Friday, May 22, 2009

Stop the judgment!

I had an interesting conversation with a sisterfriend yesterday. She'd read my blog entry about the Lunapads give-away and thanked me for bringing up the subject. Her daughter was born about a month after mine and since her cycle returned she'd been using cloth menstrual pads... but was afraid to tell anyone. She and I both cloth diaper our babies, so we've often vibed about cloth diapering and other green parenting methods. But she was hessitant to talk openly about her cloth pad use because she was afraid of being judged. She's seen how people have reacted in disgust when the subject is breached. And some members of her family and community had been vocal about their feelings on her methods before. When you set out to do something a little different or unconventional, sometimes people will look at you funny and label you for it. This sort of hearkens back to my whole "Black Folks Don't..." discussion. She thought if she mentioned that she uses cloth pads, people wouldn't be very understanding of her choice and decide that she's going too far. So to save herself the scrutiny, she just chooses not to mention it.

This brings to light the issue I've had with setting out on this journey: the judgment from both ends of the spectrum. Some people have kind of written me off as a "hippie" or "new age" for trying to do some things more naturally. Amazingly, some fellow "Christians" (notice the quotation marks) have even labeled me a pagan. That's a whole other blog entry in itself! But on the same token, some people who I look to for green living advice are often ultra-militant about their lifestyles. They absolutely cannot stand to see anyone neglect to recycle, use disposable diapers, or drive non-hybrid cars. On one messageboard, I saw a mother basically slam other moms for using plastic baby bottles and letting their kids play with plastic toys. She only uses glass bottles and wooden toys because of the threat of chemicals leeching out of plastics. Seriously? If I use a Playtex nurser I'm less of a mother than you? Come on, people!

In general, people -- especially moms -- are just doing the best they can. My journey has been about finding simple ways I could make my family a little "greener"... one at a time. Yes, I encourage others to try some of the things we've implemented, but they're certainly not the ogres of the world if they don't want to do things my way. I don't even think like that. This is a place for sharing and education, not judgment. Barking at people won't make them change, and dismissing them won't stop them from doing what they will. We could enrich each other's lives so much just by opening our hearts and minds and choosing understanding over judgment.

Actually, I wish my friend had shared her methods earlier. It would have saved me a lot of research, exploration, and confusion. We had a very informative talk and she gave me so much guidance on an issue about which I'd been curious. In her vulnerability, she helped me. Imagine how many others she might have helped already. I can't thank her enough for that, and I'm reminded once again of how we can let our judgement and other people's judgment keep us all in bondage. That's not a lesson just for green living. It's a lesson for everyday living.


Mia said...

This post is so a new mom I am always surprised how much my decisions cause others to pass judgment. I think that if people just realized that all most of us are trying to do the things that work best for our families. I cloth diaper, breastfeed, make my son's baby food and on and on but this is because these are the things that I feel best serves the needs of my child and our family.The choices that another person makes for their child is just that their choice. I really wish that we could embrace each other wholeheartedly and resist the urge to judge! Thanks for your post :)

T. D. Anderson -- said...

Mia, it's crazy, you know? I've seen women straight up shame a woman for feeding her baby formula as opposed to breast milk. My goodness, she IS feeding the kid. What more do you want? Everyone has to do what's right for their family. And a lot of times people make judgments on others without knowing the other person's circumstances. It's just sad. Thanks for stopping by! *hugs*

Natasha said...

Thank you LT! This warms my heart so much, and makes me a little bit shameful that I sat on my methods when they aren't harmful or anything like that. ((hugs))