Bean dip... dealing with people who don't agree with your home/unschooling

Heather - posted on 01/11/2009 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I have come under attack from many well-meaning friends and family about my alternative parenting styles and am exhausted by defending myslef. I got this message from another group and thought it was helpful and something I haven't tried before...enjoy( this specific example is geared more to attachment parenting but you can see how it could fit homeschooling etc.)

"Bean Dip"

It's something I've learned in my years of parenting using
alternative ideas. The specifics may change, but the principal
doesn't. When setting boundaries, people (often moms) typically
confuse setting the boundary with trying to convince the other person
about how right they are in needing to set the boundary. In setting
boundaries, we don't need to convince the other person we are right
and they don't have to agree about the boundary. We just need to be
prepared to enforce the boundary, at any cost, using progressively
more firm responses (if need be).

I've found new moms often confuse boundaries and trying to convince
someone of the *rightness* of their choices.

The best thing is to assert your boundary and *not* try to defend
your choice.

Some family and close friend help.....

First, I learned early on that most of my choices were on a "need to
know" basis. Most people don't "need to know". If asked "how is the
baby sleeping?" Answer: Great! Thanks for asking! Want some bean dip?

"Are you sure you should be picking her up every time she cries?"
Answer:"Yes! Thank you! Want some bean dip?"

"When do you plan to wean" Answer: "When she's ready. Thanks! Want
some bean dip?"

Now, with some people you will need to set *firm* boundaries. They
will need to be backed up with action (like hanging up, leaving the
room or even the event). If it's a pattern of intrusion, for example.
Practice kind but firm responses:

"I know you love us and the baby. We are so glad. Our sleeping
choices have been researched and made. I will not discuss it again"

Also, don't confuse setting boundaries with trying to convince
someone of the rightness of your choices. New AP moms often struggle
with this. The boundary is that no one else has a right to tell you
how to parent and create a hostile environment. You set boundaries by
doing the above. Where new moms often invite problems is by citing
authors, studies and sites to "defend" themselves. Each time you do
so, you create more time for discussion and rebuttal and send the
message that your decisions are up for debate. Don't defend your
choices beyond generalities, and then only once or twice. "The doctor
is in support of our choices. Want some bean dip?"

Finally, look them in the eye and say simply "I want us to have a
good relationship. I want you to *enjoy* the baby. I'll parent the
baby - you enjoy them. Let's not discuss this anymore. If you bring
it up, I will leave the room.

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3 Comments

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Amy - posted on 07/02/2009

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loved it! I have finally learned to avoid at all costs or act aloof. if all else fails i say, i completely disagree and change the subject! loved it! i don't have time to argue i have to much to do just having fun with the kiddos and enjoying life! :)

Lisa - posted on 02/21/2009

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Great ideas!  I am not good at arguing anyway, and usually end up feeling attacked.  so I have to pretend like everything is fine and my life is perfect, otherwise people will try to "help" by suggesting that I would be less tired if I put the babies in cribs!  So I have learned to just not talk about that with certain people...

Lisa - posted on 02/21/2009

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Great ideas!  I am not good at arguing anyway, and usually end up feeling attacked.  so I have to pretend like everything is fine and my life is perfect, otherwise people will try to "help" by suggesting that I would be less tired if I put the babies in cribs!  So I have learned to just not talk about that with certain people...

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