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Are Hippie Moms Really The Problem? Yes, According To Babble

January 30th, 2012 by MomsLA

Hippie Moms Aren’t The Problem: Judgmental Moms Are

A blog piece on Babble last week caught my attention. Actually, it really irked me. In The Hippie Mom Superiority Complex, Cassandra Barry writes that hippie moms are the most vocal about touting their superior way of parenting. Ms. Barry says she likes some hippies and has been called one by her husband because she used cloth diapers and made her own baby food. Still, that doesn’t stop her from skewering hippie moms in the very next sentence for their annoying, judgmental attitudes.

I dislike any attack on an entire group of moms. This is exactly the sentiment that fuels the “mommy wars”, setting up an insane, unwinnable contest between working moms and stay-at-home-moms, organic-eating families vs. non-organic families and “perfect” moms vs. just-barely-hanging-on-moms.

I know firsthand what it’s like to come under attack from hippie moms.  The Holistic Moms Network disliked a blog piece I wrote last year and left me the nastiest comments I’ve ever received, many of which were unpublishable. Do I blame all hippie moms for one hippie mom group’s anger and rage, irony aside? Absolutely not.

If you’ve ever spent time around a conservative homeschooling mom –or gotten tangled in a blog spat with one– you know that hippie moms aren’t the only ones who have strong opinions about their parenting philosophies. For the record, I was home schooled. I was raised in Topanga by hippie parents in a vegan, eco-minded, no sugar, TV-prohibited household. I understand the forcefulness of the belief system that accompanies this kind of parenting because I’ve lived it. As you might have guessed, I don’t parent this way.

The constant pitting of one group of moms against another is toxic and harmful to all of us. Dueling ideas about the “best” parenting practices are prevalent in our super-competitive culture. In affluent areas, rich hippies have the luxury of all things organic, natural and pure for their kids. Moms in working class neighborhoods also want the best for their kids, but the “best” might not be an organic apple. It might just be a hot meal with any apple. At some of the L.A. private elementary schools I write about, rich hippie moms inhabit a rarified world. They are instantly recognizable, carrying hip, eco-conscious Stella McCartney handbags, wearing $250 jeans, their messy hair– carefully highlighted by posh salons– is long and stringy. They drive hybrid cars and smoke pot, garnered with a medical marijuana card for “stress” aliments. Yet, I’ve found these moms to be friendly and uninterested in critiquing my parenting.

It might make a mom feel better temporarily to find fault with another mom’s parenting style. Verbal attacks on another mom quell her deep-seated insecurity that she’s not doing everything perfectly for her own child. However, it’s especially harmful when moms point out other moms parenting “mistakes” in front of each other. Trying to embarrass someone is never the answer.

Sure, some moms think they know best. Especially those with babies. If you’re not parenting their way, you probably shouldn’t be parenting at all is the harsh, not too subtle message. Certain topics are hot-button issues: breast vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping, vaccines, cloth diapers, homemade baby food vs. store bought, eco-friendly vs. chemical treated baby stuff, progressive vs. traditional schools, helicopter parenting vs. free range parenting and on and on.

Whether we subscribe stringently to a single parenting philosophy or try to adhere to a blend of ideas that work for us, aren’t we all just moms trying to raise our kids in a hectic, expensive, competitive world? Most of us want certainty that our kids will grow up to be great human beings, kind and charitable, well-educated and successful individuals who will carry on our family traditions (or chart their own new course in life).

If its safe to assume we all want essentially the same things for our kids, can’t we also understand that there are many roads that can take us there? Hippie moms aren’t the problem any more than conservative homeschooling moms. We are all potentially part of the problem if we verbally attack each other and must, therefore, all be part of the solution to stop the “competitive mommy” syndrome before it makes one more mom feel bad about her parenting choices.

Christina Simon is the co-author of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles. She writes about L.A. private school admissions at www.beyondthebrochurela.com

 

MomsLA (495 Posts)


32 comments

  1. I understand your concern about moms bashing each other. I have to say that I had a different take on the article. It came across as more light-hearted to me, in a social satire kind of way, and she made points I identified with. For whatever reason, when I was raising young children, I did find the more strident moms to be the “hippie moms” — though certainly not all. I didn’t get the sense that the writer was making herself feel better by attacking another type of mom, maybe because the piece was funny and didn’t seem to take itself too seriously. To me, it was just a Babbie piece that exaggerated things to draw in readers — which clearly it did. But I also haven’t really been following the Mommy Wars in the media…maybe if I had been I wouldn’t have found this piece funny.

  2. I didn’t read the original article, so I need to go back and do that to get a better understanding. I think what concerns me the most is the constant categorizing of moms. Aren’t we all just moms?

  3. The good news is, once your kids are in middle school (like mine), most of those moms have gone back to work or are doing something else to engage their time. Fact is, there are boundless ways to raise your children, and most of us grow up just fine.

  4. It’s pretty nuts to me whenever people have to argue about how to best raise their own kids. As long as the parent has the child’s best interest in mind and they’re doing the best they can, what does it matter? Parenting is such a hard job anyway and when you throw judgment in the mix, it just makes it worse.

  5. Of course, the other problem is how few of us fit these labels of hippie mom or conservative mom or whatever kind of mom. I’d be banned from all groups, if such things existed, for breaking at least a few of their “rules”!

  6. As a total hippie mom, I hope I don’t come off as an a**hole! I appreciate your defense of ALL moms. It’s sad to see how easily we tear each other down.

  7. I think judgment is born from insecurity, not a particular parenting philosophy or identity. So, maybe “hippie parents” feel in the minority and need reassurance regardless of where that comes from? Perhaps when we read or hear hurtful remarks, no matter how off base or stinging they are, we have to remind ourselves that it’s a reflection of the speaker and not the recipient of the message. Maybe the only end to the mommy wars—besides doing away with parenting labels (to your point, aren’t we all moms who want the best for our kids?)—is to extend an olive branch and kill ‘em with kindness?

  8. The bottom line is people are judgmental. Except for me. I never judge. Because I am like Mother Teresa. Which means I’m the best parent and everyone else sucks. Wait. What just happened?

  9. Given the garbage I’ve had to listen to over the years regarding my c-section from these Holistic Moms (pity, scorn, concern for my daughter’s future as a functioning human being), I thought the genre could use a little criticism. However, I do agree that it pretty much just fans the flames of competitive parenting. While it gets media interest, it does little to make parenting easier, or help any of us get along. Honestly, as long as your parenting isn’t hurting anyone else, does it really matter whether you use cloth or disposables, breast milk or formula? MYOB seems like a pretty good rule of thumb here. Thanks for the post, Christina!

  10. A very smart school administrator I once knew said, “Let’s deal with diversity at our school.” Yes, we did outreach to try to make our school population reflective of the city we live in. Then we got really radical and tried to deal with the diversity of parenting styles/philosophies of the families at our school.

    Wow. What a job that was! Did we succeed? Not really, but for some days here and there people did seem to stop talking smack about each other. I admit, I bristle at certain parenting ways, but I’ve tried to reign in my judgmental impulses to only the most egregious offenders. Or maybe I’m just getting more tolerant? I’m not very good at boiling things down (unless it’s the broccoli I’m steaming for dinner), but I think the either/or mentality does a disservice to everyone. Mommy Wars get us nowhere. This job is already hard enough.

    Thanks for writing about this.

  11. I don’t that anyone is a “better” parent. We all parent in different ways and that is what makes us all unique & special. :)

  12. I have a new mantra! “Do not judge!” It is HARD, our nature is to judge everything that surrounds us constantly. It is very Buddhist to just be, just breathe, focus on our own breathe, and DON’T JUDGE! I think judging is much easier, it takes us outside of our own troubles and some how makes us feel better when we can judge someone else….unfortunately nothing good comes of it. So I choose, “don’t judge!” and then I breathe.

  13. I think it is very healthy to keep up this conversation – whatever we can do to inform people that there is very seldom an absolute about anything, the better. Any stereotype is damaging to being able to offer support and compassion to mothers, almost all of whom are just doing the best they can, making hard decisions about their parenting. Thanks for keeping the discussion going – you stirred up some good comments.

  14. Well said. I think that the bigger problem is just judgmental parents out there. As parents, each and every one of us parents the best that we can. Some of us nurse our babies while pregnant with a second, others bottle feed from day one. There is no right or wrong, it’s just what’s right for you as a parent. The problem I have with a group of “hippie moms” at my son’s charter school is that they act like it’s their way or the highway, and they have the Principal under such a tight grip now that if any other parent offers a suggest or wishes to discuss a concern it’s met with opposition. I think that being a mother of three I’ve learned over time to just go with the flow, not be so judgmental, and be open to trying anything and everything. Perhaps “hippie moms” come across as being extremely Type A and Defensive that the more relaxed parents get completely turned off? Essentially… to each their own.

  15. Why can’t we all just get along??? It’s so hard to be a parent. There is no way that one way is the best way. I say, if a parent is doing their absolute best it should be good enough.

  16. I don’t know why people think that attacking one another is a good way to convince them that their path is better than yours. Negativity is toxic.

  17. Why can’t people just let others live their lives the way they choose to live it. I don’t get it why everyone always has to tear others down for being different.

  18. I agree with you! One idealistic parenting style doesn’t make sense for everyone. Fighting about who is right stops us from learning from each other.

  19. Yet another reason why I greatly dislike Babble and all it’s ridiculousness. Sigh. Mom and let mom! Viva le mom! and all that jazz :)

  20. As women (and moms) we truly need to be supporting each other rather than judging each other. There is no right way to parent a child and I think that in general, each mother knows her child best and what works well for them.

  21. Wow! I appreciate all of your thoughtful comments.

  22. Just before I had a baby, I was exclaiming to a friend that I couldn’t understand why some women choose not to breastfeed. She said to me, “You know, motherhood is a great time to learn not to judge people, because everyone has different opinions and parenting styles and judgement doesn’t do anyone any good.” I thought that was great advice, and is definitely relevant here.

  23. VERY well said. And I agree with Katie – can’t we all just be moms?

  24. I thought the babble post was amusing and honest. ;-) P.S. The blog post does not necessarily reflect the views of babble, so to say that babble thinks hippies are a problem is unfair, misleading and sensationalist. Nor did the writer ever say that hippies are “a problem.” She said that some of them can be pretty self-righteous, which is annoying. As are any self-righteous, didactic parents.

  25. Cassandra, as the author of the Babble piece, you seem pretty defensive. Why are you distancing Babble from the piece that they published with your byline?

  26. Yay Christina! Yet again, you are wise and sage…and dare I say…hip.

  27. I think you completely twisted the original article to suit your needs to vent a similar frustration. The original article’s point wasn’t that hippie moms were the problem – it was that when hippie mom’s make other parents feel inferior, it’s not cool. Sounds similar to your rant…. Just because she used the word hippy, there’s no need to go ballistic.

  28. I did not read the article being talked about here, but as a completely hippie mama, I feel that not only hippie moms judge one another and make each other feel inferior, so do all moms from all backgrounds. All moms are goddeses, but some are a little lazier or more uninformed than others. And even that is not a reason to judge or bash, we never know what each other is going through. If you live a holistic, natural, yogic, or spiritual lifestyle (which is often labeled as hippie) one of the first and foremost values is not to judge. And truly, hippie moms are the ones living in ecovillages, and communities where everyone lives sustainably and with a community sense of cooperation and sharing. These so-called “hippie” moms being bashed here are just rich eco-friendly urban people that bash even the real hippie moms. In that case, let’s just bash all rich and snobby moms, won’t we? It’s not fair to feel that way, to each their own lifestyle. It’s easy to boost your ego through comparisons and truly believe in your own judgments, but that just makes you blinded to reality and true meaningful interactions. I also think the issue natural moms really feel for others who aren’t aware or don’t try a little harder to veer away from toxic chemicals, vaccinations, unsustainable farming, and commercialism is that accepting those things is affecting everyone in the world. If we all stood up against the very companies and practices that are destroying human health and the environment, we wouldn’t have so much disease and we wouldn’t have so much trouble getting those coeorations and the government to do things withour best interest in their highest regard. As long as we don’t try a little harder to be sustainable or at least to boycott corporations that fill our kids food and environment with toxic chemicals, that pollute our water, destroy our forests and most sacred resources there will be no earth left for our next generations. Therefore, you may now understand a little more just why “hippie” moms may apear to feel justified. Regardless, I still love all moms equally, and hope that we can all come together in agreement as we should and help one another as well as share valuable knowledge instead of judging and alienating ourselves. Together we can make it a better world for our children and grndchildren.

  29. By the way, I apologize for the spwlling mistakes as I am typing from my phone.

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