Piers Morgan, a (well meaning?) relative, a stranger in the street, a friend who parents differently...
Doesn't your baby walk yet?
You're creating a rod for your back.
She'll grow up clingy...
It's emasculating? (Wtf?)
Can't you afford a buggy?
This nonsense with Piers Morgan is doing my nut. The guy wants air time and controversy. The idea of babywearing being emasculating is just insane. To be honest, it's tantamount to saying that parenting itself is emasculating, changing a nappy is emasculating, playing with your child is emasculating. That it's women's work only. That the perceived soft and gentle aspects of parenting are feminine only. Wtf?
Gender identity is something we are coming to understand more about as a society. I firmly believe that we all have unique roles. That labels do not need to define us and restrict us. I identify as a woman and a mother but my definition of what that means to me is mine only and probably will change as I continue in this role.
I also believe that different aspects of parenting and humanity as a whole can be learned from different people. To restrict some aspects of raising the next generation because of outdated gender stereotypes is just just so ridiculous to me.
This sort of media coverage and the words from others can, and do, sometimes get under our skin, especially when we are doing something that is a little bit against the grain. (Such as babywearing)
My dear departed grandma once just turned to me and said "you look weird". We were at the horse racing with her well-to-do friends and I had Samuel in a woven wrap on my back. I did look weird I suppose in that context. In that context, surrounded by people of my grandma's generation, it was alien that I would want to be attached to my child, to put my child's needs above how I looked at the races.
It is an experience that has stayed with me. I thought long and hard about it because my bond with my grandma was so strong. Why would she react so badly to my desire to stay close to my babies? Especially when she loved cuddles with the grandchildren.
Another experience that has stayed with me is one that happened quite recently. Someone mentioned that I was "unusual" to have carried Anna exclusively. That even most babywearers use a buggy from time to time (true). I heard it as a criticism (it wasn't intended as such, just the way j hears it...). That I was odd. And odd is bad.
Here's the thing, I'm not making a political statement with my babywearing. I am simply parenting in a way that works for me and my family. I believe strongly that babywearing, attachment and building foundations of love are bloody important. And I consider myself super lucky that I found the babywearing world AND get to share the love for it. (But it's not the ONLY and EXCLUSIVE way to build attachment...)
I have found myself that when I am quick to criticise another's parenting, it can often be because it has triggered something in me. I wonder if that's the case with babywearing?
So how to deal with the criticism?
Well I choose not to listen to silly TV people who have extreme things to say about it. These people will never invite considered conversation, and so the discussion is mute. The fact that they keep calling it a papoose is beyond awful journalism and into the down right ignorant.
My grandma and I had many conversations about the understanding we have of neurobiology now and the developing brain of a baby and how attachments helps. But it wasn't something she was interested in. So I became aware of needing to let it go.
Strangers on the street? You are not responsible for how they perceive you babywearing. We are still a society where it is normal to give birth to a baby and then put the baby down. Babywearing is a challenge to that perception of parenting.
Focus on you and your family. What you're doing and why you love it. Listen to the critics, decide if their words serve you and if not, let them go.
Finally, Piers. My husband is a man. He babywears. He changes nappies and even plays tea parties with the toddler. I see a wonderful dad, the person I fell in love with, a kind, fun and generous human being. Not an emasculated man.