One thing I found very odd when I started pursuing natural living was the negativity I received from many friends and family members. It was a challenge I didn’t expect to face, but there it was. Learning new and more natural ways of doing things was difficult enough, but I also had to deal with negativity and tension in many relationships. If you have experienced this, you know finding natural-minded friends can be difficult. I want to talk about what to do if you are faced with this, and how to find support and encouragement.
You would think that friends would be supportive when you start making changes that are healthy for you and your family. Healthier eating, avoiding harsh chemicals, natural birth, and breastfeeding are wonderful things you can do for yourself and your family and should be celebrated! Many of these things take sacrifice, or at least quite a bit of time invested in learning a new way of doing things. It can be really disheartening when you are met with a less-than-positive response.
Unfortunately, the “mommy wars” are out there, and they’re a real thing. Even if you are not trying to “compete” with anyone, there are people who are going to take everything you say and make it into a comparison with what they are doing. Some moms feel judged (even if you tell them you are not judging) when you are doing something that could be seen as “better” than what they are doing.
The way I look at it, most moms are trying their best. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have things that we feel called to do when it comes to our families and our children. For me, natural living is something that is a deep-rooted passion for me. This is the direction I feel called to go for my kids, and I love being able to provide this for them.
There are other moms out there who are not living as natural of a lifestyle, but maybe they are doing a lot better job than me at other things that they are called to do. Maybe they are investing more into sports or spending time mentoring their kids in business. Maybe they are putting more in college savings than I am. Maybe their family does more world-travel or volunteering. Maybe they read to their kids more than I do. Maybe they are helping their child fight health or other challenges. Maybe it takes everything they have to do it, and they are doing far more than anyone knows. I am never out to judge another mom.
If you are setting out on a more natural path and getting pushback or negativity from friends and family members, make sure you express how you are feeling. Maybe they don’t realize what they are saying or doing is hurtful. Take a minute to consider what they are saying. Is there something unhealthy about what you are doing or the way you are doing it? I would recommend you pray, seek counsel from people who you trust to be honest with you (in my opinion, these should be people who are further down the path of life, are walking with integrity, and their life reflects Biblical values), reflect, and be honest with yourself about whether this is what you are called to do.
If you do feel like you are heading down the right path, finding some people who are walking that same path can be a huge support and encouragement. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon all of your past friendships and only hang out with other natural-minded mamas. But it may mean that some or all of your current friendships will change.
In order to make room in your life for friendships that can be mutually-encouraging, you may need to invest less in other friendships. In some cases, you may need to walk away from friendships or relationships that are discouraging and unhealthy. Again, this is not usually easy, and prayer and seeking counsel (or even seeing a counselor if things have been unhealthy or traumatic) can help you navigate the right way to handle this. If you are going through this right now, I’m sorry. I know how heartbreaking some of this can be.
It gets easier as you find support from others who are also pursuing some of the same goals. It is so freeing when you find friends who can hear one another’s ideas and learn from each other, and not feel the need to compete (they are out there)! I have been so thankful to find friends who understand we all do things a little differently, and that’s ok. I don’t feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing, and we all learn from one another. In the end, our core values are pretty much the same, and that brings us together.
If you are in a place where you feel like you are the only one pursuing a more natural lifestyle, you may wonder how to find people who share these goals.
Here are some ideas of how to meet people who share your passion for natural living and parenting:
- Look for local chapters of natural-minded groups. A few examples are Hike it Baby, Birth Network, LaLeche League, Holistic Moms Network, and Babywearing International. Click on the links to view their website, and link up with a local chapter in your area.
- Ask more holistic-minded practitioners if they know of local mom groups (chiropractors, midwives, naturopaths, etc.)
- Search for groups on Facebook. For local groups, search for the name of your city and “crunchy” or “natural.”
- If you know of local mom groups that are not specific to natural parenting, ask in the group. Maybe others will know of more natural-focused groups.
- Talk about your passions! Know that not everyone you encounter will agree with you or share these passions. You may even occasionally be met with a negative response. If you are non-judgmental, kind, and just sharing your ideas, keep at it! Other people may be tentative to share their passions as well, but will feel comfortable when you go first. You may end up really connecting with other moms over the things you care about!
- Volunteer at community events if that is something you enjoy or value, especially outdoor events like cleaning parks, community gardening, etc. I always tend to meet natural-minded people at events like this.
It could take a while to meet and develop relationships with new people, and it can be scary too! You won’t necessarily connect with every other natural mom you meet either. Take your time, and as you become more comfortable with yourself and the path you are walking, it will become easier to share your heart with others. In the mean time, know that you are not alone!
Have you encountered this in your own life? I’d love to talk. Leave a comment below, or send me an email! I’d also love to hear any more of your ideas for meeting fellow natural mamas.