I feel like a freak at playgroup

Sheree - posted on 07/14/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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This is the place I come after a long day of self settling conversations to feel normalised. Do other AP mums often feel on the outer at playgroups when their parenting stye is in contrast to everyone elses? Little comments about still carrying... still nursing... still sleeping in your bed? seem to repeat in my head and I wonder why I go at all.
I do have a stiener based playgroup, fortunately, that focuses on a more natural parenting. We are on break tho and I am missing that connection and confidence I feel there.
My partner is wonderful and loves to debate our parenting and all that it stands for. A part of me just wants to fit in tho, even tho I truly believe this is the best for our children. Thank God for the selfless act of mothering that forces me to go against the flow and for the internet because maybe we can all stand together and change the flow!
Appreciate gearing about your experiences and how you overcome this.
Thanks :) committed AP mummeee, Sheree

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Andrea - posted on 07/28/2010

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Yes I felt out of sorts when my babies were smaller but the older we get the more proud I am that I stick out. I like a good debate and if little comments come up I usually don't join unless there is a question or request for solution. Then I go all out to explain where I stand. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and parenting style and if you found yours and you know it is right for your family, then that's your life. Also I personally shiver from the thought of a group where they discuss parenting styles and techniques ad nauseum. I would rather prefer an adult conversation once in a while that does not include kids (even while I watch them). But I am at a point where I am starting to miss having friends and I am looking for more mental stimulation after being with kids at home for years.
I prefer to get together with a like minded family as opposed to a group. I don't even use the term AP. I just say my kids sleep with me. Or I nursed for 2.5 years. If anyone doesn't like it, oh well. And BTW I respond to other parents' crying kids and play with them the same way I respond to mine (except I don't kiss other kids LOL), until their own mommy gets there. Actions speak louder than words.

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Sheree, it's definitely a struggle to keep your child away from Barbie/princess stuff. It's everywhere - even on cereal boxes! Limiting TV/movies helps a lot. Then they don't even know what that stuff is in the first place.

But I know what you mean about gifts being a problem. My grandmother loves to shower my daughter with Disney stuff. Ugh. I let her play with it for a while and then as soon as she forgets about it, I put it away. If she doesn't mention it again after a few weeks it goes in the charity pile.

Another great tactic I learned from my daughter's Kindy teacher is that if you want to get a "harmful" toy or piece of clothing away from your child without her feeling like she's being punished, try having her write a "wish" letter to the fairies. (You'll have to help her come up with a wish item that's acceptable to you.) If she offers the objectionable toy to the fairies as a trade for something you approve of, you can secretly leave the item for her to discover in the morning when she wakes. Instead of upsetting, it's magical!

Lisbeth - posted on 07/19/2010

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I find most parents in my play group are curious about my parenting as they can see for them selves that my daughter is not only "advanced" for her age, but is a happy healthy, loving child. What usually gets them curious is when everyone is talking about sleep and I tell them my daughter usually sleeps 12-13 hours a night then has at least a two hour nap (she is 21 months). Don't feel like a freak feel more like a teacher for those that don't know. And try an turn anything you say to be positive like if they ask me about my daughters sleep I will tell them and then say something like " but I still breast feed and bed-share with her which helps a lot" then I smile and answer any questions they have. Another thing is that if you guys have an early years center they usually have a natural parenting group or you could offer to start one.

Geralyn - posted on 07/14/2010

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I don't really share what I do when I am with moms who are proud of the fact that their children are crib children who go for hours on end with no interaction.... I remember one mom was thinking of transitioning her daughter from a crib to a bed. She asked whether my son sleeps in a bed, to which I replied "Yes." I didn't tell her it was with me and my hubby. Lol. While I am usually vocal about what we do and don't do, you just get tired of it, so there are times that I am pretty quiet about it....



It is great that you have a group of like-minded moms. That must be nice.... I have been in several playgroups and have met some really nice moms. But when they sit around talking about "spanking" with a wooden spoon, and eye rolling and laughing at their kids falling over when learning to walk, it makes my stomach turn. As if the bitchier you can be as a mom, the cooler you are. I don't understand that.



My other experience was equally disturbing because it was like a competition of whose kid was more advanced plus there was this whole "religious" current to it.... Its so hard to find a group of "normal" moms that you can identify with. Marcy, I couldn't agree with you more....



I wonder if there is a way to find an AP group of moms, or at least be able to find moms to form a group. Any ideas?

Lucienne - posted on 07/14/2010

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Oh Sheree, im pretty sure that almost all of us can relate!

The town i live in has a huge mix of people, hippies, farmers, sea changers, artists etc and our playgroup based in a church, and some of the mothers are SO STRAIGHT and others are so left of field its not funny.

I have had to explain A/P a few times and have found that many women can relate to it and some mums have found that they have inadvertently been using A/P techniques and some think i'm a complete lunatic and cannot conceive sleeping in the same room as their child.

I suppose what i'm saying is everyone is different, especially when it comes to parenting styles ... i just try to remember this and not judge other people (for missing out on sleeping with their bubbas)

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Ally - posted on 07/28/2010

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I had to google Waldorf Steiner after hearing it mentioned so many times! Wow -- what a cool video about the school. http://www.waldorfanswers.com/ As a former teacher (on hiatus to care for my own daughter right now, thanks, daddy), I was really intrigued by this. I wish there was a school closer to me than an hour away!!! Sounds just fascinating, particularly the way studies from all different subject areas are tied together into actual, realistic projects and long term activities. Wow!

Sorry, off topic, I know. It seemed so cool, I imagine parents within the community would be supportive of AP parenting. Nurturing the whole child, responding to what they need, what makes them feel secure and confident.

It's really hard after awhile to keep talking about bed-sharing, extended nursing, and not leaving your child with any old babysitter. People take such offense, as if you doing it differently is a judgment on their own parenting. It's hard to plow ahead, so I sometimes stay quiet. I'm grateful to have had a sister who shared a bed and nursed her 3 children to toddlerhood as a role model. I am sure not finding other moms out there who share my philosophy!

La Leche League was a good suggestion, though, I will definitely check that out. As a nursing mom of a now 2 year old, I'd love to meet some like minded moms. People think I'm "spoiling" my darling baby girl. So frustrating!

This is indeed a wonderful place to read and share. Thanks to all the strong mothers out there who aren't afraid to do what feels right in their hearts for the best interests of their children!

Julie - posted on 07/21/2010

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I wonder if there is a "Holistic Moms Network" group in your area? They are wonderful for feeling like you are not alone and you fit in! Honestly though, I think a lot of parents do some degree of AP and are just afraid to speak up. It's the ones who don't do AP who seem to voice their opinions so strongly.

Geralyn - posted on 07/21/2010

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I have thought about the stereotypical boys' toys/girls' toys thing. It seems to me that for a little one, it would be confusing to see a room full of toys and only be able to play with the toys that are boys' toys or girls' toys.... My son loves anything on wheels, as most kids do, so the baby doll strollers are automatiocally a toy of interest. They should be able to play with whatever draws their interest.

Alicia - posted on 07/20/2010

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I am a chiropractic assistant and my boss's wife still breastfeeds their 2 year old; I really don't see the problem. I still lay down with our 5 year old when he goes to bed. I find that it's a really special time; he goes to sleep feeling loved and safe.

Hayley - posted on 07/20/2010

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I'm on the outside of both playgroups I'm in. The one is a very traditional group, but I'm not the only AP mom in it. They are very nonjudgmental for being so "the usual way". So my kid sleeps in my bed. So theirs doesn't. So what. But sometimes I do feel a little "outside". The other group is a mostly-AP group. Very vegetarian friendly, homeschooling, cosleeping, babywearing, cloth-diapering, etc. Strangely enough I find them to be more nerve-wracking. I feel like I'm not AP enough for them. They never seem to lose their patience or do things they know are less than perfect. I am very quiet with them. Their kids never seem to get unreasonable, or hit, or do anything embarrassing. It's odd.

Brenda - posted on 07/19/2010

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LOL, as far as the disney stuff, my five year old often wants Disney Princess stuff and the Fairies stuff, and loves Dora. We're actually using a bottle of Dora strawberry bubble bath right now! I try to avoid the "girly" stuff but I also don't disuade him very hard. I try not to but I find myself telling him what are "girls" toys when I shouldn't. A good way to combat the "princess" stuff is to make sure she has a selection of stereotypical "boy" toys. Trucks, baseball, Diego, Cars, stuff like that. To keep a balanced gender set helps combat the over the top female/male roles that are often forced on children. Make sure that it is okay for her to be a "boy" when she wants, and a girl when she wants. My husband has a cow when I do it, but more than once my son has had painted fingernails and makeup on to play in!

Sheree - posted on 07/19/2010

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I love your positive attitude
lisbeth! On my confident days I tell myself if nothing else, I am showing these parents there IS another way. I do have a few natural parenting women in my network of friends, for which I am extremely thankful. The day I made the post was one of those where I was a little low on confidence and the conversations seemed to be centred around things I could not relate to. I guess we all need to share and those parents teaching their babies to 'self settle' need to discuss it too. A few days after I made this post I was in a park with two other co-sleeping mummas and a third with her babyin a pram. I understood how important it is to include everyone and not make her feel like a freak'.'

Amy I wish my daughter had alot more shelter from this Barbie/Disney world. I try not to buy her this merchandise and my step mother gives her Barbie showbags!!! I would have to assert myself to stop this and I struggle to face conflict. Our Wardolf/Stiener playgroup is a wonderful place for me to connect with likeminded women and it starts back this week - YAY!

Go Brenda! awesome attitude, my partner likes to debate our parenting, I'd prefer not to but would if I had to. In my heart I know I am doing th right thing by my kids. there is nothing that would make me change how I parent. I guess that's the wonderful thing about mothering, you put your children's needs first and ego doesn't rate a mention.

Thanks Stacy. Put simply, your right! My fit with my children surpasses any WANT to fit among my peers. Just need to remind myself of this and what a great forum of support this has been during a moment of self doubt.

Will remember amy's quote
It's hard to go against the flow. But you know what they say... nothing worth doing is easy.

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I don't know if I'd describe myself as AP, but I guess I'm pretty close to it. And I'm definitely outside the norm! I'm still nursing my 14-month-old. I'm a SAHM and primary caregiver to my children, so it's extremely stressful for me to be away from them (both emotionally and practically). And my 7-year-old goes to bed at 7:30 every night. My family thinks I'm totally rigid about parenting b/c I "protect" my children from things most parents don't even think about - TV, media characters (like Disney princesses - my daughter doesn't know a thing about the Princess and the Frog!)...



Anyway, I can totally relate to your post. I often feel like a "freak" too when it comes to my parenting style. Luckily my daughter attends a Waldorf school, so I'm able to find commonalities with parents there.



It's hard to go against the flow. But you know what they say... nothing worth doing is easy.

Brenda - posted on 07/17/2010

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I happily inform anyone that my five year old sleeps with us, and that I'm still nursing my 14 month old. I get stares and the "oh" looks but no one says anything because I have the attitude of "Just argue with me about it, please". :)

A fellow mom at my son's kindergarten made the comment "I can't believe you're still nursing him" and I smile and say "Yup, I won't wean, he'll wean when he's ready."

Stacy - posted on 07/16/2010

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My son is going to be 5 on 7/26 and he still sleeps with me. My relationship with him supersedes any opinion anyone can form about my parenting. The best compliment I get is when a parent or teacher tells me how loving and happy my son is because I know AP is the reason why. He will never doubt my love for him.

That being said, it doesn't really matter if you fit in with other parents. You fit in with your child.

Leslie - posted on 07/16/2010

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I don't feel that way because I know the care that I am giving my son is so good for him emotionally and physically. I enjoy breastfeeding him, sleeping with him and carrying him around as opposed to putting him in a stroller. Sometimes I have to put him in the stroller though if we are out walking around awhile. He is 25 lbs. and he can get really heavy after awhile. I have to admit though that I do have an insecurity with my age. I had my son at 40 and most of the women in my playgroups are in their late 20's. Sometimes I am OK with being older but sometimes I wish I were younger.

Minnie - posted on 07/15/2010

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Sheree: LLL is La Leche League- an organization whose purpose is to help mothers breastfeed through mother to mother support- many mothers share the same parenting philosophy and it's always a welcoming environment!



Look around to see if a group meets near you!



http://www.lalecheleague.org.nz/index.ph...

Sylvia - posted on 07/15/2010

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Oh, yes, absolutely. DD and I went to one playgroup where I felt like maybe we were a different *species* LOL.

Thank goodness for LLL!

Sheree - posted on 07/15/2010

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marcy I feel for you! I am thankful for the community we have here and australia seems to be a little more liberal and natural than america - especially California. Congrats for finding AP parenting and having the strength to go against the flow.
I read a wonderful book called Heart to Heart Parenting, it suggests advertising to form a group of similar minded parents. I have two playgroups (not sure if that was clear) one is a more mainstream"cot"group and the other a more like minded one.
I do like the diversity most of the time and like Lucinne said, try not to judge. I do believe all mothers are doing the best they can with the information they have.
Whats LLL Lisa? (I am in australia)
Yep Geralyn I can totally relate. I pick my conversations and sometimes just focus on the kids to avoid some controversial issues. Sometimes its best to say nothing if you don't agree.
I just have moments when my confidence is a little low when it bothers me. You've all reminded me how grateful I am to know othermums like myself and for this online community! Thanks :)

Minnie - posted on 07/14/2010

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All of my interactions with mamas and babies in a group setting are through LLL. No problems there :).

Marcy - posted on 07/14/2010

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You have a playgroup? Wow, that is awesome. I would be happy with a play date with one other local mommy who looked at parenting the same way I do. I was driving home the other day thinking to myself it sure would be nice to find a few more like minded AP mommies that I could hang out with.

I live in Southern California where not only are there lots of mommies that go against just about everything that I stand for but on top of that they are artificially perfect...perfect bodies, really nice cars, don't have to work blah blah blah....I sure miss my East Coast friends.....

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