A friend drew my attention to a recent column in the Daily
Terrorgraph Telegraph, written by a man named Stephen Acott.
I’d never heard of Mr Acott before, not being a huge aficionado of that particular publication, so it was with interest that I perused his opinions on the way some mothers choose to parent.
I can’t help but notice this article is entirely targeting mums. Do Dads not parent? Do they have no say? Is harassing solely women for their parenting style yet another form of sexism? I reckon it is and I’m sick of it. No one has ever questioned my husband about using carriers or cloth nappies and let me tell you- he has equal say in our parenting decisions.
After a nice intro about the wonder of becoming a parent, Mr Acott discusses how he made a concious decision not to speak about his child unless someone asked. *shrug* To each their own, right?
Then the he goes to the first issue he has with “crunchy” mothers- lotus birthing. Lotus birthing means the umbilical cord is not severed. The placenta is usually kept in a special bag, often in salt or similar, until it drops off by itself. There’s all manner of spiritual justification for the practice and frankly, I don’t think it’s all that common. He mentions that he thinks someone he knows did this and it’s causing him distress. I have a really simple solution to this problem. If lotus birthing is outside your comfort zone, don’t have a lotus birth. I freely admit, it’s not my cup of tea. If someone else does it, why the hell would I care? It’s not hurting anyone provided things are kept clean to avoid infections etc and it has zero potential impact on me so why would I insist that they make birthing choices to make me comfortable?? The solution is to simply mind my own business. That’s good advice!
The next bit had me confused. Mr Acott attended a wedding where a 3 year old was being disruptive. Suddenly, the child went quiet and he noticed this was because they were being breastfed. High-fives to this mum- she calmed the kid down and got him to be quiet so as not to disrupt a wedding, right? Wrong. Apparently, the position she used to breastfeed was wrong. She chose a position that he believed was uncomfortable for her. I’m not sure how many children Mr Acott has breastfed, but he’d know, right? His other issue with this was that the position was uncomfortable for everyone else- I mean, he was trying to watch a wedding! The wedding was taking place in front of him and the breastfeeding was taking place to the side of him. How could he be expected to look straight ahead at the wedding? And surely his comfort was paramout here? I mean, she was clearly breastfeeding to take attention away from the nuptuals…
Just on the breastfeeding issue, Mr Acott is also of the opinion that a 3 year old shouldn’t be breastfed. Never mind that by his own admission, prior to being fed, the kid was being disruptive. Can’t win! It’s okay though, because he took a poll of his office and they decided that children should not be breastfed beyond 12 months of age. I assume their combined expertise outweighs that of the World Health Organisation, who reccomend that children be breastfed for 2 years or beyond. Stephanie, from Mr Acott’s office, says that after 12 months it’s all about the mother, not the child. What does that even mean? I’m still breastfeeding my two year old, who will be 3 in September. Let me tell you, it’s not for my benefit. I don’t deny even for a second that it can be lovely to snuggle up with your toddler and feed them to sleep or whatever. It absolutely can be. Admitting that you enjoy breastfeeding your child is apparently a social taboo- we should do it but god forbid we enjoy it, right?
But it’s also a pain at times. I have to choose boob-accesible clothing, for one. I have to cop ignorance like this and defend what is a biologically normal act. I have spent ages explaining to people that breastfeeding is what breasts are for- anything else is a secondary function. More times than I care to count, I’ve had to explain that breastfeeding isn’t the same as urinating (or whatever other bodily function it’s being likened to). I’ve gone blue in the face saying that breastfeeding in public is a legally protected right. I would rather not, thanks, but as long as columns like this one keep getting published, I guess I’ll have to.
Mr Acott has a dig at attachment parenting, which he seems to think is the same thing as crunchy parenting. While I’m sure there are parallels- I don’t think the two terms are interchangeable. Attachment parenting is based on a theory of being responsive to your child’s needs. You can practice attachment parenting without breastfeeding, for example, or without bed-sharing. It’s actually based on attachment theory and studies indicate that children parented this way may have better self-esteem and self-reliance later in life. It’s just as valid as any other parenting style and again- has no impact on Mr Acott’s life….so why worry? He then runs through a list he found on The Stir that I took to be a tongue in cheek look at “crunchy” mums, with his own added commentary along the way.
The chicken pox parties and anti-vaccine stuff is not for me. If you’ve hit my site before, you probably know that. I don’t know if you have to be anti-vax to be “crunchy” but I know you don’t have to be anti-vaccine to practice attachment parenting principles. The chicken coop? Nope. I haven’t got one. Didn’t know I needed one. Kale chips are gross, but whatever. Mr Acott wants to know how practices like asking to be nursed or co-sleeping won’t lead to a child growing into a narcissist. I suggest he read up on attachment theory. As I already said, this style of parenting has been shown to produce self reliant kids with good self esteem.
I couldn’t be bothered with the rest of the list with one exception. The list has “You use a menstrual cup” as number 19. Mr Acott has added his own comment next to this: “Gross”.
I have to wonder why Mr Acott thinks his opinion on sanitary protection matters….I mean- how many periods has he actually experienced? My love of menstrual cups is well-known in my circle of friends and yes- I wrote about it here. “Gross” is a further serve of ignorance. In reality, menstrual cups are less gross than disposable alternatives. They have no association of toxic shock syndrome, for starters. They mean we aren’t making monthly contributions to landfill. We don’t need bins full of fragrance and disinfecting chemicals (or whatever it is in those pink bins) to dispose of used products. They are cheaper by far in the long term. What’s so gross about that? Another easy solution, mate- don’t like menstrual cups? Don’t bloody use one.
Here’s my final bit of advice: Have a chicken coop. Use cloth nappies. Feed your kid however is best for your family- be it breast, formula or frigging kale chips. Wear your babies and toddlers in gorgeous slings if it makes you happy. Don’t worry about labels and don’t worry about the opinions of people who are not even slightly affected by your choices.
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess