Informed is Not Extreme: A Public Response to Single Dad Laughing

Sharing information is not extreme. This is an illogical connection. Informed is Not Extreme: A Public Response to Single Dad Laughing

We have been conditioned to believe that every single thing that happens to our child is our choice because we are their parent.What goes into their body, what happens to their body and where and how they spend their time, is all up to us.

It is easy to be offended if anyone tries to tell us that there might be a better way. After all, we have poured our heart and soul into giving our children the best life possible. If we have been doing it “wrong” our hearts might actually break.

Plus, there are unkind people- individuals who forget that we love our children even if we made uninformed choices. Sometimes these people hit below the belt and make us feel awful and sick about the things we have done- even though we did not know.

What are we to do but close ourselves off and keep the defenses flying so that we are not left feeling grievous over screwing up the most important part of our lives- our children? If somebody is going to sling unintelligent and hurtful words, why should we listen? I do not believe that we should.

There is another group of people though which is made up of mothers, fathers, researchers, psychologists and scientists who are trying to share information. These people are not extremists, they are not rude, they are not trying to personally insult anyone, or break the heart of a parent by sharing facts. These individuals are simply trying to make known the truth of their discoveries.

Their words are not popular. Their findings are inconvenient. Their evidence shows us that as a culture we have been way, way off. The information that this group shares is difficult to learn.

It means that we have to change, re-evaluate, and admit that we’ve been doing it wrong. Who wants to do that?!

Some people do. Some people are desperately seeking the facts. They want to stop pretending that society’s way is the only way. They want to feel the authenticity that comes from listening to their intuition and their children. The people who seek this information have learned that the sky does not fall when we change the way that we do things.

I fall into this last group. I have made many changes, admitted to many shortcomings, and adjusted the way I live with my family. If my saying this makes you feel bad, please know that it is not my intention. I have learned that there are far too many untruths circulating about how we raise our children. I now know that it is my responsibility to care about knowing them. I am a parent and I am a part of my society.

I care about sharing this information because I know. I care because children deserve my time, thought and consideration. I care because other parents should have an opportunity to know sooner- instead of later. I care because we are being forced to mistake human rights for parenting choices.

I care because how society treats our children is the world in which my children live.

For those who refer to the sharing of this information as extreme, I urge you to reconsider. Quite simply, this is learning. This is enlightenment. This is self improvement. And it is all done for the best reason of all; to make things better for our children.

Being informed does not make us extreme, it makes us informed.

For those who would like to become informed, these are two great placed two start:
On Breastfeeding               On Circumcision 

32 Replies to “Informed is Not Extreme: A Public Response to Single Dad Laughing”

  1. True. Informed is not extreme. However, what is extreme is just assuming that everyone else around you is totally uneducated and then pushing (often unsolicited) information on to people who may have already spent a great deal of time doing their own research and soul-searching to come to their own conclusion.

    • Anonymous,

      Factually, most people are uninformed about the issues addressed in yesterdays piece- as was its author. Lots of people spend a little time looking at a few things and think that they have come to an informed conclusion. This is not the fault of those doing the reading, it is because information is withheld that would allow one to actually be fully informed. For example, if you are fully informed, you will breastfeed full term and not circumcise your children. This is not a difference of opinion, it is just fact.

      A few women are unable to breastfeed, and they have the option of donor milk which is the next best option. Most women have never even heard of donor milk. It’s not because they don’t want to know of it, it is because there is not financial benefit for mothers to share milk, so business does not promote it.

      We all know lots about formula, but maybe not its composition. If we did, we would choose donor milk whenever possible.

      Mothers and fathers have a right to know this. They want to know this. The women I know who could not breastfeed, or found out the truth of circumcision too late (me) are heartbroken and wish they had known.

      • In South Africa we have been told that this can help protect our son from HIV. I have read papers that say there is a big effect in HIV transmission depending on circumcision. I know your readers are probably from America but I think that what you say is not true for everyone.

        • Those studies were incredibly flawed. Here in America about 80-90% of adult men are circumcised and our rates of HIV/AIDs and other STDs are pretty darn high. THe simple fact is that regardless of whether or not you are circumcised you CAN get an STD if you don’t wear a condom. And if you wear a condom it is WAY more effective than removing the foreskin. Don’t fall for the lies, wear a condom!

          • I am not a medical researcher, but I have done research in electrical engineering so I am familiar with statistics and good study design. Looking at, for instance, Bailey et al. in their study “Male circumcision for HIV prevention in young” nothing jumps out at me as inherently flawed. It just seems that there is a much lower incidence here in the US so the argument cannot be applied here in the same way it can there. We have what, 1/3 of 1 percent of the population infected with HIV and some places in Africa are estimated to have a 30% incidence rate?

            If the study is actually flawed for the population is was performed on, I would be interested to learn how.

            And obviously, yes, the advice to always use a condom is right.

          • Research in electrical engineering? what does that have to do with anatomy? even if *IF* it somehow changed the penis to not contact stds why would you do it? you still must use condoms, and even then aren’t guaranteed safety. I’d rather have my entire body and be taught proper sex ed then have a smaller penis, less feeling and things like ED. Also I think if I was just cut I’d refrain from sex. making it impossible to contact HIV.

        • Intact genitals have langerhan’s cells which often kill HIV/AIDS. America has a high rate of HIV/AIDS because of the lack of intact men and also lack of proper educational information given to our youth. It is racist for Bill Gates and others to insist that there will be a different result in Africa.

          • Resi, here is how that study was flawed:
            1) The study was too short. It can take up to a year for HIV to seroconvert (be found in the blood). The study ran for only 3 months.
            2) the circumcised group of men were told to abstain from intercourse for six weeks, while they healed. This means that they were truly only studied for six weeks not even the full three months (which would still be woefully short).
            3) the circumcised group of men was given sex education and free condoms. The intact group was not.

            So, to summarize, this study proved only that men who had less sex (1/2 the available time period) and used condoms had fewer cases of HIV. It showed nothing about the actual effects of circumcision (and could not, given how short the study was.)

  2. I agree completely. Sharing facts with other parents so that they too can provide their little ones with the best possible future, is an act of kindness. So many mothers take it the wrong way. If it doesn’t work for you, and you feel confident in your parenting choices…then why so defensive, right? Great piece of writing.

    • This is something that I have spent a good deal of timing thinking about and trying to understand. We are so darn defensive as a society. General and intelligent conversations happen no more around parenting and I think it is because everyone is so afraid of pissing somebody else off!

      Jeez. If this is the case, how is there hope for any of us to learn or gain support?!

      Thanks so much for being here and sharing your thoughts Shayna.

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  4. Thankyou for writing this – as if often the case with your thoughts, I feel as though you are talking directly to me!! I have changed my views on several issues since having my first child 5 years ago and I put this down to becoming better informed about the things that as parents we do have control over. It is hard admitting that we could have done something differently and even harder considering that something we did with the best of intentions may have actually harmed our child – physically or emotionally. It is also hard when someone holds a mirror up to the way we do things! But man do we sometimes need to see that reflection!!

    I would say I am highly informed about many issues facing parents these days and I often feel like I need to be quiet for fear of offending someone or losing friends. It’s hard to find the balance between providing opportunities for sharing information and interfering – and I have been guilty of that too! The way forward is community, generosity and sharing with an open heart – others will hear us and those that choose not to will tread their own path in their own way, as I did!

    • Sarah,

      Thank you for your words. You are right, we do share a common parenting journey- some better, some not.

      I have been reflecting a good deal on what you describe above and I have come to the conclusion that “sharing with an open heart” is the only “way forward”. This way we can share information, plead when necessary, and know that we are operating from the heart.

      At the end of my life if I am faced with being “out of line” several times that will be okay with me if I have shared openly, and honestly. If there are things I know I could have done differently to make a group of people’s life more comfortable and just, and I was quiet so as not to offend, I will not leave this Earth with inner peace.

      I am so glad that you are here, Sarah, as we figure all of this out <3

  5. Bravo. I posted a similar, if slightly angrier, piece on my own blog yesterday ( I had the same reaction you did. The only thing I’d disagree with you on, in the comments above, is the statement that if parents are fully informed they will breastfeed full term and not circ. In 18 years of parenthood, 16 of those being very active in online natural birth and parenting/AP circles, I have seen too many instances where parents DO have all the facts, admit they have the facts, and choose selfishly on purpose. It happens. We’re all human, we’re all flawed in one way or another. The important thing is to keep helping those who *want* help, and you’re doing a fabulous job at that – kudos! 🙂

    • I just read it. Great post- I encourage everyone to read it. I’m so glad that we have found each other. I am heading over to follow you on Facebook so we can stay in touch. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and your post, with us.

  6. I guess I’m torn on this issue. In an ideal world, everyone would have access to all of the wonderful information out there, and they would know when and how to seek it in order to make the most informed choice out there. Yes, in an ideal world everyone would breastfeed and not circ and all that – I’m with you there. It sounds like we have very similar views on parenting choices.

    However, there is a fine line between joyfully sharing the information you have discovered with someone who has asked for your opinion, and pushing it onto someone who hasn’t. Someone who receives unsolicited advice is not likely to open their arms to you and thank you. They are likely to kavetch about you judging them. It is human nature to feel attacked when someone questions our decisions. People who feel like they are being attacked aren’t going to receive the information their “attacker” wants them to know. They are going to either glaze over, or possibly irrationally form the opposite opinion just because they dislike you and your opinion. I think it is more effective to present it in a “hey, I’m really passionate about breastfeeding (or whatever) & I’d love to talk to you about it if you are interested” sort of way. That is much more likely to get someone to want to talk to you than, “formula is terrible. I’m going to tell you why.”

    I have read the SDL post, and he has a right to post his opinion on his blog, just like you do. To be honest, I’m not sure why people would approach him to talk about breastfeeding. He is a father of an adopted kid who was never breastfed. It isn’t something on his radar. His kid isn’t an infant. He has his own stuff to write about on his own personal blog, and a lot of what he has written about in the past couple of months has been pretty powerful. Just because he has a blog doesn’t mean it is anyone’s platform. I think it is important to get information about breastfeeding to every mother, but a blog like his isn’t the place to do it. You want to inform people, you should get your own platform.

    I didn’t feel like he was attacking the choices we make, just asking to be left alone by the people who want to hijack his blog.

    • Emily,

      Thanks for your thoughtful response.

      First, he was attacking. His language was loaded and harsh- I suspect he wrote this way to gain a following of a particular group of people.

      People would approach him to post on his blog for many reasons. First, he has a large platform. People who are successful whether financially, politically, or in other ways are expected to give back, the whole “to those whom much is given” philosophy. Most people do give back. That is also how the world works (thankfully).

      He would also be asked to advocate for these things because he is a parent and should care about things that impact our children. Most importantly though, he has openly shared his own struggles of inequality and awful, horrible untruths being shared about something that directly impacts him.

      Sharing facts is not extreme and it need not be done joyfully. Frankly, that is naive. We should be able to have intelligent conversations and exchanges of ideas without also having to play therapist. I am not sure if it is human nature to feel “judged”. I have never read anything about that. What I can say is that even if it is, we have rational thought. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” Victor Frankl.

      I think that most people are smarter than we give them credit for. I don’t think we have to dumb things down by saying “hey, I’m really passionate about breastfeeding” or “Hey! I love to talk about baby penises”. I think we can say “there is some information that you may not know about breastfeeding and circumcision and as a parent you will want to know. I’d like to share that with you.”

      • Other than using the word “extremists” which I can understand some people being sensitive to, what part of his language was “loaded and harsh” and shows “he was attacking”. Because, honestly, it seemed very calm and not attacking at all to me. Just trying to see where you’re coming from. Perspecive is everything, I guess. *shrugs*

        • Mazzy,

          I won’t address the insidious assumptions that he has made throughout his entire piece that suggest that those who work to advocate for the rights of babies and children are crazy wasters of time. Because you asked how he attacked and what was “loaded and harsh”. So here are just a few examples cut and pasted from the piece:

          “It seems that there is this group of moms who spend their entire waking moment swapping their kids onto their breasts with one hand and perusing the internet trying to make every mom who doesn’t breastfeed (or doesn’t breastfeed until their child weans themselves) feel like the world’s biggest failures with the other.

          Breast is best! Breast is best! Breast is best!

          A handful of people are chanting it so loudly that they’ve somehow made themselves appear as the majority.
          If you want to nurse until your child begs you to stop, by all means, do it.”

          Loaded words: “begs”, “world’s biggest failures”, “made themselves appear”, “entire waking moment”
          Harsh Message: 1) That those of us who are sharing evidence based information to counter the propaganda being spread by formula companies and the AAP are trying to make people feel bad. 2) That those of us who spread this truth are manipulating people to make “us” seem larger than “we” actually are. 3) Pitting mothers against each other by suggesting that “our” intentions are not pure. 4) Maybe worst of all, those of us who normal term breastfeed our children are forcing them to. He has taken a common and ignorant stereotype and exploited it for his advantage.

          “Get over yourselves.”

          Loaded Words: “Get” “Over” “Yourselves”
          Harsh Message: That those who advocate for babies and children are doing so to inflate our own egos, and to feel important.

          “And don’t get me wrong. I understand your need to defend yourselves. A lot of people think you’re crazy when your six year old is standing up sucking away on your booby. A lot of people think you’re crazy for caring whether or not part of your son’s penis gets cut off.”

          Loaded words: “need to defend”, “crazy”, “six year old”, “sucking away”, “booby”, “gets cut off”
          Harsh Message: I think you’re crazy too.

          “because I have a lot more on my plate that I need to worry about.”

          Loaded Words:I have a lot more on my plate”
          Harsh Message: Those who stand up for babies and children have nothing better to do, so they spend their time worrying about this useless crap.

          “let’s all do everyone a favor, and use our time on the internet for things that really matter. Like stopping the euthanizing of gays in Africa. Or discussing the concentration camps in North Korea. Or debating last week’s episode of Glee. Or trying to figure out how they get so many clowns into those tiny cars.”

          Loaded Words: “things that really matter”, “Glee”, “Clowns”.
          Harsh Message: Only the things I deem worthy of time are actually worthy. Additionally, anyone who spends their time advocating for children (CHILDREN!) would be better spent debating two of the most trivial, superficial, and unimportant things on earth: clowns, and Glee- as those these things are comparable to violating the human rights of babies.

        • I think she was talking to me, the OP of the comment that started this particular thread within the comments.

          See, I took the “I have more on my plate” simply as an, “I have my causes, you have yours. I won’t push my stuff on you if you don’t push your stuff on me.” (Which he says clearly in the 6th to last paragraph.) He shouldn’t have to set aside the things he is passionate about in order to take on other people’s causes. There are simply too many causes out there for everyone to advocate for all of them. You and many others do a great job advocating for breastfeeding and not circumcising (and other related child topics), let him advocate for other stuff, like acceptance of other people’s differences – race, religion, sexual orientation.

          I didn’t see it as saying that he thought it was bad for people to be passionate about this stuff, just that there are some people out there who simply don’t understand that everyone passionate about different things, and they make it their mission to try to “convert” people to their causes. It was those people he was addressing. I have seen a lot of intolerance and downright nastiness online from both sides. Those who read a pro-breastfeeding article and interpret it as an anti-formula article (when those are not the same) and go on to sling nastiness toward the breastfeeders. And there are those who read a “despite my best efforts and 5 IBCLC’s I had to switch to formula” article where clearly the mother was heartbroken over her inability to breastfeed, and make comments that make it seem like the writer should have let her child die instead of feeding formula because formula is just that evil. In my opinion, that is extreme, but I have seen it. It is those people who turn others against the pro-breastfeeding movement.

          The two sentences about Glee and Clowns, well, I think he meant that to be funny. It missed the mark a little, but was supposed to lighten the mood a bit before the end of the post.

          I do agree with you that the comment about full-term breastfeeding was unnecessary.

          • Emily,

            Then we are reading two different articles 😉

            I do not think he was trying to be funny- or if he was it was he did not achieve it. Instead he trivialized the subject matter. Circumcision and breastfeeding are not funny. Or trivial. I believe he did this intentionally based on his other language.

            I agree that he does not want this stuff “pushed on him”. Willful ignorance is stupidity.

            I also agree that there are unkind people who forget that those who have made choices that are not best for our children are often sick over it (like me). If this is what he was trying to convey, his poor thinking has been fully exposed.

            As I shared above, those who become successful in any particular way are asked for things; money, time, advice, platform, networking. To pretend this is not true is naive and ridiculous. The really good people give back. The best people decline graciously when needed. Not in this cowardly, small minded, and harmful to babies and children way that this guy did.

            I can see where you are coming from- a lot of people think this is no big deal. But those of us who are working hard every day to affect change- and who are used to talking with people about this subject matter are in agreement that this is a dangerous piece. All one has to do is read the comments below his piece to see that.

            He has represented the voice of mediocracy. As I have said before, there will never be a shortage of people rallying behind that.

            I am glad that you are here though- please know none of my anger in these comments is intended to be toward you (though I’m sure it would not bother you if it was 🙂 ) My concern, as always, is toward the babies, children and families.

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  8. Those men whose penis was cut will suffer a diminished sex-life. How could it be otherwise when some 20,000 nerve endings has been cut away, the glans is dried up and the lubrication provided by nature is lost. That is why I insisted that my son be left intact, and after 28 years he still is. Meanwhile, my penis is good for little except urination, orgasm in intercourse ceased years ago.

  9. I hadn’t read the post by single dad laughing, thankfully, and am appalled by some of his statements. I think he has built up a large shell of defense, which may or may not ever be broken. It must be hard to be a single parent, but then to take down a whole category of people – I smell misogyny.

  10. I have read some of Single Dad Laughing’s posts – I personally think he has some other issues he needs to deal with and he seems to be an attention monger.

    I just posted on Jamie Lynn Grumet’s page the other day, that without her Time magazine cover, I am scared of what kind of parent I would be. I read the piece before I was pregnant, but had no experience in breastfeeding, AP, anything. I read it out of curiosity and (ignorance based) disgust. After I found out I was pregnant, I started thinking a lot about what I wanted to do differently than my parents did, and circled back to that article, Dr. Sears’ work, etc. Once piece can greatly influence people, and that is why I fear when people tout women who work for education on breastfeeding and circumcision as extremists.

    Your page is regularly compassionate and knowledgeable and one I regularly enjoy.

  11. My son is 5. Thankfully, I did a lot of research prior to his birth. I am by no means a perfect parent. There is a LOT that can only be learned through experience, and by trial and error. However, I am always grateful for new information, and because of this, I share it with other parents and parents-to-be. Sometimes I get flack for it, but I have also received a lot of sincere thank-yous. Cognitive Dissonance is not a fun feeling. I dealt with it a lot at first. However, I took facts as I found them, and did my best to reach the most logical conclusions based on what I knew. I am very grateful to those who were willing to share information with me. I asked a lot of questions that probably seemed stupid or obvious. It’s okay, I was learning. I still am, There is no “perfect” way to raise a child, but when facts are available, I use them to the best of my ability, to make my child’s life a little better.

  12. I was raised by a narcissist mother. Every major parenting decision I have made has been researched thoroughly. I will never put my children through the childhood I endured. I am thankful for access to information that has allowed me to break the cycle. Nothing is more important to me than my family. Thank you OMB, and others (Dr. Sears, Dr. Laura Markham) for all you do. You changed our lives!

  13. Thank you so much for your thoughts as usual. It always scares me when someone with a following takes the route that SDL did, instead of informing themselves first.

  14. I think it’s funny how a man who clearly states his experience to, at least ostensibly, convey to other parents what he has learned, is lashing out at others who are trying to connect with him.

    It’s real easy to tell others “don’t tell me how to parent my child,” when that is the very premise of a parenting forum. Maybe I’m taking this guy the wrong way, but it looks like he’s trying to act as a crossroads for parents wanting to be better parents. While he wants to appear like he’s pandering to downtrodden parents, he is essentially dispensing parenting information.

    Funny, it’s not “judgmental” when HE does it…

    So what is he trying to do?

    Is he seeking to become a better parent? Is he seeking to help other parents who are on that same journey?

    Or is he merely seeking corroboration and validation from other parents seeking to validate their own half-assed parenting?

    Dismissing information because it is inconvenient to hear is a disservice to parents, a disservice to children.

    It is very clear to me that he is interested in the latter, rather than the former.

    He is no parenting messiah; he’s nothing more than a lost father groping for validation; this is easy to get from other lost fathers and mothers seeking validation.

    To be a better parent, it is necessary to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe you’re doing it wrong.

    A parenting forum where only validation is welcome and factual information is dismissed because it is inconvenient is pointless.

    Parents who do not want feedback on their parenting practices should not be posting them on the internet for all to see. They must remember that a private matter stops being private once it’s posted on Facebook and online parenting forums.

    “No one wants advice – only corroboration.”
    ~John Steinbeck