I’ve been thinking a lot about support for natural or attachment parenting this week, after going to a new local natural parenting group. And thinking how nice it would have been to have a similar group when I started!
In the early days baby E and I went to a local women’s centre play group, a weekly breastfeeding group, and NCT coffee mornings. Apart from the breastfeeding group they provided me with little in the way of parenting support, and even at breastfeeding group I had to be careful about expressing my approach. The main subjects of conversation were often irrelevant or occasionally uncomfortable for me – routines, sleep training, mixed feeding, early weaning.
Sometimes it is important just to feel normal. Or to have people who share most of your basic values to help deal with a particular issue.
Not to say I didn’t meet people I liked, or even some who did things in a similar way – but that I had to always be on my guard about what I said, and walk a very fine line until I could work out where each person was coming from.
I did NCT coffee mornings for a long time. In some ways it was to pick up like-minded Mums if and when they turned up. I also found that getting involved as a committee member and newsletter editor let me be involved, and make sure the branch represented my type of parenting too! I filled the social gap with online groups, a local breastfeeding support group that worked as a social group, La Leche League (but too far and the wrong days), slingmeets and more recently the local Home Birth group.
I found it was essential to support my parenting with books, (I chose only to read those I liked, rather than force myself to cover all the bases!), scientific research and online groups. In most of my real life groups, especially at the start, I was way off at one end of the spectrum! Those groups have helped me be more diplomatic when the need arises, but especially in the early days I felt that I had little in common with most other parents.
Over the years I’ve found people that have supported me and people who are doing it the same way – I’ve slowly collected real life people and groups where I feel more middle of the road and normal!
I also find the independent streak in me has stood me in good stead over the years! An early childhood spent living in various different places has really helped me feel comfortable with being different!