Best-Selling Parenting and Children's Book Author

I Spy…A Bad Mom

[By L.R.Knost, best-selling author of The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective DisciplineWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood and Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

I was at the park with my little ones yesterday and got a text from one of my older children. Not an uncommon occurrence since I have six children, all the way from a 26-year-old married father of two down to a nursling of my own. As I looked up from my phone after returning the text, I saw a young mom glance quickly away from me, obvious disapproval on her face. I suddenly realized I was a bad mom…you know, ‘that’ mom at the park or ballet lesson or soccer game who ignores her kids in favor of her iPhone.

When my phone buzzed again with a return text, I hesitated for a moment before I caught myself, laughed, and responded to my son’s text. I’ve been a parent for 26 (almost 27 now!) years, and I know better. I am no longer crushed or even influenced by the occasional disapproving glances when I nurse in public or say those three controversial words, “We don’t vaccinate,” or when I don’t spank my toddler for…well, anything, ever! I am confident and comfortable enough in my parenting after all these years to neither hide nor flaunt my choices to breastfeed, cosleep, babywear, homeschool, and discipline gently.

And, on the flipside of that coin, I’ve been a parent long enough to know that you don’t give birth and suddenly just know all there is to know about parenting. My own journey to gentle parenting was just that, a journey. We’re all learning ‘on the job,’ literally, and on top of that we’re all just humans raising humans and can and will make mistakes, no matter how much experience we have.

Breast or bottle. Demand or schedule feeding. Thumb, dummy, or mama as a pacifier. Public, private, or homeschool. Vax’ing, delayed vax’ing, or non-vax’ing. The list of differences among good parents doing the best they know how to do with the knowledge and experience they have is endless.

No, I don’t agree with all parenting choices. Yes, I can and will share my own experiences and beliefs. And, yes, I am passionate about my beliefs.

But I didn’t get to this place of comfort and confidence in my parenting overnight. And so I can and do give grace to those who aren’t making what I consider to be the best parenting choices or who aren’t confident enough about their own parenting to give grace to me when my choices don’t agree with theirs.

So, what are my personal parenting beliefs? Glad you asked!

  • I believe that breastfeeding provides not only the best nutrition for babies and the best bonding experience for mamas and babies, but also cannot be replicated by formula if for no other reason than that it is a living organism that evolves as a baby grows to meet the baby’s changing nutritional and immunity needs. I believe it is also best for our society as well as our planet for reasons you can read about here. But if you bottle feed, I won’t roll my eyes at you in public.
  • I believe that cosleeping not only helps new babies acclimate to this strange, new world, but that it also aids in the establishment of breastfeeding, is protective against SIDS, and actually helps exhausted new mamas to get more sleep. You can read about safe cosleeping practices and research here. But if you don’t cosleep, I won’t de-friend you.
  • I believe that wearing babies helps them acquire head control and core strength without the discomfort of ‘tummy-time,’ aids in the development of proper hip alignment, and frees up mama’s (or daddy’s!) hands for other tasks, all while keeping their sweet little baby faces close enough for lots of kisses. You can find tons of information, links, and even some instructional YouTube videos here. But if you never wear your baby, I won’t hang you out to dry.
  • I believe that herd immunity is a myth, that vaccine ingredients such as formaldehyde and aluminum are contributors to the skyrocketing autism and autoimmune disorder rates, that the immune system cannot be ‘tricked’ into providing immunity with any reliable efficacy, and that the pharmaceutical industry is calling the shots rather than the medical community. You can read more here. But I won’t talk about you behind your back if you choose to vaccinate your children.
  • I believe that gentle and respectful discipline models the kind of self-controlled, compassionate, and responsible adults we all would like our children to turn out to be. And I believe that harsh and rigid discipline with punitive consequences produces negative long-term effects. For gentle discipline ideas, click here. But if you subscribe to a different discipline style than mine, I won’t lecture you…though I will try to model a gentler approach. :)

And one last thing. Before the advent of iphones and ipads, moms like me would often bring books to the park and read them in between pushing our little ones on the swings and catching them at the end of the slide. We’d sit and chat with other mamas and daddies at ballet and soccer practice in between watching our children become what we were sure were going to be prima ballerinas or the next Pelé. We felt no guilt reading our books and chatting with friends. We still met our children’s needs. We laughed at their antics and kissed their boo-boos. We cheered them on and called out helpful ‘tips’ and encouragement. And these days if we occasionally answer a text or update our Facebook status in between interactions with our children, that’s okay, too. “Everything in moderation”…that’s my motto!

Related posts:

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

12 Tips for Gently Parenting Your Adult Children (Hint: It starts when they’re newborns!)

A Boy, A Girl, and A Baby~Journey to Gentle Parenting

Motherhood~The Timeless Tapestry

Babywearing Basics Resource Guide

The Gift of Breastfeeding

Love in the Time of Cosleeping

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

17 Responses

  1. I love that you’ve been a mom for 24 years and are sharing your experiences with us!! You’re like the mom mentor I’ve always wanted. I’m so thankful for you <3

    May 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm

  2. Katalice

    Another reason not to roll eyes at the choice of formula vs. bottle….you just don’t know the situation you are observing when you see a mom bottle-feeding her infant. Many women have extreme difficulty breastfeeding and find they simply cannot do it. Or, as is my case, they have adopted a child and so are not able to produce milk. I was lucky enough to purchase breast milk from a local breast milk bank, but a 2-week supply set us back $1,000 and we simply couldn’t afford to keep it up…and, the last few days of the batch included some milk that, for whatever reason, made my daughter terribly ill. I am grateful for the women & organizations who promote breast-feeding, but I wish for more people like you, who won’t roll their eyes or provide unsolicited advice when they see a mom bottle-feeding formula to her child. I was thrilled beyond belief to finally, finally (after a grueling 10 yrs of trying to conceive) have a beautiful baby, and it broke my heart that I couldn’t breast-feed her, and the absolute last thing we needed was others’ judgement when they observed a situation where they just didn’t know the whole story.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:13 am

  3. Shandus

    Great post. I agree with Katalice’s comment. I must confess that as a young mom who agrees with everything you said, I sometimes find myself thinking judgmental thoughts toward others who parent differently. But now after 3 months of struggling to breastfeed and dwindling to a supply of almost nothing, I bow my head in shame every time I go to the formula aisle and remember that it is never my place to judge, because I have no idea what the circumstances are. (luckily I’m also fortunate to be able to have some donated milk to supplement with in addition to the formula.)

    May 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

  4. Epiphany

    Thank you for sharing this story! I just first saw your blog today, but be sure I will check it often! I hate being the subject of judgemental looks and comments from other looks and comments from others, but I aspire to let it roll of my shoulders as it appears you do. Thank you!

    I heard a phrase recently like, “there is no zealot like the new convert” and I think it’s true in any area of life, not just religion. Myself, I admit I struggle a bit with wanting to tell everyone the things I’ve learned about parenting (not in judgement but excitement), but I’m learning slowly where the line is between pushing it on people, and being available if people want to ask about it.

    May 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  5. Wonderful to hear this from a mom with 25 years of experience! It is hard just starting off. I hope to have the strength to “no longer be crushed or even influenced by the occasional disapproving glances when I nurse in public” or be able say to “We don’t vaccinate” either without feeling uneasy, like I’m about to get a jumped. I posted a link to this on my blog, I hope you don’t mind. http://doublethink.us.com/paala/2012/05/15/sweet-links-babysitter-fail-celebrities-who-breastfed-toddlers-cow-milk-youths-thoughts-on-birth/

    May 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm

  6. Denise

    Great post, agree completely and had to leave a comment because I too have children ranging from early 23 (father of 2 too) down to nurslings of my own :)

    May 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  7. Esther

    I am struggling BIG time with the spanking/punishment thing. I have no problem with all the other stuff but when I hear about people hitting small children I judge judge judge. I don’t say anything but I sure do in my head. I so wish I didn’t and I feel so hopeless and heartbroken about it because I understand that we are all doing the best we can but I still just have such a hard time not thinking the worst. I know that people who punish are doing what they think is best and I know that to say something to them would just be another form of punishment…administered by me verbally. I would like to react with compassion and love but I react with judgment, pain, and anger(in my head and heart). In a way, by judging spankers I am punishing myself because it causes me so much pain. Anyone else have this problem and come to the other side. If so I would love your advice.

    May 15, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    • L.R. Knost

      I also have a deep sense of pain when I see or even hear about a child being hit in any way for any reason. I don’t think there is anything judgemental about feeling hurt for someone else. But I don’t follow up that feeling of hurt with anger or judgement toward the parent. Instead, I try to give them the grace of knowing that they are doing what they think is best and, at the same time, try to model a different approach in the hopes that it will open the door to discussion and perhaps, over time, give them new tools and a new perspective. Feeling honest emotions isn’t judgemental. It’s what we do with those emotions, whether we allow them free reign to lead us into judgements and anger or we channel them into grace and being a gentle and positive role model, that really matters.

      May 15, 2012 at 3:04 pm

  8. Esther

    Thank you for your response L.R. Knost. I guess I should clarify that I don’t necessarily judge the parent but the action of hitting as wrong or bad. I guess in my head it goes like this “people shouldn’t hit kids, and that it is hurtful to kids and it will not give them what they are wanting…in the long run” That is my judgment. Maybe that is not even a judgment because I do not think those who hit are bad people…I don’t believe there is even such thing as a bad person. Still, even thinking that people shouldn’t hit and they do hurts me and makes me feel hard inside. Does that make sense?

    May 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    • L.R. Knost

      I hear you! Judging an action as right or wrong is just how we make decisions. Nothing wrong with that. If we didn’t think something was wrong, we’d do it ourselves. Judgmentalism is when we then make character judgements about a person based on their decisions. That’s where we veer into gossip and anger, etc. I think you’re on the right course, mama. You don’t need to feel bad about believing something is harmful and making a decision not to do it, right? :)

      May 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      • Esther

        Thank you. That was very helpful. :)

        May 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

  9. mamaofallthosekids

    I loved your post! I too am the mama of many from 25 w 3 kiddos of her own to a nursling. I had on the job training & like you, feel everyone has the right to follow their instincts. Thanks for the refreshing post. It’s time to text the oldest back w the answer to her most recent parenting crisis, while I take a break w baby asleep in his wrap.

    May 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

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  14. Amanda

    Love this. Thank you for your honesty and candor.

    August 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

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