Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Introverted Advocacy

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
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 shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

One of the perks of being a certified school psychologist is access to actual assessment tools, rather than the free internet imitations. A couple of years ago, my husband and I each took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® personality assessment. This measures where one falls on the four continua of introvert-extrovert, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. It is rare to be at the extreme end of any of these. My personality type is ISFJ. “I” is for introvert. How introverted? Well, when scoring that tool, there is a raw score for each of the eight characteristics. The highest possible raw scores for Introvert and Extrovert are 28 and 26, respectively. My Introvert raw score was 26. Extrovert? Zero.

I am not usually an outspoken advocate. If I think something must be said and no one else appears willing to say it, I will do so (usually while blushing horribly). However, I would rather be a witness, whether to truths of parenting or the Truth by which I live my life, through my actions or the written word. I use three main tools to advocate.

I find Facebook to be a great way to advocate for gentle parenting practices without being confrontational or judgmental. I have written notes on a variety of topics and frequently post links to articles written by authors more eloquent than I am. I consider Facebook to be a safe way to open the conversation without pressuring people. Most recently, I posted an article opposing circumcision. Even with a fairly passive way of discussing the topic, it took me months to get the nerve to post about such a controversial issue. I was pleasantly surprised by the responses. Some people agreed, some disagreed, and some were undecided – but all did so respectfully. I was thrilled.

Living life thoughtfully
Observable example is a powerful tool. I advocate for breastfeeding, babywearing and cloth diapering simply by doing it, whenever and wherever the need arises. As long as these parenting choices remain uncommon, my actions invite others to ask questions. (I am much more comfortable talking about my decisions if someone else broaches the topic.) I make my choices thoughtfully, so when I am asked, I have information to support my decision and often am able to share resources for people who would like to know more.

My blog
I have only been blogging regularly since early this year. However, I have already found it to be a valuable advocacy tool. My blog is where the Internet and my life collide. I can share personal experiences and decisions while broadcasting to a wider audience and being able to express myself in writing. Like Facebook, there is no pressure for my audience to respond or even to think my comments are addressed to them. Like living out my choices, I can demonstrate how gentle parenting choices can work in real life. I hope I can continue to provide thoughtful, well-written posts from which others can learn and benefit.

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:
  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don't share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don't parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That's The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she's learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the "good news" of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people's children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter's senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the "great divide" through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R's of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how "The Three R's" can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she's been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she's doing — and it's a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on "holistic" — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We're great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by "just doing her thing," she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I'm not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don't tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.


  1. Great post for CarNatPar! Advocating in ways that are comfortable to you are very effective. I think people can feel when you're being true to yourself and speaking from the heart in ways that are unique to you. Being the advocate, sharing your view on facebook, and writing it in your blog are some of the best ways to show this more gentle alternative

  2. I approach things this way too.

    I find it incredible that circumcision is such a big "UNSPEAKABLE" issue. Here in Ireland it is almost unheard of to get circumcised, certainly not the norm ,it is done only for deeply religious reasons.

  3. I am just as one-sidedly introverted! That's why I blog, I think, because I could never get the nerve up to talk to people about these topics burning inside me in real life. But I'll say, Facebook scares me — I mean, the account that my family and friends see. Once I posted something against spanking, and I quaked in my boots about it. I think that's the only time I've ever posted anything there remotely controversial (or genuine!). You're inspiring me to rethink that approach and get a little braver.

  4. Facebook is a great way to share thoughts, opinions. I often use it to share newsworthy (bf/parenting related) stuff plus interesting blog posts i've come across. and it is a great place for like-minded moms to interact. Creating a page for my blog was best since I didn't want to share my personal stuff and it brought moms together, giving them a forum to share issues, questions on my advocacy

  5. It is very important to find a way in which we feel comfortable.Great that you can do via your blog and social media and just by setting an example.

  6. I am (surprisingly?) much more introverted in my "old" age than I was in my youth, and I agree - the internet is a wonderful platform for us introverts. Perhaps being introverted is also why I am much more prone to responding to combative comments with gentleness - I just don't want the confrontation. Regardless, I think that particular personality tendency can be a benefit :)

  7. Lovely post!

    I love how things like babywearing and cloth diapering in public almost always catch attention - you can see the curiosity and interest in people's faces, if they don't outright question you about it (which happens often enough as well). It's really quite fun! :)

    Thank you for the beautiful examples of compassionate advocacy.

  8. I love the way you intentionally use facebook to help open the conversation. I don't have a page yet but once I finally sign up (or miss the boat altogether, it's possible!) I'll keep that idea in mind!

  9. I think you're a great e-advocate! I've been RSS following your blog for some time now, and have not only agreed with most of what you say, but I've picked up some new tips, specifically from your living simply post! Keep doing what you do, Mama - from an extreme extrovert to an extreme introvert :)

  10. Really wish Blogger would make it easier to respond to each comment individually...

    @Zoie: Yes, I think being genuine, no matter what technique is used, makes a message more compelling.

    @Lucy: Feelings definitely run high here, which is unfortunate. It makes it more difficult to simply share information.

    @Lauren: Glad to know I am not the only one. :-) So far, I have only had good experiences advocating on FB. Part of this may be that I am selective in whom I "friend", so people responding know me fairly well.

    @Jenny: Just "liked" you on FB. Looking forward to more great information!

    @Isil: Thanks!

    @Dionna: Welcome to the club! :-) One of the things I like about the MBTI is that you can't 'fail'. Every personality type has its own strengths and weaknesses, so as you said, being introverted has as much value as being extroverted. Thanks for the encouragement!

    @Kelly: Yeah, sometimes I think I should wear a tshirt that says, "It's ok. You can ask." :-)

    @fltngmoments: Thanks! There are definitely pros and cons to FB. I hope if you decide to use it that you have the positive experiences I have had!

    @pecky: Aw, thanks! Feeling all warm and fuzzy now. :-) Your 2 lil guys are adorable, by the way.

  11. I'm one of those people that scores at a weird medium between I and E on Myer's Brigs-type tests. I'm kind of timid but once I get going, I'm quite outspoken. I love FaceBook & my blog for the same reasons. I can be sort of passive-aggressive about it haha I timidly post controversial articles then stand firm next to what I believe in. Another great post! Thank you for sharing : )

  12. I am so glad you are blogging and participating in things like this. I enjoy your posts so much! <3

  13. @panda: It takes all kinds to make a world! And "gentle advocate" sounds so much nicer than passive-aggressive. ;-)

    @dulce: thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to comment so regularly!

  14. I find FB do be one my most favorite mediums for sharing information because those that are open to learning something new can follow the links I post at their own discretion. No need to offer unwanted advice, since the info is just available if they choose to seek it.

  15. the internet has indeed opened up a window of opportunity for closet activists and people who would be voiceless or silent in real life.
    I think it is very easy to be stronger online.... sometimes too strong. But at least the criticism keeps you feet on ground :)

  16. @Wolfmother: Exactly. It invites conversation without forcing it. Thanks for stopping by!

    @mamapoekie: My mom reads my blog and my facebook pages regularly, so that keeps me in line. :-)