Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 105: Model if you Do, Model if you Don't

I've been posting recently about a few of the causes I'm passionate about and why, and am now processing the reason these things are such a major part of my parenting journey.

Of course becoming a parent was my initiation into this world of birth, breastfeeding and all things baby/child, and the role of mother changed me in many ways. And what mom doesn't want the world to be a better place for her children? But ultimately, when the moment comes for me to decide if I'll remain politely silent or challenge the status quo, what I consider is always the message my children will receive.

Because my choice is not about whether or not I send a message, it's about which message I send. Whether I'm quiet or outspoken, active or inactive, toeing the line or stirring the pot, I'm sending a clear message about my beliefs, my values, and my worldview, and in turn shaping theirs.

I never want my boys to see me sit idly by in the face of injustice, untruth or abuse. I never want them to see me compromise myself for the sake of social grace or choose popularity over advocacy. I never want them to see me fear negative judgment more than I fear the wrong I can help right.

I want them to see me consistently and respectfully standing firm in what I know to be true, and standing up for those who can't do so for themselves. I want them to see that strength comes with the responsibility to support and advocate for those less fortunate, less capable. I want them to grow up knowing that they can change the world simply by being who they are and living out their values - that every opportunity they have to advocate is an opportunity to better themselves and everyone around them.

Babies are voiceless; they can't tell us how badly they want and need to breastfeed, how desperate they are to keep their bodies intact, how intensely they want to be loved and responded to whether it's day or night, whether they're smiling or crying, whether they're just born or months old.

Children are unable to advocate for themselves; they can't tell us how small they feel when they're shamed, how scared and confused they are when they're hit, how worthless they feel when they're punished, or how badly they still need our love and responsive attention, even if they're X years old.

So I'll gladly field negative judgment and sideways looks, and I'll wear the labels "fanatic" and "extremist" as badges of honor, not letters of shame. I'll allow people to place responsibility on me for their feelings of inadequacy, regret, guilt or anger and keep moving forward with a clear conscience.

Because it's only when I speak the truth in love that I'm able to sleep at night and face myself in the mirror every morning. And I'm confident that this is the message I want my children to internalize.

We cannot withhold facts for fear of offending
because the importance of the information
outweighs people's right to not be challenged in their beliefs. ~Maddy Reid

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. ~Elie Wiesel


  1. Beautifully written, as always! Jackson and Max are very lucky to have you as their mom... Remember that!

  2. *blushes* Awwwww, thanks :D Same goes for you!

  3. Wonderful!

    I try to figure out how to respond to a comment or situation in a way that is effective and that doesn't come across as preachy. Then I think it is too easy for people to deafen themselves to what I am trying to convey. It's tricky.

    Thanks for the encouragement though! It's not easy having strong opinions and ideals. But I think too that they come with responsibility.

  4. @Ya Chun: I agree, it's a tricky to find a balance! I've found that focusing on the message rather than the result is really helpful. When we try to change someone's mind or the choices they're making rather than simply sharing our beliefs or information, we tend to spur those defenses. After all, when we feel pushed in one direction we tend to resist, and the women we talk to are no different. When we concentrate on what we know to be true and how *we* feel about it, not on winning, overcoming her defenses, or how we want her to feel about it, we give a woman space to feel drawn on her own to a change of mind or choice. If we're not playing offense, there's no need for her to mount a defense and she's able to be open instead of closed off. When she feels the genuine love and compassion that should be behind our advocacy, she'll not feel the need to resist. Not to say she'll come to the same conclusions we have, but she'll at least be able to see our point of view and make a conscious choice. Now when it comes to the source of these problems - the formula industry, for example - that's when we bring our game faces and unleash our fire ;)

    I'm far from the goal, but slowly working toward direct, yet kind, strong, yet approachable advocacy. There's no need to sacrifice the cause or compassion - they can and must peacefully coexist if we want to be effective.