Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Agree to Disagree Online and Remain Respectful

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 communicate with other parents compassionately.

I have been working with a lot of advocacy and parenting groups online which has helped me learn so much about different aspects of parenting and life. In some groups, I am pretty active and in others I am more of a lurker. I love trying to make a change in the breastfeeding world and I am constantly striving to parent more naturally and these groups help a lot with this. I for one am very thankful to be part of the Natural Parents Network Team, they truly are an amazing group of women. We have come together and support each other in many ways, whether it be a virtual fundraiser for a fellow mom who's baby was in the NICU, words of encouragement, advice, or even donating personal items for a mom in need. But not all online interactions are as up lifting and moving as these.  I have also had the privilege to meet a lot of people online while working on projects that I truly believe in. Online interaction certainly have their challenges; plain and simple, online can be tough. Messages are miss interpreted, you don't know the other people in the group,  people take certain liberties behind the disguise of the Internet that they may not in real life, and it can get heated pretty quickly, and people can get pretty nasty.

There are lots of different parenting ideas, philosophies, and styles. It's very easy to get defensive or argumentative in trying to state a point. I for one can definitively be defensive over my parenting choices because I do not take/make them lightly.  I thoroughly research all aspects of parenting whether it be simple things like which type of shoes are best for new walkers, which winter gloves will stay on my little guys hands or major decisions like whether or not to vaccinate or to circumcise or not. I have been working really hard on trying to be able to explain my parenting decisions without offending others. No two people are going to agree on everything because that would make for a very boring world, but I have noticed that there is a large lack of respect when it comes to online communication within parenting pages. I think a lot of comments that are made would never be made in real life and that we forget that words are like knives at times and there is another person behind that screen with feelings. It is important to remember that it is OK to agree to disagree. No one is right or wrong, there is simply what works for one family and what works for another.
I think the biggest issue that happens in online parenting communities is that people are very quick to react negatively when someone challenges what they write. Rather then making an effort to educate kindly to win someone over, it becomes a battle of I am right and you are wrong, and no one wants to be told they are parenting wrong. Most parents are doing the very best they can, especially when they are looking for information on various controversial subjects and are seeking to educate themselves. It is important to keep others feeling in mind when having discussions online just as you would in real life. Yes, we are trying to validate our points, but wouldn't we reach more people in a respectful tone rather then in a defensive and argumentative one?

The point of various parenting boards is to reach out, gain and share knowledge, exchange ideas, and educate an audience that is seeking information.  The end goal being one that they chose options that you feel have a positive outcome. It is hypocritical to be closed minded to a persons ideas and expect them to be open to yours.  Groups end up with names like 'Looney Lactivist', 'Insane Intactivist',  'Formula Fanatics' because they can't see the bigger picture. Acceptance is what everyone is looking for, so by being kind, warm, and welcoming to others when they see things differently will at least leave others with a positive image of us as a people, and hopefully of the ideals we are trying to share. Whether they choose to agree or not is up to them. 

I have to thank groups like Natural Parents Network and Best for Babes for helping me see this. The tone, appearance, attitude, and conduct of the group is just as important as the message they are trying to convey. If you are open to honest discussion that is respectful you will be respected and be viewed as a positive role model for the message at hand. Yes, there are 'trolls' that sole purpose is to ruffle your feathers, and believe me after Bring Breastfeeding Back Sesame Street lots of negative comments appeared all over the Internet and I had this visceral reaction to fight fire with fire, but thanks to some lovely ladies I was able to see the bigger picture. 

At the end of the day you catch more bees with honey the you do with vinegar. Remember; It is OK to agree to disagree. No one is right or wrong. There is simply what works for one family and what works for another. <---TWEET THIS!


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.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • 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.


  1. Great reminder! It is so easy to want to fight fire with fire, but after all, if we are truly trying to be gentle, respectful parents, we need to model that in all our interactions, even with adults that disagree with us. I am so glad to have found your blog/page through the Carnival!

    1. Thank you! It's so easy to speak freely online that its important remember that it should be no different than in real life. :)

  2. I agree that it is so important to have a respectful tone, and it's amazing how much easier it is to forget that online. I think some people spend all day typing things they wouldn't say in person, and I'm sure I've typed some myself!
    I think I do disagree about there not being right and wrong choices though. I think we still ought to be kind and respectful to people who are making wrong choices, and certainly there is no universal "right" answer to many questions, but I think in some cases there is. And that it is okay to think that and stick up for it...as long as you are nice about it :)

    1. I agree, I make parenting decisions that I feel are right and I will stand by them because I know they are right for us and I feel strongly about them. I think I was more saying when you have 2 opposing views that will not find a common ground just agree to disagree rather then have a heated argument that will go no where.

  3. Yes! It does seem to be a very different atmosphere interacting online versus in person, and often not for the better (more respectful). Great reminders about how to respect each others' differences!

  4. I'm shocked at what people think is appropriate to write online vs. what they'd say to that person's face. It's a good reminder to me to keep it civil. I totally agree with you that the way we present ourselves online makes a huge first impression, and I'm glad you think NPN is one of the good'uns! :)

    1. I am so surprised at the comments I read online as well and yes NPN does a great job at making all people feel welcomed that's what drew me to NPN in the first place! I am luck to be apart of it!

  5. My mantra has been your twitter post lately. I keep reminding myself that our circumstances in which we are raising our child are unique to us and while others may have more children than us, they don't have our child so what works for them is great for them but it doesn't mean we have to entertain the though.

  6. Oh, I know those people you are talking about. I've actually been in tears before over things people have said to me online. And I see it happen over and over on parenting forums. I always feel like I'd be afraid to meet those people in real life, but you are probably right--they are probably being rude simply because they can hide behind their computer. It really shows a person's true colors, though, if you ask me. And yes, I agree about NPN! They do a very good job of being respectful, and I find that MANY NPN followers have a similar attitude of respect that I don't see elsewhere.

  7. Online discussions can be so violently negative b/c of the anonymity factor. If we would all just write tlike we would talk to a friend sitting next to us, I think our online interactions would be much more respectful.

  8. Agreeing to disagree is good netiquette because it is against the rules to flame. Thanks for sharing some great tips, your awesome!


Thanks for commenting!