understand these individuals. I was one; and still am sometimes and trying to change. These are the people who attack on a personal level because they find it very difficult to separate the person from the act. A good friend told me once: “Sometimes you have to punch someone in the face to get their attention.” It’s a beautiful saying and I fully agree. However, it can be done without making it personal.
 
As soon as you go on the offensive (or defensive) with attacking, an insurmountably wall erects itself and the conversation becomes dead before it begins. No one will learn, or even be interested in learning, at this point. Why would they? At this point you’re defending your pride, not your argument.
 
In many instances it’s best to just disengage and walk away. Save your sanity from those who have no desire in learning your side. Being rude and uncivil is what makes movements seem to be led by a bunch of unhinged loons that people take with a grain of salt. Unfortunately a bad reputation is a common byproduct of activism.
 
Before I became a father, I thought nothing of spanking, circumcision or allowing a child to cry in a vein attempt to train them. Now as a father, I have learned better and fight vehemently against them. I see the injustice in these. I voice these opinions. I will not stop voicing them. But just because I don’t allow myself to lash out at a naysayer by arguing or allow myself to walk away upon realizing their intent is not to truly understand but to simply argue and pot-stir; in no way am I condoning that injustice or accepting it’s continuance.

On my blog, I have many many people that don’t necessarily agree with everything; but do listen. They lie in the background, absorbing what is being said and reading the comments. They take some advice and leave some advice. What if one of these people are on the fence and see someone admit they spank or someone that circumcised their child or left them to cry or any else you don’t agree with. What if this person who admitted this was attacked and pounced on by ‘peaceful’ activists? What if this person watching then decided to deem the cause as batshit crazy? I will always defend my opinion. I will always discuss my position. But I will never attack or bash.

The more we are the crazy, the bashing, the unhinged offensive attacks; the less we allow the movement to move forward. The more we are willing to teach through understanding, modeling and with poise; the more we will be listened to as a sane voice. A voice worth listening to. We can be that voice without the extremism. Extremism is not a good thing.

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Oh, dear experts…

According to the experts I should have a clingy child. One that will not venture out or become independent. Supposedly he will need us forever because of how he is being raised.

Confused Expert

Confused Expert

Little do these experts know my son is the one I have to constantly remind to stay close because he is so eager to explore all of his environments. When we are out he seldom needs our guiding to navigate his world. Should I tell these experts that my son often shuns my help in an attempt to conquer his endeavors all on his own? “I can do it!” he will scream as he takes control.

These are the same experts that said my son will never sleep on his own or through the night if we allow him to nurse to sleep and not have access to our bed. Or that he will be unruly if punishment wasn’t provided for misbehavior. Or that we are creating an entitled brat because we reach agreements by compromise instead of dictating demands.

No dear experts. You are quite wrong. Independence is fostered through connection and a safe, secure home-base. Respect, validation and responsiveness provide that foundation. Oh experts, I hate to inform you that my son is quite capable, independent, respectful and cooperative despite going against your expert advice. Thank you anyways.

That Similac Ad: A rebuttal of sorts.

MomWarsI know everyone on earth has seen it, laughed at it, cried because of it and inevitable got into some debate from it. I’m not going to get into the psychology of the ad itself as it’s been discussed ad nauseam. I will however briefly explore a wider realm of detriment it imposes: a disguised attempt to end The Mommy Wars. I’m not a fan of the term, but I’ll stick with it since it’s universally known as that.

I’m going to dive in about the meatier battles within the war. If you use a stroller over baby-wearing, then roll on. Disposables over clothe? Not worries. Formula vs. breast? He’s being fed, right? How you chose to birth or whether you work or not doesn’t matter. Even though some hold merit over others; these are all the smaller ‘to each their own’ type battles. But under this same umbrella would fall the bigger, more detrimental practices such as CIO (cry-it-out sleep training), corporal punishment and circumcision; which definitely do not fall into the ‘to each their own’ hat when science has proven otherwise.

Imagine for a moment, that all discourse on parenting practices ended. That would mean studies on the effects of these harmful practices would halt and anyone speaking against the act would be deemed a judgmental asshat. Yes, there are those extremists who sling mud and run off at the mouth on all sides, but a majority of those are simply presenting information in an attempt to inform, not belittle. This often comes across as attacks to those that are sensitive or have quilt from utilizing them.

A complacency in allowing inadvertent (yet sometimes purposefully) harmful practices would be the suppression of further discussions and sharing of pertinent information vital to future generations; which is a grave disservice. I would never, ever say “It’s okay that you struck your child. You love them.” Or pat someone on the back and tell them it was good decision to allow their child to scream themselves to sleep; we’re all just parents after all. I will never condone the circumcision of your son; a practice routinely done mainly in the U.S. and is largely falling out of favor (most of the world condemns the U.S. for it). How can I condone any of these things when they have been proven to cause harm? That’s not ‘mommy wars’; that’s fighting for the well being and rights of our children. That’s being pro-child.

This ad is eerily similar to one with the photo shoot of the various moms holding opposing signs together in harmony, and now the granola add. In light of these two campaigns anyone who speaks out (on either side) is frowned upon; further suppressing information. As is anyone that doesn’t particularly like the campaigns. ‘How can you not like them and their message?’ they’ll scream. Let us not forget that Similac is a for-profit company that is combating a large breast feeding movement, which is potentially cutting into their margins.

I say let’s keep the discussions going, keep sharing the information and parent on. Let’s stop the bashing, name-calling and mud-slinging during these discussions. It is true: we do all love our children and want the best outcome for them.

His safe place.

It’s 8 pm and I just sat down for the first time. I watch my 2 year old son as he peacefully nurses, curled up in his moms lap like an armadillo. His eyes are slowly closing and opening; still gazing into his moms eyes while his belly fills with warm nourishment. His hand, resting on her chest, relaxes and falls lazily to his side. My wife, glowing in motherhood, who just got home from a 12 hour shift and was met by our eager son, glances my way. I smile and she sighs in defeat of the day that was. TheBoy’s eyes are no longer open; he has succumbed to the sleeping potion that is his nursies.

This is our routine; their relationship. This is his comfort, his safe space. His 2 years of existence have teetered on his nursies. They turn his bad days good, and a strong bond stronger. The road to this relationship staple was rocky, but victorious. Every night ends with his mamma’s milk. While it does not actually put him to sleep that often anymore, he still has his safe place; his nightly fulfillment.

This will all soon change in 7 short months and what was once his refuge will now be communal; a shared commodity between him and his new sibling. I sit, watching how blissfully unaware TheBoy is about what his future holds. Peacefully lost in his happy dreams he sleeps. His life will forever be altered. Mom’s attention will be divided.

I can only speculate how he will take to this change. Will he be receptive? Annoyed? See it as a rival for competition? Embrace the newness? Regress in his behavior? His routine will now involve an extra human; one to look after, to care for, to bond with, to love. I’m both excited and nervous at this change he will experience, that we will experience. Time truly will tell and as I think about all his attributes, he’ll adapt well to his new sibling. I think my worries lie within me, not my son.

Systematic Cruelty

When have we, as a culture and species, become so far removed from our instinctual parenting that it has become not only common, but applauded that we are systematically cruel to our children?

How did it became acceptable and encouraged to put your 6 week old out away from their comfort to cry themselves to exhaustion and physical sickness to fit our modern industrialized schedules? They biologically need our presence and touch at night as much as day.

How could one man who hated masturbation completely change the gentle entrance of many millions of boys and create a cultural norm by convincing parents to permanently disfigure their genitals? Nature has evolved it to its optimal usage.

How have large corporations convinced us that a man-made chemical soup is just as good, if not better, then what mammals produce naturally and have thrived on for millions of years? Accept that nature has perfected the ultimate, changing cocktail for human survival.

How is it celebrated that we become hypocritical in our parenting by hitting our children and demanding respect then tell them hitting isn’t acceptable and respect is earned? Learning and respect is better received when it comes from empathy, patience and understanding.

Why are we being criticized and called out for practicing these instinctual, biologically normal means of ensuring our children have the best chance for survival and upbringing by keeping a family bed, feeding them naturally, gently guiding and respecting them and leaving them perfect as they were born?

Just points to ponder….

My Take On Bed-Sharing

                I apologize up front for that scattered nature of this. There’s just no good segueing from one thought to another in this. But please, do read it through.

Why bed-sharing and not co-sleeping? Well, there is a significant difference in the two. The first specifically means sleeping in the same bed as mum and dad. The latter meaning a variety of sleeping arrangements including bed-sharing. Co-sleeping can also include bub lying next to the bed in a cot or something similar as well as just simply sleeping in the same room or space, even if in a crib. We have Liam in our bed so I use the term bed-sharing.
                I’m going to start this one off with an earlier post on my site:

                “Reason #2 Why I love bed-sharing:
Last night, while Mrs. K was feeding Liam in bed, he popped off, rolled over and looked at me lying next to him. An ear to ear grin immediately overtook his face and giggling commenced. I, being a sucker to not pass up a good moment my son, started giggling back at him. In the blink an eye, Liam went from almost asleep, to hysterical laughter; to which my wife promptly intervened “Am I going to have to separate you two? It’s past his bed time.” She grabbed Liam, and while rolling to nurse him from her “fuller” side, the grin remained and eye-contact never broken until a fresh boob was given to him. W/O bed-sharing, moments like these wouldn’t exist.”

                We didn’t originally set out to bed-share. Liam, for the first few months, slept right next to our bed in a little infant rocker thingy, making it easy for Mrs. K to get to him when he roused and wanted fed. It was so nice and comforting having him in the same room as us. When he outgrew the rocker, he moved to his pack and play, also right next to our bed. The pack and play just wasn’t working for him and he often ended up in our bed. Fast forward about a couple weeks of this; no more pack and play, we upgraded to a king size bed and voila, bed-sharing commenced. And we love it! It creates special moments we otherwise wouldn’t have.
                Yes, there are wrong and right ways of bed-sharing. A firm, flat mattress is a must, so if baby rolls on his belly he’s able to lift his head up and not sink into the mattress. A bumper/side rail needs to be installed so no rolling out of bed. No pillows and sheets / blankets near baby for suffocation reasons. As for rolling on baby – our bodies are somehow hardwired to know of baby’s ware-a-bouts in bed. I believe we instinctively sense the other. Liam will be in a dead sleep near me, reach out in his sleep and roll towards Mrs. K’s bossom for a sleep-feed, and neither Mrs. K nor Liam are consciously the wiser.
                With that, I see questions and comments all the time, whether on-line or in person:

·         Won’t you roll over on him and kill him? Most cases of infant death in bed-sharing situations were caused by mom/dad being inebriated somehow, whether from alcohol, some kind of prescription/illegal drug, or a smoker.

·         Apparently your love life doesn’t exist. Well, if your only place for intimacy is the bed, then you might have bigger problems to solve. Our bed is for sleeping. When Liam’s asleep, we have an entire house for hanky-panky, including a second bedroom and a shower. Who would of thought that you can be intimate outside the bedroom?!
·         You’re creating a monster when he gets older and won’t leave the bed. From everything I’ve read; that’s simply not the case. They’ll want their space eventually, just as children can wean themselves when they’re ready.

         I think a lack of general knowledge and knowing what other options are available lead to a misunderstanding of bed-sharing / co-sleeping. We live in a society where all we see and told is that our children are to sleep in their own cribs in their own room, away from what their biologically programmed to need and want; which is mommy / human presence. All parents are bombarded with lists of needs for their unborn children from box-stores. Ever register at a chain store? About half the store is dedicated to cribs and monitors and mobiles; and a lot more is dedicated to all things nursery. Every independent baby store we’ve been to offer zero cribs. Interesting. We unwittingly bought an expensive crib that’s never been used. The plus side I guess is that Liam will be able to use it into adulthood with conversion rails.
        We are the only mammals that don’t sleep with or next to our young. Bears don’t dig another den for their cubs to sleep in; rabbits don’t burrow a different hole for their bunnies; why do we? When, along the evolutionary lines, did humans think of settling their young out of arms reach when sleeping at night? Baby chimps sleep clinging to their moms. Another thing only us human mammals do is sleep through the night. Babies aren’t equipped to sleep through the night. Bed-sharing lessens the “up” time throughout the night by minimizing baby’s fusses. They’re attended to before they even get themselves worked up. Mom doesn’t have to go down a hall to fetch an already worked up child and then calm them back down to go back to sleep. Liam wakes ups, feeds, falls asleep within the span of 5 mins, and only a couple of times a night, if that. Talk about taking care of bub and getting your zzzzz’s!

There are many benefits to co-sleeping/ bed-sharing. Some of which can be read here.
And if you’re wavering for less bias information: here.
I’m going to wrap this up by saying this works for us on every level. We love it and wouldn’t change it for anything. I get that it’s not for everyone. But everyone should be made aware that it is an option outside of a crib down the hall, and that in choosing to co-sleep or bed share, you are in no way alone or an outsider. You’re not different and shouldn’t feel that way. It’s completely normal in all aspects to have a family bed. What is weird is that somehow as a culture, we shifted the paradigm to what it currently is, a society where mom and dads private space trump a new, helpless family member. We’ve accepted this shift and those who go against it, my family included, are the outsiders. But it’s slowly changing and re-shifting ever so slightly, little by little and at least becoming known as an alternative. With more awareness more knowledge reaches the light of day and that’s where things begin. With knowing.

How this came to be.

I guess I’ll start this thing off with some kind of back story / introduction so there’s a better understanding of my mindset and expectations vs. the reality of our new life and how we raise our son. So here goes:
                I grew up imagining a life without children, content to live life as the final Kitzmiller branch in my tree. After meeting my wife, for the longest time she shared the same sentiment and kids were never an issue as our two dogs filled the void in my wife’s maternal subconscious. They were a valid substitute that allowed us the freedom to come and go and do as we please. I was happy with this arrangement. My wife, however, had a switch flipped and suddenly caught baby fever.
                This bothered me immensely. Firstly, I never wanted kids, never have been good with kids, and quite honestly, didn’t care for them. Now that didn’t make me an ass, just someone that was fine doing without. Secondly, my Wife who was on ship with me was flipping the script and had ovaries that were telling her it’s time for a change in family dynamics. After many months of silent inner toiling and debating and mental preparations, I realized how important this was to my wife and agreed to have child.

Little Liam – not even 24 hrs old.

                I could see myself being a father, but was I really ready to sacrifice pretty much the way I’ve known everything to be? Absolutely! I love my wife enough to not deny her of one of life’s greatest and most important experiences, even if I couldn’t handle it. I knew I’d find a way.  After a few hiccups (which won’t be discussed, but Little Liam is not our first. Baby K didn’t make it to the 2nd trimester), shots, some medical tests, extensive baby dancing and 9 months later – we were blessed with our son – Liam.
      Expecting a more westernized approached to raising our son, I think I was most unprepared for was my wife’s sudden and rather dramatic transformation into a crunchy Mama. Our son has never slept in his crib (a waste of money we now realize) instead we have a family bed and co-sleep; has NEVER cried it out; breastfeeds on demand; gets handled and loved on all the time and is worn whenever we leave the house (never been in a stroller which was another waste of money). The funny thing is, I’m completely on board with this form of parenting as is the purpose of blog, to talk about and muse upon this unexpected, but completely embraced new life I have created.