Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Presumption of Good Will

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents
This Post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicated with other parents compassionately.

As a conservative Catholic who mostly follows “attachment parenting” or “natural parenting” practices, I’m pretty much guaranteed to disagree with just about everyone I meet on parenting practices, politics, and/or religion. But I try not to start fights, and to mostly get along with people. A book I recently read, however, helped me be much more focused in my efforts. In his book “Seek First the Kingdom”, Cardinal Wuerl from D.C. talks about having a “presupposition of good will” when Catholics are discussing divisive issues with Catholics who disagree with their positions, and I think that his suggestion is applicable to discussions in the parenting community as well. While as parents we don’t all share a common faith, we do share a common love: our families.

And I think it’s a great rule of thumb to assume that, even when we disagree with specific practices fellow parents employ, they are acting out of love for their children and a desire to do what is best for them. When we assume that loving motivation first, it seems easier somehow to reply kindly. To inform people of our different opinion without accusing them of child abuse or stupidity or laziness or any of the other horrible things we accuse ourselves of in the so-called “mommy wars.”

Of course, being nice doesn’t mean we can’t stand up for what we believe in. And in fact, when we disagree but accept that they reached those conclusions with love of their child in mind, we are more likely to share our views effectively. By sharing our positions on the issues, and especially the research, anecdotes, and life experiences that helped us form our opinions, we are much more likely to have a positive influence on that person and on other people who witness our interactions than if we attack our “opponent” and their motivations. The common expression is that you “catch more flies with honey”. The Cardinal describes it as “speaking the truth in charity.”

And that’s what I’m going to try to keep doing. I know I’ll fail sometimes and lose my temper and leave an uncharitable comment from time to time. But I am going to try to make a concerted effort to leave kind comments on blog posts I disagree with. I’ll attempt give honest compliments where they are deserved in addition to my views on the parenting practices in question. I'll try not to insult people personally, but focus my criticisms on the ideas we are discussing.

In short, I’m going to try to speak and type with a presupposition of goodwill.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.


dulce de leche said...

That is lovely! I am trying to remind myself to respond to others with the same charity and assumption of positive intent that I try to give my children. <3 I also love how Colossians 3 instructs us to put on charity--I don't live it out perfectly, but I love the idea of being dressed in love and grace.

Amy @ Anktangle said...

This is really excellent advice! It's similar to advice I've read several places (though most notably at Hobo Mama) with respect to gentle discipline: we should assume that our children have the best intentions at heart. It seems like all interactions with others would be more pleasant if we could just take this simple fact for granted. Thank you so much for that reminder!

Lani @ Boobie Time said...

Great article and advice. I love this thought and line "I’m going to try to speak and type with a presupposition of goodwill." If we all do this the world would be a nicer place.

Hannah Barnhorn said...

Assuming that intentions are well intended is great way at looking at advice from others.

Cassie said...

Love this. I think it's always important to remember to seek first the kingdom. That really is it. I heard quote from a saint by a priest on EWTN
“Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you”

it really put things into prospective for me. I always jump to judgements or think bad thoughts about people who do something a different way than me. I need to learn to get past it so I can seek the kingdom.

Lisa C said...

Spot on! This is the core of peaceful and respectful interactions with other parents. I had to keep telling myself this over and over when I was a new parent learning about the problems of CIO and other things. I couldn't imagine how they could as loving parents let their baby cry or spank their child, but I just told myself they are doing what they think is best because they love their child--and also that most of their interactions with their children really are very loving.

As for sharing ideas with others, I really liked this: “speaking the truth in charity.” Beautiful.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I really like that phrase! It's definitely a helpful place to start in interactions, and I will keep it in mind. It's one of the things I've been noticing about parents I disagree with — that we're all (or, at least, most of us) working out of a starting place of loving our children and trying to do what's right.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Realizing that each parent acts from a place of love is so enlightening - parents aren't monsters bent on harming their children. They're simply doing the best they can with the information they have available. TY for the reminder!