I subscribe to a couple of natural parenting groups on Facebook, and a link popped up on my newsfeed the other day that listed 25 signs that you’re a natural parent. It was a fun, lighthearted look at some of the practices that come along with natural parenting (for the record, I try to avoid labels like “natural parent” or “attachment parent” when possible, but it was a cute article). Then I looked at the comments. Oh, Lord, I’ve said it before, but NEVER look at the comments.
There was, of course, one commenter who “rolled her eyes at how mainstream the list was”, then proceeded to give a point by point assertion of how she was even more natural, and therefore a better parent. I especially liked her condescending query of “doesn’t everyone?” when discussing packing organic lunches and making her own laundry soap.
Uh, no. In spite of the fact that it seems to be the new standard, we don’t all parent that way. I hit a few points on the list, but definitely not all of them. So, in response to that comment, here is my point by point list of 25 signs that you might not be a “natural parent”:
- You vaccinate your kids according to the recommended schedule, and feel good that they are protected against potentially fatal diseases and that they are contributing to the herd immunity for unvaccinated children.
- You gave birth in a hospital and/or were induced, used pain medication, or had a c-section.
- You have fed your baby puréed food out of a jar or a pouch.
- Two words: formula feeder.
- If you breast-fed, at some point you “topped up” or supplemented with formula.
- You buy powdered formula from the store, or the pre-mixed ready-to-eat formula.
- Your child’s primary health care provider is a pediatrician.
- When illness strikes you do what works, even if it means using over-the-counter medication.
- Your kids attend public school and possibly also attended pre-school or daycare.
- When someone says, “What are you doing?” you reply, “Doing laundry.” With store-bought soap.
- You did not eat, freeze, encapsulate, dry, plant, or preserve your placenta in any way. You may not have even seen your placenta.
- The only people present at your birth were your doctor and your partner.
- You pack your kids non-organic fruit, store-bought bread, and juice boxes in their plastic lunch box.
- One (or more!) of your Pinterest boards has a title like “Meals in less than 30 minutes” or “COOKIES!!!” or “Barbie cleaning tips”.
- You’ve asked a stranger where they bought their stroller.
- You buy your vegetables from the store.
- Your children’s chore list includes loading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, and Windexing their handprints off the window.
- Your trash can is full of disposable diapers.
- You’ll be using your next pay cheque to buy more diapers, wipes, and formula.
- Your friend calls you to ask you if you have a canning pot and you tell her that you don’t, but let her know that jam is on sale this week at the grocery store.
- Within minutes of meeting a new friend you’ve swapped birth stories, but neither of you mentioned whether you used a doctor or a midwife.
- You know the cheapest place to buy formula and diapers, the closest store that sells baby food, and exactly how many uses you can get out of a Diaper Genie refill.
- It’s the middle of winter and you and your kids are stuffing your faces with store-bought hot chocolate and marshmallows.
- Your kids wear something with a Disney or Pixar character on it.
- You try to limit the amount of TV that your kid watches, but sometimes putting him down in front of “Blue’s Clues” for half an hour is the only break that you’ll get all day.
I want to be clear that I am not mocking the original list or saying that one way of parenting is better than the other. This list is in response to a specific comment, but I know that the commenter doesn’t speak for the natural parenting community (in fact, everyone was pretty quick to let her know that she was out of line).
My intention is not to draw a line between natural parents and…unnatural (?) parents. I had a midwife and I make my own baby food, bake my own bread, grow a garden, and babywear. I also buy disposable diapers and use store-bought formula, and my son is fully vaccinated. Does that make me a natural parent? Who knows? Does it matter?
I think that parents who make their own laundry soap and homeschool should be proud of themselves. That’s a lot of work! But I think moms who buy their laundry detergent from the store and have to put their kids in daycare should be equally as proud of themselves. We’re all working hard, and the most important thing is to find a way to parent that works with your own lifestyle.
Disposable diapers or cloth, homemade or store-bought, organic or not, we’re all doing okay. No eye-rolling necessary.