5 OF OUR PARENTING CHOICES PEOPLE HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT

I’m not easily annoyed or offended for that matter. I have a relatively strong personality when it comes to something I’ve made a decision about. I only worry about someone else’s opinion if its related to my performance in the workplace. Then of course, I would take it very seriously. I have to say the same about parenting. I couldn’t give two hoots what others think, but so many people feel they have the right to give you their opinion.

I mean don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can be helpful and other times its just obstructive and annoying. It can range from family and friends, to acquaintances and random strangers. The sly little comment, or the outright opinion, I’m eye rolling at the thought of it. It drives me crazy thinking of an excuse, or trying to explain our reasoning, when really we shouldn’t have to!

CO-SLEEPING

Now this has to be the number one controversial parenting choice that has caused many a conversation with our nearest and dearest. Both my parents, Shaun’s parents, and other people have voiced their opinions loud and clear about this. “But he’ll need his own bed’. “How do you make sure you don’t cover his face with blankets”. “You’ll never get him out”. “You need your own space”. “Isn’t that dangerous?”

The endless questions and feeling like you need to give an excuse is draining. Esme use to keep us awake all night because she was desperate to co-sleep. She still wants to now! She wakes up every night without fail looking for one of us. Likewise, Quinn only goes down by himself for a while before he’s looking for us. Since I breastfeed and co-sleep, I have to admit, I feel way less sleep deprived this time around. I was a total zombie with Esme. That is a huge benefit in itself, and he’s happier, so thats the main thing. PARENTING CHOICES PEOPLE HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT

We have never been into the ‘crying it out’ approach. It’s not something we are willing to do. I kind of feel this early stage of neediness is only going to go on for so long, before they no longer want us. We may as well cherish the cuddles for now! Why do people feel they need tell you this is wrong?! Obviously we take all the necessary precautions for safe co-sleeping.

PARENTING CHOICES PEOPLE HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT

DIET

I have been on and off vegetarian for sometime now. The only ‘off’ was when I was pregnant with Quinn randomly. I still wonder how I ever went back to eating it for a while. My sister is vegan and I remember initially thinking it was extreme when she made the transition. Thinking back, that was ridiculous. More and more information is surfacing about the ill effects of consuming animals. From hormones to antibiotic pumped into meat. I really feel its best not to give my kids animal products. Obviously this is not a dig at any other family that do eat meat, it’s not for me.

At the moment we are working on eliminating all animal products. However it’s certainly a process. The amount of people that ask “where do they get their protein from?” or “what do they eat?” is a little bit crazy. I feel like I have to constantly make an excuse or educate people about the sources of protein, because there are plenty. Although I know the questioning is predominantly sarcastic, I still feel I need to tell them. More to the point why does anyone care about what we eat?!

Disclaimer: Shaun is not vegetarian but is very supportive and understanding with my wishes. 

PARENTING CHOICES PEOPLE HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT

BREASTFEEDING

Before I start on breastfeeding, I am not the sort of person that has a problem with how any other mother feeds their child. This is not an attack on formula feeding mums. Everyone is free to make their own choice. That said, as a nurse, I have always been fascinated by the thousands of benefits of breastfeeding. I guess you could say I am in the public eye to a certain extent, so I like people to know I am pro-breastfeeding and it’s absolutely A-ok to feed your babe anywhere!

In my home country of Ireland, breastfeeding rates are one of the worst in the world. I know some of that is related to old ‘catholic’ Ireland and boobs being sexualised, women being made to feel dirty for feeding their babies, and unsupportive families. I would love to think we’ve helped someone along the way with making the decision to breast feed. Knowing that it’s ‘ok’ and totally normally to do so. There are loads and loads of women who breastfeed at home but the rates  still could be better.

I have to say its never been a follower thats said anything about it. It’s generally people asking ‘how much longer are you going to do that for?’ as they look at the giant baby, the size of a toddler hanging off me. Our boy has been a baby gorilla from the get go, he never looked like a newborn. People do make me feel like he’s getting too big for it? I cant understand why people feel breastfeeding has to stop at such an early age and the almost shaming when you tell them , “I don’t know, whenever”. When I say shaming it’s the confused look, followed by an ‘oh’.

PARENTING CHOICES PEOPLE HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT

TRAVEL

Many people wonder why we ‘waste’ travel on our babies? We often have people tell us, ‘they won’t remember’, or, ‘its selfish’ of us. The most common criticism is they ‘might’ get sick. We’ve never been of the mind that we shouldn’t give our kids experiences because they won’t remember. I wrote a post recently about how its enhanced their development.  All of the sties, smell and sounds. Not to mention the different faces throughout the trip.

Likewise, as parents, we are developing fond memories, and having quality family time together. It’s really good for our sanity. As the saying goes ‘happy mum, happy child’. I don’t believe that its selfish. Of course we plan everything and take precautions as necessary. People just see crazed hippies dragging kids around the world. They don’t see the special moments we have as a family. For the most part, people are very warm and positive, but there are the usual few ‘Daily Fail’ readers that like to write vindictive comments.

UNTRADITIONAL SET-UP

We don’t get too many comments about Shaun being the parent that stays at home. He’s actually the absolute linch pin to our entire family. Before I went on maternity leave, he looked after Esme, mostly by himself, and renovated our property when I was on my days off. Not to mention managing the household. He achieves a lot more for our future than I could ever do in a year. However, people look at us funny when we say I am the one that goes to work. Don’t get me wrong, I would love if roles were reversed, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Like I said, we really don’t care what others think. I just find it crazy that people try to give you unwanted opinions and unhelpful comments. We are both strong willed, but I worry more so for those that take things to heart. Or the unsure new mum that that has gut feelings to do things one way but people telling her to do it another.

Hands up if you experience similar? I love to hear from you and interact, leave a comment.

PARENTING CHOICES PEOPLE HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT

2019-05-06T14:18:40+00:0036 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Archana May 12, 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Well said!

  2. Gillian Edwards May 12, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing Karen. I don’t know why people feel they have he authority to question other people’s decisions as a family. It’s totally bizzare. Just because certain parents do things differently or their own way doesn’t automatically mean we disagree or are judging how others do it. Not sure if I’m explaining myself very well. But this piece I’m sure will resonate with a lot of mums out there x

  3. Hayley May 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Great post! I co sleep and travel a lot too and I don’t understand why people have such a problem with either! It really annoys me, especially now that baby is a bit older and I don’t want their advice or opinions anymore, I know what’s best for my baby!

  4. Claire May 12, 2018 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Love this blog. I’m in Cork and you are so spot on about the breastfeeding and Co sleeping. I only fed my daughter ml for a measly five weeks due to, well, mastitis, and a serious lack of support from family and friends! I really admire you two, having the balls to just do what ye want, the way ye want to! Well done and don’t mind the nosebags. ☺

  5. Trish May 12, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Sounds like you are caring and informed parents giving your kids an amazing opportunity to experience childhood in fun and inspiring environment. Rock on, keep doing what’s best for your family, and let the naysayers have no effect on you. I moved to Nicaragua for a year with my 4 month old – healthiest happiest months of his life. Came back to the states, at the doctors office every week. Is it safe? If you are prepared and follow your intuition, and connect to the community you are in, you have take care of your family anywhere. Happy Mothers Day!

  6. Emily May 12, 2018 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I find your travelling awe-inspiring (I have yet to leave the country with my two year old!). I co-slept and breast-fed for over a year until he stopped wanting milk. Keep doing what makes you happy.

  7. Laura O'Keefe May 12, 2018 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness Karen, don’t people love to tell you how to parent your own children!!! Brilliantly put, you have to do what is right for you and your family and what feels right in your gut!!?

  8. Lucy Strong May 12, 2018 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    I take so much inspiration from your journey to date and how you have used the time to travel with your little ones. Both me and my husband are seeking to do something similar next year and already we have come up against some stupid comments. It seems in society you are only really ok if you fit yourself into the oppressive box of the family home, school and job… that no one ever stated was correct anyway! I remember being pregnant and going around Europe on a travelling road trip, best thing i did with my husband and bump. Yet I got told I was brave, risky and crazy. As if pregnant women can’t carry on enjoying life ?. I think you and your family are marvellous and I wish you all the luck for the future. Carry on taking the road less travelled, at the end of it you will make up for being the most interesting person to talk to at a party! Good luck! X

  9. Gillian May 12, 2018 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    I had someone say they thought it was weird to breastfeed longer than, say 6 mths, in case the child remembered doing it. This made me really sad as I thought – why wouldn’t I want my baby to remember something as precious as b’feeding her?
    Also if I hadn’t coslept or bedshared I’m fairly certain I’d have died of exhaustion by now!
    Regarding the travel – I look at your pics and think wow I wish I could do that!

  10. Clair May 12, 2018 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Totally agree!! So many people commented on the cosleeping!! When travelling & BFing it’s great to not have to make sure there is a crappy travel cot or try and drag one with you! Same for breast feeding… my son is 17 months and I was told last week, “he’s not a baby any more!” I was shocked! He still wears nappies, can only say a handful of words and is still extremely dependent on us so actually he is still a baby, just a big one who runs about and who loves his mamas milk! I’d rather give him my milk than milk from a cow! Why others don’t get that is beyond me!!
    You do what makes you happy and what is best for your family any only you know what’s best for them! I admire you so much and wish we could do even half of what you are doing!! You guys are awesome and your kids are getting such a special start! We love traveling but our jobs are pretty difficult to leave right now! One day…! X

  11. nomad_mamma May 12, 2018 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I share with you guys most of the things on the list, and got also tired of explain to random people why we do what we do… but you know what? it is a long run so we’ll see how well we did to our kids on the future, I’m sure!

  12. Katie May 12, 2018 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Great post! I wish I had read more stuff like this when my daughter was an infant because I spent way too long in the depths of sleep deprivation to finally start co-sleeping because everyone told me it was the wrong choice. When I turned forty this year I decided to have the goal of not feeling the need to defend myself to others. I can offer an explanation but not a defence. It’s not easy but it’s important to me and your post helps reaffirm that, so thanks!

  13. Aida May 12, 2018 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    I just wanted to applaud you on taking this on with such eloquence! So proud that you are such a strong woman who is brave enough to voice the points you’ve touched, especially for those who may be too timid to do so. If all they get out of this is to back off and respect the rights parents have it will be huge! Well done and Thank you! #championsdontneedapproval

  14. Sara May 13, 2018 at 12:55 am - Reply

    What’s right for you is what’s important! I love your free and easy lifestyle. You do you!

  15. Jamie May 13, 2018 at 1:30 am - Reply

    There are so many things I could say in an article just like this. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting to have to constantly explain myself. I’m a grown, educated adult. My kids are taken care of, clean, and fed. I work and pay my bills and spend time with my kids. Who cares about anything else?

  16. Linda May 13, 2018 at 3:26 am - Reply

    I totally agree on everything! Our daughter is soon 6months and I only breastfeed still. We are on our first trip with her in the states and in few months going to do a longer trip to south east Asia. We also co sleep. I have been told that families with babies should stay home and don’t we think of all the diseases she could get. Also my choice to only breastfeed until she turns 6months has been criticized. “She needs to have some potato, can’t you see how hungry she is” yeah, sure. “There will not be any milk left soon, she is so old” There will be milk as long as she keeps having it, it doesn’t go anywhere. On top of this all I’m also a nurse and midwife so I know my breastfeeding stuff and the benefits of co sleeping. Still people are eager to tell their opinions, especially with first child.
    We have traveled a lot before our baby was born, so it was only natural to continue with our lifestyle. I find it very easy to travel with a small baby. We still do things we like and go everywhere, she has been a champ and adapted to everything. 🙂

  17. Amy May 13, 2018 at 3:47 am - Reply

    I have followed you and your sister from the start and you amaze me. I can’t even put words to it. I wish I was as brave as you are. I wish my life had planned out differently so I could travel with my children like you do. You are giving your children the best life experiences. Instilling in them that the sky is the limit. You are amazing parents!

  18. Sabine May 13, 2018 at 6:34 am - Reply

    Thank you for this! Your stories give me so much inspiration!
    I am only 5 month pregnant and ALREADY people try to tell me what to do/think/buy/feel/etc. when it comes to our unborn baby.
    Worst situation happened recently at the airport. The security lady gave me a full speech about the high risks of flying and asked if my doctor didnt tell me how dangerous it is taking a flight while being pregnant (actually, I talked about it with her and she told me to enjoy my travels). I was so shocked I couldn’t even react to these offensive words, and I burst into tears right after security check.
    I feel like, I have never worried too much about other peoples opinion, but pregnancy comes with so much insecurity as it is and its such a sensitive and personal topic. I think the biggest challenge for me right now is to have a thick skin and shake off all comments that make me feel bad.

    • Karen May 13, 2018 at 6:47 am - Reply

      Oh I’m sorry to hear that Sabine but I do understand. Your instincts will always be the right thing so go with that xxx

  19. Family of 3 from Sweden May 13, 2018 at 6:59 am - Reply

    Well said! Your such an inspiration. We truly want to do something like you in the future! / Family of 3 from Sweden

  20. Olivia Powell May 13, 2018 at 8:18 am - Reply

    I am pregnant with my first baby and have already faced criticism from family about my desire to co-sleep and plans to travel with a small child. My partner is Italian and someone tried to tell me I would have to wait 6 months before I could take the baby to visit his family. I mean…seriously! I think you and you’re family are inspirational and I see you as the kind of parent I hope to be! Keep travelling and doing things your way, you’re kids will never have a greater gift that happy parents who are able and want to put their kid’s needs first.

  21. Denise gillespie May 13, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

    You are my inspiration ?? I absolutely love your blog and think it’s amazing that you can travel to so many places and give the kids the amazing memories as it’s photos that the children will cherish in years to come and have something to look back on and how amazing will Quinn and same photos be! We have only got our little girl who’s 2 on holidays once for her second birthday due to different things happening in our life and its still one of the memories she talks about now! She’s only 2 and half so well have lots more to come but she asks lots to go on holidays so we must get another booked ?? any1 that says to me I can’t take my child away on holidays it’s not fair there to young my first response is “ohh u should check out travel mad mum her blog is class and shows that Wayne’s van go wherever with you!” Lol so I just wanted to say I think what you do is amazing and I think no matter what you do as a parent there is always going be someone who has an “opinion” but my aunt told me best quote “what others think of you is none of your business” ❤?

  22. Rhona Fitzpatrick May 13, 2018 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Hi Karen, I’ve only been following you guys for a short while. I’m a fellow Irish woman and a very new mum to a 5 month old who is exclusively breastfeed and bed shares with me! I think you guys do it all perfectly and I get inspiration from you as I really want my little girl to grow up used to travelling! We’ve bed shares since she was born and has slept through the night from 3 wks and 12 hours per night from 6 weeks old so no one can tell me it’s wrong! If people did even 5 minutes of proper research they’d find that it’s actually the biological norm to sleep with your baby. It’s how it’s meant to be done but we’re the only living being on the earth that puts their newborn baby into a different bed or room to sleep! As for breastfeeding, well that too is the biological norm. As a society we are all becoming too used to a ‘processed world’…be it formula, food and our environment. I am eating less and less meat these days, for the same reasons you mentioned and the more I learn the less well it sits with me and I’m as far removed from a vegan hippie as you can imagine! Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re amazing and your kids will thank you for it! Xx

  23. Ayla May 13, 2018 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Yes yes yes to every single one of these points! I co-sleep with Evie because she’s never slept unless I’m next to her, I still breastfeed at 13 months because it’s what she wants and needs, she only eats fish because I was brought up not eating red meat and I think it’s far healthier that way, and I travel with her because the memories you create for yourself are amazing and it definitely helps their development without a doubt. Every time we go away Evie comes back having learnt something new. You do what you gotta do!

  24. Natalie May 13, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Oh man so much resonates… I was videoing with my mam in England and she’s like are you still breastfeeding him (he’s also got a vital infection atm), er yes. Well you’ll have to stop that soon, why? Well cos he’ll keep doing it til he’s at school and stuff! Give me strength! Don’t get me started on why he never had his own bed…

  25. Amber P. May 13, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I did not co-sleep with my oldest son, and I had to go back to work when he was 12 weeks old. I don’t know how I survived, I was so sleep deprived! I co-slept with my second until he was six months old and it was a total game changer. I felt like a normal human being even during the crazy newborn phase. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for saying that you don’t care what others think. Every family is different; you have to do what is best for you!

  26. Ivi May 14, 2018 at 4:16 am - Reply

    I’m not a mom yet, so I don’t really have an option on the most topics ? I know from my friends with kids that they all do things differently and as long as it works for them it’s fine! Everybody is different, every child is different and I believe that good parents will know their children and act in their best interest and not in the interest of the society maybe… but I love reading your blog and I adore how you share the whole world with your babies and I hope one day I could be at least half the brave and great parent you are!
    Kisses from Germany!

  27. Alice May 18, 2018 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I’m 30 and lost my Mum 15 years ago. Family and friends still comment on the fact that she breastfed me for over a year as if it was completely ridiculous of her. Kind of thought they’d be over it by now….
    I’m recently pregnant and my husband and I are lucky enough that our jobs allow us to work remotely. We’ve not done it until now but are using maternity leave as the starting to point to go travelling (while working too – no way to afford it otherwise). I mentioned it casually to family and everyone keeps telling me I’m stupid to think I’ll be able to travel with a baby and that kids will mean short holidays in the UK at the very most. So far I’m just ignoring them. I’ve lived in a few different countries in Europe, working as an au pair, so babies aren’t new to me and neither is travelling. I’ve been working in the UK for 5 years and, for me, being stuck in one place is much scarier than going out into the world and trying new things. I know that I need to be mentally happy and healthy for my baby and staying here isn’t the right thing for me, or my husband. Although we’re sticking to Europe for now, I hope that we can take our kids on as many adventures as you have. You’ve done a great job at showing people that having kids doesn’t have to be done in one set way and that different things work for different people.

  28. Kerry May 19, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I love following your adventures and you are such an inspiration! We too are travelling around the world with our little ones for a year. We co-sleep, I breastfeed both my girls and I don’t eat red meat. Didn’t realise how much we had in common! Although one thing I really struggle with is everyone else’s opinion. I’m a sensitive soul and I take way to much to heart but I’m trying to learn to be stronger in my beliefs and not care too much about others opionion. It’s not easy!
    Happy travels to you and your family

  29. Harlee Perrin May 27, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I love this so much.
    Yes to co-sleeping
    Yes to no animal products
    Yes to breastfeeding
    Yes to you living your life the way you want to!

  30. Ron Stefanski June 26, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    This is a great post, Karen. I find it so interesting how people have so much to say about the way other people should raise their children, as if they have it all figured out. I personally think your point about travel is a great one. While a baby may not remember everything, there’s a good chance they’ll remember some things and when you grow a child up in a transient environment, it almost always makes them more outgoing in the future.

  31. hiraina July 27, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I love that a kiwi guy is the stay-at-home dad breaking all the stereotypes. It impresses me we do cool stuff in other countries and yet at home…

  32. Karen August 18, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Fantastic! Very enjoyable read, you hit the nail on the head. I am a tour director/guide & single parent with two girls aged 4 & 7 now. When I had my 1st child was told I wouldnt continue in my job for long.. I proved the critics wrong.. I went back on the road when my first was 4 mths old and my 2nd was 8 weeks old. I breastfed both until they were just over two.. they travelled with me behind scenes with a carer. Today, we travel at least 4 times a year overseas (from Australia) and I find cosleeping is not a big deal as room rate works out better. I have noticed the independence that my children have gained from all their travel experiences which is now reflected in their maturity at the beginning of their schooling lives. Oh by the way, I still continue in my job going on 19 years!!! Solo parent, 2 children and successfully juggling to enrich our family life with ongoing travels.

  33. Holly January 17, 2019 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Late to this, but I thought I’d comment all the same. I think the problem is that, because raising children is the most important thing any parent will ever do, we tend to get very very attached to whatever works for us. That’s fine, but when it comes to talking about it, that can very easily turn into (sometimes inadvertently) talking down other people’s choices – because we have to tell believe that we’re doing the very best for our babies, so therefore if someone else is doing the opposite we have to tell ourselves that it’s not as good as our choice.

    Sleeping arrangements are a case in point. People who don’t co-sleep CONSTANTLY go on about the dangers and insist that outweighs any potential benefits, while people who DO co-sleep are generally incapable of talking about it without at the very least implying that anyone who doesn’t is cold-hearted, distant and doesn’t really care about their children’s emotional development. It might not be the intentional, it might not even be consciously done, and in fact it might not even be actively implied – it may just be inferred by the person reading it. But we always seem unable to talk about what works for us without criticising people for doing what works for them.

    At the end of the day, as long as you’re not actively harming anyone we should all just ignore each other and do what works for us and our children.

  34. Tasha February 28, 2019 at 12:11 am - Reply

    So true, the most bizarre part of parenting to me is how opinionated and judgemental people are, especially complete strangers!
    I love your posts. We are thinking of doing a trip to somewhere in Asia with our 3yr old soon so reading your posts for inspiration.

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