Thursday, May 28, 2009

Handling Negative Comments, and misconceptions about EC

My mom has a very good friend, whom I love. But, she can be overly critical of a lot of things. I find it strange that I have not had any family arguments over my parenting choices, yet I have had quite a few with her. She argued that extended breastfeeding is ridiculous, despite the fact that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years of age, and to continue for as long as the child and mother feel comfortable. The natural weaning age is between two and six, which is why children lose their milk teeth around the age of six. It made o difference to her, she still thought it was ridiculous.

Then, she spotted my book "Diaper Free" by Ingrid Bauer, which is kind of a guide to elimination communication. She said that it would be absolutely impossible, and went on and on about how it is putting too much expectation on infants. I had thought the same thing about elimination communication, until I really started to research it and learned that western cultures are actually very odd in the way they handle their babies' eliminations. So, I was understanding of her view, and I described to her what we do, how they do it in other countries, and how it works for us. She seemed accepting of the fact that we were trying it. A few weeks later, we were visiting my mom. For the first time I successfully used EC for Jonah's bowel movements when we were away from home. My mom was able to see how it worked, and she was amazed. And so when her beloved friend came to visit that day, she told her how I take Jonah to the potty to poop, and how wonderful it was to watch our communication over it. My mom's friend was acting a little skeptical still, but seemed like she didn't want to be argumentative.

This past weekend, we stopped by my parents' house for a barbecue. I had taken Jonah's diaper off of him for a change, and not bothered to put one on him yet. I wasn't watching him though; I was talking to my aunt, and preoccupied with all of the family activity going on. I looked down and saw that Jonah had his "pee face." I immediately said "Oh no!!!!!" I had nothing to catch it with. He went on his blanket. My mom's friend smugly said "I thought he was potty trained!"

I didn't know how to respond, other than trying to explain it to her again. It's a great misconception that using EC is potty training. It is most definitely not. Yes, there are similarities. People might think that the end result is the same, because the child goes to the bathroom on the potty in both cases. But the processes to get to the end goal are completely different. In EC, not only does the child become aware of his body functions, but so does his caregiver. In potty training, it is mostly one-sided, teaching the child to become aware of his eliminations. EC is a partnership between caregiver and child. If I am not doing my part and watching for Jonah's cues, then the relationship falls apart and EC fails, as it did at the barbecue.

I am aware that not everyone will understand the choices that I have made with Jonah, particularly the choices that are a little strange in our culture such as EC. When I meet criticism, I try to explain my reasons. It doesn't always work, because most people are set in their opinions. When people aren't willing to listen, I just go into a "live and let live" mode. I do my thing, and they do theirs, is what I have to tell myself. I chose the low road, where most people choose the high road. I'm bound to run into criticism from a lot of people in my life.

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