A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

We Might Not Be Able to Help You

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, and son Jack. I don’t like the title of this blog post. It’s too negative. But I am going to go with it because I don’t think a truer statement can be made on this topic. I feel compelled to write to you about the type of advocacy, support and service you can expect from The Badass Breastfeeder. I don’t generally write “response” type posts to things I read on Facebook, but since there seems to be some confusion about what we do here I think this time it is appropriate.

It’s important for you to know that I did not set out to do anything that I do today besides write a blog about my life and share it with my friends and family. I thought I was leaving my life as a social worker behind, but find that I do just that on a daily basis just with a different population of people. I have had to grow into this perspective. I now understand and accept that responsibility. I hope to do this for as long as you will all have me.

However, it is important for you to understand that I might not be able to help you. Maybe it’s because I have been a social worker for so long that I know I cannot save the world. All I can do is what I feel passionately about. It will connect with some, not others. I will not alter what I do to fit your needs unless it feels right for me and my team. If we do that we lose our focus and we become bland, fake and passionless. As far as I’m concerned if we are going to do that then we might as well just stop altogether. We realize this will lose us Likes on Facebook sometimes, but we think this is a fair compromise to remain genuine.

When this blog began in 2012 I shouted my views from the rooftop without a concern at all about how it landed with others. I figured I was writing the blog for a small group of people and I had no responsibility to them. By the end of that year it became clear that this was growing far beyond my friends. I assembled a team of Admins and we set out to think carefully about how we were going to speak to all these people who were suddenly listening. None of us are breastfeeding or parenting professionals. We are Moms who feel passionately about connecting with other parents.

The first thing we did was take the focus off of telling people what not to do. We shifted our message to one of pro rather than anti.  We then placed our focused on sharing our personal experiences with walking down that road toward gentle parenting. We shared our favorite resources and messages that helped inspire us to make those changes in our own lives. We shifted from “don’t do this” to “here are some things that worked for us.” This is how true empowerment happens. Allowing people to take their lives into their own hands. People are not going to make changes in their lives by being told what they are doing wrong. Who are we to tell people that they are wrong anyway? People will make changes when they come across information that inspires them to make the choices that feel right for them. We believe that when someone is inspired or feels empowered by something we post that they have the power to interpret this in their own way and then they are allowed to make their own conclusions in their own time.

Sometimes people are surprised to hear that a page called The Badass Breastfeeder is also a gentle parenting page. But we feel strongly that people stay because of the way we present the information. We stepped outside of the debate, kept advocating for the values that we hold ourselves, disclosed the changes that we have made as parents and welcomed people to decide for themselves if they would like to do similar things. We don’t tell people what to do, we don’t shame them, we don’t ban people for feeling differently. Challenging ideas is, after all, part of the process toward deciding if you want to internalize the information or not. We also realize some people are just trying to have fun on the internet and are not looking for support and advocacy.

We hope to make people feel safe in the choices they have made thus far, no matter what they are, after all, my Admins and I have made many of the same choices in the past that we advocate against now. We have welcomed people with loving arms into new ideas to think about, mull over, challenge, and eventually decide for themselves if they want to do this. We respect their decisions because it is their right to make those decisions even if they are not the decisions we would make ourselves. We realized in the end that it is not them with the hard pill to swallow, it is us. We had to accept that not everyone is going to do what we do. And that’s OK. It doesn’t change our goal to help parents feel empowered to make their own choices. This is what we have been fighting for in our personal lives. Our right to breastfeed in public, self-select vaccinations, bed-share, and all sorts of other issues. We know that in the end the only thing that really matters is that people get to choose what they do with their own kids.

So this is what we are all about. We know this will not connect with everyone. We know that we cannot help everyone. We might not be able to help you. We hope we can, but we are realistic about our limitations as activists, advocates and human beings. We will keep trying our best to connect with parents, share our experiences and hopefully inspire others to try this thing called gentle parenting.

Sincerely,

Abby Theuring, MSW

Comments

  1. I love the website and facebook page. I find myself on a daily basis needing the support and encouragement, I receive from the two. I am a mother of two (ages 3 months and 2 years) and have a mother in law and 3 sister in laws that live within 5 miles (that all have 3 children around the same age). Between us, we’ve added 11 children to the world over the past 3.5 years.

    Having given you some background, now I will say this: none of them agree with my parenting style. And I mean none of them!! (Mother in law included). They all use they CIO/ferber method and breastfeed because it “helps them lose weight”. I find myself feeling like the “odd parent” because I hold my children when they fall, and let them sleep with me at night. My husband is wonderful and very much enjoys the way I choose to parent our boys, but it’s still hard for me at times, because I feel like I’m a woman with bright red lipstick and a little black dress, in a room full of beige clothed people. They all watch me parent, whisper their opinions, and laugh…..but none of them really “understand” or are very supportive. So basically, I just wanted to say: Thank you for all that you do on your site and facebook page. I enjoy it!

    Jenni

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