Living naturally, most of the time.

Putting a public face on “holistic”

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Before I was interviewed by CNN about High Fructose Corn Syrup last year, I fretted about how to present my case in a way that would inform without preaching. I didn’t want to turn off parents who would sooner dismiss me as one of those crazy health-freak moms than hear out my concerns. I once posted about a condiment-making class on a mainstream moms club email list and found out later that one of the moms had had a fit over the teacher’s language promoting the class: “If you love them, make the ketchup!” She felt criticized and judged.

So I wanted to take a stand that I was comfortable with as a “real food” advocate but not judge people who haven’t followed the same path and come to the same place.

Sure, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want all parents to read labels and stop buying food with HFCS. I honestly believe we would all be healthier without this industrial food product in our bodies.

But as I’ve learned many times (often the hard way), few people are swayed by someone else’s hardline position or “my-way-or-the-highway” tack. So I tried then, as I usually do when talking with people or sending email responses to more mainstream lists, to simply come from a place of personal experience. I have a better shot at reaching open minds if I share my own gratitude for figuring out how gluten (and vegetarianism) were problematic for my body and how turning to a traditional diet helped me heal (and get pregnant) than if I simply complain or preach. Everyone is different, and a how-to discussion might not resonate. But tales of triumph often do.

I have shared a lot of my stories in person and online — here and on email discussion lists. In encountering moms of all stripes, I’ve heard more than once something to the effect of “you should be some kind of health counselor with all you know!” It was nice to hear thanks and often — sometimes months, sometimes years later — I’ve heard back from people how something I shared started them down a path that led to the resolution or improvement of a health issue. That feels great.

I do think genuine sharing from an honest place can open minds and help heal bodies. So can simply living by example. A whole lot of folks I met back in 2006 ended up as Ergo owners after seeing me carry my son everywhere in one. And our homemade foods get questions and remarks of, “Oh, I should try that!”

But the biggest investment I’ve made in compassionate advocacy is founding and leading a chapter of Holistic Moms Network. I started a chapter because I wanted new moms and parents early in their holistic journeys to have a place of support and education. Although we of course want folks to join the organization and have access to learning (and teaching!) a whole lot more through participation in our community, our chapter grew very large very quickly, so we are not hurting in the numbers department. Still, I feel like there is a lot of value in just having our meetings out there for people to see, just to put a bug in their ear and get them thinking, even if they don’t ever become a member. Part of the work of the chapter, I believe, is putting a public face on holistic living so people know it is even an option.

You never know when someone who once saw our flyer with a January “Special Diets” meeting and a February “Allergy Elimination” meeting might, months down the line, find herself the parent of a dairy-sensitive child. She just might take a wider research approach to include holistic practitioners because she just saw the meeting topic titles.

Or maybe just the words “Mindful Parenting” or “Creating Balance in Family Life” might give a stressed-out parent pause when he or she sees it on the ice cream parlor bulletin board during the middle of a meltdown. Our meetings present possibilities for health and well-being.

This blog is titled as it is — Crunchy-Chewy Mama — because I am no exception to the rule that no one is just one thing. I am more crunchy than not, but I certainly have some habits and preferences that might seem like contradictions to holistic living.

But what I do want to be consistent about it believing in the possibility of health.

And when I put myself out in the world, that’s what I want to look like.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.


6 Responses to “Putting a public face on “holistic””

  1. what an inspiring and motivated woman you are – thanks so much for this thoughtful post. I agree that sharing from a place of gratitude is a way to heal and how tales of triumph are the ones that capture people’s imaginations. Best of luck with your Chapter of holistic moms – that sounds amazing!

  2. Sharing personal stories is a great way to advocate, without being judgmental of another person’s choices. What a great way to spread the good word – thanks Jessica!

  3. Our food choices get a lot of questions too. People see my children eating homemade bread and bowls of raw vegetables and they ask me “How do you GET YOUR CHILDREN to eat that stuff?” The answer is always simple: “By not offering unhealthy alternatives.” And usually a conversation about natural, simple living and holistic, natural parenting ensues.

    And sometimes I get up on my soapbox (like when people offer my children chemicals that are marketed as food) and I tell them that my children only eat healthful foods. I don’t worry about offending people as much as worry about standing up for my children.

    This is a great post. I’ll definitely be back to read more from your archives.

  4. Lori says:

    I admire your thoughtfulness in presenting your message! Thankyou for sharing this!!
    Come and Join the Playdate!

  5. Megan says:

    I think it’s wonderful to share your message without alienating people. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  6. This is a great CarNatPar post. I like your point about presenting the information in an open, nonjudgmental manner and allowing others to do with it as they will. I know I have just listened to new ideas without intention at the time, only to find later that I am able to put the info to good use-the “buzz in the ear” approach. It’s far more effective than the boxing the ears approach.


  1. A Letter to *Those* Parents « TouchstoneZ - [...] Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy …
  2. Peaceful Parenting | living peacefully with children - [...] Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy …
  3. Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices « Fleeting Moments - [...] Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy …
  4. Natural love creates natural happiness | Cloth Diapering Mama - [...] Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy …
  5. Self-compassion: Having a “metta moment” « Gems of Delight - [...] Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy …

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