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The Mainstream Mold

The first definition of "mainstream" in second edition of Webster's New World DIctionary  reads, "in the middle of a stream, where the current is strongest".   The trends of our society can be thought of in the same way .  I can picture the stream now...with the most common and popular ideas running quickly in the middle, and with fringe, new ideas on the side gradually making it's way to the mainstream.  Some of these ideas  stay in the main stream for awhile, and then gradually most make their way out to the side currents again, to be eventually left behind. 

Other ideas are resistant to leaving the main current.  They are the ones that reflect the deep beliefs and values of our culture.  This can be a good thing, as there are many positive attributes of the human spirit necessary for our survival and happiness that are ingrained in us through our culture.  So why then, should we question many mainstream practices?  Because we get stuck in the current when it comes to many important issues.  When we "go with the flow", we stop thinking for ourselves.  Mistakes, errors in judgment, improvements and alternatives get missed.  We are running so fast with the main stream that we don't take the time to wade to the side to explore our options.  Then, the same mistakes and judgment errors get passed on to another generation. Our kids' chances of improving their lives are limited by our example of sticking with the status quo.  Instead, we need to sit on the bank and scrutinize more of the issues that we normally except as pat.  Otherwise, we miss those opportunities for greater health and fulfillment, and pass on the mold to the next generation. 

I remember the first time I really seriously questioned the mold.  I was pregnant with my first child, and felt conflicting feelings.  On one hand, I was overjoyed at the thought of having a child and being a mother, and on the other, was dismayed that I would have to  engage in common child-rearing practices  that felt very wrong to me.   This uneasiness prompted me to read.  Thank goodness I found material that gave me alternatives that felt very right to me. 

The first revolutionary idea I explored was breastfeeding.  I was amazed about all I didn't know!  Not only about how human milk is intended for human babies, but about mother/baby emotional bonding and closeness, about how it is so much easier than artificial feeding, that it is free, and how I don't even have to wean, but  the child can do it when he is ready!  Unbelievable! 

Then , like so many new mothers, I was sharply criticized for my family's choices.  Mostly I heard this recurring theme: "Breastfeeding is too have to be attached to your baby and hold him a lot!"  Well, yeah.  That's what it is all about!  I had a baby sling, and so I had no problem with holding my son and nursing all the time.  The criticism, unpleasant as it was, made my convictions stronger, and constantly redefined why I made this alternative choice, and why it was still a good thing. 

So I made it through my first issue outside the mold!  The first little crack was made in the mainstream wall, and then I could look through that crack and see other possibilities.  Suddenly, I started questioning lots of other assumptions I had regarding parenting and the health and well-being of my children.  The choices sometimes were (and still are) a painful struggle, and some were easier, but all jived with my instincts as being the best thing to do.  I have had to backpedal sometimes and make a different choice, but the constant revaluation has been good in helping me to not accept so much of our cultural messages as the absolute Truth.

  My intention for writing this is to encourage all of us to listen to that gnawing feeling inside.  If something isn't quite right...find out why.  Explore the issue at hand.  Explore the standard practices, and find out your options.    Perhaps the final decision will still be in line with your original intention, or maybe you will make another choice altogether.  The important thing is to carefully and lovingly  make an informed decision that meets the individual needs of each child, ourselves, and families!  What our culture has spoon-fed us from birth as "correct" isn't necessarily "normal", healthful or appropiate for any one individual. 

We owe it to ourselves and our children to be thinking, feeling people who make intentional decisions.  Then we can lead healthier, happier more peaceful lives.  And then we can take constructive steps in finding solutions to our social, econiomic, and enviornmental issues.

a crunchy sidestream..pretty quiet, ay?  Those leaves are ideas waiting to make it into the awareness of people.  They are just waiting for the water to return and carry them into the stream.

shattering the mold
Here are a few mold-y assumptions which are very prevalent in our culture.  I'm sure you will know them.  I listed these particular ones here because the good health and well-being of our children, families, and the world community rest on our thoughtful reconsideration!    I  will add more as they occur to me, and add links to further explain.  Please sign my guestbook if you have internet resources I could link to.   Please remember that evidence, experience, and research have refuted the statements below.   Here we go:

* The only safe place for babies to be born is the hospital.

*Breast is best, but formula is second-best.

*Breastfeeding is indecent exposure and needs to be done in privacy.

*Breastmilk has no nutritional value past the age of ___, and there is no use for it after that time.

*It is perverse for a toddler to nurse, because he knows that breasts are sexual objects.

*Attending to a baby's needs, and doing so promptly, creates self-indulgent, spoiled children.

*A baby in the parents' bed will wreck their marriage.

*Having a baby in bed is extremely dangerous, as the parents will overlay and suffocate the child.

*Circumcision is a necessary procedure and it is best to do it when boys are newborns, so that they won't remember the pain and trauma.

*The uncircumcised penis is too difficult to care for, and often gets inflamed, or infected, and needs to be cut off eventually.

*Vaccinations are very safe, and every child must have them according to the recommended schedule for our whole population to remain healthy.

*Children will only learn when they are made to.

*The only  people qualified to teach children are teachers.

*My faith is the only one that leads to Truth.  Other beliefs are inferior to mine and aren't equally meaningful and redemptive for their followers as mine is for me.

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