This post is written as part of Blog Action Day. The topic this year is the Power of We.
You can still take part — just post today about how you use community to change the world for the better.
I'm privileged to co-run Natural Parents Network, which means I get to hang out — both virtually and sometimes, as above, in real life — with an amazing group of NPN volunteers.
I already knew parenting blogging was pretty special. I've made friends through my blog and learned so much from the writing of the wonderful voices in the blogosphere.
But getting to know so many of these parents personally took it to a whole new level.
I'm getting to see — through our NPN Team group page on Facebook, our daily Facebook chats, and our face-to-face meetings — how community inspires us, heals us, comforts us — and then propels us on to take action where otherwise we might have sat silent.
I know they've inspired me to become more active in my local social networks, to open myself up to friendship with other parents, to support my goals for my children's education by finding groups and learning experiences, to green my lifestyle and improve my health, and to be, just in general, a better parent — because I know I'll have to answer to them! And that's a good thing. They'll help me out if I've fallen down, but there really is something astonishing about the power of positive peer pressure in giving you courage to stand up for your beliefs and parent with intention.
I've seen these women (it's mostly women, though we welcome papas who want to come along!) do things like this:
- Donate breastmilk to babies in need.
- Reach out with joy at good news and with comfort in loss — for those within our group and for those outside it.
- Graciously offer safety advice to parents who needed it, and took steps to help a child in danger, even though it was uncomfortable to do so.
- Privately offer breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, cloth diapering, natural birth, intactivist, and other counsel — but not be aggressive about it or shame parents who took another route.
- Raise money for several amazing causes, from the personal to the global, and all affecting the health and wellbeing of families in need.
- Offer tangible support to families with babies in the NICU, those who are grieving or in upheaval, and people in abusive situations.
- Share their baby clothes and diapers, purchases, milk, baby supplies, books, knowledge, skills, and more — for no reason other than it was requested and they have big, generous hearts. (Keep in mind these volunteers are not being paid to be so amazing!)
- Educate out loud — on the NPN Facebook page, on their own social media, on their blogs, on NPN in articles, in classrooms, and elsewhere — about what natural parenting truly is: empowering women to have healthy and satisfying birth experiences, encouraging parents to leave their sons intact and whole, speaking openly about the joys of breastfeeding and troubleshooting the problems, sparking new ideas about how to discipline children gently and respectfully, and just in general helping to lead a conversation toward a way of living that honors the earth, children, our bodies, and diversity.
Speaking of that last bit: What I've also seen is a group of parents unlike each other in many ways drawing closer together as differences are examined and accepted. This is no small thing. We could all benefit from being part of a group where not everybody is exactly like us — so we learn to open our hearts and our minds and truly realize that, beneath it all, we are all the same people, and we are all worthy of respect. That's something we carry with us into the wider world.
I hope you find your group to be part of so you can help change the world, even in small doses.
If you want to join us here at Natural Parents Network, we welcome you with open arms! Besides inviting you in to read and comment, and share with us on our Facebook page, Twitter, and Pinterest, we always have plenty of opportunities for writers and volunteers to help run our website and social media. Contact us for more information if you're interested.
We especially welcome those who are sure they wouldn't fit in with the natural parent stereotype of white, middle-class, well-educated, married, able-bodied, American, hetero, biological-mother, liberal hippie … because, trust me, we have a lot more variety about us than that! Oh, sure, I fit that description — but you'd be surprised at the beauty encompassed in our group. You will fit in, if you will give us the privilege of getting to know you, and we will love having you.
I'm so thankful in my life for the Power of We and what I've seen it accomplish already.
Where is your Power of We? What community embraces and motivates you?