We have been conditioned by society to obey our masters and answer questions when asked. However, as free-thinking invidiuals practicing peaceful parenting, we should never do this. Unless we are inspired to connect and share, we owe no one an explanation for the choices in our lives. In this essay, I offer you a perspective that you may have never considered before. Just because someone asks you a question about your life does not mean you are ever obligated to answer. In fact, doing so, models subservience to your children. If you want to raise powerful, confident and free-thinking human beings, you must model how to live in freedom and peace. You must be the change you hope to cultivate in your children.
When confronted with questions from others committed to finding fault with peaceful parenting, you can use the “pass the bean dip” response, which was first described by Joanne Ketch. Joanne writes: “The ‘Bean Dip Response’ is best used when you do not wish to defend or engage with a person over a parenting choice. If you are discussing issues with a person and you welcome their feedback, the Bean Dip Response is not needed. I have found that new moms often confuse boundaries and when trying to convince someone of the rightness of their choices. It is best to assert your boundary and not try to defend your choice. Parenting choices should be on a ‘need to know’ basis. Most people don’t ‘need to know’. If asked ‘how is the baby sleeping?’ Answer: Great! Thanks for asking! Want some bean dip?’
Be joyfully vague when it comes to others asking about something you aren’t comfortable sharing. Unless someone is truly interested, avoid questions and maintain a positive attitude. If possible, shift the focus of the conversation to something you may have in common, rather than stepping into a power struggle. Most importantly, remember that when someone asks you a question, you should never feel as though you are obligated to answer. You can be kind in how you go about this. If you want your children to learn peaceful communication, you must learn and practice this yourself. Children learn what they live and it is through your modeling that they learn how to own their power, their freedom and their rights as human beings.
Our children’s lives are sacred. Someone needs to authentically earn the right to hear details their lives and our reasons for parenting the way that we do. It is not something that I offer up to just any questioner-asker.” As part of shifting to a partnership-based paradigm in parenting, we need to begin taking back our the power that was given away to others for much of our lives through conditioning that many of us received growing up in the authoritarian paradigm. It is not impolite to decline to answer someone who is asking with negative intention and judgment.
Take back your power as parents and be your children’s voice when they are unable to be. Smile and kindly share how wonderfully your family is doing and offer to send them a few links to better understand peaceful parenting and Unschooling, if they truly want to learn about it. Other than that, focus on what you have in common with people when engaging in a discussion and guide the conversation to speak about what you are comfortable sharing about. Articulating peaceful parenting philosophy can be challenging and if you are not comfortable in communicating about this, you never have to. It isn’t rude or unkind to choose not to explain your choices to those who aren’t invested in your families welfare.
Answers to questions about your life with your children are sacred and personal. You don’t owe anyone anything other than what that which you wish to share. You never have to defend your choices to anyone. In fact, doing so is stepping into an energetic power struggle is usually and can be a negative experience. Defending your decisions is rarely necessary. Due to cultural conditioning, we unknowingly give away our power in subtle ways without realizing we have a choice. Byron Katie says, “Defense is the first act of war” and I truly believe in what she is trying to convey with her quote. The mere act of defending your choices is choosing to engage. Think about that the next time you feel the need to defend your choices.
As a child advocate and a voice for peaceful parenting and Unschooling, if I invite you to ask me questions I am happy to answer you authentically, with passion and love. However, this does not mean that I do this for everyone . Confidence in peaceful parenting is essential to fully embody the philosophy as a whole. It takes time to get there. It can shake the foundation of your inner knowing to feel pressure to articulate the details of your life philosophy to anyone who asks. I know from experience that speaking about parenting choices, one needs to feel safe and accepted to do so with the greatest impact. If you aren’t feeling comfortable it greatly affects how you respond and when you don’t share from your heart, in a confident sincere way, it can undermine your message, leaving you to feel insecure and ineffective. In essence, you will spend your time defending your choices.
If someone asks me about my family life, I am often vague in my response, if I feel that the person asking isn’t invested in learning from me, or if I sense that their intention is negative. If I am sharing with you, it is because you’ve earned trust or respect from me as a person, or as a group or community. When I share my life, I share my heart and that is a vulnerable place to speak from. When one feels unsure, unsafe or defensive, the energy conveyed when sharing about freedom and peace can feel conflicted and negative to those challenging your choices. This is why feeling accepted, safe and comfortable is important when speaking from my heart.
If my heart is closed, my energy is in conflict with my words. If I am fearful, I can not accurately describe “Trust.” If I feel defensive, I can not fully explain, “Peace.” If I am feeling judged, I can not fully share about “Connection.” If I feel fear, I can not embody “Love.” It is only through feeling, trust, peace, connection and love that I can share with authenticity and passion.
I invite you to cultivate values surrounding what you find acceptable when engaging with others about your choices. We need to heal collectively, and become aware of the lingering cultural conditioning many of us still have in the spaces of our hearts that we may not be unaware of. A childhood of forced compliance and submission to those demanding answers from us as a child takes years to heal from. It doesn’t happen at once. We must learn to observe our emotions and feel the energy we convey to others in each unique situation. As we become more confident we become more clear in our choices. When we aren’t looking for others to approve of us, their opinions generally don’t affect us.
Understand that you can’t cannot speak your truth if you feel fearful or insecure. It is important to do the inner work necessary to embody freedom, peace and love through being honest with yourself in each and every interaction with others. If you want to fully convey what you are feeling in your heart, you need to feel peace, connection and acceptance with those you are sharing with. Respect your children enough to not defend their lives to people dedicated to finding fault in what you believe. Honor yourself and choose wisely in who you connect and share with. Learn to recognize the intentions of others and save your explanations for those who value what you have to say. Be a voice for what you believe in and model the freedom, self-love and peace that you want for your children and for the world.